Monday, 25 February 2013

Tea for the Tillerman - Cat Stevens

Unfortunately, my time in Suriname has far too quickly come to an end but have enjoyed the adventure immensely. Apart from the endless number of birds, many of them new to me, there has been the equally endless and pristine Rain Forests plus a most notable cleanliness about the country. Crossing the border from Guyana, immediately the piles of plastic bottles ceased to exist and all roadside verges were devoid of Coca Cola cans and Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes,in fact it was like stepping from the cesspit into a Naiad's Pool. Add to all of that the friendliness and courtesy of the people along with the delicious food I feel Suriname has a great future particularly with the Eco Tourist!
A Naiad with a Nymph
John William Waterhouse
If you see yourself as one of those, an Eco Tourist that is not a Nymph, you could do a lot worse than employ
Fortunately this morning there was time and chance to see something of the tiny capital city of Paramaribo as I took a leisurely stroll to find transport to my next destination.
As those who understand Dutch can see this is the 
This used to be
while this was a small part, but all that remains, of the 
A selection of some of the other buildings hereabouts
showing the obvious Dutch influence.
Having passed over this bridge a number of times during my stay I can tell of its magnificence and unusual height. The brainchild of the former Prime Minister/President? it was built at this height to allow the Bauxite Carriers to pass unhindered. As a ploy to get re-elected he then decided to delay the opening, a full six months, until closer to Election Day and gave his final speech from the apex. He is now selling 'secondhand cars'!
Traveling in such a way calls for much forward planning and logistics which I usually find most useful from local people. My first quote for a 'solo' ride to the border was $US150 followed by a second of $US20, the latter being on proviso that if there were other passengers then the fare remained the same. Now, I'm well aware that "if it sounds too good to be true, then it is", but I had a name and a rendezvous so thought it worth a try. On arrival, I was 'set upon' by more than a dozen burly black men, all vying for my custom, which eventually saw me seek sanctuary in a nearby cafe. Eventually, 'The Name' (Daryl - where have I heard that before?) came to my rescue and assured me of price and an immediate departure. It is not unusual in such places that the driver continues to tout for passengers, after all what we are talking about here is a 200Km journey, so there was a little delay. 
Within a relatively short time we got underway, me the only passenger, but in my mind I was still trying to work out how this SCAM was going to work. Most of the road was in good order but this section (20Km) was an addition to the existing highway so should soon improve the whole trip. At the Immigration Post the driver unloaded my backpack, I handed him $US20 and we both continued on our way. Formalities were soon over, but again there was a queue of prospective
TILLERMEN to deliver me to the other side
of the river, in all a 20 minute voyage.
It was, at the moment I arrived, a 'monumental milestone'
in my world travels! Not only was
my 138th country in the world, but also
the final one to complete having visited ALL of the countries on
Mainland Continental America.
However, the strangest part of this is that while I and most others consider FG to be a 'country', it is, strictly speaking, a department of France. So, in fact I am back in Europe, with the currency the Euro and all my European 'rights' in place. Oh No is that the Tax Man over there? Back in Suriname, there had been conflicting reports about
the small town perched on the edge of the Maroni River, no hotel, little in the way of transport etc, so with the Immigration Post 'closed' and a scribbled note advising a visit to the local Post Office at Banna we were off to a bad start. The Post Office was in fact the Police Station, 1Km walk, where the usual entry stamp was affixed to passport and the 'local Bobbies' were helpfulness itself. The Hotel Star was back in the direction I had already come, then 2Km onward but the walk was good for me and the rain held off. Yes, they had a room but then the realization, on which ALL were agreed, the expense of FG! 68 for bed and breakfast came as something of a shock but I was where I wanted to be and once again among very helpful and welcoming people.
After the intense yet totally enjoyable 'birding' of the past couple of weeks, I have decided to take a 'lower key' approach in FG and while there has already been a 'scouting run' on the local avifauna things will now be at a more sedate pace.
but the bird next to it needed further investigation.
While BARE-EYED THRUSH was on the World List long before this trip, only one has been seen thus far and that high in the canopy at Peperpot. The birds here are 'flighty' to say the least but at least an image or two were secured - let's hope there's more to follow!
I feel sure it's the 'French Influence' taking immediate effect, as no sooner we step onto French territory than
join the readership as country/region -187.
A warm welcome to ALL in the hope you enjoy the read
and pass the Link on to Families and Friends - CHEERS!

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