Saturday, July 4, 2009


Happy 4th of July everyone!
Here in Suriname the Peace Corps volunteers are headed to the Ambassador's house for a bbq party. We got into the city last night, and will go back out to our community based training sites tomorrow. Even though it is a short trip, I'm trying to get as much "city-type" things done: internet, random supplies, real shower, ice cream, and speaking more English than Saramakan with other PCV's. :)

So, the last few weeks have been chalked full of learning the language and new experiences. In case it wasn't entirely clear in the last post, right now I'm living in a community 2 hours from the city for my language and cultural training, but my actual future site is almost 10 hours away. My community based training site (CBT) has been amazingly wonderful. It’s a relatively small village (~100 people) on the lower Suriname River. When we arrived (I’m there with two other PCV's) they gave each of us our new names, and I was given "Bendemai", which means tall thin sister. The woman that lives next door to me has an 18 month old daughter, Sino. Whenever Sino she sees me coming she calls, "Mamamai! Mamamai!" since she can't quite say the B. It's pretty precious.

Each morning at 6:15 I go for a little run down to the dirt road that runs out of "town" and borders some of village families' plots of land where they grow their fruits and vegetables. The sun is usually on it's way up and each morning I'm still taken by surprise at how beautiful and different the tree line can look depending on the sky and the clouds. Then we have language class all morning until noon. In the afternoons my activities usually consist of playing with some of the kids, helping women cook, going to the women's grounds with them, and/or playing Slagbal. Slagbal! What a wonderful game it is. :) Only women are allowed to play, and it's a little like baseball, but played with a tennis ball, a paddle, and 6 bases. There about 1,001 rules that I'm still trying to learn, but it is a LOT of fun. Games can break through language barriers and give you a little glimpse at someone's personality that you might not get otherwise. I feel like I've gotten to know some of the women here better because of it.

Washing of any sort is done in the river. This includes bathing, dishes, and laundry. Although my environmentally minded self cringes at the non-biodegradable soap (among many other things that I won't mention) floating away into the river, I find myself enjoying it. It is absolutely a community activity complete with gossip, advice on how to wash, and of course the ladies laughing at me for doing it wrong. Plus, the scenery is gorgeous.

I'll be living in my CBT site for another three weeks, and then I'll head out to my permanent site on the Upper Suriname. This past week I got to go out there and spend 5 days getting to know the people and the community. It really helped me to have a better vision of what my time here in Suriname will really be like.

Hope all is well! Till next time. Pictures, hopefully, coming soon.



  1. Hi Ashlee, just wanted to find out what village you are staying in for training and which village you will ultimately end up in on the Upper Suriname. It sounds like you are adjusting well and enjoying yourself. If you see anyone from the village of Drepada tell them that Lobimai da de gaan odi!
    Jill (Mike Stewart's girlfriend)
    Sur 10

  2. JILL! This post made my afternoon :) We just finished CBT and are in the PC office for the first time. :) Whew..the first thing I'm doing is going to look at your picture. I'll drop you an email in the next few days and let you know more. I'll be able to talk more now that I'm here and have a better sense of things. :) I have a friend that was in Drepada and they were constantly telling her that she looked like you! I didn't make the connection, small world. The line is piling up for the computers....more soon! Tell Mike hi for me:)