Paramaribo City

Orde, rust, Baka Bana, loempia, Hollands accent en …de Blokker. Welkom in Suriname.
De plantage Peperpot bevindt zich in het kustdistrict Commewijn. Het is gelegen aan de rechteroever van de Surinamerivier en wordt doorsneden door de Oost-Westverbinding.
Cacao werd hoofdzakelijk geteeld in het gebied dat zich langs het zanderige gedeelte van de “Weg naar Peperpot”” bevindt. Langs de irrigatiekanalen kan men nog duidelijk de aanplant van rijen koffiebomen zien evenals die van de kofimama bomen. De laatsten moesten zorgen voor schaduw van de koffiebomen, vandaar ook de zeer toepasselijke lokale naam.

Koffiebomen zijn eerder klein waarvan de gevorkte bloeiwijze dicht opeenstaande, vrij grote, witte bloemen heeft. De vrucht, die koffiebes wordt genoemd, is bijna bolvormig en de schil kleurt rood bij rijping. Het is in feite een steenvrucht waarin zich twee kernen bevinden, omringd door een sappige, ietwat zoete pulp. Binnen elke kern ligt een zaad, de koffieboon. In Suriname werden verschillende soorten koffie geteeld, met elk zijn eigen voor- en nadelen.

Toen de plant in Suriname als cultuurgewas werd ingevoerd wist men nog niet dat die ook in het wild langs de rivieroevers in het binnenland voorkwam. Dat werd pas ontdekt in 1917, ruimschoots nadat de eerste cacaoplantages waren aangelegd. De cacao is een relatief kleine boom. Uit het vruchtbeginsel groeit in 5 1⁄2 maand een grote vrucht die al naar gelang het ras nogal van uiterlijk kan verschillen. De rijpe vrucht bevat 40 plat-ovale zaden in 5 rijen die zijn omgeven door een zoetzure, eetbare pulp. In Suriname liet men pulp en zaden enkele dagen fermenteren waarna men de pulp wegwaste en de overgebleven zaden machinaal of in de zon droogde.

Doodskopaap (Saimiri sciureus)
Monki-monki’s prefereren de tussenliggende hoogten van het tropisch regenwoud maar gaan door alle lagen van het woud heen wanneer ze op zoek gaan naar voedsel.


Het dieet bestaat uit fruit maar ook spinnen en insecten worden gegeten, evenals wat bladeren en zaden. Zij leven in groepen die tot 30 individuen kunnen bestaan, maar de grootte van de groep wordt bepaald door de habitat waarin ze leven. De verschillende groepen vermijden elkaar waardoor er geen territoriale geschillen voorkomen. Monki-monki’s zijn actief tijdens de dag met activiteiten die voornamelijk plaatsvinden in de buurt van water. Monki-monki’s zijn zeer behendig en kunnen al rennend op takken door het regenwoud worden waargenomen.

In Paramaribo we spend a couple of days with Tom, a Belgian guy who lives there. We use his house as a fall out base to discover some of the places around the city and we have a lot to tell at each other.
Since we’ve visited a lot of jungles in Guyana we’ve decided not to do them all over here in Suriname, that makes that we’ll just stay around the city for a couple of days.

This week we can speak Dutch… A strange experience so far away from Belgium or Holland. Nonetheless the local accent and the mixing with the Caribbean flavours makes it sometimes a different language, but all in all the communication goes quite easy.
Crossing the city gives you the feeling that you are in a Dutch town on a sunny place. The whole area has a clear stamp ‘Holland’ over it.

Paramaribo has a strong colonial past. It has long been a Dutch colony, where lots of slaves and later cheap Indian and Indonesian labour forces were working on the surrounding plantations. That past is clearly marked all along the city, especially by the mixed population in the city. All colours ranging from white over light and dark brown to complete black live there together in a harmonious blend…

The harbour area – called Waterkant – along the Paramaribo river bears lots of signals from the many ships that once anchored here. The restored Fort Zeelandia overlooks the whole area and had to keep everything safe. Originally everyone who came to live there could ask for a piece of ground, the only condition was that they builded a house on it and started to plant something within a fixed period. Mostly they planted cacao, sugar or coffee, since the fertile grounds and the sunny climate supported these luxurious products optimal. On these goods the peasants had to pay taxes before they were shipped to Europe, where the people were longing for these luxurious products!
The city centre is covered with numerous old wooden buildings, giving it a nice vibe. Our last days we spend also in one of these old colonial hostels. After all a relaxing experience!

Once you’re outside that old centre, the city becomes quite uninteresting.
Nonetheless the people here drive carefully and well ordered! What a difference with the living vibe from Georgetown. Crossing streets has no adventure and taking a bus takes a long, long time. Half of them are full when they pass, some just pass by without stopping and sometimes a lost one stops before you… We immediately miss Georgetown with its lively markets and busy minibuses almost driving you off the roads.
A remarkable event is that all closes down already around 4 pm and between a saturday afternoon and a monday morning the entire city is simply locked down.

On the Paramaribo river you can do a trip to spot some dolphins, living in the estuary zone of the river. When we take the boat tour to their favourite spot, they are in a joyful and playful mood, so we can see some of them breathing and jumping out of the waters.
You always feel happy when they are around.

On that same trip we pass along New Amsterdam, at the meeting of the Paramaribo and Commewijne Rivers. A strategical point where they once build Fort New Amsterdam to protect the plantations from invasions from the sea. Nonetheless this Fort never had an optimal building style – it was captured twice by the English – and the weak soil hardly allowed the building of stone walls around it. So quite soon it lost its original function and transformed into a prison… Today it is just a museum.

In the centre of the Paramaribo river there lies an old shipwreck, a memory from the second World War, when Suriname was an important deliverer of the bauxite used to produce aluminium. 65% of the production from the Allied forces came from here.
They also send a group of soldiers to go fighting in the home country… For us merely a slight remark in our history books, but after all an important feat! It feels strange to learn so much over that horrible time worldwide during our trip. We hardly know something more than Hitler, but actually he was not the sole player, compared with all the other events.

With the past gone, the city has now just a lazy vibe over it.