After a long sail of 14 days, we finally arrived in Suriname, a beautiful country in South America. I did not really know what to expect from there. I had never even heard of that country, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Early in the morning, we left the Gulden Leeuw in buses with guides telling us facts about the country. After around two hours of driving, we arrived at a river and embarked on boats that looked like big canoes and that had a motor to navigate to the place we were going to stay to for two nights and three days.
Before getting to the ecolodge, we raced with the other Class Afloat students in the other embarkations while contemplating the amazing unending nature for about an hour and a half. When we finally arrived, we were starving and a big, delicious meal with fresh exotic fruits and local bananas was ready and waiting for us to be devoured at top speed. We then went on a tour of the peaceful place and got to put on the red natural makeup found in trees that some cultures put on the foreheads of women to show they are married. For the rest of the afternoon and the night, we gratefully relaxed and restored our energy that was low due to the last two weeks of school and watch at sea in order to be ready for the exams.
The next day, we all woke up in our shared-with-only-one-other-person room and in our own, very comfortable bed at eight o’clock to get ready for the full day. Breakfast was just as appetizing and fulfilling as the two other meals we had had at that special place. Right after eating, we got ready with our sunscreen and our water bottles to go on an expedition in a village close to where we were staying that provided us with a pleasant change of scenery from what we are used to at home or that we had seen in the past four months of travelling.
When we first got there, we were welcomed with locals that were planning the activities for our experience. The opportunity to learn how to prepare rice was given to us and it looked way easier than it actually was! The people from there seemed to have the key in hand, but we kept spilling rice everywhere. When we eat it on our plates at home, we do not realize that it is actually a process with many steps. After, our hair was braided by some of the girls of the village. Everyone made funny faces because it pulled on our head a lot, but it was worth it in the end.
Then, we got to go walk in the jungle and it was so beautiful. There was a little pathway made specifically for walking. The trees were really high and the nature was infinite and of a beautiful colour. The weather on the island was almost unbearable, but the shade and trees in the jungle kept us really fresh. Walking back, some of us got bit by a red ant and bugs were flying along our bodies, but in the end, we were all happy, astounded by the nature and safe and sound.
Just before leaving to go back to our main location, we went to another village and they demonstrated the procedure of making a local and different bread. We tasted it and all opened our eyes really big to talk to each other without words to express how good it was. Back at the ecolodge, people swam in the river for a long time and brought soap to wash themselves because the water pressure was low in the shower. Anyways, we are good on the boat at showering weird ways, like with buckets from the sea or standing with the rain above our heads. We used more time to rest in our bed, outside, and to read or study in hammocks.
At night, we all gathered back at the boats to go sea Caymans, that are actually like crocodiles. It was dark, but we could see them well with the flashlight even from far. Back at the site, we made a fire to warm up from the colder weather of nighttime and countdown before midnight to celebrate the new year. It was really meaningful to end the year and begin the new year with our float family. For the rest of our lives, we will look back with great remembrance our 2019 New Year’s Eve. The next day, we were tired from our last night, but well rested from our time at this beautiful spot. We were ready to go back to our home, on the ship, and get some shore leave in the city of Paramaribo and some last study time before the exams officially started.
Written by Class Afloat Student, Annie F.