On holiday in Galibi    Click for the chartlet
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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 Surinamese.

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 important in 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 delicious!

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 salty.
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 Preservation 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 km).

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 beach with Ignacio). The apes, 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 immediately!

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 horrible creatures.

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.

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