It’s been 29 days since I arrived in Suriname. With an assignment of only six months, one month, as it turns out, can go by fast.
So where am I, a month in? Things are going well, overall. I have a few small frustrations, but overall am happy here. The weather is consistently warm, the sun shines every day, for most, if not all of the day, and the organization where I work has engaged me in a broader way than is written on the job description I received. Of course, the job description was not entirely accurate but after I decided to be proactive and suggest some things, and to express my willingness to be involved things outside the job description, the head of the organization was enthusiastic. She seems to really like our (the other Response V and I) ideas and contributions, and is starting to realize some of what we can do.
I also got in contact with the Jewish community here and went to the synagogue on Friday night. It is a beautiful building, with much history, and I hope to be able to take some photos from other than just outside the building. Interestingly, it is one of only a couple in the world that is located next to a mosque. Literally right next door – as in, when we were doing our blessing over the wine on Friday night, we heard the call to prayer from the mosque next door. I had never seen such a thing before now.
Dutch lessons are progressing, though I never get a chance to practice speaking. Making strides into the community here is a challenging thing – the expat community here is small and many people seem to know each other, but I am still trying to find a way in, so to speak. So, I spend a lot of time alone, as our work day is done between 3:00 and 4:00, leaving a whole lot of time to kill. I manage to fill a few hours here and there with Yoga and language class (which will end in September), but other than that, have a great deal of time to myself. It is interesting, because I had a lot of time to myself in Ukraine, and it did not bother me. Here, I am finding that I want to get out more. Am I becoming more outgoing? Is the culture having an effect on me? Is it the sunshine and warmth? I don’t know…
One thing I am not so fond of (because life is not perfect) is the objectification I am receiving here. Culturally speaking, it is common, and as a white woman with blonde/red hair, I stand out. I REALLY stand out. I knew I would, and tried to prepare myself as much as possible, but, I have to admit, the “kissy” noises, the comments, men stopping their cars/bicycles/motorbikes to call out to me, well, it’s hard to ignore. This morning I walked to work, so I was able to wear my iPod and block out any noises, but usually I ride my bike, so that’s not so safe to do (it’s challenging enough to ride with all of my senses on alert). I have been told that the men mean it as a compliment. It is part of the culture. It is still something I am working on dealing with.
One month. How fast the time can go…
On Saturday, the Women’s Business Group (the organization where I work) had a Entrepreneurs’ Fair and I took photos for the org. Here are a few of my favorites: