A Wing and a Prayer

The main joy of rising at 4am this morning was avoiding the incessant head-drilling morning squawks of our neighbour's parrot (stealthy night missions to free it from its pitifull cage have, I think, been on all of our minds). We were on our way to Niew Nickerie at the mouth of the Coratjin River, for a magical flight over the Jungle..... . The four hour drive mirrors what this country has to offer in cultural diversity. ... a big mix. Leaving the potholed streets of Paramaribo behind (a city where owning a four-wheel-drive is much more than a fashion statement) and passing the old wooden houses, I couldn't help hoping that Suriname respects its unique architectural heritage, and doesn't let the rampant trend of modernisation, alteration and the scourge of neon swallow the character of this lovely place. Hurtling onward we pass the absurdly grand houses of the New (and some would say dubiously obtained) Rich. Rows of more humble homes dwindle as the swamps and wetlands take over. ....... Then as the cloak of darkness loosens we pass vast rice farms and on through sleepy Caribbean communities where people, hawking fresh fruit and fish try to attract our attention.

The cool night air now well gone, we pass inland waters that support seasonal fishermen living in stilted houses in the shallows. Passing the vast expanse of farmland, glimpses of heron and the odd caiman in the canals keep us entertained.

Rolling up to a shoddy hanger by an airstrip outside Niew Nickerie the rumours we had heard of our pilot, Robert Overeem, came back to me: "He drives like the devil but flies you to heaven". Yet quickly rising into the clouds we soon realised his passion for flying is matched only by his skill, and that with a life-time of flying over the jungle behind him we were in expert hands.

Engulfed in the forest at ground level, and dripping with sweat it is easy to overlook the immense beauty of your surroundings, yet from above the endless hues of green are intensely captivating. The absurdity of destroying what was unfolding beneath us became crystal clear, and despite modern man's technological 'advances' there must be realistic and financially viable alternatives to destroying it for short-term gain. Indigenous peoples living under that blanket of green have learnt through the ages to harvest its sectrets and hidden power without destroying it. And yet flying over the logging camps of Apoera the ugly scars of that are left behind are a harsh reminder of what is being lost.

My serious train of thought was broken by the appearance of a rainbow enircling our small craft. Before returning to Niew Nickerie we stopped breifly at lonely jungle airstrip to stetch our legs and, as luck would have it, to marvel at some fresh panther tracks in the sand.

With our ears still ringing from our first flight we managed to persuade Robert to take us on another short flight to gather more footage. Sadly there was only one small seat in his second plane so we had to revise our plan. Remembering what our producers had said as we left home: "Content is King"; with no more than duck-take and old rope we strapped ourselves to the wings of his byplane. See the film we made........



Coming in Low........

A Harsh Reminder

Something More Beautiful