26 - 27 Februar 2014

Next morning Damien and his team was going shopping in St. Laurent de Maroni on the border to Suriname – again my luck that I could get a ride to the small boats ferrying people across the river. It took 20 minutes and then the competition began for who was going to take me to Paramaribo. While I let the other (local) passengers get off the boat first, a guy grabbed my daypack and was halfway down the street towards immigration before I caught up with him and got my bag back explaining that I didn't need his help. They are very stricht with visas in Suriname, so I was a bit surprised there was no border control. Strangely immigration was ½ kilometer out of town and along the way 40-50 people told me to go with them to Paramaribo – a bit tiring but part of the “game”. Immigration that should have taken one minut (because I already had the visa) took 20 because the guy wanted to call several people to check...?! Back in town I went to the bank to change money for the public bus – after 30 minutes and no movement in the long line, I asked for another place to change and went to a nearby Chinese shop. It took a little while to find the public bus stop as people either didn't know or more common told me there was no bus and I had to take a (their) taxi for only EURO 20. When I found it the 25 seats (for the second and last bus of the day) were already taken (all names properly noted on a list) but people told me to wait – maybe it was a bigger bus today so I could get a seat! “You just have to wait and see” - and so I did. Incredibly inefficient – I was there 1½ hour before departure and that was too late – I wonder what time the first people showed up to get a seat. When the bus finally arrived I was lucky to get the spare seat (EURO 2½) but not without receiving a reprimand from the ticket seller – I should never get on the bus without first being registred on the list! It took 3 hours to Paramaribo (a.k.a. Parbo) including countless stops for peeing, food, etc. I had planned to stay 3-4 nights in Parbo but everything was full or I had to change room every night. At the last affordable place in town (and there are not many) I was lucky to get the same room two nights and later I was lucky to finally find a bank that took visa (master card is what they use here)...

Having only one day in town, I spent it arranging my travelling to the interior... Talking to Stinasu (the national parks service) where I got some good (and correct) advice for visiting Brownsberg Nature Park, the tourist information where I got very little information for travelling further into the interior (“you just have to go there and figure it out”), stocking up and finally trying to figure out when, how much and from where the public bus would leave in the morning – not easy with buses parked all over town without destination signs. It was lovely weather so I took the oppportunity to also do a bit of sightseeing now that I was walking all over town anyway...

8 – 15 March 2014

Back in Paramaribo after 8 great days in Brownsberg Nature Park and Tonka Island. Being almost a month behind on my homepage I spent many days updating it; though I took some hours every day walking around the inner city despite having seen everything the last time I was here. One day I went bicycling through the countryside around Paramaribo. Being Dutch influenced I was surpriced not to be able to rent a good quality bicycle, so I had to settle for what we in Denmark refer to as an “old garden gate” - heavy and uncomfortable ecpecially the saddle being big and soft; like my arse but in this case two negatives didn't make a positive. There had been many days with good weather but the day I went bicycling it was overcast in the morning. I considered postponing the trip to the next day hoping for better weather but decided that overcast would be pleasant for bicycling – though not for pictures. I biked north of town where I passed many big houses but also a number of small ramshackle buildings where people still lived. After 12-15k I reached a small landing where I would take the boat to New Amsterdam on the other side of the river. It was USD 8 to charter the whole boat so I was hoping for other passengers to share with but there were none – I considered waiting but concluded I most likely had to wait until late afternoon when people returned from work, so I went by myself. On the other side I visited small town New Amsterdam including the old fort though nothing was left but the dikes and a couple of canons. The area has a few plantations but I was told they are not operational but tourist attractions so I skipped looking for them. I biked 10k to another small village Marienburg on the way seeing banana fields, cattle, forest and rivers. The town was rundown and looked poor - they had obviously never seen a single bicycle tourists but as everywhere in Suriname people were friendly and talkative... Back in New Amsterdam I decided to take the road back to Paramaribo to avoid backtracking and having to charter another boat. It was 15-20k longer and it was getting really hot (+35C) after the clouds had disappeared... Not so much to see on this side of the river but i got a nice view from the big bridge just before entering Paramaribo. I was a good day though my body was a bit sore after biking around 60k on a bad bicycle and not having bicycled for a long time. Back at the guesthouse I had to take a cold shower to cool down after a hot afternoon in the sun.

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The Presidential Palac...
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... and many beautiful...
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As expected nothing re...
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Another boat landing t...
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Crossing the big bridg...
 
 
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