A visit to Suriname would not be complete without a trip into the jungle. After a harrowing drive down extremely rumpety bumpety roads, half of our time spent driving on the wrong side due to the enormous potholes while head-on to facing traffic experiencing similar dilemmas on their side. Suriname has some infrastructure issues. Arrived in Atjoni at the busiest time of the year. Residents of Paramaribo traveling (with all manner of gifts ranging from song birds to new kitchen cabinetry) back to their villages and village dwellers heading into the big city.
We clamoured over precariously parked and exceedingly tippy korjaals until our driver indicated that we could settle into a bright yellow one. Korjaals are typical long boats made of a single log that has been hollowed, burned out and then wet-form-stretched into a rather elegant extremely long canoe-like boat. They are the fastest (and often only) way to travel between the villages along the Suriname river. They move perfectly through the water and sway elegantly around the rapids and the rocks.
My face could hardly handle my enormous grin as we careened, smoothly dodging between enormous rocks and rapids, along the narrow banks of the most beautiful, bountiful bright green luscious rainforest jungle.
We arrived at Isadou island with great disappointment that the ride was over but eagerness to see what else was in store. The island accommodations were simple and somewhat disorganised (simply a more laid-back notion of time and service than our characters are familiar with) but we had beds and a hot lunch prepared by Celinetje, who runs the camp with her husband André.
The jungle of course contains beasts galore. We saw six tarantulas close to our accommodation during our 3-day visit and came close to many more I suppose. I frequently found myself pulling the netting closer around my bed at night.
The air was ringing with frogs, toads, bugs, monkeys and other beasts all vying to be the loudest (and not always most melodic).
The world literally throbs with this cacophony day and even more at night adding a sort of edgy excitement to the experience.
Macsen had taken fishing gear and fished for piranhas while Emma and I were swimming in the river (?!?!?). The catch did not include piranhas but 20 small fish that Macsen cleaned with his mini-Leatherman (gotta start them out young) and Celinetje fried them up as a starter for dinner.
Our visit included a good hike through the jungle and a walk through the small Saamaka village of Jawjaw (pronounced Yow-Yow) next to our camp. The village holds a mix of the old ways (men and women used to live in separate huts, the men’s being much more ornate), traditional cooking done over open fires inside the houses, reed huts hidden in between a few cement houses owned by those that have made some money in Paramaribo or elsewhere, a modern Christian church and the house of the local shaman. All of these elements appear to work in harmony and coupled with the cheeky kids peeking and running about (as in any neighbourhood) create a charming atmosphere.
And we closed off our trip with another long glide down the river back to Atjoni. And the enormous grin revisited my face and stayed for the entire journey.