Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 9

I realized I really haven't described very well where I'm living right now. I'm about 2 to 3 hours south of the city (I say 'the city' because there is only one in Suriname, Paramaribo). I'm in a little community on a dead-end dirt road with about 300 people living in it. It has two creeks, one small grade school, three little "corner stores" (there aren't any corners) and a bakery that seems to only sell buns and opens when it feels like it. The corner stores sell next-to-nothing. One of them sells literally probably 15 items. Another of them is never open. We've stopped by every day for about 2 weeks because it's the only place within an hour that sells notebooks and it's never been opened. Finally, yesterday we succeeded.

I'm definitely in the jungle. About 10 feet from my house the deep jungle begins. Like, I wouldn't step into it without a guide and knee-high rubber boots on kind of jungle. I haven't eaten anything crazy (that I know of, I don't ask what I'm eating for fear of finding out) but a few of the other trainees have had some interesting things. One ate sloth, which he was lucky enough to see caught. He was walking down a road when the woman in front of him walked into the bush and just grabbed an adorably smiley sloth off the ground. That was his dinner that night. And the other trainee in my community ate armadillo yesterday. She said it was pretty good. I watched her family skin it on my break from class yesterday. It was like watching a car crash. I was horrified, but just couldn't look away.

My community is made up of little tiny (and when I say tiny, I mean TINY) wooden huts. They're very simple and rectangular. Most are probably about 20 feet by 15 feet, although some are even smaller than that. There is usually a duro-tank out front. My community, since it is relatively close to the city, has 24-hour electricity, generously supplied by the government. My family seems to be fairly well off (that is extremely relative). We have a TV and a refrigerator. They do about half the cooking inside. There is no running water. Most of the water I use for washing and laundry and stuff like that comes from huge plastic drums that collect the rainwater outside. There's something really nice about bathing from rain water. We have a porch that wraps around 2 sides of the house. I love the porch.

There's only one real "street" in my community. It's a dirt road, but it's the only thing that's actually straight and I would really consider a street. There's another one that's pretty close, but I'm not going to count that one. Women wear the wrap-around cloth (pangi) and usually a bra or shirt when they leave their home, although if you come to their house there is a pretty good chance they'll be totally topless. I'm amazed how little it phases me. My American aversion to nudity is getting quickly beaten down.

I actually feel fairly lucky to be here for my training. It's a decent little community.


  1. I somehow had this image in my mind of sloth-hunting as more valiant and intense. I was picturing the opening scene of Last of the Mohicans, with the intense soundtrack and the native American dashing through the trees with his musket, in pursuit of the fleet-footed, powerful sloth.

    But no, she just picked it up and threw it in the pot.

    -Maia Donohue

  2. Megan! I'm so happy to hear that you're enjoying your time there. Or at least, becoming more adjusted and getting to make more personal connections. Your description of your village totally paints a picture, but I can't wait to see REAL pictures! Have fun, and know we're always thinking about you back here!
    - the other megan

  3. Hey girlie! It's great to hear more about where you are living and the people in your community. Just remember you got those vaccinations/shots for a reason, so eat all the wacky animals you want :) After I'm finished writing this, I have to make a boring spreadsheet at work, so just know that however difficult or uncomfortable things get, you're doing something amazing and impactful for others!