Anyone who doesn't work can't go on
holiday either. So we got really going on the ground floor of our home: neat window
and doorframes and a lot of painting. The workshop is now incorporated
in the garage so now we have three (bed)rooms available for our guests plus
bathroom and terrace.
We'll also make it easily through the winter as our freezer is crammed
with blanched breadfruits. Our neighbours have a huge breadfruit tree
and for the next 13 years they won't be able to harvest the fruits
personally, because they sit behind bars in Miami for drugs smuggling.
Those breadfruits weigh
well over one kilo and you cook them like potatoes (boiled,
fried, as chips or french fries, rösti, etc.); but they taste much nicer
and a little bit sweet. JW also bakes breadfruit cakes, shaped like
small pancakes, giving cause to Oma to find that we are at last becoming real
Mia and Roberto are running a warung in Domburg and they invited us (why,
is a mystery as it is not a long time ago that we had dinner in their
little restaurant for the first time) to come along with their family
for a holiday in Galibi. Galibi is located in the northeastern corner of Surinam,
only two or three miles into the estuary of the Marowijne river. The
indigenous who live here are Karin’ha and belong like the Trio to the tribe
of the Caribs.
On Saturday morning we got on in their comfortable mini-bus packed with
bags, hammocks and mosquito nets, crammed ice box and provisions (extremely
Suriname), camping stove and gas cylinder.
We also brought some yummy food: an old-fashioned Dutch applepie.
We stayed with Roberto’s brother Erick and his wife Mila
and six kids. Erick picked us up in Albina and after a one and a half
hours boattrip in the blazing sunshine we arrived in Galibi.
Upon arrival we were treated to the Indians' favourite dish:
“pepperwater” with cassavebread. (Later
that week this dish was also served for breakfast). The base for pepperwater
is the juice of pressed cassave; yellow peppers are added and lots of
smoked fish, simmer for an hour and ready is your fishsoup. And it is
Galibo has a magnificent sandy beach, unique in Surinam.
Under the long lines of coconut
palmtrees you can laze away the day in a hammock.
Swimming is also a pleasure as the water is quite clear and not very
Galibi is mainly known for its seaturtles, who lay their eggs “around
the corner” on
Baboensanti. The nesting period lasts from February until July so we
were too late to see any turtles, but Roberto
suggested with eyes aglow to empty a couple of nests.
Or, should this meet with moral scruples on our side, perhaps half a
nest? Of course this was meant as a joke, but he confirmed that the
Indians in his youth, before nature preservers interfered, exported many
thousands of eggs to French Guyana.
Nature preserving organisations such as StiNaSu (Foundation Nature
Suriname) and also some touroperators in Paramaribo are running the
touristical business in Galibi. In other words: it is not the local
people who earn the tourists's money.
Mila and Erick have to fight for a living as life in Galibi may seem
paradisaical for the tourists, for the locals it is really different. Mila is
not only extremely warm-hearted and hospitable, but she is also very
active and together with her husband she tries to get her share of the
booming tourist industry.
They have built three small “camps”, open
huts with a roof made from palm leaves where guests can sleep in a hammock.
There is also a brandnew bath- and toiletbuilding, basic but clean.
Erick picks up the guests in Albina and Mila takes care of them in
Galibi. Not only food and drinks (her food is good and varied) but she
also finds it important that her guests amuse themselves. Mila is half
Creole so her ideas are different from those of indigenous women, who are
more the wait-and-see types. And this is Mila’s big advantage. She walks
her guests through the village and because she lives there for already
18 years, she knows exactly what she's talking about. She shows how
cassave is processed, baskets woven, cotton spun and converted into
hammocks, jewelry, the fish business,
and she is also a master in fish smoking herself.
Mila's policy is: offer a cheaper Galibi-trip in comparison to
established touroperators and above all: make it nicer for the guests.
Mila and Erick don't have many opportunities to advertise, and probably
you already guessed... we are going to help them a bit by making a folder
for them in order to get more people. Because the sole dependency on the
fishing trade provides is not enough money for a good living.
During our stay we witnessed an example of how hard a fisherman's life
can be in Galibi. Erick sells his fish – fresh or smoked
- mainly in St.Laurent (French Guyana), where he gets paid in
euro’s which earns better than the Surinamese dollar. During the week of
our stay he received an order of 100 kg of fresh fish. One can't catch
this quantity in one night. In short: he took much trouble several
nights, also to keep the fish fresh as Galibi has no ice machine, and
when he arrived with the ordered fish it turned out that the client
didn't bring any money... Erick took the fish back to Galibi and sold it
later on the Saturday market against a much lower price because of the competition.
Furthermore he wasted a lot of fuel in taking the fish to St.Laurent and
back (2x 40
One of Galibi's attractions is Ignacio's small zoo. Ignacio used to be a
great hunter but is now “converted” and even a vegetarian, and now
cherishes many caressable animals who do not sit in cages all day. Only
the caymen and the constrictor snake are in a cage and the turtles and
the pingo’s (swines) move in a fenced area (if they haven't gone to the
the raccoon, the sloths, the ant eater
and the macaw are free and stay around. Kids enjoy the apes
but Surinamese adults keep their distance as they find animals actually
a bit dirty. But
in P the apes found a great companion to play. They were so
enthousiastic that the raccoon became jealous (this happens more often
as it seems) and climbed with its sharp nails into P’s legs because he
also wanted to sit on her shoulder. This action resulted in a huge
scratch in P’s cheek, which was treated by Ignacio in the
traditional way with the juice of cashew tree bark. Cures small wounds
An other animal which is around in Galibi is the sika (sand flea). It
lays its eggs underneath your skin and if you don't remove them quickly
a chain reaction of fleas and eggs develops; you can't get rid of them
anymore and it looks terrible. We both had two of them, yuk. Fortunately Abigail,
Mila's youngest daughter, was very experienced in removing these
Behind the village is a great forest where you can wander in the shade
of the high trees. Erick showed us the “toothachetree”, which
considering the state of maltreatment of the bark already helped many
Indians with its juice. We
drank fresh water from a swamp
and since Indians are always hunting and never return from the woods
empty-handed, the men carried a big trunk on their shoulder in addition
to the woodpile.
Essential for smoking fish!
Typical features of a holiday with Surinamese people is:
sociability, many children around and lots of good food. Especially Mia was
cooking all the time or busy with preparations. For example if we were
planning an outing, Mia was already thinking out loud about the
provisions. Obviously it is very smart to go on holiday with a warung
chef and Mia's cooking qualities are well above average, but with a
party of 16(!) people it is a tough job and we helped when we could.
Mia and Roberto are extremely kind people and we became close friends. Roberto
likes a joke and “talk tori”. He grew up in Galibi and has got a lot of
family there, so the various walks through the village resulted in many
impressions of a lot of different people with whom we sat and talked tori.
We also learned some things about the language of the Carib indians and
why they don't call white people “bakra”, but paranakyry. According to
the legend the young Indians who went fishing on the sandbanks, were
seduced by paranakyry: spirits from the sea who appeared as mermaids
with long fair hair. And when a couple of centuries ago the Europeans
came ashore, their hair long as they had travelled for a long time, the
Indians thought them to be the paranakyry. And this is how they still
call the Dutch in Galibi.
On Friday a cultural manifestation was organised.
Schoolchildren from various Indian villages in the area participated for
two weeks in creative activities such as woodcarving, needlework, making
jewelry and ceramics. The results were displayed and the day was
introduced by no less than seven speakers: miss Nelly, the headmistress,
the village captain, two more captains from other villages, a lady who
had something to do with the organisation and last but not least an
antropologist from Amsterdam who didn't mind telling the indigenous what
they are entitled to: education in their own language! We were not the
only ones who definitely disagreed with her. Mila has some strong views
on certain issues and while making a loud “tjoerie”
(a rather vulgar signal) she ventilated her opinion: “And what if the
kids want to go to secundary school or even university?!”
It is all very well and of course there has to be room in the program
for education of their own language and history, but letting yourself
guide by a romantic idea indicates lack of fore-sight and this doesn't
help the people in Galibi at all. It seems unbelievable but the pretty
girl on the left on
excels in making a tjoerie.