Tropicalized
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The holidays are history and we shared the european winter feeling only thanks to the Blokker shop in Paramaribo, as we discovered there a shelf stocked up with... ski gloves. In the meantime we now finally prepare for the next leg. We didn't plan to stay longer than 1 year in Surinam, as this means another journey to the customs offices in Albina and French Guyana to get new visa. But while the men continued the work, two days of summer holidays with wine and French bread , Southamerican-French architecture , lively markets and exclusive dinners within reach were not unattractive at all, most importantly because we were a little bit tired. But renovation phase 1 is now finally concluded and we are preparing to hoist the sails again.

We celebrated Christmas at home, i.e. in the house. BBQ on our balcony, two hammocks and Boris was invited as a special guest as he was totally miserable. Fought with a dog twice as high so 4x bigger than he is. Result: a large wound in his forepaw and a cut in one ear, skinny and apathetic, and a dull and dirty fur. We washed him with real dog shampoo, fed him with his favourite dog food and for the rest of the day he remained asleep. Didn't even wake up immediately when JW put a roasted spare rib right under his nose.

New Year's Eve in Suriname. In the evening not a soul out on the street, everyone is at home as of 10 PM. “Otherwise your house will cry surely?” (Oma says). You shouldn't make your house feel miserable at the last moment, so you stay at home. Nice opportunity to do a “wasi” as it is good to be clean when closing the old year and entering the new year. A real wasi is actually not a normal bath, but a ritual originating from the Marrons, who soak special leaves and herbs in a special water and use this mixture to wash themselves to find luck in the new year. On the stroke of 12 everybody hits the street again, celebrating the new year.
We celebrated New Year's Eve in Mae's pub with a Dutch/Surinamese company: sailors, fishermen and locals. It was all very animated. Sofie baked the traditional Dutch doughnut balls and there was a small pig cooked on the spit. Furthermore the inevitable chicken, rice, noodles and Dutch potatoe salads. The dogs positioned themselves strategically under the table where the pig was served. There were lots of fire crackers to drive away the evil spirits. Boris ran barking after every fire cracker and because we feared that he would catch one right at the moment of explosion, we held him tight when things got pretty hot. On Petra is assisted by Hoemba.

After one year in Surinam of which the last three months working very hard, we are now completeley tropicalized. Our labourers work from 7AM until 5PM and this means that we have to jump in he dinghy at 0630. So the alarm wakes us up at 0550! Except on Sundays, when it is switched off and we have the day to ourselves. Well, during a six-day working week a  to-do-list develops, with items such as blocked feed-pipe of the toilet (the river brings lots of mud into the pump water), find leaks, chase bats from under the mizzen's sailcover, laundry, shopping, etc.
With the house we gained lots of time in the planning. Originally we would be finished by 2010, but this is now moved backward to 2007. An enormous number of trucks loaded with wood drove up and we calculated that we used in the roof and the balconies more than 10m3 of tropical wood (400 euro/m3). The attic floor took another 5m3 of planed wood with tongue and groove (630 euro/m3). All beautiful tropic hardwood; with the only disadvantage (for the men) that it is extremely heavy.
After the wood, the sand was driven up: 23 truck loads, totalling 115m3 of sand which was used to raise and level our site. Other quantities for the statistics: 100 liters of creosote to impregnate al this wood against insects, approximately 200 kgs of nails and lots more.
Building or renovating a home in Surinam is very feasible. Our four labourers work 9.5 hours a day, 6 days a week. In all 228 working hours, totalling 480 euro a week. We are extremely pleased with them, and they feel the same about us. We often get compliments because we work so hard! They were completely stunned when P climbed on the roof to do some painting. The scaffold consists of only 1 plank 20 cm wide, which is small enough to keep away most people (and surely women) from their working premises. Except a sailor who has a safety harness with lifeline.
After two weeks the roof was finished. Which was necessary as it rained cats and dogs all the time. Around the turn of the year our house got the characteristic elements that completed the transformation of a dull 11-room block into a creative 6-room palace; with the 5 pitched piles on either side carrying the roof and the wooden gallery where we can play tag. shows the back side of the house. To see the front in an earlier stage, click

Even on a misty morning the garden looks good. We have 12 orange trees which are the favourite site of a cute little bird, the kissmequick. This bird eats fowrudoti seeds and excretes them again on the branches of our orange trees, and these seeds grow into miles long strangling branches which eventually take the trees in a deadly embrace. So we are not so fond of the kissmequick anymore.

We will not leave our home unattended when we go sailing. We found someone who checks twice a week for unwanted occupants and he will work 2 half days a month in the garden. This costs only 30 euro a month and everybody is happy.
Sailing: we plan to leave around the 20th of February. First to Tobago, about 500 nm so we'll be 4-5 days under way. There we go snorkeling and scuba diving, alternated with reading lots of books. In short: take a break. We continue to the Grenadines and from there up north to Santa Lucia and Martinique. By the end of May we'll head back for Surinam, to make a fresh start on the house again in June.

Hot Dog News concerning Domburg's stray dogs. With Boris we have  a LAT-relation since Christmas. If he feels like accompanying us, he jumps into the car. That is actually every day and he even sleeps beside the car! He hunts for iguana's in the garden; but for the most part of the day he stays within 1 meter distance of Petra, as she seems to be his great love.
Shortly after the turn of the year Ramona the Queen of Domburg Herself ran forward to greet us when we came “home” with Boris. Mad with joy and obviously we were also happy to see her, although with regret as she was dumped by her former owner. So now 2 dogs jump into the car every day...
In the meantime Boris proved to be a real watchdog. A few things were stolen from our site and we had a suspect but couldn't prove it. A few weeks later Boris delivered proof when we were having dinner at Tamara's and the suspected thief walked in. We only noticed him when Boris was already barking and growling for no reason... Probably he smelled the man's scent at the fence and made the connection  “unwanted intruder”. This dog goes through hell for us!
Ramona's
come-back film (3.84 Mb)
 

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