Part Two of the students’ reflections and thoughts of Suriname.
The interior brought new meanings to the words appreciation, ruggedness, and beauty. I appreciated the nature of the interior, understood what ruggedness actually meant, and saw the beauty of individuality and diversity. The city of Paramaribo did not offer me a complete understanding of Suriname, but the interior closed the missing gap.
The simple necessities for an average Saramaccan would be food, shelter, family, and religion. In America, we would call those necessities as well, but the Saramaccan villages don’t have the extra luxuries that we depend on today.
The villages of Botopasi and Pikinsly have distinct differences in religion. One thing I found amazing when it came to their religious differences is that religion molded the villages. Not only was religion something they followed, but it was reflected in their habits, and in how their houses were made.
At the end of the day, I felt an understanding with the people of Botopasi and Pikinsly. The people might have a life that seems foreign to us, but they seem pretty content with what they have. They are perfect examples of people who live daily with the simple necessities of food, shelter, family, and religion.
Photo by Emilee
Heather de Bari
The most exciting and enjoyable part of the trip was collecting samples on the mudflats. On my first day of collecting, as we were heading towards the Pomona site, I sat on the boat in absolute anticipation of what we were going to do. Once we reached the site, I was the first one to jump in the mud, assuming the mud would only come to my knees. This, however, was not the case. In fact, the mud came up to my waist. Everyone jumped in after me and we all used each other to pull our legs out of the thick mud. Pulling ourselves into the boat was even more difficult, and yet we were all smiling and laughing even in our struggle to get into the boat. Even though only a few of us were working on projects involving tanaids, everyone helped collect and interpret the mud samples and the organisms that were found in the samples. It was the first time that we became a “Suriname family” since we were collectively working towards a common goal. The feeling of a collective bond would only intensify during our four-day stay in the interior. I returned to the mudflat the following day with only the other “tanaid people.” The second day was, although enjoyable, strikingly different from the first day because we were not all together. I feel so blessed to be part of such a fun, easy going, and adventurous group, especially when we were covered in mud.
Photo by Courtney on Heather’s camera
Going to the rain forest has been a fantasy of mine ever since I was about eight years old and had a good understanding of what one can find there. I write fantasy because I never expected to actually get there and still can’t believe that the opportunity actually arose. The first day in the interior is the single day that will surface every time I think back on the whole experience. The waterfall and the surrounding forest was simply extravagant, like a piece of heaven. It had taken countless amounts of energy and a lot of unnecessary travel, but when I finally arrived everything slipped away. Even as I write this days later, I still see the trees shrouded in mist, the sun slightly peaking high above me, and the distinct sound of the rushing waterfall deep within the trees. I can still smell the fresh rain and feel the mud caked on the back of my legs.
I lost all sense of being feminine. My hair was a mess, I was dirty, I probably smelled terrible, I swore often as I slipped down each steep cliff, I could care less about any bugs, and the dirt on my face never phased me. While staring up at the waterfall falling amongst endless layers of green, rushing onto the rocks below, I felt completely ok with going home at that point. I had pushed my limits and saw something nearly indescriable. These two weeks have been packed with countless one-time experiences; part of me will always remain in the jungle.
The trip to Suriname was probably a little different for me than for the rest of the class. It might be because I was the only science major, but it might also be because I was the only male. This means that not only did I learn how important the environment is to animals, but I also learned how important one’s hairstyle is to one’s outfit. I don’t know what’s more impressive: surviving living in the rainforest for five days or surviving two weeks surrounded by my all female classmates. No, I’m kidding around; The Suriname trip was great. I learned a lot about conservation, management, development, and culture. It was also amazing to see how the local people use the surrounding rainforest for everything that they need.
Kimmy and I also finished our fish project which is good because it helps Dean’s future research. Our project consisted of getting fish from the local fisherman and dissecting them to see what they were eating. Unfortunately we did not find what we were looking for, but we did find similar creatures that the fish were munching on. I think we just need to find the right kind of fish.
Overall, I had a great experience in Suriname. The weather may be hard to handle at times, but the people who live here are friendly and helpful which makes for a great research trip. And who know I may come down for a follow up trip with Dean in the winter.
Photo by Vanessa
This trip has been too amazing for words. I did not know what to expect coming into this course, venturing into a foreign country with a group of people that I did not really know that well. I have really enjoyed everything that we have done while we were down here, especially going in to the Interior last week. The rain forest was my favorite thing that we did this trip; I loved hiking through it and seeing the different villages. I was very nervous while we were getting ready to head into the Interior, but once we got there it was amazing. It definitely made driving on the Red Road for 5 hours worth it. It was very interesting seeing the differences between the cultures of the people in the rain forest and the city, compared to those in the United States. Doing my research project with Michael was also a lot of fun. It was interesting to go to the markets and communicate with fishermen to obtain fish. I have learned a lot of things on this trip and have gotten to know a great group of people that I am not sure I would have otherwise. It truly has been an eye opening experience for me and I am very lucky that I was given such a wonderful opportunity.
Photo by Kimmy