Published: January 23rd 2012January 5th 2012
it has been a while since I wrote a blog!
Some of you knew already, last October I won a return ticket of Insel Air. They organized a photo-competition on Facebook. I had a choice from each and every destination they fly to. Obviously I wasn't going to choose a nearby destination. I chose for Suriname, which is the furthest they fly to, after the USA. Since mid-2011 I started to think about Suriname again because last time I was there was in mid-2004 and I really wanted to go again. Surinam
is a country in northeastern South America. It used to be part of the Dutch Kingdom, until 1975, therefore Curaçao still has ties with the country. It has around 500 000 people and it's capital is Paramaribo. It's sparsely populated, most people living along the shores of the Surinam River and along the northern coast. The country is evolving and progressing a lot, which is the opposite of what was happening during the 1980's and the first few years of the 1990's, period in which there was a dictatorship and a interior jungle-war going on. Compared to 2000, the first time I was there,
the country made a tremendous progress and things are looking very well for the future. Current GDP is about US$ 9000 per capita. On the other hand inflation is too high, I found the country to be expensive now. Prices are sometimes ridiculously high and I wonder how some people survive....especially if you look to the wages in the country. They pay more for a litre of gas than we do in Curaçao! My trip
I flew to Suriname in the evening on Christmas Day and spent 11 nights there. It was my third time in Suriname, I was there in 2000 and 2004 too. Going to Suriname means having a great time with family! This time I didn't do much touristy things. I did my own "tour" through Paramaribo, visited Bergendal and the district of Coronie. My mom was born in Suriname but moved to Curaçao when she was 5. She still has two aunts alive there, which I visited. I met many other cousins I've never met before, many family-members which made me feel right at home! Everywhere you go visit (family, friends), there is FOOD....food never misses in Suriname! I also went to a party of
a cousin of my mom which was fun. In Suriname I really had the chance to "relax"....sleep long, hang out, not much worries! I really needed to be "away" for a while! I especially enjoyed being with my moms aunts (sisters of my grandma, who died in 1995). One of them looks so much my grandma that I kept staring at her sometimes. As one of my grandma's only two grandchildren that have ever visited Surinam, I feel proud! :) Arrival
I arrived very late in Suriname, almost mid-night. Serghino, a cousin of my cousins, picked me up at the airport in Zanderij, which is about a one hour drive south of Paramaribo. Once in Paramaribo I went home at uncle John and aunt Agnes (John is a cousin of my mom) and there is where I stayed most of my 11 nights. I also spent two nights at two cousins of mine and one night in Totness, district of Coronie. End of the Year
End of the year in Suriname is one crazy party! Serghino took me to many parties one day I told him I didn't want to go anymore. Especially on the 30th of december.
Many companies celebrated and had live bands playing. Anyone could enter, some where free other charged a fee! What I liked from the Surinamese music is that everyone goes on the dancefloor and dances....the dancefloor was always full! It doesn't matter who you came with, if you're alone...everybody dances....some dance with each other, some dance together. We went to the parties of Surinam Airways, TeleSur (telecommunication), EBS (electricity) and the Paramaribo Fire Department.
On 31st of december, starting around noon, downtown Paramaribo is filled with people and many companies/shops throw their pagaras. It's pagara and smoke everywhere, live music on the streets until late in the evening. People dance, drink, eat....it's something so different than everything else I've experienced!!! The party goes on until about 10pm, then people go home, shower and at 12am (New Year) most people are at home with their family. A LOT of fireworks are thrown here, it was like a real warzone....much more firework compared to Curaçao. Some years ago, Suriname reached "CNN Travel" as a one of the "Fantastic New Year's Eve destinations"!!! Paramaribo
is the capital and has about 300 000 people. It's the largest city of the country. A part
of the city is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Most houses are built from Surinamese wood, typical of Surinam. A walk around the Central Market, Waterkant, Presidential Palace and Fort Zeelandia is worth it....these are the oldest parts of the city. Also the wooden cathedral is very impressive! The city is still a bit chaotic and there is much more traffic nowadays! It's a great city with all the facilities and activities a city of its size usually has. Many Surinamese people live abroad, especially in the Netherlands, and many of them were in Suriname on vacation. There was a big amount of French-Guyanese tourists too! Therefore prices are in Euros in many places, which I DISLIKED a lot....I really hated that! I shopped a little bit in the city, you can find good stuff and good prices! There are two new malls built outside downtown: Hermitage Mall and Maretraite Mall...I liked Hermitage much better!
If you love food, then you're at the perfect place! Suriname has a rich cuisine thanks to the many different ethnic backgrounds the population consists of. The three biggest ethnic groups are the Creoles, Hindi and Javanese. They all have their own
tradition and cuisine. They live peaceful with each other. I think Suriname is the only country in the world where there is a synagogue and a mosque beside each other! Isn't that great? Berg en Dal
Berg en Dal is a new resort built along the western shore of the Suriname River, about 2 hours drive south of Paramaribo. There is an asphalt road now to this area, which is great! It used to be a dirt road for years! I actually visited the Adventure Center of the resort, where I did the zipline (canopy) and the kayak. I also had lunch there. I left home around 6am and was back home 7pm....a "long" day it was! It was a great but VERY expensive day and I can tell you that I will NEVER go back to that place if the prices remain this high! I'd return only if the prices go down, if I become rich one day or I was get invited and don't have to pay of it myself. Otherwise: NO! It's a pity because it's a nice place but the activities were ridiculously expensive. In general, tourism is expensive in Suriname (tours, trips to the
interior etc). In Bergendal I met a couple: a Dutch man and Curaçao lady with their daughter...but they live in Aruba. It was nice meeting them. Coronie
Coronie is a district in north-western Surinam....with just about 3000 people. It's capital is Totness, it's just a town actually with some facilities like a clinic, schools etc. Aunt Agnes come from here and she has nieces and nephews living there. All three times I went to Surinam, I visited Coronie so this time I did the same. The idea was to drive there together with an uncle of Serghino and Urvin, Serghino's brother. But the car happened to be full already and I decided to go by bus the next day. It's a 2 hour drive to get to Totness. There is actually "nothing particular" about this place. Don't get me wrong: I go there because I know some cousins of Serghino there and I hang out with them. It's fun to be there for a day or two. At Serghino's grandpa there was a lot of people, they talk, drink, laugh. Although the talk mostly Sranang-Tongo (dialect of Surinam), I could still follow the conversations a little bit and sometimes
they'd translate for me. I ate crocodile-meat there, drank a lot of coconut juice. Coronie is well-known for her coconut trees from which they make coconut oil too. In the garden of Serghino's grandpa I saw how they make it on a very primitive way....which was great! I drove a bicycle all around the place one day, took some photos. In the past you could reach the coast, called "The Beach" (you couldn't swim though, it was all muddy) but nowadays it's closed because they're constructing a "dam" to hold the seawater. Coronie is very flat and seawater could easily flood the place. A place where we used to swim back in 2004 was also closed by Staats Olie (local petroleum company). Apparently they are going to build a swimming-pool in Totness, they would give the locals something to do because there is no recreation at all, besides the "Youth Building" which organizes activities for the youth, or sometimes local bands come and play there, they also have a small "wandelmars"....other than that, there isn't much to do. But even so I enjoy the place as it is and I'll always go to Coronie for 2 or 3 days whenever
I go to Surinam.
All right, that was everything!!!
Up to the next trip....don't know yet when and where...time will tell!
There are more photos below