Sunday, March 29, 2015

Volcanoes of the Caribbean

Greetings All,
We flew from Cayenne, French Guiana to Guadeloupe, part of the Lesser Antillies in the Caribbean.  Like French Guiana, Guadeloupe is a department of France so technically we had not left the European Union.  We flew into the city of Pointe-à-Pitre on the island of Grande-Terre where we picked up our rental car and drove to Deshaies on the other main island of Basse-Terre where we would spend the next week.  Here is a map of Guadeloupe so you can get your bearings:

Map of Guadeloupe

The Lesser Antilles form a long partly volcanic island arc along the eastern boundary between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.  Our main objective for visiting Guadeloupe was to climb La Grande Soufrière, the highest mountain peak in the Lesser Antilles.  It is an active stratovolcano which last erupted in 1977.  It took us about an hour and a half to drive to the trailhead on the southern end of the island.  When we arrived the parking lot was full and we had to park about a half mile down the road.  The trail climbed steadily to an upper parking lot which was empty except for one car.  We're not sure why this lot wasn't open.  There was some confusion as to which trail we should take to the summit.  We referred to the photo of the trail map we took at the start of the hike and took the Trace du Tour et Sommet de la Soufrière.  Here is the map showing our hiking route highlighted in yellow:

Our Hiking Route Shown in Yellow
 
We climbed above tree line and glimpsed the summit when the clouds cleared.  When we arrived at the top it was foggy and windy.

Me on the Summit
 
We waited for the clouds to clear and glimpsed the fumeroles spouting sulphur gas below. 

Vents on La Grande Soufrière
 

 Soufrière means " big sulphur outlet" in French.

"Big Sulphur Outlet"


After exploring the vents, we headed down a different trail which created a loop around the main crater.

La Grande Soufrière
 
The remainder of our time on Guadeloupe was spent birding in the forests of Guadeloupe National Park, visiting The Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve and yes, relaxing!

The Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Nature Reserve
 
From Guadeloupe, a short 20-minute flight south brought us to the island of Dominica.

Map of Dominica

The airline managed to lose Marc's bag.  We were told it may arrive tomorrow or possibly in 4 days! Our transfer was waiting to take us to our hotel in the capital city of Roseau only 45 km away.  The drive took about an hour and 15 minutes along a narrow, winding road.  The next day we decided to hike to Boiling Lake in nearby Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The weather forecast was good and we did not want to miss this opportunity to make it to the lake. We attempted this hike 2 years ago and had to turn back due to torrential downpours causing landslides. You can read more about our first attempt in our post titled "Champagne Beach and Boiling Lake".  The hotel arranged a local guide to pick us up at 8:15 the next morning.  Our guide arrived in a flamboyantly painted van and introduced himself as "The Bushman".   I could tell from the start that "The Bushman" was going to make it a very entertaining day.

The hike started just above the village of Laudat and followed Titou Gorge for the first 45 minutes. "The Bushman" pointed out several spots where we could cautiously venture to the edge of the gorge to get a photo.

Titou Gorge
 
We stopped to let two young couples from Latvia and their guide go ahead of us as they were moving faster.  We reached the Breakfast River and were able to hop across on rocks.  Two years ago we had to cross on a fallen log as the river was flowing too swiftly to cross on rocks.  Memories came flooding back as we steeply climbed the log steps toward Morne Nichcolls, the high point on the hike where we had our first view of the steam rising from Boiling Lake and The Valley of Desolation.


First View of Boiling Lake & Valley of Desolation

We encountered a few brief showers but the trail was relatively dry.  We reached the point where two years ago we were forced to turn back.  This time we proceeded cautiously down to the Valley of Desolation along a slippery slope which "The Bushman" called the bottleneck.  "The Bushman" grabbed  Marc's camera and skipped down the slick mud to take photos of us sliding down on our butts.

Sliding Down the Bottleneck
 
Since Marc's bag had not shown up he had to do the hike in sneakers which didn't have as good a grip as hiking boots.  The two couples from Latvia reached the bottom just ahead of us and continued on. We had to stop to cook eggs in a boiling steam vent!

"The Bushman" Cooking Eggs

While we waited for the eggs to cook, "The Bushman" insisted on painting our faces with volcanic clay.  I guess it was all part of the experience!  When our eggs were ready, we shared them with "The Bushman" before continuing along the valley floor with numerous boiling steam vents, mud pots and rocks coated with yellow sulphur crystals. 


Peggy & "The Bushman" Eating Eggs

We followed a stream, crossing it a couple of times before making the final ascent to Boiling Lake. When we arrived the Latvian couples were there with their guide Jeffery.  When the wind finally cleared the steam over the lake, we could see that it was indeed boiling!  

Us at the Boiling Lake

In fact this is the second largest boiling lake in the world after Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand.  It's actually a flooded fumerole where molten lava underneath heats the water to a boiling state.  The temperature along the edge of the lake measures between 180 to 197 degrees F!  We waited for the steam above the lake to clear a few more times so we could admire this bizarre natural phenomenon before heading back.  We arrived at the van with muddy shoes, clay-caked faces and big smiles after finally reaching Dominica's amazing Boiling Lake!

The next morning we joined a diving excursion going out from our hotel.  There were only 6 of us plus a 4-person crew on the 75-foot catamaran called Passion.  There were only 2 divers, most of us opting to snorkel instead.  We anchored at Champagne Beach where volcanic vents heat the water to a comfortable temperature.  This time we had an underwater camera so could photograph the bubbles and some of the brightly colored reef fish.

Parrott Fish

"Champagne Bubbles"
 
On our final day along the coast we went whale-watching on the Passion along with about 30 others. Two years ago we searched in vain for Sperm Whales on two excursions and this one was proving to be the same.  Our captain stood on the front of our boat searching intently for the blow from a whale. Finally, one of the crew shouts "There she blows!"  A sperm whale had finally been spotted about a quarter mile away.  We were able to reach the spot and watch this immense creature floathing on the surface to breathe.
 
Sperm Whale
 
The whale remained on the surface for about 5 minutes before diving with a graceful flick of its giant tail.

Sperm Whale Fluke
 
We spotted a second sperm whale on the horizon but it dove before we could reach it.  We were happy to have seen two Sperm Whales on this excursion.  You can read more about Sperm Whales on our post "A Whale's Tale & Dolphin Joy" when we encountered them in New Zealand back in 2013.  

We spent our last 2 days in Dominica at Cocoa Cottage near the village of Trafalgar.  When we arrived, we met a couple traveling with their two sons.  The woman asked "So where are you from?" "Vermont." I responded.  She said "So are we!"  "And from what town are you from?"  she inquired. "South Burlington." I answered.  "So are we!"  the woman excitedly responded.  After formal introductions it turns out that Melissa and Mark live very near us and we have mutual friends in Vermont!  

Our cottage was close to Morne Trois Pitons National Park and we were able to do a few more hikes in the park. The first was to Middleham Falls, a beautiful 300-foot cascade flowing through lush green rainforest.

Middleham Falls
 
We also hiked around Freshwater Lake, the largest lake in Dominica.  We had to climb several steep knobs on slippery logs to get around the lake but the views of the surrounding mountains and Atlantic Ocean far below was worth the effort.

Freshwater Lake
 
On our last day in Dominica we had almost convinced ourselves to have a relaxing day.  Melissa, Mark, their two sons, Paul and his son were going Canyoneering.  At the last minute we decided to join them and headed to "Extreme Dominica" next door to get outfitted with wetsuits, harnesses, helmets and life jackets for the two-hour trip down the canyon.  We loaded into a van and drove to the Boiling Lake trailhead.  The canyon we were to explore was a continuation of Titou Gorge.  Not long after entering the canyon we reached our first rappel point, a 60-foot drop into the gorge!  I almost turned back but had made it this far so decided to go for it.  Our two guides Nahjie and Beranie were very competent and made sure I was all roped in before I made the 60-foot plunge.

Peggy on First Rappel

Marc on First Rappel
 
You actually walk down the rock face by lowering yourself with a rope.  You're stable as long as you keep your legs straight and feet apart.  If you bend your knees too much or put your feet too close together you can swing on the rope like a pendulum which none of us did.

First Rappel
 
We all made it down the first rappel to a second drop of about 15-20 feet!  At this point Nahjie and Beranie explained how to jump into the pool below without hitting rocks.  I said "No way am I jumping!" and Nahjie lowered me down on a rope.

"No way am I jumping!"

I'll rappel into a pool of water but jumping into one with the possibility of hitting rocks was not for me.  We reached our second rappel point which involved dropping down a waterfall.  It was about a 40-foot drop.  I managed to reach the bottom without getting doused by the waterfall but Beranie pushed me under it so I'd get the full experience.

Julian on Second Rappel
 
There were more jumps which the guys were happy to do.  I opted to get lowered down on a rope or found a more gentle approach into the pool below.

Me Finding a Gentler Approach
 
The third rappel required a sideways approach before turning backwards and going over the edge.  This is always the most difficult part for me, trusting that the ropes will hold me as I step off the edge.

Peggy on Third Rappel
 
We reached the final jump where Beranie informed me there was no other option but to jump.  It was only 10 feet but was still intimidating for me.  I stood on the edge where Beranie told me "Ready, one, two, three, jump!"  I just couldn't do it.  I told Beranie  "Stop counting, I'll jump when ready!" I finally mustered up the courage and took the plunge.  I held my nose and shut my mouth but still managed to swallow water.  I came up gasping for air, my helmet had slid over my eyes and my life jacket had popped up to my ears!  I dog-paddled across the pool, where Marky, a local on the tour, pulled me to safety.

"Just one more rappel to go." I kept telling myself.  The last drop was about 30 feet.  It was pretty straightforward but I was getting cold and tired so I had to really concentrate.

Mark on Fourth Rappel
 
We all made it through the canyon without mishap and climbed through the rainforest back to the road.

Climbing out of the Canyon
 
Thanks to Nahjie and Beranie for guiding us safely through the canyon and talking me through my anxious moments.  It was an adventure that I'm happy we didn't pass up.  What an exhilarating end to our 3-month journey!  Time to migrate back north and to enjoy Spring in Vermont with family and friends.

We hope all is well back home.
Peggy and Marc

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rockets in the Rainforest?

Greetings All,
Our return trip up the Maroni River to Albina was less eventful than yesterday's trip down the river. We were traveling with the wind and waves so we were able to keep mostly dry and see what we missed on the trip out when we were hidden under the tarp.  The river was lined with forest and mangroves and our boatman spotted two Pale-throated sloths, a species of  three-toed sloth, hanging out in the trees.

Can you Find the Sloths?
 
We completed exit formalities at the Suriname border station in Albina and Tio took us across the Maroni River to drop us off in French Guiana or "Gayene" as it is frequently and confusing called by the locals.  Here is a map of French Guiana showing the places that we will visit.

Map of French Guiana

Just offshore was the shipwrecked British steamer Edith Cavel which partially sank in bad weather in 1924.  It is so overgrown with trees and shrubs that we almost mistook it for a natural island.

Edith Cavel Shipwreck
 
We were met by our guide Regis and quickly passed through the immigration and custom formalities. French Guiana is a department of France so technically we had entered the European Union.  We took a quick tour of St. Laurent du Maroni including the Camp de la Transportation.  Founded in 1858 it was the arrival point for prisoners destined for the notorious penal colonies of French Guiana.

Remnants of the Dock at Camp de la Transportation
 
We drove east for about 2 and a half hours to the city of Kourou and our hotel at the mouth of the Kourou River.  Next to the hotel was the Dryfus Tower used as a communication link to the Salvation Islands 11 km off shore.  

The following morning we woke to sunny skies, an unexpected treat as we were traveling during French Guiana's rainy season.  Today we were scheduled to visit the Space Center but asked Regis if we could take advantage of the good weather and visit the Salvation Islands instead.  Doing so would mean missing our tour of the Space Center so we opted to do both in the same day.  Regis was able to arrange for a private boat to take us to the islands after our visit to the space center.  Yes, a real Space Center in South America!  When I first heard about it I thought it was a joke or a theme park but it's the real deal.  France chose this site in 1964 as its spaceport for two main reasons, it's close to the equator and it has uninhabited area to the east (Atlantic Ocean) so that lower stages of rockets and debris from launch failures can not fall on  human habitations.

Life-size Model of Ariane5
 
In 1975 France offered to share its spaceport with the European Space Agency which has 23 member countries.  About one rocket per month is launched from this facility using European Vega and Ariane rockets and starting 4 years ago Russian Soyuz rockets.  It cost 250 million dollars to launch a satellite into space and this doesn't include the cost of the satellite!

Soyuz Launch Pad

After our very interesting visit to the Space Center we drove to a tiny pier on the Kourou River for our 30-minute boat ride to the Salvation Islands (Iles du Salut), so called because 18th century colonists went there to escape disease on the mainland.  Later, the islands became the site of a notorious penal colony.  The name of the islands was never changed to reflect their more sinister past.  The group is comprised of 3 islands including the infamous Devil's Island.  It is here that Henri Charriere (Papillion) a convicted murderer escaped from after being imprisoned for 12 years.  He wrote a book entitled "Papillion" about his imprisonment and subsequent escape.  In 1973 his book was made into a film in which Steve McQueen played the role of Charriere.  The book's title is Charrière's nickname, derived from a butterfly tattoo on his chest (papillon being French for butterfly). The book is now thought to be more fiction than fact.  According to prison records, Charriere was never imprisoned on Devil's Island.  It still makes for a great story and movie!

Devil's Island

Captain Alfred Dryfus was imprisoned for treason on Devil's Island from 1895 to 1899.   The hut in which he lived still stands.  Today it's too dangerous for tourists to land on the island but we got a good view from our boat.

Dryfus Hut on Devil's Island
 
We did visit the largest island, Royal Island (Île Royale), which was for the general population of criminals of the penal colony.  The remains of the church, hospital, warden's houses and some of the prison cells still stand.  
 
Prison Cell on Île Royale

On a lighter side it was nice to see that the island is now overrun with Red-rumped agoutis, Peacocks and Brown Capuchin monkeys.  All were introduced to the island years ago.  They were much more pleasant to photograph.
 
Brown Capuchin Monkey

We didn't have time to visit the third island, Île Saint-Joseph, which the worst of the criminals were punished in the silence and darkness of solitary confinement.  Over the course of 100 years (1852 to 1952) 70,00 prisoners were sent to this notorious penal colony, most of whom perished here.  Some would say it's morbid to visit a place where so many people suffered and died.  I must admit when I saw the solitary confinement cells it made me queasy.  We didn't stay too long.  I guess remembering the horrors from our past should serve to prevent us from committing atrocities now and in the future. Too bad we can't seem to learn from our past. 
 
Before heading back to Kourou, we had to wait for our boatman to pick up 4 guys from a ship which is used to track satellites once they are launched from the Space Center.  The Space Center has actually purchased the islands as they are below the flight path of the rockets.  They have to be evacuated before every rocket launch.  We were entertained by Marc trying to photograph a Green sea turtle swimming along the shore when it came to the surface the breathe.

Green Sea Turtle
 
The next morning we continued our drive east toward Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana.  We stopped at The Mont Grand Matoury Nature Reserve to do a short walk in protected primary rainforest.  Not far from the trailhead Regis spotted a Pale-throated Three-toed Sloth hanging out in a tree next to the trail.
 
Pale-throated Sloth

We saw a few birds and Squirrel Monkeys on the remainder of our Boucle Paypayo loop hike but not much else.  We arrived in Cayenne after lunch and settled into our hotel.  Early the next morning Regis picked us up for the hour and a half drive southeast to the Kaw Wetlands, a Ramsar Site for wetlands of international importance.  Originally we were booked on a group tour but asked Regis if he could arrange a private boat for us so Marc could take pictures.  We were happy to have a private boat when we arrived at the boat landing.  The parking lot was overflowing and the boat we had originally booked was packed with 27 people!  We had the same size boat for just the 3 of us plus Ricky the boatman and we had a roof to boot.  The draw here is the bird life.  Marc was able to get some good photos.

White-headed Marsh Tyrant

Black-capped Donacobius

Cocoi Heron
 
We had lunch at a floating restaurant in the marsh.  You can spend the night here in hammocks if you wish.  It began to rain and the boatload of French tourists showed up soaking wet.  We continued our exploration of the wetlands after lunch.  Ricky was determined to find a Hoatzin for us.  We've seen these prehistoric-looking birds before including last year in Brazil but they are always fun to see. Finally, Ricky spotted one sitting on her nest in the pouring rain.

Hoatzin on her Nest

We weren't so lucky with the Giant River Otters.  We went in search for them near a cattle farm but they were no where to be seen.  There is a small population of Maroons still living in the Tresor Nature Reserve.  They raise cattle here which seem comfortable grazing in water up to their necks.

Cattle grazing in the Wetlands

We had a free day in Cayenne, so climbed a small hill the site of an abandoned fort to get a view of the city.

Cayenne, French Guiana

We wandered through the Place des Palmistas, a large palm-lined plaza before returning to our hotel to get packed up for a flight out the following morning.  French Guiana is a land of contrasts.  Dense rainforests shelter centuries-old indigenous villages while 21st century rockets zoom overhead, launched from the country's lucrative Space Center.  Where else in the world can you see Rockets in the Rainforest!

We hope all is well back home.
Peggy and Marc

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pretty Poison & Watch out for the Slang!

Greetings All,
After our exciting expedition to Kasikasima, we returned to Palumeu.  We left early the following morning for a one-hour boat ride down the Tapanahony River to the trailhead for Poti Hill. Although not nearly as high as Kasikasima, the trek through primary forest was equally interesting.  We caught glimpses of Red Howler and Brown Capuchin monkeys and finally Marc was able to photograph a Screaming Piha!  They're not as impressive to look at as they are to listen to.


Screaming Piha

We reached the summit of Poti Hill and scanned the rainforest canopy below us for Crimson fruitcrows.  This scarlet-colored member of the Cotinga family has been sighted from Poti Hill but we were not fortunate to see it.  On the way back down, Henk spotted a tiny snake and we stopped to investigate.  It turned out to be a baby Fer-de-lance, one of the most venomous snakes in the neotropics!

Fer-de-lance

We photographed it from a safe distance before returning to our boat and Palumeu Jungle Lodge.  The following day we said goodbye to Henk, Michel and our expedition crew from Palumeu.  Without their hard work our climb up Kasikasima would not have been possible. A short 20-minute flight in the Caravan brought us to the Maroon Village of Kajana.  The Maroons are descendants from slaves that escaped from their cruel Dutch masters to the rainforest where they formed tribes and started a new life.  The Saramaccan Tribe lives in this area.  A 30-minute boat ride down the Gran Rio River brought us to Awarradam Jungle Lodge at the foot of Awarradam Rapids.

Capped Herons at Awarradam Rapids
 
The lodge employs Saramaccan Maroons and the wooden cabins with thatched roofs are built in the traditional Maroon style.  Our cooks were also Maroon and prepared our meals over a wood fire using mostly Surinamese ingredients.

One of the Cooks

The next morning we took a walk in the primary rainforest.  Much to my dismay it started to rain.  It's very difficult to find let alone photograph birds and animals in the forest when it's raining.  My mood brightened when we spotted many brilliantly colored Poison Dart Frogs on the jungle floor!  

Poison Dart Frog


Poison Dart Frog


The one good thing about the rain is that it does bring out these colorful frogs.  These amphibians are often called "dart frogs" due to the Amerindians' indigenous use of their toxic secretions to poison the tips of their blow-darts.  Many species are threatened and we were very happy to have finally encountered some.  We spent a relaxing afternoon at Peti Rapids just upriver from the lodge.


Peti Rapids

Another early morning walk in the rainforest yielded no birds or mammals but gave us the opportunity to observe some of the jungle's smaller inhabitants like this tortoise

Tortoise

and this Bird-eating Spider!

Bird-eating Spider

Considered to be one of the largest spiders in the world, the Goliath Bird-eater rarely preys on birds. They are nocturnal and this one had retreated to his burrow for the day.  Back at our cabin we could hear Hummingbirds across the river.  We went out to investigate and found a pair of beautiful male Crimson Topaz engaged in a squabble.   They are the second largest hummingbird in the world and the males are spectacular with iridescent crimson plumage and a sparkling green throat.

Male Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds

That afternoon we passed on the village visit in order to do another walk in the forest.  We were joined by Sedney, the lodge manager and Kaja, from the nearby village.  We walked through agrifields and secondary forest before entering the primary rainforest.  Suddenly, Kaja became very excited.  He didn't speak but used gestures and guttural noises to indicate the presence of monkeys. At first I thought he did this so as not to scare away the monkeys with human voices but when I saw Sedney using a form of sign language, I realized that Kaja was deaf.  He amazingly spotted three species of monkeys for us, the Guyanan Red Howler, Common Squirrel and Brown Capuchin.

Common Squirrel Monkey
 
We were told that most of the animals in this area had been hunted out so Sedney and Kaja were very excited to see them.  When Marc got a few good photos and showed them to Kaja he beamed with pride.  For us it was not about seeing the monkeys but in seeing Kaja and Sedney's reaction in finding them for us to photograph.  Maybe in some small way we were helping to convince the locals to spare a few animals for the tourists to enjoy.

Guyanan Red Howler Monkey

The next day we flew back to Paramaribo before transferring by mini van to the border town of Albina the next day.  Here is the map of Suriname again so you can get your bearings.

 
Suriname Map

At Albina we waited around for a couple of hours for a boat to take us down the Maroni River to the village of Christaankondre.  We were joined by a Dutch couple who were taking great care to waterproof their day packs.  Since we were not returning to Paramaribo we had ALL our belongings with us.  We asked the guide if our bags would be OK on the boat he replied "Yes, they will be under a tarp".  We waited for the previous occupants of the boat to disembark and for the crew to load the boat with more supplies apparently for a large group of Swedes that were going to the same lodge as us on a later boat.  Finally we were ready to board when our guide says "Wait a minute, let the schoolchildren get on first."  Schoolchildren, no one mentioned schoolchildren to us.  They piled into the boat along with all the supplies and left a front row seat for us.  The Dutch woman looked at me uncertainly and asked if the boat was safe with so many passengers.

Schoolchildren Boarding Our boat

We shrugged our shoulders and piled in.  A stiff wind was blowing and we were going against the waves.  Soon it became apparent why the kids jumped in the back and pulled the tarp covering our bags over their heads!  After just a few minutes, we were getting doused with every wave that hit the boat and our passports were in pouches around our necks!  We shouted "Stop, we want to go back!" "Back to Albina?" our guide replied.  "No, back in the boat." we answered.  We crawled over supplies and school kids to a bench in the middle of the boat and slipped under the tarp with the giggling school girls.  It was going to be a long hour and a half ride!  We couldn't see a thing as the boat rocked and rolled down the Maroni River towards its mouth with the Atlantic Ocean.  Somehow we made it and all our stuff remained relatively dry!

That night after dinner, we braved another boat ride to reach Galibi Nature Reserve to look for nesting Green Sea Turtles.  This time it only took 15 minutes, there were no school kids and we stayed dry.  No sooner had we arrived on the beach when our guide starting talking about a slang,  "Watch out for the slang!" he said.  It was dark (lights scare off nesting sea turtles) and we had to avoid a slang.  Our guide switched on my headlamp which he had borrowed and a water snake was lying on the beach.  "Oh, slang is Dutch for snake!" I exclaimed.  Out went the light and we quickly passed by the slang.

Watch out for the Slang!

Our boatman had found a Green Sea Turtle that was just covering up her eggs.  At this point in the nesting process, we could approach without disturbing her.

Nesting Green Sea Turtle

The second turtle we encountered was just coming ashore and unfortunately we did disturb her and she turned around and returned to the sea.  Tio, our guide said she would return in about 10 minutes. In the meantime, our boatman spotted a second snake.  This one looked like a baby anaconda to me.

Baby Anaconda

The green anaconda is the largest/heaviest and second longest snake in the world.  This baby has a lot of growing to do to reach up to 17 feet in length.  Our boatman had found a third Green Sea Turtle. She was still in the process of scooping out her nest chamber with her back flippers so we could not approach without disturbing her.  We waited about 20 minutes for her to start laying her eggs before going to the nest.  At this point the sea turtle goes into an "egg-laying trance" and you can approach her without interrupting the process.   She was in the process of laying around 85 ping-pong ball-sized eggs into a hole about 2 feet deep.  

Green Sea Turtle Laying Eggs

We watched in awe as she completed a process that has been going on for millions of years.  Today some species of sea turtles are threatened with extinction.  Poaching, getting trapped in fishing nets and loss of nesting beaches have taken a heavy toll.  It was good to see the villagers of Christaankondre protecting "their" sea turtles.  They realize there is money to be made from the tourists who come to see them nest.  What a fitting end to our fascinating visit to the tiny South American country of Suriname!

We hope all is well back home.
Peggy and Marc