Saturday, July 21, 2012

Four Degrees North...Part 2

Our trip to Suriname was an adventure in itself. It was a total of 10 flights to get from southern Mexico to the interior of Suriname. Our troubles began from the very beginning...we arrived to the airport in Tuxtla with plenty of time to check in all the luggage a family of 6 might need for a month in the jungle. And that's when we found out that Ellie's ticket was in the name of "Ellie" and not "Elizabeth" like her passport says. Also, Matthew, who was travelling as a lap child, was headed for Spain instead of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. After what seemed like forever, they finally gave us our boarding passes, but then our flight was delayed.

Levi and Ellie, looking at the ships in Panama.
When we finally arrived in Mexico City, we had missed our connecting flight to Panama. We spent 2 hours in line with the customer service personnel, and they finally put us up in a 5 star hotel for the night. The next day we returned early to the airport, hoping to check in and then get something to eat. Instead, we spent another 3 hours with the customer service personnel because Ryan's e-ticket was not in the system. Finally, after much frustration they gave us Ryan's boarding pass and we were off to Panama. There we got to meet some colleagues and do a little sight-seeing. We had planned a whole day to see the canal, but had to suffice with a few hours. We were happy that we had the extra time though or who knows what the rest of the trip would have looked like!

In Panama, once again Ryan's e-ticket was not in the system. Again, we spent a couple hours in line waiting for the problem to be solved. And again, they printed off the boarding pass and sent us on our way to Trinidad and Tobago. In TT, we realized that no one really ever fixed Ryan's ticket problem. They just printed off a boarding pass and sent us, in TT we again spent hours, waiting for them to fix the ticket problem. They assured us that they had it completely fixed, and that we wouldn't have the same problem on the way home a month later.

We arrived in the capital city of Suriname around 2am, I think. After three days of travel, with lots of added ticketing stress, we were exhausted. And relieved to have finally arrived. We stayed in a "suite" at the hotel, which meant Ryan, Ellie, and Levi slept on 2 mattresses on the floor. Not exactly what one would expect when you hear "suite." But we were thankful because we had hot showers and A/C...and we knew that wouldn't last long!

The next day we took a 45 minute flight to our new home. This flight was the smallest plane I had ever been on. There were only 10 passengers, plus the pilots. It was a beautiful flight, giving us the opportunity to see what the country of Suriname looks like.

When we arrived to our new village, we finally got to see our new home! We really didn't know what to expect. We weren't told what kind of housing to expect, just that there would be indoor plumbing. We were pleasantly surprised to find a 3 bedroom cabin, with a kitchen, dining room, and bathroom right on the river. Clay was able to fish from our front porch! And the hammock was a great place to relax!

Friday, July 20, 2012

4 Degrees North Part 1

4 Degrees North...of the equator. That's where we spent the last month. I have always dreamed of travelling to South America, but I have to be honest. The country of Suriname wasn't even on the radar of possible destinations. Seriously, they don't even speak Spanish there. The official language is Dutch, although only a small percentage of the upper class speak that. Most people speak a unique blend of Dutch, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and African dialects all wrapped up into one language.
The Amazon Jungle

"So, how was the jungle?"
                       Well, let me give you a rundown...
     pink-footed tarantulas
          grasshoppers with pincers
                     3 snakes              
piranha, wolf fish, peacock bass

Ellie enjoyed riding in the boat.

18 kids          
     3 stitches, 2 medical evacuations to the city
                    guitars, singing, clapping
                              little girl giggles
                                   3 Matthews, 2 Ellies

1 rope swing
            swimming in the river
                        washing LOTS of laundry in river

Levi fell out of his hammock.
        Jungle pedicures

              boat rides to the store
                          boat rides to church
                                       1 wrecked boat
                        2 birthday celebrations
4th of July
                    ice cream and slushy Coke
                                         hammocks and mosquito nets

 Of course, there was so much more. And that is why this is only part 1.