We're adjusting (at local pace) to Suriname. Getting into Dutch lessons with our teacher Sandra who was the first Surinamese person we've met to arrive at anything on time. We're getting used to the neighbourhood dogs on the constant prowl for something to bark at, bats swooping towards insects at night when we walk, the local transit system (inefficient and slow as it is) and the heat.
On the weekend, we took a day trip out to Cola Kreek. Its name completely describes the area. A coke coloured creek you can swim in. The tourism board has developed the area a bit, so there are flush toilets and change rooms and an abundance of Parbo, the fave local beer. They also have the white sand creek bottom all cleaned out and devoid of rocks and reeds and stuff. A nice place to relax for a day. We went with Grace Baptist Church, the little church we talked about and were fed incredibly with Roti, ice water and soda, and my personal favourite – chocolate cake.
The country's been growing on me. Chinese supermarkets on every street that sell everything from penny candies and groceries, to stationary and women's clothing. Unsalted peanut butter. Cooked vegetables all the time. (Our Dutch teacher looked at us like we were crazy when we pulled out sandwhiches with raw spinach. Seriously people never eat raw veggies). Dutch signs that kind of make sense but just kind of don't most of the time. Homes with bamboo polls sporting multicolored flags, showing a Hindu family lives there. Garbage everywhere. Lots of it! People have no shame chucking bottles and plastic bags on to the street, into rivers and the ocean. Most people deal with garbage by incinerating it in their backyards, or street corners, or in public parks.
Suriname's a country of imports. It sells its bauxite, gold, diamonds and tourism, and in return, buys everything from the West. Or from China. It's expensive here. And with oil prices rising, the cost of living keeps inflating, like this huge balloon that makes the basics more and more out of peoples' reach. Still though, Suriname's a country that calls itself poor, and there are indeed people who are, but most people have cellphones and cars. SUVs aren't uncommon either. Most people in Suriname have made at least one trip to Holland.
They say they're third world. And although there are patches, especially in the interior, I think their benchmark is a little high – too much Western presence. Just because it is not like the US doesn't mean third world.
Work in this "developing" nation isn't the easiest. This society is based heavily on handouts. It is hard to train when locals are more interested in a steady stream of volunteers to do the work (and the accompanying funds for projects). Development here may be like pulling teeth. I'm not sure where it comes from – maybe the years of slavery and colonialism. Anyway, we'll do our best.