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25 February 2014

It was a long trip to Paramaribo, Suriname, so my initial intention was leaving very early, but I changed my mind remembering the +20 people hitchhiking the previous morning at 7 when I went to the space centre. However I couldn't sleep late as the 4 young French people next to me got up before sunrise and began talking while packing. I took my time and left when the rain stopped at 8, first hitchhiking 20 minutes by the sideroad to Kalawachi. As expected no luck - the cars drove by fast and the popular hitchhiking place is at a roundabout closer to town so I decided to walk to that spot. Only one other guy when I got there though more people quickly arrived. No first-come-first-serve system, so a beautiful young girl got a ride just after she arrived while the first guy had been waiting at least 45 minutes. After 1½ hour I began doubting and instead hoping for a bus/shared taxi but then my luck changed when I got a ride with Damien – a French turtle researcher. He was on his way back to Amana Nature Reserve where he's studying turtles – the trip took 2 hours and along the way we experienced everything from torrential rain to sunshine.

We got along well and he ended up offering me to come along for the night's turtle observation and sleep at his place. It was early in the turtle season (meaning limited chance of seeing them) and I've seen them (both nesting and hatching) many other places in the world, so I initially decided to skip it, but this offer was to good to refuse. While he was working I spent the afternoon walking along the beach enjoying the rare beautiful weather. During dinner we again had torrential rain but fortunately it stopped before we headed out at 22. Damien's research area was 3k beach which we walked up and down a couple of times (12k) in a good pace but no turtles - I didn't mind not experiencing turtles but I would have liked observing Damien's work. Still I got a lot of information about turtle research and life in French Guiana as well as meeting many of his friendly colleagues.

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