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Old 12-04-2011, 11:28 AM   #166
csustewy OP
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The Guided Paramaribo Tour

Since Jill was back in her old stomping grounds of Paramaribo (or Foto) and we had a couple of days to kill in the city, she took Mike on a guided tour of the city, complete with megaphone and a safari hat.

Starting at Stadtz, the hostel where we stay, we walked towards Saramaccastraat, where we saw the tallest building in Foto, Hakrinbank.



Then over to Saramaccastraat for some kousu (the traditional skirt worn by women in the interior of Suriname) shopping at Jerusalem Bazaar.



From there we checked out the market.



Heading over toward Waterkant we stop at the Ghandi statue to reflect.



At Waterkant we checked out the Dutch colonial houses that are still really nice. Waterkant is an area right next to the river that has several permanent food stands that stay open 24/7.





And not so nice.



Past the Presidential Palace to Fort Zeelandia.



And the new I heart SU statue.



Then across to the Palm Gardens where over 1,000 palm trees are planted, and on to the statue representing the Indonesian population in Suriname that were brought over as endentured servants, mainly from Java.



Following the river brings us to the tourist part of town where the Torarica and EcoLodge hotels are, as well as fancy places to eat. Then we walk back past the presidential palace, up Henck Arronstraat to the largest wooden cathedral in the world, recently renovated.



And then over to the Muslim mosque located right next to the Jewish synagoge. The Surinamese are very proud of their diversity and tolerance for all cultures and this personifies it for many people.



That rounded out our guided tour of the most touristed spots in Suriname. On the tour Jill discovered that she knows a lot about a very small area of Foto.

We also happened to be in town for Srefidensi, Independence Day, on November 25th. Suriname declared independence from the Dutch in 1975 and apparantly have been celebrating ever since. There were lots of festivities near the presidential palace, on waterkant, and in the Palm Gardens. Not as many people were dressed up in traditional dress as in the past, but it was a party nonetheless. We spent most of our time on Waterkant, watching people and drinking djugos (liters of beer. Parbo is about the only option, but its good and tastes like beer, more flavor than most light latin options). And trying to stay out of the rain.





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Old 12-04-2011, 11:30 AM   #167
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Saramaccan homecoming

Jill's Peace Corps Response position was not due to start until December 1st, so we had a few days to spend in the original village that she lived in for 2 years, Drepada. Drepada is a small Saramaccan village located close to Brokopondo. There are usually about 100 mainly women and children living there at any given time.


(Welcome back to Drepada, in front of one of the new houses being built)



She had not been in much contact with the village since she left in 2006, but was able to get a message out to the village that Mike and her would be there, arranging a house to stay in. The road used to be unpaved and took several hours on a bumpy, red road. It has been paved recently (Chinese interests) and the drive only takes about an hour or so, but the wagi makes several stops along the way, so the ride ends up taking longer. (we had already stored the TA in a secure garage, given that the village where we will live is only accessed by river, so public transportation it is)

Jill was excited to see everyone again and for Mike to see the place that she talks about so often. She was also anxious to see if she still remembered the language (she does).

We spent 4 full days in Drepada. Stenda, the woman who runs the only store in town and was one of Jill's good friends, kept us eating well the entire time. As is typical with new people to Saramaccan villages, the kids were at our house all the time. They loved using Mike as a jungle gym, trying to braid Jill's short hair, etc. It was a good reminder of how life will be for the next 6 months here in Suriname.


(Jill with Stenda - she was helping me use her sewing machine to sew kousus, the traditional skirt that all the women wear)

Jill had a few friends from Guyana who work gold in Brokopondo, so we went to Brokopondo one night to see them. Marlon now owns 2 pontoons and is the boss of an 8 man operation. He is doing very well with 2 kids and a new house. It was great to catch up with them again over some djugos (1 liter Parbo beers) at Jack's, what used to be the only store in Brokopondo.


(Jill with Marlon in front of his pontoons. The crew works by having one man go to the bottom of the river with a dive mask attached to a tube with oxygen, and sucking the bottom of the river with a long vaccuum like pipe. One pontoon sucks up the gold, which is heavy and sticks to the bottom of the filter on the pontoon. The other pontoon sucks up the gravel on the bottom of the river and is sold to a buyer in Brokopondo. The gravel makes enough to break even. The gold is pure profit.)


(The men live on the pontoon)

Some things have changed in the area, like the addition of several supermarkets, nicer houses, and lots of new kids, but in reality, most has stayed pretty much the same.


(Jill's name in the village was Lobimai. The girl sitting next to her was named after her when she was born. Last time Jill saw her she was just able to stand on her own. This time she followed Jill everywhere. Jill was very honored that her parents call her Lobimai in the village and that her school name is Jill.)


(kids, kids, kids)


(at the river, where everyone used to have to wash dishes, clothes, bathe and drink. Thanks to the Rotary Club in Higginsville (Jill's hometown), Jill was able to do a water project that is functional and supplies clean drinking water to the village. People still go to the river to wash dishes and clothes, but they don't have to drink the polluted water anymore.)


(Mike as the human jungle gym)


(soccer and slagball are played every afternoon)


(Jill with some buddies)


(this little critter is not to be touched)


(Jill with her former counterpart, Percy)




(walking around the village)


(talking to Edith in front of my old house)

The visit to Drepada was a whirlwind, and provided some insight into what our stay in Tutubuka will be like. It will be interesting, fun, challenging, hot, rewarding, and certainly a lot more...
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:12 PM   #168
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Originally Posted by Oldfart123 View Post
Congratulations on making it to South America! We all look forward to watching your continued adventures but would request more pictures of Jill in a bathing suit!
Eric (Atlanta)
With this last burst of 15-20 posts, we will be laying low for awhile here in Suriname. Jill will be trading her swim suit for the traditional kouzu. However, there are many old, native ladies who dress provocatively (without a top, even). I'll see if I can get some shots of them to post...

Glad to have you along with us still, Eric! Hope you are well and able to get some rides in this winter.

-Mike & Jill
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:18 PM   #169
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Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Glad to hear that you are now able to spend more time in SA which will allow for more thavel opportunities in the future.

Later
John
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Old 12-05-2011, 10:48 AM   #170
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Old Native Ladies

Mike you are evil to suggest sending me pictures of "old native ladies"! Glad you both are safe and yes I'm still ridding every chance I get. I traded my RT for a G1600GTL and have enjoyed breaking it in. My next big trip will be to the Yellowstone area next year.
Keep the great pictures coming!
Eric
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Old 12-05-2011, 11:24 AM   #171
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Makes memories alive. I worked and lived from 1982 -1985 in Paramaribo and have been often into the jungle withe a BMW R27 from 1962. Had a good time there. Enjoy your stay.

Greetings

Toine
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:33 PM   #172
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Just finish reading your fantastic ride report. Congrats on making it to SA. Best wishes to the both of you in your new setting. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-07-2011, 09:40 PM   #173
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We finally turned towards town, nearing the pavement of Linden, when we encountered our scariest and most unofficial checkpoint yet. In the downpour, a youngman wearing blue fatigues, purple diamond studded sunglasses, combat boots, and carrying an assault rifle waved us to a stop and pointed to the side of the road. Acting confused in our rain soaked state, we pointed ahead to Linden and asked if we could go there. He didn't like that idea, pointing his rifle at us and insisting that we pull over beside the white van. Inside the van there were about 8 officials wearing uniforms and name tags and were not nearly as trigger-happy as the guy with the rifle, which gave us some relief. They asked to see our passports, copies were handed over. They offered a seat in the van, but we told them we were already wet, no big deal, preferring not to get in with any of them, let alone sit next to the rifle toting crazy. After reviewing our copies, they wished us a safe journey and we were on our way. No trouble at all. But definitely a lot of adrenaline.
Great updates so far. I'm glad you somehow enjoyed your Venezuela ride even though you didn't have much time to explore.
Last February I rode to Georgetown with three other friends. Exiting Linden, just past the Bauxite Processing Plant where the road turns sharply to the left, as soon as we made the turn we where faced with several machine gun toting policemen in the middle of the road, pointing the guns to our chests, with fingers on the triggers Neddless to say, even though accustomed to our own Police with it's less than orthodox tactics, the adrenaline rush was plenty... They where not friendly at all, but we had been speeding and weaving between cars "Venezuelan Style" trying to beat the sun into Georgetown... I actually got pretty worried after a couple of minutes of yelling and machine gun pointing... Luckily some kind of Top Official came, with a chestful of decorations and sent us on our way.... We didn't speed any more after that

Have a safe trip... Please include a few details on where to get insurance for French Guiana if you happen to go there with the bike...
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:26 AM   #174
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allroadtoine View Post
Makes memories alive. I worked and lived from 1982 -1985 in Paramaribo and have been often into the jungle withe a BMW R27 from 1962. Had a good time there. Enjoy your stay.

Greetings

Toine
Hey Toine - I bet those rides were a true adventure! Things around here have changed a lot even in the past 5 years (the Afrobaka highway is now paved to Brokopondo, the other leg is paved all the way to Atjoni (where boats leave for the upper Suriname river) there are tourism agencies scattered throughout Paramaribo, and we see lots of white tourists and ex-pats all over the city). I can only imagine what differences have come to be in the past few decades. We will certainly enjoy our time here, and will get at least a brief posts up now and again while here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldfart123 View Post
Mike you are evil to suggest sending me pictures of "old native ladies"! Glad you both are safe and yes I'm still ridding every chance I get. I traded my RT for a G1600GTL and have enjoyed breaking it in. My next big trip will be to the Yellowstone area next year.
Keep the great pictures coming!
Eric
Don't worry, Eric, I'll keep our ride report out of the basement. Your new ride sounds sweet! And plans to Yellowstone even better. I look forward to a report on that trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by linksIT View Post
Just finish reading your fantastic ride report. Congrats on making it to SA. Best wishes to the both of you in your new setting. Thanks for sharing.
linksIT - glad to have you along for the ride! Thanks for the well wishes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagletalon View Post
Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Glad to hear that you are now able to spend more time in SA which will allow for more thavel opportunities in the future.

Later
John
John, thanks for the comments and for continuing to follow along with us. We are looking forward to continued travel in SA, as well!
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:26 AM   #175
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Great info on these last updates

Do you know any information about the big jungle loop road in Suriname? I have traced it out on google earth and it looks doable, it's where you cross from Guyana border on the river where you would take a boat and go upstream where the road through the interior deadends at the river. This road then crosses much of the interior and then back down to Paramaribo eventually.

Thanks for sharing and keep up with the great updates as not much is shared about these countries in the East.

John
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:34 AM   #176
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Great updates so far. I'm glad you somehow enjoyed your Venezuela ride even though you didn't have much time to explore.
Last February I rode to Georgetown with three other friends. Exiting Linden, just past the Bauxite Processing Plant where the road turns sharply to the left, as soon as we made the turn we where faced with several machine gun toting policemen in the middle of the road, pointing the guns to our chests, with fingers on the triggers Neddless to say, even though accustomed to our own Police with it's less than orthodox tactics, the adrenaline rush was plenty... They where not friendly at all, but we had been speeding and weaving between cars "Venezuelan Style" trying to beat the sun into Georgetown... I actually got pretty worried after a couple of minutes of yelling and machine gun pointing... Luckily some kind of Top Official came, with a chestful of decorations and sent us on our way.... We didn't speed any more after that

Have a safe trip... Please include a few details on where to get insurance for French Guiana if you happen to go there with the bike...
We hope to make it back to explore Venezuela more in the future, and will give you a shout if we can. Sounds like you had a helluva adrenaline rush with those gun toting policeman in Guyana! Even though speeding tickets can be expensive, I think I still prefer that risk much more than the risk that comes with machine guns. But you're right, machine guns can be very effective at slowing you down...

We will let you know how the French Guiana insurance shakes out. A few hundred euros for a year's worth of coverage just ain't gonna happen. We've got some time to work on it and will keep you posted.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:11 AM   #177
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Great RR!! Thanks so much for all the detail on trials with the bike......(not what you'd like to have to do, but a necessary evil!)
Potters for Peace looks like a wonderful project! Thanks for the link!
I am subscribed! Best wishes with the continuing adventure!
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Old 01-17-2012, 06:41 AM   #178
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greetings from chile!
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Old 03-13-2012, 04:06 PM   #179
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Hey Tall Mike - thanks for followig along with our ride! I'm glad you were interested in that Potters for Peace link. I think it's a really cool program. Sorry that we've been incommunicado for awhile, but following is a brief update from our last couple of months here in Suriname (with more detail available on our blog, if interested).

Aprilius - greetings to you as well! We will eventually make it to Chile, I swear.
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Old 03-13-2012, 04:15 PM   #180
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Suriname Update

So, it's been a few months but we are finally getting updates posted from our time in Suriname so far. Mostly, we've been living the village life in Tutubuka with short, few day trips into Paramaribo for resupply and meetings. Overall, Jill's been enjoying her return to Saramacca, boosted by the great group of women she most closely works with, and Mike has also been having a good time while attempting to learn Saramaccan.

Following are some observations from our time here in Suriname, mostly from Mike's rookie perspective. If anyone wants to see more of what we've been up to, feel free to check out our blog.

Daily Life in Tutubuka

We lucked out and have a nice, well-constructed (= fewer critters inside), rather tall (= less crouching), 2 room house to live in. Pretty simple, pretty comfortable.







After the first week of walking across town to use a latrine (sometimes 5 minutes can be too far...), we now even have a new pit latrine right out our back door.


(it's the little things in life that can make a big difference)

Our daily routine generally consists of waking up around daybreak (give or take an hour), working out, eating some sort of simple breakfast (often involving peanut butter), then going to the creek to wash dishes, clothes, and ourselves.


(the rocks are useful for washing clothes, setting down dishes, and for the random kid rock jump. It's only a few feet deep so we don't do too much jumping)


(looking the other way down the creek)

Traditionally, women carry heavy loads on their heads, a skill that Jill picked up while living here previously. She's still got it!



Back at the house, it's usually time to start cooking lunch (and dinner, cooking enough at once to get 2 meals out of it). Most of the time rice with veggies are in store, assuming we have some from the city (stay good around 1 week) or have earned some by going to ground to work the fields with some ladies. Jill is much better about earning veggies than Mike. She likes weeding and loves to get out into the jungle. I don't mind labor, but weeding is just not my thing (especially in a jungle, where pulling weeds seems incredibly futile). That attitude (of me trying to get out of important labor) fits with the usual gender roles within Saramaccan culture. That's about the only gender role that fits so well...


(the trail back to Resida's ground)


(an overview of her area to be worked/planted)


(Resida pickin' the goods)


(it was watermelon season during January, and when it's watermelon season, it's WATERMELON season. There is an excess of watermelons everywhere with a surprising lack of variety of other fruit/veggies available at the time. For the jungle being so conducive to plant growth, not many fruit/veggie options at any given time)

Saramaccans find it hysterical that Mike helps with dish/clothes washing chores. A few women at the creek have positive comments regarding me helping out, but usually people are perplexed by why the man of the relationship would do such a thing. And when Bai's father found out that Mike cooked breaded fish that he tried, he laughed out loud for a good 10 minutes. It really doesn't help Mike's case that he goes to the jungle without a gun, helps out at ground, washes dishes/clothes, etc. Men don't do any of that. Men go to the jungle to hunt for meat. And sometimes they're successful.

In the past few months there have been 3 tapirs killed by people in Tjaicondre (neighboring village) and Tutubuka. There are some traditions/rituals practiced at the kill site, but then the animal is brought back to the village to be parted out to all (or mostly all). The hunter and his family receive a large portion and then other pieces are doled out.


(the hunter taking his portion of bofo, or tapir, back to his family. Most they will eat, some of it they will sell to other people around town who didn't get their own portion)

(the butchering and parting in progress)


(the only evidence remaining after less than 2 hours!)

Saramaccans generally share their food within the community. As mentioned, food is a common form of payment for helping out. Also, "living well" with the community often means that you cook up a dish and share portions with your friends and neighbors. (However, some friends and neighbors are better than others at keeping that a 2-way street.) It is also completely acceptable to ask for food from anyone eating. Often times people eating something as we are walking past will offer us a spoonful to try.

Along a similar line of sharing, Saramaccans are very used to sharing their space. Private space is minimal. Everyone's door is open as soon as they wake up, only closing when they are away from home or sleeping. Sometimes that can be fantastic, sometimes very overwhelming. It's usually the more calm times that we're able to get a couple of pictures.







Some other Highlights of Daily Life:
Electricity generally comes on daily from 7pm to 11pm. Otherwise it's really dark and hard for both Jill and me to read by candlelight.
Soccer games on Sunday - teams come from neighboring villages on the river to play soccer, complete with jerseys, refs, and cold beer for the spectators.



Towels are acceptable attire - usually only in the "neighborhood" around your own house, but how great is that?!?

FUTURE PLANS:

We now have some parts ready to prep the ol' TA for the next leg of our ride - new bars, bearings, and fork seals. That work will take place in April/May as we have spare days in Paramaribo. We still expect to roll out of Suriname in early June, likely headed through French Guiana towards Belem, Brazil, then back west to Peru. We are excited to get back on the road again!

But for now, we will mostly be kicking back in Tutubuka.

More eventually...
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