December 27, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Art and Sue's Adventures in Suriname

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Suriname: Peace Corps Suriname: The Peace Corps in Suriname: December 27, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Art and Sue's Adventures in Suriname

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Saturday, December 27, 2003 - 1:51 pm: Edit Post

Art and Sue's Adventures in Suriname

Art and Sue's Adventures in Suriname

It’s been a quiet week in Paramaribo, so this will be shorter than usual. (And an apology to Garrison Kiellor)Tippi the cat is more fully integrated into our life, completely loving and entertaining us. She catches the largest cockroaches we have seen here to date. The roaches have taken up residence in the compost pile and when I went to turn it, they scurried. Part of Tippi’s daily routine is a roach hunt. You’d think she was a lion hunting zebras. A trip to the vet is in order for shots and worming one of these days.

It was one of those weekends where we ended up more tired on Monday morning than on the prior Friday evening.

Visits and visitors
Saturday was shopping and cleaning and then to Els and Tom’s for dinner. They have a new puppy, named Floris, a typical Suriname dog with one black eye. Puppies leave their mothers here when they are four to six weeks old! He’s just a little fur ball. You can barely see him in Sue’s arms in the accompanying photos.

Els made noodles, then lasagna with fish and shrimp. Positively exquisite. Best I’ve ever had! They’ve had a few tough weeks, their house was broken into while they were asleep and Tom awoke to a stranger in the bedroom. No damage, nothing missing, but deeply disturbing. Then puppy number one got run over by the security system installers. Then they got the flu.

Their best friends from Holland are coming next week. In early March we are all going to Kwanna Island in Professor Doktor van Blommestein Meer, otherwise known as the Brokopondo Reservoir. (picture attached) It looks idyllic and we can’t wait. This is a private island that is rented out!

Sunday’s bike ride was routine except that we stopped at Jeff and Kristin’s and picked up some bamboo poles that Jeff cut for my lamp project. Jeff told us that the place where he was cutting the bamboo is sort of dangerous. At any rate a man came up to him and asked if he was alone. Jeff thought of the alternatives quickly but the guy said “I will go keep a watch out for you. They stab people here.” So thanks Jeff and all is well! Big bamboo is heavy and I was worried that a large bump would send the sharp cut end through the bottom of the saddle bag. Fortunately other than a few strange looks the trip home was uneventful.

We were home for about a half hour when Jose and Rosa came over. Jose is trying to set up a data base to track people that get tested for HIV at Maxi Linder, the foundation they work for. So we sat with the book, Access for Dummies in our lap trying to make things work. We had moderate success so the title was apt.

Lunch, clean up, and just as I headed for my nap a neighbor dropped in. @#%*?! We’ve spoken with Jerry in the street several times and wanted to get to know him better. Yesterday he had free time and we couldn’t turn him away. So we yakked until about 15 minutes before the new PC Country Director for Suriname was coming for dinner.

Jerry is a carpenter and was living in Aruba, but had to return to Suriname to get his documentation in order. Even the Islands frown on illegal immigration. In the mean time he had rented his house out and was now living next door to us in the house of a friend. Along with a bunch of other unrelated people. He was a bit stressed by the living arrangement that features loud music and normally active 20 somethings, but he’ll deal with it for a few more months when he hopes to return to Aruba. He learned English in school as a kid and never stopped studying.

After Jerry left we jumped in the shower and then Charlie, our new PC Country Director, arrived. Charlie had been living near Ensenada in Baja when the call from the PC came. He was a sales exec in the Mideast for Boeing and also served in Panama and Saudi Arabia in the military. He’s our age, seems genuinely happy and to our eyes resembles Santa. He’s going to be terrific for PC Suriname.

Going back to Tom and Els break-in, it seems surprising to us that the apparent crime level is as low as it is here. The police and military are almost invisible, and when beckoned take forever to respond. What we don’t know is how much really goes on because it is unreported by victims and not reported in the papers. The English version of the Ware Tijd (one of the local papers) doesn’t report crime at all, and we’ve all but given up trying to read the Dutch version. I used to sit for hours with the dictionary trying to make sense of a few articles and got so frustrated I quit. Tom tells me it is not me, but the paper, he has a hard time reading the paper too and it’s his native language.

Abe and Anica
We learned today that our colleagues Abe and Anica Miller-Rushing are leaving the country at the end of this week. They had appointments at STINASU, the Suriname Nature Association. It seemed to be perfect, two former environmentalists assigned to a nature group. But, they had a similar experience to me in that the organization had no plan in place to utilize their skills. The PC tried to find a new situation for them but in the end it simply wasn’t to be. So they are headed to Skowhegan, Maine this coming Friday. We’ll tell you about the upcoming Thursday night party next week!

HJ deVries
The PC has made a connection for me with the deVries company, a 100 year old institution here in Suriname. Among other things, they operate a brick-making factory about 25 miles south of Paramaribo. The village of Bernard Dorp is an Amerindian community with a few pottery makers. Since deVries is making ceramics of a sort and so are a few villagers, the idea is to see what might grow out of a cooperative effort. I will be involved in trying to shape what that effort might look like.

Brick making is on the surface easier than I would have imagined. Grind up some clay, mix it with water and squoosh it through a giant version of your mother’s (grandmothers for our fellow volunteers) meat grinder with a brick shaped plate in the end instead of one for chopped meat. Then cook the bricks for 3 days at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. There are a few hitches however, and the scrap pile is pretty big. But the mountain of clay is almost large enough to ski on.

This week’s collection of pictures is from our new Minolta Dimage Xi. It is smaller than a pack of cigarettes and weighs 4 oz. It is small enough to schlep in a pocket so we won’t miss as many shots. Given our track record with electronic equipment here in Suriname look for descriptions of problems in about 2-3 months. If not, we should write a review for the camera on

There won’t be any more photos of Art. During Sunday night’s phone call my mother said I looked fat!

We’ve been home a week, catching up on all the things you don’t do when you travel. Peace Corps paper work for medical treatment is very complicated and time consuming. While neither of us is sick there are little things that need attending to. Mom and Karl also need some looking after, so more time spent on the phone with doctors, then visiting doctors and then visiting pharmacies.

The weather has been spectacular; a big front came through last Sunday, leaving us with frigid nights and warm hazy fall days. The perfect weather for bike riding, hiking and goofing off. Around here along with fall weather comes acorns. A one inch acorn falling 50 feet makes a resounding crack if you happen to be inside an Airstream trailer. It scared the bejesus out of us the first time. Thought maybe someone was shooting at us. An acorn at 35 miles per hour packs a wallop!

This past week the cold nights have been spectacular; last night a full moon, but earlier in the week early in the morning the Milky Way has been in full bloom with Orion high in the southeastern sky. A sure sign that winter will come. Funny how it never misses! Winter that is.

We’ve gotten out for a few bike rides and one hike this week. The hike took us to Ramapo Torne, a steep 1000’ hill overlooking the Ramapo River Valley and the New York State Thruway. There’s a crack in the rock near the top (no summit here, the top is a flat granitic plateau.) and if you put your ear to the crack you hear: tick, tick, tick. Legend has it that when George Washington and the American troops passed near here in 1776, General George dropped his watch in the crack and its still ticking. I’m not sure how George Cameron Swazey missed that story for Timex.

The bike rides took us along the roads in the Ramapo Valley. Except for weekend traffic they were perfect rides, the temperature such that we had to work pretty hard to break a sweat. No more flat tires!

The big deal this week are the American League playoffs between the Yankees and the Redsocks. We’ve been New Yorkers on and off for a good part of our lives, and when I get stirred up enough to root for anyone it’s the Yankees. But enough is enough and now I want to see Boston break the Bambino curse and win the playoffs and the series. But they’re going to have to do better than they have been. They got a good start and won the first game, but the last two games have gone to the Yanks. One good thing about rooting for the Yankee’s is that you are seldom disappointed.

Tomorrow we head for Philly to visit with Harry and Debbie and celebrate Sue’s and Harry’s birthdays. Harry and Deb move to Florida for the winter, leaving at the end of October. We are heading down a week later and taking Harry’s canoe with us. Harry’s 16.5’ Winona canoe can be paddled solo or tandem, while our larger canoe doesn’t paddle solo all that well. I haven’t been able to convince Sue to paddle the Everglades Wilderness Waterway with me. She’s nervous about the alligators and doesn’t want to face

Florida mosquitoes. So stay tuned for notes on my solo journey.

The Kleine Jari celebration. One year ago we had a big bash in Suriname for Sue’s 60th. This year was much more low key. Our optometrist friend, Dana, recommended a restaurant nearby that we had not heard of. The wine was great, too much very good food and a fabulous pecan pie for desert. Not sure how Carmichaels got to be an Italian restaurant, and how Italian restaurants got to serving French style sliced duck breast, but it was good. I think I was the only person in the place who’s hair wasn’t totally grey or white or dyed. I refer to my grey as “sandy” so that lets me off the hook! Nice, romantic, but not as much fun as at 66 Martha Straat!

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Suriname; PCVs in the Field - Suriname; Older Volunteers



By unknown ( - on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 5:27 am: Edit Post

wow nice story

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.