Dear Mom and Dad,

Your adventure to Suriname filled my heart with comfort and joy. I am already eased by the idea that, upon my return to the United States, you will understand, to some extent, what I have experienced. Phone conversations, photographs, emails and blog posts fail to capture the raw emotions of Suriname. No phone conversation can voice the resilience of the Saramaccan people. No photograph can contrast Goutubedi’s radiant love to her dark, isolated idleness. No email can engrave the lasting impressions of a lifestyle driven by necessity. No blog post can tell the whole story. So to share my experience, the community, surroundings and routines, the whole story, or at least as much as I could, was to replace a roadblock with a new feeling of rapture.

Mom and Dad with the community of Ligorio after church on Good Friday.

My parents paid off their room and board by washing dishes in river!

On top of Oko Kun (“Oko Mountain”), looking out over the Surinamese rainforest.

Getting ready for the morning commute with Toni.

I hope you enjoyed Suriname as a pleasant surprise, reviving an abandoned enthusiasm for adventure like a forgotten feeling at the bottom of a drink, waiting to be stirred, assuring to sweeten the satisfaction. You stood the test of adjusting to the interior lifestyle, embracing the “comforts” of my jungle shack, and overcoming all anxieties of tarantulas, spiders, bats, lizards and ants. You swam in piranha-infested waters, searched for sea turtles at midnight, danced “saketi” with Saramaccan women and draped an anaconda over your shoulders. And I hope you would agree that it was some good ol’fashioned fun.

We gained a few new friends at the Galibi Zoo, the most exciting petting zoo I have ever visited.

You approached the trip with an open, positive attitude and genuine eagerness (and what a difference it made!). You put your complete trust in me to arrange the itinerary and a majority of the logistics. With no expectations or end destination, you had only the journey to treasure, obtaining the key to a chest of wealthy adventure. I never want to forget the night I retreated to my bed after a long day of translating and you two stayed up, forbidding language barriers or the thunderous rattling of rain against my roof to spoil a lesson for two boys in Go Fish.

Breakfast in my hut.

Even more impressively, you helped prepare me to take my service to the next level and refreshed my attitude towards the kids who frequent my house. I now not only consider you as parents with guidance and wisdom but as two of my closest friends with whom I have shared an unforgettable adventure. With Mac’s upcoming trip, I look forward to share this remarkable piece of the world with others closest to me, including, hopefully, a few brave and adventuresome friends.

Thank you for all of your support. I love you.

Your devoted son,

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day, Jungle Momma!! Mac and I understand the sacrifices you made for us and we want to say that you are greatly appreciated!!

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5 Responses to Dear Mom and Dad,

  1. Kristyn Harvey says:

    Beautifully written John!
    Aunt Kristyn

  2. Luke Redmond says:

    That’s so incredible. It must have been unreal for you to be able to share your world with them. Take care and stay adventurous.

  3. Aunt Anne says:

    Wow what a great tribute to your Mom & Dad’s visit. You look great John.

    Aunt Anne

  4. Jim Morrison says:

    Hey John, I ran into your mom and dad at a recent gilman event and we had a great chat. Looks like you’re doing great work out there. Hope your science classes at Gilman have come in handy!
    Jim Morrison

    • John Williams says:

      Great to hear from you! Yea I am having quite the experience out here and even getting a little teaching in myself! I think I need to write to all of my Gilman teachers and beg them for forgiveness now knowing how frustrating misbehaving students can be!! And it is truly remarkable how the people here are masters of their environment – feel like I am back in AP Bio all over again….just this time in a different language.

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