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Crewing in Paramaribo city: a car rally


Apparently we are popular as a crew. This time we boarded Nicolien's car, a big shiny new Toyota Prado Landcruiser with CD-numberplates, so we were more than slightly conspicuous. We met Nicolien at a party and it clicked immediately. She signed up for the city rally and when her navigator left Suriname in a rush, she invited us, as sailors should be able to navigate in a car as well. Good thinking and we accepted with enthousiasm.

How nice, a little puzzle, we thought, and a car rally indeed includes solving brainteasing situations, but this needs lots of good thinking. And a good memory, as the rulebook includes many regulations and if you don't know them by heart, you are nowhere. P's memory is still okay so while JW in the back took care of the catering, the ladies were in the frontseat trying to understand the assignments. These consist of route descriptions in a special kind of secret language, various diagrams as abstract reproductions of the assignments, all with their own variations and systems, chart reading, chart constructing and (air)photoroutes, phew!

Nicolien was the captain so she was behind the wheel and navigated together with P. In the meantime JW was look-out, as his hawkeyes could spot along the route signs and flags at checkpoints where you have to find codes etc. The route was also dotted with tricks, which you should NOT write down. Crewing in a regatta is a piece of cake, compared to this!
And we were only competing in the B-class, beginners. The officials were all extremely kind and helpful because they knew we were novices.

The Surinamese Auto Rally Klub (SARK) organises lots of car rallies, but especially this one appeared to be the most difficult rally of the whole series! So we were completely done at the end of the ride and also a little bit proud that we were considered as serious competitors between al those tough sponsored 4-WDs. and

Naturally we made many mistakes, but still we completed some assignments flawlessly while other more experienced teams went wrong. So there is hope and we surely want to join the club more often. That is, if Nicolien wants to have us again. One of the scheduled events is a ride in the savanna...

The start was as off 7AM. The starting committee was very precise: one car  every minute and you received your assignments exactly 5 minutes in advance. More seriously is impossible. We had number 41 and started at 07.41 sharp. Initially everything went fine but suddenly we found ourselves in a totally wrong place! And this happened more often that day. There were also a couple of situations we could not understand, but we were not the only ones: during lunchtime even the cracks had intensive discussions. (An other parallel with yacht racing.)

The organisation was flawless. The routes, the assignments and the way they were presented, the checkpoints, and last but not least the food because in Suriname no event goes without that.
So coffee at the start, orange juice with ice and fresh rolls, and lunch with rice, chicken and lasagna! (excellent, by the way).

And at the finish (with in the background Paramaribo's restored cathedral) dinner with typical creole specialities. Terrific and highest compliments for SARK and her sponsors.

Our family has grown again, despite of Rita. A cute family of hummingbirds lives in our avocadotree, i.e. mother and two kids.
A hummingbird's nest is not just an ordinary bird's nest, made from twigs and sitting loosely in the tree. The hummingbird mother-to-be weaves her nest carefully between two twigs, using spiderwebs and it looks like a superstrong constuction. The nest is tiny (diameter 45 mm); it is soft and fluffy and as a finishing touch some pieces of leaf are glued to it, to make it even more invisible.
We first thought the nest was abandoned, but after two weeks the eggs were gone and something indistinct was on the bottom. We feared that this little heap were two hummingbirds, hatched out by the sun and dead because their mother didn't care for them, as we never saw her anymore. But fortunately one week later the little brown heap had grown and it moved! The hummingbirds grew slowly but after two weeks their eyes glittered and hairs became feathers. And one week later they flew out.

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