I had been expecting to be posting from Guyana, but I got an extra day in Suriname as the ferry that crosses the river separating the two countries runs only once a day and in the morning. If there’d been an afternoon ferry, I’d be bearing down on the Carnegie in Georgetown. Instead I ended my day early in Nieuw Nickerie twenty miles down river from the ferry crossing.
Someone warned me the day before that there was just one ferry a day making the crossing. I tried to confirm that and received conflicting reports with several people telling me there was an afternoon ferry. Most people didn’t know, including a couple of police officers. It never occurred to me to check on-line when I had access to WiFi in Paramaribo not realizing it would be an issue and a virtual state secret. It was a stark contrast to French Guiana, which posted signs giving its ferry’s running times beginning one hundred miles from the border—French consideration and efficiency. Evidently this was such a rarely traversed border, Suriname didn’t bother.
At least I ended up at an ultra-friendly guest house in Nieuw Nickerie. It was all booked up but the proprietor said I could camp there for free. It had a vast yard, just what I needed to de-ant all my gear. I had the worst infestation the night before with the relentless ants getting into all my panniers and even my handlebar bag. They were stinging me all night long, coming back stronger after each occasion when I thought I had wiped them out.
My seven previous ant attacks, other than the one that came before dark right after I set up my tent forcing me to clear out, the ants got the message and disappeared after I’d massacred them all. These sent reinforcements four times after I thought I had crushed all the intruders. I was first woken at eleven p.m. by ants crawling over me, then again at midnight. I went two hours before they awok e me again and then four hours the last time at six a.m., when I was ready to clear out even though it was still pitch dark. That four hour interlude allowed them to fully take over the tent. They were everywhere, even in the underwear I had laid out.
Combined with incessantly buzzing mosquitoes that filled the upper reaches of the tent and steamy heat, it was easily the worst night of this trip or any. I doubt Dreyfus had it any worse out on Devil’s Island than I did this night. I was overheating and dripping sweat, each drop seemingly an ant traipsing along on me. After the third incursion I contemplated moving my tent, but I was camped at a road construction site with a night watchman and a pack of dogs. I didn’t want to trigger the fury of the dogs.
I had ended up at this location on the recommendation of a couple of police officers. I had initially ridden past it, but when I ventured into the swampy forest and was immediately descended upon by hoards of mosquitoes, I doubled back to this site that was in an open space catching the breeze. The mosquitoes didn’t immediately make their presence known, but once I settled into the tent, they began slipping in through the holes, even though most were covered.
I’d had a great day up until that point going over ninety miles for the first time in these travels and seemingly putting me within two days of Georgetown if there’d been more than one ferry a day to Guyana. It was a day though of heat and humidity that had me craving a cold drink whenever I could get one, greatly longing for the ubiquitous ice water dispensers of Brasil. For the first thirty miles out of Paramaribo there was a small Indian-run supermarket every three or four miles. They thinned greatly after that with stretches of twenty miles between them. The supermarkets generally had a shaded porch that was a hangout for locals. Twice I had people present me with a cold liter-and-a-half bottle of water after I asked if it was okay to drink the tap water.
At least I was getting used to the traffic passing me on my right side. For the first day I flinched at this unaccustomed sensation, so conditioned I was to traffic zipping by me on my left side. They all gave me plenty of space, but it didn’t seem so. It was the rainy season in the Guianas, as it had been in Brasil, but I hadn’t had any rain in a week, other than a few sprinkles at night, in contrast to Brasil where I had to put on my rain coat two or three times day. Though it was somewhat cloudy, it was much warmer than it had been in Brasil, leaving me perpetually craving a cold drink. I had feared that would be my lot for much of this trip, so couldn’t complain that it had waited until near its conclusion.
With my early afternoon arrival in Nieuw Nickerie, I had time to do some exploring. I thought I might find my first beaches of these travels, but all I found was a sliver of a beach in the mouth of the river that feeds the Atlantic. It was separated by a long dike that ran for several miles beyond the town, at last an emblem of the Dutch. Though I saw lots of flowers, it wasn’t the tulip season. It was a very quiet Sunday afternoon with hardly a soul out and about in the heat. The family that ran the guesthouse were all hanging out in the shade of their porch.
After my limited amount of sleep the night before, I was ready for bed early, especially since I’d have to be up at five to get to the ferry.