Suriname- Speaking Dutch in South America!

suriname money.jpg Suriname is a country of order, contrast and friendly people.  Arriving on the ferry from French Guiana presented us with our first taste of the Dutch-speaking people of Suriname.  Fortunately, most people also speak English so we were able to communicate.  dutch language.JPG We quickly found a beautiful, grassy campsite with a gorgeous sunset view.  The mosquitoes chased us back inside the camper after we tried to eat al-fresco at the ocean.  And a large, sacred, cow woke us up in the night, using our truck as a scratching post.   It felt like an earthquake again!grassy campsite.JPGgrassy camp view.JPG I mention the sacred cow, because it is worthy of noting that Suriname is a predominately Hindu country.  Traces of the Hindu beliefs can be seen in offices, stores, yards and at temples throughout the country.  We visited one elaborate temple and spent a night camped among the statues.  hindu overnight The temple gates feature a beautiful Hindu goddess in her bare feet.  hindu gates

Shoes are not allowed inside the sacred temple area.  Note the sign is written in Dutch.  But bare feet on the cool, clean, tile floors were a welcome relief in the stifling heat and humidity of this oceanside location.  The ocean breezes sweeping through the statues and altars added to the sense of cooling comfort in the temple.hindu shoes off

hindu statue with geneva

Geneva tried to color coordinate herself with the statues.  But she is still dwarfed by their enormous presence.  Big worship in Suriname.

hindu statueshindu largest statue

But lest you worry that we are being too serious, I will soften things up with a bit of humor in the city.  These are a couple of things that made us laugh.

bus window humor.
A message for all drivers following this bus!
city warning
Although this is neither English nor Dutch, the message seems pretty clear.
cock soup.
What’s better with cock, than pumpkin?  And if you look closely at the photo……. you will see a chicken foot in the broth.  Yummy!
parts shopping
Parts shopping in the big city!  They didn’t have much for an American GMC truck. 

Do you know the capital of the country of Suriname?  It is Paramaribo.  This city is a very orderly, Dutch. White buildings, narrow, one-way streets, flags and tidy sidewalks comprise the business center of this country. city church.JPGcity street

city campsite.JPGWe spent a couple of nights parked in the center of town on the waterfront in a city park.  There we met a drunk, homeless man that calls himself Rembrant of Suriname (yes, that’s how he spelled it).  We chatted for a while, and then informed us that we would be buying a custom painting from him.  He walked away and returned an hour later with a painting for us.  In exchange for about $20.00 US dollars we received a custom, personalized, signed and dated painting from Rembrant of Suriname.   And a memory to take with rembrant

city rembrant1
Our new Rembrant is proudly displayed in the camper.  He told us that this is where he grew up.  The chickens in the yard and the clothes on the line were added at the last minute.  He said the painting was too dark without those features. 
city park campsite
City camp at the “I LOVE SURINAME” statue in the city park.

While we were in the city we paused to experience the special tonic that a smiling young woman was selling.  Each bottle of tonic is made in a recycled glass bottle which has been stuffed with a special wood bark, cinnamon sticks, spices, seeds and unknown leaves.  Then a harsh, strong alcohol is added and the whole mess is left to ferment in the heat.  city tonic tablecity tonic  When the customer is ready to take a drink of this powerful tonic, the young lady adds some cheap rum, a shot of Campari bitters and a bit of raw honey.  Then the customer throws back the small, plastic cup and tries to swallow the whole mess in one gulp. city tonic shotcity tonic drink

After a few days in the big city, we drove down some dirt roads to explore a small section of the interior Suriname.  (much of the country is inaccessible by automobile)  We camped at a hydroelectric dam that has created a large lake in the center of the country.  There is a small village there that uses the water for their personal needs along the shoreline.  We were able to camp on a hill above the lakeshore near the dam.

lake shore washing
Village residents using the lakeshore for washing dishes, washing clothes, bathing, singing and sharing social time together.  It was a joy to see and listen, even though I understood nothing.

lakeside campsite

Driving partway into the interior of Suriname showed us another aspect of this country.  We saw cute little Dutch style churches in the backcountry villages, we spotted a beautiful and rare wild mushroom, we saw huge logs harvested from the jungle and we experienced a very thick, healthy forest growing in the sticky, red soil.    map routelittle churchmushroomjungle logs  One afternoon we came upon a memorial to a tragic airplane crash.  Due to the size of the plane and the limited resources in this little country, they opted to dig a hole in the sand and bury the crashed fuselage right there.  As we walked around we saw pieces of exposed metal, and a large hole leading into the body of the plane.  It was a little eerie to see this memorial site. plane crash memorialplane crash pieceplane crash debris

We also explored the unique site of a Jewish settlement, once the largest enclave of Jewish persons in all of South America.  There was some great history here, and we were thrilled to see signs in English for our comprehension and to share with you. jewish camp description

jewish camp1jewish camp infojewish memorial Particularly startling was the information about the later use of this settlement.  Long after the Jewish families had moved on, the buildings were used to house members of the Dutch Nazi Party.  No less than an ironic repurposing of a historical site. jewish settlement

Many of the gravestones that are mentioned above are still visible today.  The cemetery holds a glimpse into the lifestyle, hardships and religious practices of the Jews that lived here in the early 1800’s. jewish cemeteryjewish grave story

jewish grave tree of life
The hatchet cutting a tree symbolized a life cut short or a person who died too young.  There were many of these headstones in the cemetery.  Clearly life was difficult in Jodensavanne.

jewish gravejewish gravestone The hike back into this riverside ruin and historical site is hot and exhausting.  Nica became so tired on the hike back to the truck that she allowed Mike to carry her across his shoulders.   Pacha ran crazily in and out of the think jungle chasing lizards, birds and the ghosts of the past!jewish camp hiking with nica We were in Suriname for Christmas and for New Years.  We chose to settle in to a small, private marina camping area to avoid the crowds and hassles of these holidays.  At this location we had wifi, a small restaurant, a swimming pool and many other travelers passing through.  While overlanding is travel on land, the marina guests are typically boaters who have stopped here for a rest and refuel.

We cooked up a delicious New Years dinner on the skottle.  And we joined in the marina crowd for a yummy, local Christmas dinner.  This was a great little break from the road for us. marina cookingmarina campsitemarina services It rained very hard for a couple of the days we were there.  The dogs took the opportunity to practice water management in the parking area after the rains.

Our final campsite in Suriname was on the bank of the river which also creates the border between Suriname and French Guiana.  This was a shady spot with a slight breeze.  On our side is Suriname, and through the night we could see the twinkling lights of French Guiana. final campsite..jpg

Much like the crossing into Suriname from Guyana, we had to wait for a large ferry boat to take our truck across the river/border and in to the next country.

border ferry line While we waited in the long line for our turn to board the ferry, we watched many longboats haul foot traffic and products across the river.  Such is the trade at a border, products and people crossing back and forth for economic exchange.  While it may be legal or illegal, it is clearly a bustling business and interesting entertainment for us during the wait. border boatborderboats Finally it was our turn to drive aboard the ferry.  We are taking a 20 minute boat ride to France.  Are you coming with us as we learn about French Guiana? border ferry to france

7 thoughts on “Suriname- Speaking Dutch in South America!

  1. Didn’t even know this country existed. I am learning some great things from your trip.

  2. My uncle who lived in Holland was transferred to Parimaribo back in the 70’s. Worked there probably until mid 80’s.

  3. I love this! I read it right after waking up this morning, and it is like you were describing to me some weirdo dream you had of all these disjointed things happening — a lovely break from the boredom of the incessant seriousness and political correctness of EEUU. Oh, beam me to Suriname! 🤪

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