Suriname is such a strange country. It was a Dutch colony until 1975, and the people living there are a strange mix of blacks, Indians, Indonesians, Dutch and more. Already on the trip in on the river, we noticed how this country had a completely different style than French Guyana, which we had just left. The river was basically much more alive. We met plenty of local boats, and on the river banks we passed colorful villages, like the village Nieuw Amsterdam, where the Dutch used to have a fort, controlling who entered the Suriname and Commewijne Rivers. While navigating the 5 knot current, the half submerged wrecks, the local boats and the giant bridge that spans the river, we passed Paramaribo, Surinams capital. The old city of Paramaribo was built by the Dutch, and the white wooden houses are a beautiful sight from the river. Later we realized that on closer inspection, they are awfully run down, and UNESCO even threatened to take away the title of world heritage site because of the lack of upkeep.
After some hours of sailing, we anchored in the Suriname River by the village of Domburg, where Nettie, a Dutch lady, had arranged some moorings and a dinghy dock for the sailors coming to Suriname (for a price of course).
Checking in to Suriname is a complicated affair for sailors, just like we experienced in Senegal, the Gambia and Brazil, so we accepted Nettie’s offer to get us a taxi driver who knew which offices we needed to visit, and what we needed to bring. And of course how to dress to show respect – wearing long pants and shoes is not exactly our favourite part of checking in to a new country. The trip in towards the Paramaribo is beautiful, with pretty little houses, colorful flowers and smiling people everywhere. We ended up spending most of the day taking care of the formalities, which included visiting the three necessary offices, getting a visa and finally making a quick stop in Tulip, Surinam’s Dutch Supermarket, where we got real licorice for the first time in months. Luckily the kids, including the 6-year old son of the taxi driver who was forced to spend the whole day with us, took it all in stride.
We were still waiting for the hurricane season in the Caribbean to end before we wanted to move on, so we had some time to spent in Suriname before moving on. Soon, we had started a routine of doing school and boat work in the morning, then having a break, and finally heading to the bar, where the kids could play in the pool while we had a drink in the shade. Soon, most of the sailors we already knew from French Guyana had arrived, like Rolf and Stephi from Germany, Dan and Mel from the UK and France, and Rob and Janine from South Africa. The small fleet in Suriname consisted of many different boats, most smaller than average, many older designs and even Olaf’s home built boat, which he had sailed from South Africa. Production boats and catamarans were, which dominate the more popular routes, were on the other hand noticeably missing from our South American visit. We had many interesting chats in the bar with the others about sailing routes and life in general, and when Olaf’s Brazilian girlfriend arrived on her birthday, it was arranged for a birthday cake and a small party to welcome her. All in all, we had a very nice bunch of people to spent some time with in Suriname.
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