|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