Bigiston & the coronavirus next door

Bigiston is an indigenous village in Suriname. I had never heard of it before, so I was very excited to go there. We went there on a Saturday morning, slept there for two nights & returned on a Monday afternoon. Bigiston actually means ‘big stone.’ I heard that slaves carved … stuff (LOL) on a stone in the river hundreds of years ago. I wrote ‘stuff’ because I do not know what to call the drawings… or better yet… ‘drawings’ is a good word. So I will go with that. To see the drawings you have to get out of the boat and climb on top of the rock.

Okay, while I am writing this, I just started humming a melody. And before you know it, I am singing along to the legendary Whitney Houston‘s You’re Still My Man. Jeez, the pipes on that woman were AMAZING! <3 Alrighty then, enough about my mood for now. And yes, there is one man who will forever be in my heart and still is my man, even if we are not together. He will always be mine. *wink*

Now, back to my time in Bigiston, which was unforgettable for many reasons.

These pictures are not mine, I found them on the Internet. A big thank you to this blogger and this Pinterest account for these photos. You can see the drawings I mentioned earlier. I do not know if they really were made by slaves, but that is what we were told by the boatsman. To get to Bigiston, you have to drive to Albina. From there you take a boat to the village. Depending on the size of the motor of the boat, you can reach the village within thirty minutes.

We arrived at the coast on time, the batsman was already there awaiting us. But there was a problem: He had come with a smaller boat but wanted the same price. There were ten people with luggage. Some of the interviewers had been in Moengoetapoe for three days working. We, the supervisors, had to pick them up on the way to Albina and head to the village together. So there was A LOT of luggage.

He could not take all of us with our luggage, so he proposed some stupid option… He would go back and forth three to four times. That was complete and utter bullshit, so we called the village Captain. FYI, the leader of the village is called a Captain (kind of like the President). After the Captain, there is the Basja, who is kind of like the Vice-President.

The Captain of Bigiston arranged for someone to pick us up. It would be a boat big enough to carry twenty people plus luggage.

Two weeks before that I was in another village not too far from Albina, it is called Adjoemakondre. I called the guide we used there to ask if he knows someone who owns a boat. He did not, but he did tell me to check in Papatam, where the Brazilians are. Maybe we could find a boatsman there.

We drove to the other side of Albina, it is about a two-minute-ride. I asked around but the price was too high. So we went back to the beach to wait for our new boatsman. The Captain said that his name is Boogey. We called Boogey after forty minutes because he still had not arrived. He said that he was ‘right here.’ But we thought he was Indigenous, and they always say places are not far, but they are really fucking far.

Non-indigenous person: “Where is the nearest supermarket in the village?”
Indigenous person: “Oh, there is one not far from here. Right over there. Keep walking in that direction
.”

And when you finally do reach the supermarket, it is one hour later and a kilometer and a half away. NEVER trust a Surinamese indigenous person when it comes to distance. Everything is ‘right here, just around the corner.’

The Captain sent us Boogey his number. When we looked at the spelling of the name, it was BOGIE.

You do not pronounce it the same as Boogey… or Boogie. We called him again, told him we were waiting for him in a big blue bus. He said that he could see the bus, he was ‘right here.’ I thought, “This fucking guy already! Does he not know we are not indigenous and want to know where the fuck ‘right here’ is?”

We sat on the bus for another fifteen minutes cussing Boogey/Boogie/Bogie OUT! And all of a sudden… there he was. About fifty minutes ago, I had seen a boat pull into the … beach (?). But the person got out of the boat and ran to the supermarket across the street. So we were like, “Nah, that is not him, he not an indigenous guy.” At that time we had no idea what Boogey/Boogie/Bogie looked like. We just assumed that because he lives in an indigenous village, he was indigenous. And you know what they say, “When you assume, you make an ass out of me and you.”

It turns out that the population in Bigiston is very diverse. Yes, it is an indigenous village, but the population is a mix of indigenous people and Maroons.

Boogey/Boogie/Bogi HAD been there the entire time! I said to myself, “Way to go, girl. You are a real jackass sometimes, aren’t ya?”

That is Boggi… Yes, it is pronounced as BOOGEY, but it is spelled B-O-G-G-I. *Sucking in air* That is interesting, LOL. If you do not believe me, check the upper left photo to convince yourself. So, if you are ever on my side of the world and you would like to go to Bigiston, give Boggi (Boogey) a call.

He is such a nice guy!!! Why he did not come up to the bus, only God knows. But we were so glad when we were able to put our stuff in the boat. We stopped at Futian, the Chinese supermarket in Albina (they also own the brothel where the Dominican sex workers are being raped). I could not help but think about the women while we waited for Boggi. Aside from the supermarket and the brothel, they also sell gas… or diesel… or petroleum… or whatever boat engines use.

I loved the boat ride so much that I took a few short videos. Seriously, I love my job and the fact that I get to be out in nature so much. I am blessed! <3

On our way to Bigiston <3

We arrived in the village in the afternoon. All of us were hungry. I have to say that I was worried about the coronavirus. Part of the village is on the other side of the river, which basically is in French territory. French Guiana is part of France, so it is considered European territory. During our civil war, some of the villagers fled across the river onto French territory. They did not move back after all had settled down. Most of them prefer to stay over there in case another civil war happens. Over there is French territory, so no one will be crossing the river.

The house we stayed in was more of a recreation center.

Our house was a recreation center with a kitchen, two bathrooms, three bedrooms, a big open room where they had a TV set, and some weird room next to the kitchen. There is no electricity, no indoor plumbing. So we had to get water from the river to shower and flush the toilets. Good thing our house was not too far from the river.

One thing that did bother me is how the villagers go back and forth between Suriname & French Guiana. They cross the river all day the whole day. Some of them even have relatives in Cayenne. And with the coronavirus being in St. Laurent, they had about ten confirmed cases at the time… there was no telling who in Bigiston could have had it. While checking the surveys I came across many people who had a fever, were coughing, it scared me. I have some underlying health issues, so I am scared as fuck. Not going to lie about that. But I am staying positive, taking my medication and vitamin C. Oh, and I also have not left the house in thirteen days.

Stay tuned for the next blog about this wonderful village. How are you guys spending your lockdown? Take care, alright?

xoxo

Tiara Ray

I am grateful & blessed to have the life I live. (Soon to be) Traditionally published & self-published author in her mid-thirties. I unsuccessfully tried changing this picture numerous times, so I just left it. I wish you lots of love & may you get what you need. <3

4 Comments

  1. Your landscape is unlike any I have seen before. It’s amazing. Would love to travel to there some day. Am glad you found Boogie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge