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Need a lift?

November 19, 2012

This past weekend I again had the opportunity to visit the interior of Suriname to conduct entrepreneur training. If I had to think about a theme for the weekend, it would be lifting.

As we were taking the boat from Atjoni to Pikin Slee, we noticed that the water level of the river was a bit lower than it was last weekend. However, that did not stop our excellent boatman from navigating us with only a couple of places where we got stuck. Then again, it was only three of us plus the boatman and his assistant and the things we were carrying, so relatively speaking, the boat was light.

Our transport to the training venue

We lifted our things out of the boat and up to the landing, where we waited for assistance in transporting them to the training venue. Just then, a man came along, driving a tractor, behind which he was carrying a load of sand (and a few boys). We asked if he would assist us to the museum and he said yes, so up we went. Unfortunately, he was not actually going past the museum, just near the museum, so we were dropped off on the side of the road and carried our things the rest of the way. However, we were grateful for the ride because we arrived during the heat of the day.

At the training venue, we had another surprise as we were setting up. I heard one of the PCVs say “oh, hello baby tarantula,” and yes, there it was, crawling around and around on a chair. I made the “host” PCV get rid of it (though as a baby, it was not dangerous, I think).

The training itself was remarkably uneventful. I discussed Marketing, which we had missed the previous week because we ran out of time. My counterpart, the next day, went through Financial Management, which I can discuss but to try to have it translated? Well, we determined it was best that she cover it.

The second day after training, the host PCV  brought us through the village. By now people are getting used to seeing him and a few were used to seeing us, as it was our second trip. Most people were remarkably open to allowing me to take photos (only one person asked how much I would pay her). So I got some really beautiful shots, which of course made me happy.

That evening, a dip in the river (and with no swimsuit!), a shower, and as I lay in bed, a bat came into my room. I called out to the woman with whom I went swimming as we had only an hour before this talked about what “vleermuis” is in English. Alas, she did not come in the room to see the vleermuis and I was not going to come out from under the mosquito net while it was in the room, so she missed her opportunity to see one up close and personal.

A braiding master at work

On both days I had my hair braided by pros – I need someone who will braid my hair every morning as it is so much more attractive than my simply pulling it back into a ponytail or a bun…

Morning two, I made myself get out of bed early enough to get some more photos with the river and the mist before the sun peeked over the trees. Then we were on our way back to Atjoni (and them Paramaribo), taking with us a few PCVs who were on their way into the city. This time, though we made good time, it was not quite as smooth of a passage. The water level of the river had gone down even further, it seemed, and we got stuck in the sand a few times. The men actually had to lift the boat, with us in the boat, and move us to water that was deep enough to move again.

But we got to Atjoni, still in good time. Then things got really interesting…

About an hour and a half into the ride back to Paramaribo, I heard a sound that I feared was something falling from underneath the vehicle. I thought “must be my imagination” and did not say anything. Half an hour later, the engine stopped working, and we pulled over to the side (this is with eight people and a lot of bags in the vehicle).  The truck started, but then quickly died.

Hooking up the truck for our tow to the city

I am a mechanic’s kid, so I learned enough from my dad over the years to be able to identify when a problem is or is not a “small” or “standard” thing, and it was none of those. I had a theory, but wanted to check on it before I opened my mouth and said anything.

Luckily, there was a bridge nearby, and the Vs sought shade under the bridge during the time we waited for the mechanic to arrive. He arrived and came to the same conclusion I had, and then proceeded to hook up our vehicle behind his own. Most of the PCVs went into his vehicle; one stayed with Lilian, me, and the other mechanic. Then we were towed. Behind a vehicle that is not a tow truck. For more than an hour back to the city.

I believe I got a few new grey hairs during that time, as he went at a good speed, then would slow down and there would be a mismatch in the speeds, so we would go flying off to the side when it pulled us again. Oy. Ultimately, though, we arrived safely and the mechanic brought us each to where we wanted to be.

Photos from the training can be found in this Picasa album. I have added new photos from the weekend.

Other photos (my “artsy” photos) can be found in this Picasa album.

I have added new photos from the weekend to both albums, so it is worth taking a second look!

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