I love being an Interpreter, for it allows me to travel to different places, meet people from all walks of life. My childhood was very much a normal childhood, my parents were protective. In my kiddy years I watched a lot of movies with my parents, but I always had to cover my eyes with my hands if there was any kissing (or some inappropriate touching). In my previous blog I mentioned that the only prostitutes I’d ever seen, were the ones on TV. No one happier than Yours Truly at the opportunity to see some Working Girls.

Working as a Portuguese Interpreter allowed me to see many places in my country.

Marieke. one of the cultural anthropologists, introduced me to the people at Medische Zending Suriname (MZ). The organization wants to know how people are getting their hands on mercury, because it is illegal. Turns out, there’s a place in the center of town where it can be bought. Every single one of the illegal gold miners know this place. Previous research indicated that they aren’t too careful we working with the chemical, and that it’s used too often.

Our transportation. Official MZ vehicle.


At Afobakka, getting ready to take a boat onto the Stuwmeer. This is another side of my job as an Interpreter.

The southern border isn’t protected. Brazilians walk (YES, walk!!!) into my country undisturbed, illegally mine gold, and then return home. I now know they also mine gold in the Stuwmeer, which I think should be illegal. For complete strangers to have such easy access to my country’s natural resources is unbelievable. I should try doing that in Brazil, see what happens.

If you have a lot of money, life is marvelous. Especially in my country.

The illegal gold mining industry is a booming business in Suriname. Besides talking to Working Girls, I also get the opportunity to talk to small scale gold miners. Sometimes they make their way up to Benzdorp, then cross the river into French Guiana. The sad part for them, is that the Gendarme don’t PLAY! They kick them out off French Guiana so fast, it gives them whiplash!

The Small Scale Miners have given us many complaints about the Gendarme, but that’s not my job. I could care less about how they are treated. They are, after all, illegally mining gold on French territory.

One thing I DESPISE about this, is that foreigners treat my country like a free-for-all, which it isn’t. My Government (PLEASE don’t get me started on that!) also doesn’t do much to change it, if you ask me. I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been to the interior, I’ve seen how the Brazilians, Chinese, Venezuelans, Dominicans, Colombians, and whatever illegal foreigner there, live. Whatever money they earn, they send it to their home country. We don’t see a single dime! There’s a lot I can write about what really goes on there, which also involves some very important people, but I can’t.  At least, not now.

On the van Blommenstijn Meer AKA the Afobakka Stumeer.

The main goal of this project, is to find out how the small scale gold miners use mercury. If they don’t use it, what other methods do they use to extract the gold? How do they get the mercury? What does it cost per barrel? Who is their supplier? Do they protect themselves properly when using the chemical? Do they know how dangerous it is? Most of them think it’s okay to swallow it, for it gives a boost to the immune system. Others think it wards off evil spirits, so they put some mercury in a bottle above all entrances of their house.

We arrived Sara Kreek.  The village we were staying at was Lebidoti. We interviewed people from three villages.

One of the researchers was kind enoug to share the findings with me, so I’ll share them with you guys  in a different post. Since there are so many pictures, let me tell you a little about what you’re looking at.

It’s a two-hour-drive from Paramaribo to Afobakka. From there, we took a boat to Sara Kreek. It took about an hour and a half. Can you imagine sitting in a small boat, in the blistering sun, for that amount of time? It is horror, but it is so much fun! The captains are very GOOD! Don’t know if I should call them “Captains” or just “Boat Man,” LOL!  The Afobakka Stuwmeer is very dangerous, for there are trees in the water. Sometimes you can feel the boat shift a little when you accidentally bump into a tree top. Why are there trees in the water? I’ll tell you about it some other time.

Baku, another Maroon village in the Afobakka Stuwmeer.

There is so much more to tell about my experiences as an Interpreter. Stay tuned for