Saturday, June 6, 2009

Parbo: Thoughts on Bami and Belenzinho

First, I apologize for no pictures. I've been taking them, I just can't post them at this internet cafe. But I assure everyone that the intense sun makes everything very lush and beautiful. And the summer storm clouds are as dramatic as they are in Florida.

My professor's family has been wonderful to us! They came by and pick us up for a "drive" which turned out to be a small trip across the river (Paramaribo sits on the Western side of the Suriname River and there is a bridge to the less populated other side.) We drove through a more rural area where most people are of East Indian descent. You can tell when a house belongs to Hindustanis (as they are called here) because there are usually little red and yellow flags on bamboo shoots indicating some event in the life of the family. We then got in a little boat and crossed the river again, to a more rural point. We saw an old sugar plantation that had been converted into a hotel. All the colonial buildings here are wooden, which is kind of rare in the tropics. Usually a building from the 1700's would have long rotted away in this kind of weather.

When we went back to the city, the Calors took us to Warung Pawiro, an Indonesian (Javanese to be exact) restaurant. No question about it, one of the top 5 meals of my life. This food is amazing! We had noodles and peanut sauce, similar to what we had our first day. We also had sateh, beef kabobs with peanut sauce. It's too hard to explain- I just wish I knew where to get this food in the States!

My work is slowly coming together. It looks like June 15 I will be going to the Benzdorp mine on the border with French Guiana and help conduct a survey of Brazilian miners and their attitudes and behavior towards malaria. Like, whether they use bed nets, how they treat themselves for malaria, etc. I'm very excited about this.

Paramaribo has a true rainbow of people. Indonesian, Chinese, Maroon- which is what they call the descendants of slaves that successfully ran away into the forest. There are a few Dutch people, but most of the Dutch here are my age and have come to study or work- they are not left overs from the colonial period (which ended in the '70s). And there are Brazilians. My neighborhood is close to the area informally called Belenzinho, after the Brazilian city of Belem, Para. And there are many many Brazilians in the mines.

My take on immigration in the States is generally positive. Immigrants helped rebuild New Orleans after Katrina, there's no doubt about that. But here in Suriname, the Brazilian presence is often negative. Gold mining is terrible for the environment. They clear rainforest, create large holes in the ground which fill with water and worsen the malaria situation. The methods used to extract the gold release mercury into the environment and pollute the rivers and fish. And the gold truly belongs to Suriname, but no taxes are paid on it, so it is of no benefit to the country. Someone at the office commented how it seemed strange for the Global Fund to give so much money to treat malaria of illegal immigrants. But, here's how I feel about it: it doesn't serve anyone to let them suffer; malaria is contagious and if you neglect one part of the population because they are illegal, everyone is put at risk.

Suriname is extremely close to eradicating malaria altogether- the gold mining regions are the final hold-out.

Much love to everyone. I miss you!


Carly said...

I know where you can get Indonesian food!! My mom can make it... I can make some things... OR there's an Indonesian restaurant in DC and we can go there when you come visit :-)

Carly said...

I know where you can find Indonesian food!! My mom can make great food, I can make some things OR there's a place in DC we can go to when you come visit me :-)

Nafeeza said...

hey darling. you're also keeping a blog on here! follow me too, i'll be keeping one on here too.

so the flags outside the hindu's houses are indications of the flags that come from their prayer sessions, called jhandi's. It's pretty awesome, my family does it here in NY and Toronto as well as back home in Guyana!

How is it there? Any recommendations for me as to what to bring? I'll be in Guyana soon, but hopefully we can meet up! I may be in Suriname earlier than the 5th, so we should meet up. Do you have a number or something that I can reach you by?

Let me know!

Also, how did you design your layout on the page? I LOVE IT!