Blog :: Ramblings of a health nut

Matapica

Posted on 29 Mar 2014 by maisha (posted in: blogs)

Thirty plus degrees Celsius, eighty plus percent humidity, blazing hot sun... excellent conditions for biking, wouldn´t you say?
I mean, WHAT WERE WE THINKING?! Clearly we weren't when we decided to start our Suriname trip with a 20 K bike ride from Paramaribo to Frederiksdorp. We got pretty decent rental bikes from Zus&Zo, with 3-speed gears, a waterproof bicycle bag and a booklet with directions. As if biking on the left side of the road (yep, Suriname is a left driving country) wasn't challenging enough for us, staying upright as traffic whooshed passed mere inches from us (no dedicated bicycle paths) kept us on edge. As we cleared Paramaribo, traffic calmed down a bit. Biking under the scorching sun through a landscape defined by palm trees and banana trees, with aircoed cars and honking trucks grazing past, it hit me how insanely bizarre the experience was. It only got better as we had to cross first the Suriname river to reach Nieuw Amsterdam, and then the Commewijne river (from the Mariënburg pier to Frederiksdorp), loading our bicycles in a boat twice.

Frederiksdorp is a cluster of historically restored plantation houses, where we stayed two nights.

But before we got to enjoy some downtime, we headed out through the swamp to Matapica in the hopes of witnessing the egg laying of the turtles. Dressed in high-tech insect repellent clothing, and armed with bottles of repellent (DEET) we arrived at the base camp on the beach after a thrilling one-and-a-half hour ride in a motorized 3-person dugout canoe through the mangroves and rainforest. We chatted, we drank, we laughed. We watched the sun dip into the sea. Then the mosquitoes came. They had been patiently biding their time in the shadows of the mangroves and words cannot describe how vicious their attack was! We were eaten alive. All the repellent in the world would not have stopped them.
We strolled left and right along the beach for an eternity with our guide, but we only spotted one turtle:

We kept our distance so as not to put her off, but there was a pack of stray dogs roaming the beach as well, in search of eggs, and the turtle must have sensed them and she returned to the sea. After more fruitless strolling we climbed under the mosquito net into our hammocks and tried to get some sleep. Whenever the wind died down the mosquitoes found their way into the net and continued their all-you-can-eat blood buffet. Our guide checked the beach every couple of hours for turtles and at 5.30 am he woke us. He'd been tipped by a fisherman that there was activity on the beach and we hastily clambered after him. But no luck! Walking back to the base camp, a new day started to dawn and a soft breeze brushed past us. It was beautiful! Then the mosquitoes returned, more vicious than before. The guides threw young green leaves onto the campfire to smoke them out, but it was pointless. We sipped hot tea and prayed for daylight to hurry along. Around 6.30 am we left the beach and meandered through the early morning in our boats. We saw monkeys, birds, and even a baby jaguar (although it was gone before it registered in our brains). There was so much life around us, it was absolutely amazing!

 

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