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Book source: Jungle Gold, Will DeGrouchy and William L. Magee, notes and introduction Ir. F.C. Bubberman, De Walburg Pers, Zutphen, 1985 ISBN 906011.367.5

Subject: [Nature] Jungle Life (1899-1901)

Article:

Here is an account of jungle life as told by a 36 year old American. Howard A. Pedrick was an explorer, inventor, adventurer and that was the reason he spent two years looking for gold on the side creeks of the Marowijne river. The Marowijne river separates Suriname from French Guiana. There is so much to encounter, observe and experience in the jungles of Suriname [note: even today] around the beginning of this century. There was no quality communication system available at the time and people were then more superstitious about the jungle than today. Nevertheless the jungle remains something mysterious and intriguing. Fredericks jungle account is somewhat rambling but still interesting to all who have ventured into the jungles of Suriname.

Pedrick brought some oxen to his jungle camp which at night attracted such animals as the puma, the black jaguar and the giant boa snake. When logging trees to clear the jungle the loggers often met a two feet long red colored snake. This snake was probably the reditere (chiroius curinatus) a comon but non-poisonous snake. The native loggers would stop working and would not resume their work until the snake was killed.

Back at his base camp they would eat sometimes roasted wild boar. This is the Pingo (dictylis pecari) but as there was no refrigeration the meat would spoil within hours making them sick. Jungle life was hard, monotonous, dangerous and to entertain themselves the men were cruel towards the animals they kept in captivity. All had a small or large monkey as pet. They held boxing matches for the monkeys. The monkeys had gloves and a muzle and the ring was a cage. To get the monkeys agitated they were fed bread soaked with gin. One person entertained the men by placing an eight feet boa snake on a sheet-iron and sending an electric current through the snake.

There was plenty of fishing for food and entertainment. The most fearful fish was the pirahna (cannibal fish) which always swam in large groups. Another fish was the 80cm cat fish (koepira) or Christ-fish. The sting of this fish is painful while the skeleton shows a crucifix. This crucifix is saved by many. At the time there were numerous aligators which would snap at anything. It would take at least an hour to lasso the crocks tail and bring him in. The tail was cut in steak size slices and is considered a delicacy by the natives. Most fish that they caught was dried and smoked for food.

While walking through the jungle, pedrick observed many parrots, powesies, herons, green guanas. The guana tasted like frog and was a change of menu. The nights at base camp were often full of dangers as some of the men were attacked by bats. While they were asleep a bat would bite their toes through the hammock and suck blood which would weaken them.

Pedrick kept some 50 chickens at camp as he needed fresh eggs for the sick. Almost all suffered from jungle fever, malaria and other diseases. These hens attracted one day a 26 feet long boa snake who killed three hens. The snake was killed with a machete and the consternation was the highlight of the day. His jungle stories end with Pedricks astonished account of the millions of mosquitoes, flies and ants. [note; also to my disbelief until you find yourself in the middle].




Met dank aan Albert Buys










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