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Parties, celebs, and dolphins

September 9, 2012

This was rather an eventful week. A few things I had previously arranged happened, as did a few unexpected things. All in all fabulous, but a little challenging when you are fighting off illness!

About a week and a half ago, S and I found out that the office where we work would be closed for the week for pest control. I had the idea to visit a PCV in the interior, but the invite that had been extended to me was rescinded, and I remained in town (still want to visit the interior!). However, that does not mean it was a boring week…as it turns out, it was quite busy! And just in time too – today is my two-month anniversary in Suriname – it’s about time I do some fun stuff!

I finally made it OUT of town when I went to the Jodensavanne, and on Monday, I went across the river to stay a couple of days with a colleague and friend. As it turns out, I also managed to work when I went to a meeting with her about an upcoming event and was able to  be of assistance.

For those who think I am lazy…let me remind you that nearly since arriving, I have been working six days a week, so I felt like a day or two off would not hurt me or my organization!

It was a great visit, but I noticed that my throat started to feel a little sore. I blamed it on the fan that had been aimed directly on me and kept going…trying to ignore the fact that the sore throat did not go away…

On Wednesday I was back home and had a fabulous visit with a friend who not only wanted me to help her with finding a place to stay for her upcoming trip to Europe, but she wanted to see my photos from Cairo and Rome! I love it when people want to look at my photos, especially if they want to hear the stories behind the photos too…

At the Parbo launch party

For Thursday I had previously planned a visit to the synagogue for some PCVs. I can talk more about the result of that in another post. On Friday, we were invited to a Parbo event (Parbo is the beer that is made here in Suriname). They were launching a new bottle and had quite the fest for it. Being the Americans that we are, we went early (hey, the food was being served in the first part of the evening)…by the time we were leaving, the party was just getting started (and it wasn’t early!). I was really excited to be there because one of my PCV friends has an inside track to these events, as she has a friend (and former counterpart) who works for Parbo. It was great to go out, dance a little, drink a bit, and relax with the small group.

With the first lady of Suriname at Klasskreek

Saturday J and I had to get our tired butts out of bed to go on a day trip with a director from the Ministry of Youth and Sport….and were glad we did. We first went to a village called Klasskreek, where backpacks with school supplies were being presented to the village schoolchildren – one pack for each child. The first lady of Suriname spoke, the Minister of Youth and Sport spoke, others spoke, toys were donated to the kindergartens, and it was wonderful to see all of these lovely children receive these backpacks. It was just lovely to see them period. We got our photo taken with the first lady!

Then it was on to the next event. We were not sure what any of these events would be – we were pretty much along for the ride. The director, at one point, said “you two know how to drive, yes?” We sighed and said that while yes, we know how to drive, we are, sadly, not allowed to do so. Although a little while later when we drove on this..interesting…road, we were glad he was behind the wheel and not us!

He said that the minister told him to take the long way from Klasskreek to our second event location. He said that would take too long and went on the “shortcut” road instead. A happy surprise greeted us when we started down the road and it was paved. He stopped and asked someone who was working how far it was paved. The answer? All the way to the airport…except for a small part in the middle.

Well, that small part turned out to be not so small, and it was more than a little bumpy! He asked if we should keep going and we said why not…I mean, in for a penny, right? Well…suffice it to say, J described it as “feeling like a Disneyland ride” at one point. It seems that the road is either paved (and therefore smooth) or so bumpy that I think in the wet season, a person can go swimming in the ruts in the road!

Yet we arrived safe and sound and found out that this second event was a picnic that the minister was putting on for some of his employees. Ah, the life of a Peace Corps person…never all of the information we may appreciate having, but always interesting. It was nice to meet people, eat, socialize…we were only missing a hammock in which to take a nap (everyone else brought one. And casual clothing).

Then today – the long-anticipated dolphin excursion!

Since I got here I have wanted to go on some excursions and when I realized I was coming up on two months and nothing other than city and work, well, I decided to change that. So I asked some PCVs and PCRVs if they wanted to go with me and was able to find an organization that conducts research and also brings people on the research trips every Sunday. A couple of other volunteers have gone on other dolphin spotting trips by just finding someone with a boat who will take them, but I liked the idea of supporting this NGO, which is volunteer led, in their efforts. And it was educational. The organization is called Green Heritage Fund Suriname and if you have a few spare dollars (or if you are in Suriname and want to see the dolphins), I would encourage you to support them.

Though we had to get up early for the excursion, the volunteers from the organization are really wonderful and talked to us (in English) about their work, the dolphins, etc. during the whole excursion. We went with them to the spots where they gather information on water (they also gathered the information every time we saw dolphins).

Taking measurements during the excursion

We also stopped and had an hour on a peninsula (we think it was a peninsula) where of course, photo opps presented themselves. Then on the way back, we saw dolphins! Pink bellies, smaller than bottle-nosed, and FAST! I took many photos and got one really great one, but missed a lot because by the time we saw them, they were gone! Apparently having kids on the excursion helps (probably because of their high-pitched voices/screams?) and the dolphins get playful. Though they were not so today, we were excited to see them.

Of course, all of that time in the sun was punishing for me. Though I applied and re-applied sunblock, the reflection of the sun off the water, plus the sun itself, was too much for my skin and now I have a pink face.

But it was worth it to get the photos I got!

About that sore throat..well, it developed into a dry cough, which is now a tiny bit of congestion, semi-laryngitis, and the cough. Hmm. My first (and hopefully last) cold of Suriname? The doc already told me it is not bacterial…so it is a matter of time…and some rest.

Photos from the dolphin excursion are currently being uploaded onto Picasa, so you’ll have to read my next entry to get the link to see them!


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