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The Republic of Suriname is an unitary parliamentary republic, found in-between Guyana, Guiana, the North Atlantic Sea and Brazil. It covers 163.821 square kilometres and is the home of 585.824 citizens of which 48% are Christians, 22% Hindi, 14% Muslims and 2% Winti. The currency is Surinamese dollar, worth 0,88 Danish Krone and €0,12. The GDP is US$3.641 billion. The official languish is Dutch, but also Sarnami Hindustani (Bhojpuri) and
Javanese is recognized.
The climate is divided in three; the northern coastal area which I will spend most time in is Equatorial, the southern part Monsoon and the south-western corner Tropical Savannah. This make home for at lot of interesting plants and animals. Here are West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), some of the armadillos like Greater long-nosed armadillo (Dasypus kappleri), the Southern naked-tailed armadillo (Cabassous unicinctus) and Giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), some of the sloths like Pale-throated three-toed sloth (Bradypus tridactylus), Linnaeus's two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) and Southern tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla). Here are quite some primates like Red-handed tamarin (Saguinus midas), Tufted capuchin (Cebus apella), Weeper capuchin (Cebus olivaceus), Common squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus), White-faced saki (Pithecia pithecia), Red-backed bearded saki (Chiropotes chiropotes) and Red-faced spider monkey (Ateles paniscus). Here are Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis), Red-rumped agouti (Dasyprocta leporina), Red acouchi (Myoprocta acouchy), Lowland paca (Cuniculus paca) and a lot of bats!
Among the larger predators are Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), Margay (Leopardus wiedii), Cougar (Puma concolor), Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi), Jaguar (Panthera onca). To name a few dogs; Crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), Bush dog (Speothos venaticus), Crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus), South American coati (Nasua nasua), Kinkajou (Potos flavus) and Striped hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus semistriatus). I doubt I see it, but here are some Brazilian tapir (Tapirus terrestris), where I might catch a glimpse of one of the many opossums.
Suriname have around 5.100 species of vascular plants, but I will not be looking for any species in particular.
Considering the time one have to spend to get to the ferry (bus from Georgetown; Guyana, immigration and general waiting: 4;00-11;30), the 20 minutes fare is disappointingly short. But then it is a five hour minibus drive to Paramaribo. That means I will just miss the car rental company - of cause.
Suriname (former Dutch Guyana) is flat, crossed by channels and filled with huge farming fields - kind of like Holland. The houses are more like Guyana and Colombia, but here are more nice front gardens. We get a shower from time to time, sun rest of the time.
The driver really speeds, feeling secured by his radar detector, and me make it to Paramaribo a bit passed four o'clock. I look at my GPS and get him to turn back two kilometres, and drop me off outside the office building. I'm there 16;15 and the door-sign say: CLOSED! But it is not locked, and I find another girl working next door, and get her to call the car-girl. She get back, and I get my car. The only red car in Suriname, I guess. Then it is a shot drive to Paramaribo and my booked hotel.
Despite it is the capital, it is real low-key. Where I start walking near centre, is almost excluded wooden houses - most in need of some fresh white paint. Even the church is in wood, but freshly painted. The Synagogue and Mosque are neighbours, and here seems to be a real mellow atmosphere. But, in contrast to the last seven countries I've been in, here are people sleeping in cart boxes on the sidewalks - even in the afternoon.
I try a few ATMs, before I hit jack-pot. Strangely enough in The Blue Machine, which don't work for me in Guyana. DSB's don't. It is getting a bit late, and I start looking for dinner. A nice riverfront restaurant offers a few vegetarian dishes, and I enjoy a burger with free salad bar.
I'm back at the hotel at seven, and have a longer chat with an American, doing the world on a shoestring. Despite my research, I have missed they by some unexplainable reason drive in the wrong side of the road like Gyuana (which was British), and like none else in the Americas; use the European power-plugs - which I failed to bring. The usual work ends with Day 1: Paramaribo
26. The plan is to investigate
the eastern part of
the north of Suriname. It is a good road, leading all the way to the border
river to Guiana. It rains in the early morning, and I get a hour much needed
Then the land opens up, and after ten kilometres, I reach
Peperpot Nature Park. Well, I think I do. I park the car, and do a several
hour long walk into the forest and open areas by a narrow gravel road.
The insects are just as numerous. Each area have its own colourful butterfly, dragonflies, grasshoppers and locusts, flies, moths, massive black humblebees, cockroaches and strange ones. And the plants don't hold back either; everything form giant trees like the Canonball Tree over tiny floating plants to papyrus. I try to capture some of the strangest and some flowers.
Meanwhile, I more hear than see some huge agamas? Around 1500 grams, 30 centimetres. And fast like lightning. I have a bit more luck with a Varanus sp., which is curious enough to hang around - although a bit into the vegetation. Same goes for the bright green lizards, although they keep a greater distance. They waves with one hand, every time they stop.
I might hear some mammals, but I only see the road-kills. Tree-porcupine, possum, fox and others. Considered the vast forest the road divides, it are no that many.
I get back to the car, and head further east. After some time, the colonisation returns, although the buildings are only along the road. Here are quite some lumbering. Huge, straight stems are piled up along the road. One area have been replanted with pine!
Some of the houses are quite new concrete buildings in pale colours, others are dark wood and tin-plates. 50 kilometres outside Paramaribo, the buildings disappears, with the exception of a humble hut from time to time. I find some tails, leading into the forest, and are able to find new plant species.
Here are several larger rivers, with almost black water.
One is named Neger Kreek Brug. Small wooden canoes are found near the
bridges, and a bit of fishing is going on in the bigger rivers. I also find
some larger trails, where I can get the car; named The Red Baroness in. Some
trails are almost as red as the car, but when I get closer to the border, it
changes drastically. Now, it is bright white coral sand. It look so strange,
covered in the usual jungle plants.
reach the mighty
Maroni River in the early afternoon,
and try to find lunch. End up with small cooking bananas and biscuits. The
village must be Albina, quite appropriated due to the soils colour.
After lunch, I head back, trying to find new trails into
the dense jungle. But the canal along the road and share density make it
tricky. A permanent police checkpoint want to see my passport, but as it is
at the hotel, he have to do with my driving license. We do discuss that a
bit, but I win.
I start working right away, while numerous Amazon parrots fly screaming bye on their way home for the night. Then I seek out to get some supper - mainly at the great restaurant I found yesterday, as the others are for cadaver eaters and strangely enough; closed. Only McD and Kentucky seem to be open. My fancy one is where the white and mixed local couples have their dines in special occasions, it seems. But, I pay more for a pizza and a cup of tea, than I do for my central, real nice hotel room. Day 2: The road to Albina
27. The goal for the day is to get as fare south as possible - without using a boat or swim. The first hurtle is to get out of Paramaribo, which is real crowded this Saturday morning. It is mainly pedestrians around the market and on the streets, selling their home grown vegetables and fruit. After 30 kilometres, I get pass the last houses. It is not really a large town by far, but the houses are like two long pearl strings, way out.
Then here are a few green fields with cows and a bit of farming, before the forest starts. At first, I am aiming for Johan Adolf Airport, as the area should have quite some animals on the savannah-like plain. I walk the fields, and find quite some interesting plants. The animals, on the other hand, seems to be asleep still. The reason for the plain seems to be the bright white sand, unable to sustain large trees.
I get back to the south-borne road, and the forest closes
in. The only places I get to penetrate it, is where the lumber companies have
made a road of a local peasant have made a short trail to his hut. The rivers and
ponds offers a great view to the trees and plants, but it is almost
impossible to walk along the water.
A few places, the locals have turned the river into
either a bathroom or a laundry - or both. Here are still a few people living
by the forest and settled along the road. Their sheets have tin or palm leaf
roof, and not always walls.
I make a small detour to Brownsweg; a way smaller village than I had expected. Finding lunch or just tea water is not possible. From here it is only a short drive to the shore of the Brokopondo Reservoir. The road leads through the real humble huts of Brownsweg, and I get the feeling, they rarely see pale people! The road turn into mud, but I get there. The road leads through the Brownsweg Nature Reserve, but it does not look that different at all.
The Brokopondo Reservoir is, as I expected, not really interesting. I do not know how long it take for nature to adjust to the shore, but at least a hundred years, I guess. Some women are washing their cloth at the real muddy shore, while some young med sails bye in a large canoe with engine. I try to get back on track.
From here, the few huts along the road get real humble, and only the lumber companies make a dent in the nature. I stop many times, but do not really find any new plants. Mammals, on the other hand, and quite common. I get rather close to the awesome Red-Handed Tamarin - Saguinus midas and a group of Common squirrel monkey - Saimiri sciureus. A single snake, which I can't find a name for, along with a green Iguana and a lot of green and brown lizards make up the reptilians.
I get to the end of the road, and here are way more activity, than I had expected from the calmness of the road bound for here. It is the harbour of Pokigron, and all transport from here is by canoe. Here are several Chinese supermarkets and some cafés or rather bars. A bunch of mini-busses are parked, and I can't figure where they drive to, as I haven't meet or passed any.
walk around the area, and again, it seems like pale people are uncommon
around here. I have no intention of heading on by boat, and start the
drive back towards Paramaribo. I would like to get here a bit early, and
locate another restaurant, as I have tried their two vegetarian courses, and
I don't go for the vegetarian lasagne.
I reach Paramaribo at four, and start walking around. I thought here must be a posh area in town, but if there are, I fail to find it. Shaggy ones, on the other hand, are easy to find. It must have been a beautiful town, when it was fresh painted - 50 years ago or more ago.
do the most of the centre of town without any luck. The market have died out
by now, the central bus station are almost asleep, and the few fast-food
restaurants have nothing for me.
I see some ferry-canoes at the river, the Martin Luther Church and a few other nice old buildings, before I give up on a new restaurant. I pass the usual, and find out they also have pasta - in a hour. Back to start working. Then back to a fantastic Alberto Penne Vegetariano. I have never had it that good! Or I have had my share of shitty food for quite some time by now. Day 3: Savannah, Brownsweg, Pokigron
From here, the adventure continues in Diary 2