Main Page    All Journeys    Travel Tips

SURINAME    INFO & DIARY  2

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1 + 2

From the first part of Suriname in Diary 1, the adventure continues.

28. In an effort to investigate the south-western corner of the country, I set off on the Kabalebo road. The town is real quiet and almost empty this Sunday morning, and most traffic is made up by horse-trailers, going my way. They turn off near the airport, and I have the road to myself.

As the other times, the road going out of Paramaribo is lined with houses and shops. I think I have seen 100 of the giant Chinese shops. Almost the only big modern buildings. The private homes are way more humble, although a few along this road is pretty nice.

I stock some bananas and biscuits, as I don't expect to find any along the road. The first part is the sandy savannah with relative low vegetation. I follow a narrow trail, leading right through it. Here are several interesting plants. I have been looking for Drosera, and here I find some real small ones.

Father Frog have build a pond for the kids, and he will take care of them, till they leave the water. Feeding them and make sure they have fresh water. The next little pond have a quite little freshwater turtle. Unfortunately, it is more patience than I, and I don't get a proper photo.

After 50 kilometres, the sealing stops, and from here, it is a red clay/rock road with some nasty potholes. I had hoped for more asphalt, as the bad road prevents me from paying too much attention to the surroundings. One rock or pothole too much, and I'm out of car! It is clear to me, I won't make it the 360 kilometres into the jungle I had hoped.

I hear a lot of birds, and just like when I ate breakfast on my porch, parrots are flying screaming bye. I drive on, and then I meet the rainforest. Or some of it. Other parts have been cleared long time ago, and now here are pines. Not doing that great though. The scattered humble huts continues along the road, and here are a few larger farms as well. One seem to have cows, some lumbering, and 100 kilometres out, I meet a huge citrus farm!

I cross the mighty Saramacca river, and besides from a single little fishing canoe, it is empty. Other, smaller rivers crosses the road all the time. Most are the natural dark brown colour.
I stop many times to explore by foot, but as usual, it is hard to get into the forest - and even harder to photo it. The lumber trails do help, although it is depressing to follow them.

After lunch, around halfway of the distance I had hoped for, I realises; The landscape does not really change much, and the roads conditions are too bad. I turn around, and look for entries to the jungle on the way back too. I find some bird-nest-ferns, and right over them; a group of noisy but illusive monkeys.

This tour have not revealed quite as much as I had hoped for. One reason might be the lack of altitude in Suriname. The soil does change, so do the water within the first metres, but that is all. The small hills I passes yesterday did not really produce mush of a change, and today's flatness even less. I hope the coastal area will reveal some new biomers. Day 4: The road to (-wards) Kabalebo

29. I have decided to give the Baroness a day off - or is it myself? Anyway, I will be walking around in Paramaribo to see the town and the special interesting sights. I start with the old official buildings, right behind the hotel. I have photoed them before, but now the light is right.

Then I head down-town along the river to find the Witch's Market; Maroon. Here is an interesting mix of medical herbs, skulls from odd animals, murky

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1 + 2

mixtures on bottles, oils, strange fruits and roots, spices, bark, small bottles, large ones with wood and stuff in: Just add alcohol: "Good for the man's thing". Here are huge calabashes, small ones that have been dried and carved in, wooden shoot-glasses ("no headache"), bright white and some red clay, corn and other grains, and lots of things I can't really figure the origin of - and especially the propose for! I recognises quite a lot of the dry- and semidry plants.

Some of the women are so camera-shy, and I get yelled at, a few times. But the next group just laugh, and show me their entire collection of oddities, while I photo. Here is not much light at all, and despite the motives are awesome, my photos lack a lot.

Right next to this huge hall of witchcraft is the more common market. It is in another huge hall, and all the way around it. Here are smoked fish, shampoo, shopping bags, weird crops, shrimps, hats, plenty of fish, the usual crops like melons and bananas, dried fish in plastic bags, all kind of chilli, dates, para-nuts, beauty items, used cell phones, raw aluminium kitchenware and even pet shops.

I have seen quite some guys with a tiny bird in a tiny cage. I'm not sure what is symbolises (bachelors?), but the birds are calm and seem to be used to be walked. Some shops have numerous cages and small bags of grains for the birds.

Here are a few nice looking Muslim butcher shops, nicely cooled. One smaller hall have the bush-meat. I recognises deer, Common Longnosed Armadillo;  Dasypus novemcinctus, bush-pigs and then there are all the more exotic stuff. Unfortunately, neither want me to make a photo.

Upstairs are the clothing and alike. Some sew on ancient machines, some have the most colourful yarns, other numerous types of buttons in just as wild colours. And zippers to go with it all. Here are all kind of cooking hardware and other kind of tools, music, fishing nets and shops with a bit of everything from combs to machetes.

I find a tiny restaurant serving tea - although I first get a dish of food. Some locals, I understand clearly, others have strange mix of Dutch and whatever. Pleasant enough, I get quite some way with English. I am able to read quite some Dutch - mainly because it is spelled just like Danish like "Dagblad", or German and English. But their pronunciation is far-out!

I head along the riverside, and look for a barbershop. Here are a lot of old, wooding buildings and a few, more moderns ones. Common is; they cold do with some maintains. Here are several slightly more posh streets, main with the usual clothing (for women), phone shops and alike. No restaurants at all, just some crappy fast-food without seating.

One stretch have mainly electrical and pluming equipment, another the goldsmiths. None have remotely souvenirs - unless you like something common like a cell-phone... The town look generally worn-down, but it maintain its exotic touch.

I pass bye my hotel after noon, and grab a water, tea and egg-sandwich. It cost half of what I pay for the tea I have with my supper. Then I head out in the other direction. I have heard of a restaurant, and I find one (might be another, but what are the odds?). On the other side of the street is a large park, exclusively with huge palms. Here are a few epiphytes on their stems; Orchids and bromeliads.

Here are a few, more healthy looking buildings, housing the official Suriname offices. Some are rather new and fancy, others are the colonial buildings, well maintained. I loop back in my quest for a barber. Finally I find one, and have to wait a hour for them to finish the customer they each had, when I enters. It is fun to see how they do the puffy African hair. Clean shave around the face, colouring all over, puffing, trimming, twisting (and again and again). One is getting dreadlocks-like things when I enters - and when I leave.

I return to my hotel just in time to get a mug of tea before the closes at four. Then I start working, as I have a appointment for dinner with a American man; Jerry and German girl; Xavi later. Working with the photos on my "private" balcony is a bit tricky due to the evening sun. A new problem, never occurred until now, as I use to work way later. Day 5: Paramaribo

30. I have heard roomers about a minibus driver spotting some Blue-and-Yellow Macaw; Ara ararauna along the coastal road leading west, and as I further more would like to study this coastal biomer, I head that way. Again, it is s long drive to get clear of Paramaribo, and the traffic is surprisingly intense the first part. The drivers are so polite and gentle. Those from the sides are let in immediately, and others are aloud to cross  right away.  Then I clear the city, and then there are a few grass fields with cows.

Then it turns into scatted small farms and houses, growing vegetables and fruits in small gardens, chopped into the jungle. To judge from their houses, it does not make a great income.
In long stretches, the original rainforest is just tiny "islands", unable to maintain natural balance.

I have a real hard time getting into the wild, as it is either swamp or fields with crops, or behind a big canal, following the road on both sides. I passes some rivers, Coppenamerrivier being the fare largest. Along the road, many sluices are found, and I guess this entire area is below five metres. The canals aliening the road are lead out to the sea often.

Despite this is the coastal road, and my GPS map show blue water directly on one side of the road, I don't see a glimpse. I just see the clay and canals, which are so nicely overgrown by numerous floating plants. While I lies and photo them, I hear Macaws! A second later, they fly right over me, the low sun directly on them. Unfortunately, I fight to maintain balance and the camera is stet to close-up, but I get a great view anyway. They do a few loops, but up against the sun and further away.

Here are a pair of rather scatted villages, each with their set of Chinese supermarkets. I try to find bananas at the small private stalls, but end up with a rather expensive bunch at a supermarket. And only one is ripe, and it is a cooking banana. I have passes some many banana plants, but it is apparently not the right season.

I stop at a larger canal in Bombay, and the locals warn me: Watch out for sharks! A bit further out the road, I see some of the hanging bird nests I had thought belonged to weavers. But it is a group of rather noisy starlings that are all over the place. Might just be steeling eggs?

As I'm getting closer to Guyana, the huts and houses get closer. I have found a few trails, leading out to the "beach", and I try the first. Here, a dike is being rebuild, but I get to pass the construction site. A few wooden fishing boats are lying on the mud, while the crews are fixing their nets.

Further out the trail, the mangrove starts, and it is thick, sticky mud as far as I can see. I see some large four-eyes; Anableps anableps, but not close enough for proper photos. Here are quite some blue herons and even a Red Ibis. Several other birds are walking on the flooded clay or sit in the mangrove trees, and it seem like this disturbed habitat is actually  quite rich. The flora is a weird mix of succulents, beautiful flowering annuals and mangrove trees.

I try the next access I have found to the "beach", but despite is have been restored a year ago, it is not as rich in biodiversity. I know the last bit of the road towards Guyana is mainly farmland, and there are no easy access to the coast anyway. I turn around, and drive rather fast towards Paramaribo.

I have to stop a few times to investigate some large fruits on a Fabaceae, and once, I spot a snake, crossing the road in front of me. I think it is a Vinesnake; Oxybelis sp. I get a single photo, and despite I try to slow it down, it vanish into the bushes like lightning.

I return the car, on the way into town, and take a taxi the last five kilometres. A egg sandwich at the hotel's cafe and some early work, as I have another dinner appointment with Xavi.  Day 6: The coastal road west

31. I check-out at the same time as Xavi, and it turns out; we both are on our way to French Guiana. I planned to take the bus, but she can't have he large backpack with it, and have arranged a car. It is ten times more expensive - but still rather cheap anyway, and I join in. She is nice to have around, as she is fluent in English, Dutch and French - among others.

We get to the small boats, but I figure we better find the immigration to get checked out of Suriname. It is quick and smooth, and one boat followed us - as the immigration is in the other end of town of cause. Why have it at the harbour???

It is a short tour, and then we are in French Guiana. That is another storry!

7/2. Coming back from French Guiana. The minibus in Guiana is almost on time, and despite we are only two customers, I get shotgun, and we drive right away. When we pass my car-rental company, the driver get a call; one more passenger. Back into the town where the traffic have tighten up.
The same repeats once more, as we get out to the same place, and now, we get two more passengers. The driver is way more frustrated then I, and he do the best to regain the lost hour, on the three hour drive to the border-harbour.

I get a ride right to immigration, which again is smooth, as I'm the only one using it. Some guys are offering a boat to the other side for 20. I paid 3 to get here, and I'm going to pay three to get back to Suriname. A 500 metres walk (back through the country I just checked-out of), giving me a chance to warm-up after the air-con in the car, and five minutes later, we set off towards Albina in Suriname.

It feels a bit weird to walk around the port town, looking for immigration. Three Frenchmen are struggling with the papers in front of me, while I filled them out yesterday. When I get out, they are negotiating the price of a taxi for Paramaribo. I get an offer of 60 (joining them), but I paid less than 10 to get here, and I'm not paying more to get back.

I walk back to the harbour area, and Idi Amin's bigger brother is controlling the cars. He find me one, with only one other passenger, but we drive right away, me in the shotgun seat again. We have  passes the Frenchmen, who now is down to 50 a head. The turn my divers offer on 15 down. They are engineers, and I guess you have to be that, to figure them!

I return to Paramaribo from Guiana in the afternoon, and get a ride right to my usual hotel. My booking was a bit late, and I get a four person room. Compared to Guiana prises, it is still real cheap, and I like the hotel. Due to the late arrival, I only make a tour around a newer part of town.

While I'm at it, I get some better photos of the tiny Fort Zeelandia and the presidential palace - along with some other old buildings.

Near the Palmpark, I first spot an almost fully grown Green Iguana, then a big Varanus. I try to make pictures of the cacti, bromeliads and orchids on the palm's stems, but they are a bit high and generally in the shadows. I stop for a glass of fruit-juice, before I get back to the hotel. Supper at the same restaurant at dusk, then home to work. Day 7: Back in Paramaribo

8. I spend the first half of the day at the office. I have things like my own pay, tax and WAT which can't be neglected too long. And to do them, my accounting have to be up-dated. Then I make detailed plans for the next country, and program the GPS.

Then it is time to stretch my legs, and I head down-town. A barbershop, some breakfast shopping, tiny glasses for dusty/liquid souvenirs at the witch's market and more cash are on the list. I do a tour around the central market and the witch's while I'm there. The bush-meat shops are still camera-shy, and the rest, I have photos of.

Back at the hotel, I get the drive to the Guyana ferry planed - at four in the morning! But here are only one ferry a day, and so be it. Then it is out to find a sandwich - sound easy, but it is a challenge. Well, I do find one: Steamed Chinese cabbage and raw Chinese cabbage. Not a all time favourite!

Back to work some more at the office, and then at four; I'm out of things to do (well, at least important- and interesting tasks). That is a first on this tour. I try to relax, but realises; I haven't a clue about, how to do that! I am pretty sure, I have seen all of the city, even the remote and so uninteresting places. I can't even let it out on some unfortunately fellow traveller, as none understand English.

A few minutes after, I'm working on selected photos from the entire tour and the really dull project of renaming a lot of photos from Guiana, due to an error in the file-names.
I'm trying to book a stay at an eco-lodge. US21 a day sounded great, but additionally 2 x US$160 for the boat-ride, meals for two days; US$80 and tax; US$20 make it less interesting! And tours from the lodge on top of that, of cause. The alternative must be something else... Day 8: The last full day - and little new

9. As I have to get up a bit pass three in the night, to be ready for my four o'clock bus, not much else is happening. I have driven the entire road to the Guyana border three times, and her are not anything new, especially as it is pitch black most of the way.

The last bit if farmland, and now I think I figure what is going on. The Dutch have developed it all for rice, but without their hydro-engineers, it does not really work. Then they have transformed into cattle-land, but that didn't seem to work either; the barbwire fences are here, but no animals.

Suriname have been an interesting stay, and I'm sure I have seen everything possible by car. There are a lot of rainforest inland, only accessible by canoe, but that is a completely different project - and I sincerely doubt it will offer many new sights and species anyway. I have taken 964 photos, and driven 1187 kilometres my own car. The price have been reasonable, as I travelled over land:
 

EXPENSES DKK
Flight No No
Visa*2 488 65
Insurance 105 14
Car 998 134
Petrol 318 43
Transport 381 51
Food 1.126 151
Hotels 1.018 136
  4.434 594