Published: May 24th 2011May 4th 2011
We knew this would happen. I've been planning to put together and share some information and observations on our two weeks in Suriname. But once we got home, we got really busy, and it has been very hard to get to do the blog. To make up for the delay, we're delivering an extra load of photos with this blog entry.
Suriname is on the South American continent, but belongs to the carribean by culture. The mix of cultures is amazing, and it frankly took a while to get used to everybody speaking dutch (although when the Surinamese speak English to you, they sound like they could be from Jamaica).
We had the pleasure of staying with our friend Astrid MacDonald outside the capital city of Parimaribo. Astrid had this home built on a large lot, providing her the opportunity to grow a big garden. Because many of the neighbouring lots are not developed, we had a lot of wildlife right at our doorstep. The commute of a large iguana through her yard is a daily event. At night, the number of bats flying around over the road is amazing, as they hunt the many bugs in the air.
Astrid's brother-in-law Frank has the opportunity to rent this house from his workplace, so the family gets together here a few times each year. We were lucky to be invited along. The house slept 17 people the night we were there.
Funny thing about bugs though. Very few of them cause any hassles for us, and Astrid's house doesn't have screens on the windows. A few friendly tree frogs patrol the walls and ceiling at night eating the few small bugs that come in through the windows.
When she is not working in the garden, Astrid has a pretty important job leading a team that trains teachers in delivering a World Health Organization curriculum on AIDS/HIV awareness. Sadly, Suriname has a big challenge in that area.
Astrid made a point of ensuring that we had every opportunity to visit interesting places in Suriname, and she was excellent about indulging our need to swim everywhere we possibly could in order to cool off. We went to popular swimming holes south of the city, visited a very nice lodge called Beghendahl, among many other sites.
If there is ever a campaign for Canada to donate a beach to Suriname, it will get my full support. A mile long sand beach either on the Suriname River or the ocean within a ten minute drive of downtown Parimaribo would be just excellent.
Downtown Parimaribo is a really interesting place. Many
old buildings have been preserved, with shops and restaurants at ground level. Very few buildings over two storeys. Just as the buildings in Latin America reflected the Spanish influence, the buildings in Parimaribo reflect primarily dutch architecture from the last century. Particularly impressive is the wood cathedral in downtown. An interesting switch from the 100 or so stone churches we saw on the other side of the continent.
We've come to realize that despite the amazing places we visited on the trip, the people we've met were the real hilight. Suriname was no exception. Visiting Astrid, and getting to know her parents Hank and Florrie, sisters and their families been a really big hilight of the entire trip.
There are more photos below