Suriname to Trinidad and onto Tobago,
It was very strange sleeping alone in this huge water park. There was other people in the park, but I never saw them. I had arranged for a taxi to take me to the airport, with a pickup time of 4am, but I was nervous that no one one would show up, and of course there would be no one to call at that hour. In the end he came on time, but that didn’t stop me from getting up at 1:30am, tossing around till 2:30am, and then just saying what the hell and getting up.
Sleeping in my own hammock and tropical sleeping bag is a trick that I have not fully mastered. You have to stand up and pull your sleeping up around you, like you were going to do a sack race. Then you flop into you hammock hoping that you don’t miss the narrow opening in the fabric. Once in, you have to wiggle around until you are on a diagonal, and then you have to figure out how to get comfortable, and hopefully you remembered to go to the bathroom!
The air was still and humid. There were lights on in the park and across the water. I could see the shimmering reflections in the water. It was such a beautiful, yet unusual, almost surrealistic finish to my trip to Suriname, and so I had time to reflect on my travels. I couldn’t believe I was there, and I couldn’t believe that I was going. A lot of time when I have been on vacation, toward the end I have been wishing I was home in my own warm bed. This trip hasn’t been like that. Oh, it was hard, and rainy, and hot and humid. I’ve been soaked for hours on end. My butt hurt from long hours of being bumped around on a wooden plank in either a boat or the back of a pickup truck. Thank heavens for my inflatable seat! And I still have some unknown bites on my elbow, knee, and back that itch like crazy even after two weeks. But there was something about this trip. There were also a lot of things that were disappointing, like where the hell ARE the animals?
Suriname is a country of contrasts. There is just about every race and religion living together in harmony. Do you know that Paramaribo is the only place in the world where a mosque sits happily next to a synagogue? Where a white Dutch guy marries a dark skinned bush negro, and Indians from India run tours filled with old white people around the jungle. And these people are proud of their diversity. Rodney King should come here. His infamous saying, “Can’t we all just get along?” can be answered here by, “Yes we can–in Suriname!”
So I was delighted and disappointed, with my trip. It was a perfect 65th birthday present! Excuse me because I think I am going to cry now! I hope the other passengers on the plane don’t see me?
Kia’s Hotel Across from the Beach
Well the hotel IS across from the beach, but you have to walk a half of a block down to be able to get passage to it. Once you get there it is a beautiful blue Caribbean beach, but pretty touristy. Nice for a walk, or a quick swim, maybe some people watching while sipping a Carib Beer, but not the kind that makes you want to spend the whole day.
My room is very nice and clean with a nice patio and a green front yard. In front, right on the main street sits a nice little open air restaurant.
Kia’s Hotel Across from the Beach
Today I rented a car and decided to drive around the island. As soon as I picked up the car, the first thing I noticed is that it is awkward driving on the wrong side of the road. Having the steering wheel on the right should compensate, but I think it makes it even a little bit harder. Fortunately, as I started off down the side street I clipped another car with my passengers side mirror. That let me know that I needed to leave even more room on that side. Lucky lesson.
The second thing I realized, was something that I used to do many years ago, and that is, instead of booking a room when you arrive in a foreign country, just rent a car. Then drive around until you find the perfect spot, get the room and then return the car. I remembered that as I drove around the island and kept saying to myself, ” I’d stay there!” or “There” or , well you get it. Kia’s Hotel was a convenient thing to do when booking from Suriname, but there are oh, so many better choices.
Anyway, I soon adapted to the driving thing and was amazed just how lush and beautiful the island is. You know, both Suriname and Tobago are lush and green, but Suriname’s green is kind of a dank, and dark and a forbidding scary kind of color green. Whereas Tobago’s green is light and bright and happy. It just makes you smile.
So I drove from exotic beach to exotic beach for almost the whole day. Some of the beaches you could only see from high above, and others you drove right next to. I stopped at each one and took a few photos. Hopefully I got some good shots? Another thing that amazed me was that I had visions of that perfect beach bar with sandy floor serving local Carib Lager beer. I didn’t find even one place to have a beer. What is it with these people? I picked the one place in a small beach town that had a beer sign out front only to find that he was out of beer. I didn’t get a beer until I returned to the town I started in.
Nice day! Tomorrow I am going to take an all day snorkeling trip to, what I hope to be some pretty spectacular viewing.
Day 3, Last day
Kia’s Hotel Across from the Beach
Well, as with all, else the snorkeling trip turned out to be something other than what I had expected. Some good, some bad–just like my trip. Here, as in most places in this part of the work, you contract with one guy, and then you get shuffled around to various other guys/companies. My guy, Evans from Bluewaters Tours, after collecting my $80 US, handed me off to another guy, who drove me to the edge of a mangrove swamp, where a full boat of tourists was waiting for me. I had my doubt that this was going to be a first class snorkeling tour, when I saw that most of the boat was filled with parents with their small children. Unless they were midgets, I reasoned, this was probably not going to be my dream snorkeling trip.
I boarded the boat, and sat in the only space available, in front, which was not under the shade. I didn’t need the shade, because it almost immediately started to rain.. We headed out to sea in a large wooden boat with twin 75hp engines in the rear. We hadn’t gone 100 feet , when he stopped and told us that this is where we were going to return for lunch. I was already beginning to obsess over that fact of another lost opportunity. Trying to calm myself, and just be in the moment, I listened to Steven explain, that we would be stopping at two, maybe three places to snorkel. He started up the boat again, and out to sea we headed. He explained just how lucky we were to have such a beautiful calm day, but the huge swells breaking over the boat instilled fear in a good part of the audience. One lady from Japan was already starting to get sick. Steven just kept pushing on along the coast. After 30 minutes of this punishment we were told that we would be stopping here to snorkel. What, where? “Just jump out of the boat,” he said. I looked at the setup and thought to myself, even though this was an incredibly dangerous situation– there wasn’t even a ladder– perhaps the snorkeling would be great.
I jumped in to find cloudy seas with some minor coral patches, and a variety of small tropical fish. I couldn’t wait for the rest, as they were taking their time. As I swam away from the boat, I heard, “No way, Dad, I’m not getting in there!” The snorkeling was marginal at best. About half the boat finally got in the water. By that time I was done. Steven had put out a ladder by now and I used it to get back in the boat. Ten minutes later, so was every one else, and we moved out again breaking through the rolling waves.
About an hour later we hit another spot, this time close to land. Land was a jaggedly outcropping of black boulders plunging into the sea. No beach diving for us. Again, Steven told us to get out and enjoy ourselves. I did, and it was the same, cloudy water, lots of dead coral and a profusion of medium sized tropical fish. I had a pretty good time swimming around in the sea. It felt good to be out there. The water was fairly warm, and it had stopped raining, but it was still cloudy above and below the water line. I could see that more people were now braving entry into the water, and I could hear the shrieks as each person hit the water.
We continued to follow this same senario for the rest of the afternoon, ending up at about 3:30pm on the beach for lunch and drinks. So that was that. Riding in the boar along the coast grave a great view of the island. A completely different view from what I had seen yesterday. Once again nothing was as expected, but somehow it still turned out to be fun. Just like the rest of the trip.
Back at my room I packed, took a shower and got a good evenings rest. I have a 1:30am flight so I had to get up at 11:00pm having slept a good solid 4 hours.
Pipe Creek, TX 78063
And so, after more than 20 hours of traveling, I find myself in my own bed and in my own wife’s arms. Truly, there is no place like home. As the reality of all of the responsibilities that I have shirked by being gone for a month set in, Suriname and the jungle just seem like they are light years away. Except of course for the intense jungle itching that I still have, and continues to drive me crazy. Mary, my sister, told my wife that she should spray me down with Buy-Gone before letting me back in the house. Fortunately, she didn’t go to that level, but she did show up with a nice tube of Benadryl which seems to be kind of working. Thanks dear, now can you put some on that place between my shoulder blades?
Hopefully, this trip will live on in the photographs that I have brought home. Excuse me, but I need to go download them RIGHT now.