Monday, February 24, 2014

Road To Apoera

Every now and then I find myself in a situation that baffles me. For instance, I woke up a recent morning and thought I would have a normal day. Go in service, wash some clothes, find a new way to ruin rice, etc. A few hours later I found myself in a swamp in Suriname, in the bed of a pickup truck with two guys from Holland I just met, as we all sang "Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls together and a turtle tried biting our feet.

Lemme explain.

The closest congregation to us in Orealla is not in Guyana at all. Its name is Apoera (pronounced Ah-poor-ah), and it is very similar to our own congregation. Nestled deep in the woods of Suriname, it's an English congregation (Suriname is mostly Dutch), and it has eighteen publishers and two appointed brothers. Naturally, they're very excited about receiving any visitors whatsoever.

I learned about Apoera in better detail when some people from that congregation came along for our dedication a few weeks back. They invited me to come visit, give a talk, etc, but I kind of brushed it off. When am I going to be visiting Suriname again, for long enough to travel all the way there and back??

It turned out to be much sooner than I thought.

Recently it came to my attention that a small group of publishers from my congregation was going to be visiting a large waterfall near Apoera called the Blanche-Marie. It turns out that this area is accessible to us by a short 2 hour boat ride, and you don't even need a passport to visit (due to it being an Indian village). They had even called one of the brothers from Apoera and got invited to stay in his home while they were visiting! They planned to Saturday to the falls, and then Sunday to the meeting, and then almost immediately after come back home to Orealla. Kindly, they invited me along too.

It was an amazing place. Considering how remote the area was, it was incredibly comfortable. Never mind the fact we packed eleven people in there. The two who technically "live there" is a special pioneer couple named Ramano and Tryfosa, but they also had two brothers from Holland staying with them for a short while. Add to that the seven of us from Orealla, and you have quite a crew.

This here is a game known as Spade of Seven. Quite good.

The accent of a Dutch person speaking English is unique. Especially considering the two from Holland were still struggling some with English, so it led to some misunderstandings. I'm pretty sure they think I'm from England, despite telling them a few times I was born in the USA.

Anyway, after some initial meeting and greeting, we set about for Blanche-Marie. The road looked like this.

After which it became this.

Or as I called it, "Thunder Road". Just 'cause.

And thus I found myself in the bed of a pickup going through a swamp singing Goo Goo Dolls. We had the Holland brothers coming along with us, so...

Also I present to you, my first ever selfie.

So we drove along this for several hours trying very hard to not fall out the back of the truck - there was a lot of hills and mud and sliding about and things. All along the way there, we found ourselves passing by the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets (or whatever they drive here). Very reassuring. I got to the point of beginning to wonder if it was worth it, but the driver had a serious "No Surrender" attitude.

Anyway, after a few hours of passing through dense jungleland, we arrived at Blanche-Marie!
It was just.... whoa.

This place was huge. So it was awesome being able to go there. And also see how much of it you can climb up without falling down.

A major difference between these places and the U.S... in the United States, this would be heavily roped off with people keeping strict watch to make sure you don't go near it, for fear of you hurting yourself and suing them.

Here, they have exactly one safety precaution. Whatsoever might that be??

That, my friends, is one lone rope stretched across the river, because in that spot the current is so strong you literally cannot swim in it. So they have a rope to help you across, or to catch yourself on if you've lost control.

Why couldn't we have had something like this in my hometown?

So eventually we finished up there and headed through the badlands again to get back to Ramano and Tryfosa's place for the night. Which brings us to Sunday morning...

This was my cup while I was there. I don't much care for tea, but it was worth it just so I could use this cup both mornings.

But leaving aside my awesome cup, I was very excited to be able to give a public talk in Suriname, partly due to it being a new experience, partly because it gave the two brothers a break, but also because in Suriname you don't wear a jacket. There's a picture somewhere of me doing the talk, but I haven't yet tracked down who took it yet, but rest assured I will find that picture.

Also, in case I haven't expounded on this before, this how you spend Sunday afternoon in both Guyana and Suriname...

So all in all it was a great experience. After the meeting and some thorough napping, we then had to fetch a car to get us to the dock where a boat was waiting to take us back to Orealla. Of course, by time we actually made it back it was very dark, but you can always tell where it is as night. See, we don't have a source of electricity here, but around the docks there's an abundance of places with generators, so the middle of the village lights up like a.... I dunno, thing that lights up big. Of course, this does leave a lot of darkness on the edge of town, but I imagine everyone's used to that by now.

On that note however, we have a village generator, it's just not hooked up yet and running yet (they had one before as well, but it fried).

Well, I suppose that about wraps it up for now. I'm probably forgetting something, but someone will let me know soon I imagine. But for now I'll stop here, and in lieu of wise parting words, I'll share a picture a six year old sister named Phoebe got of me as we were waiting on the boat.


  1. you could not have that in glouster because of the beer bottles. funny i had a cup like that when i was a kid