Paramaribo, Suriname – December 3, 2012
It is my second trip to Paramaribo, Suriname. I stayed at the same hotel, the Courtyard Marriott, but this time I had a room on the fifth floor overlooking the Suriname River. The views were beautiful in the mornings and evenings. I guess the river is about 0.5 miles to 0.75 miles wide at this point.
One day for lunch, I went to Baka Foto, which is in Fort Zeelandia, a historical complex built in 1667. The restaurant is on the riverside of the fort. One walks through a building, by the bar, and then emerges onto a covered patio that overlooks the river. The scenery always seems to be more spectacular when you are by water.
While we were sitting at the table talking, a relatively large lizard walked by. It was about 15 or 16 inches long, green and red, and its body was as big around as a large hot dog. It did not seem to be too concerned with our presence.
I had a “build your own” pasta dish. I ordered the corkscrew-shaped pasta, an Alfredo sauce, with shrimp and broccoli. I also had a mixed salad along with a club soda and a red wine. The pasta ended up being a considerable portion. It was delicious and very filling. My meal came to 50SRD. That equates to about US$17 or US$18.
When we finished lunch, we drove to the new embassy compound (NEC). One of my duties on each trip is to look at the NEC site and report back to Washington. I can’t remember the exact size of the site, but it is probably around five acres.
I walked the entire perimeter as well as out into the middle of the site. As I was walking toward the western boundary of the property along the northern edge, I could see five or six large blackbirds. They looked like vultures. As I got closer, one or two at a time would take to the air. When I got to the northwest corner of the property and looked south, I saw somewhere between 50 and 75 birds on the ground. It made me think of the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “The Birds.”
As I continued south, they all took to flight. It was quite a sight to see the birds circling in the air, backlit by the sun. I have no idea what attracted them to the site.
One morning, as the driver was taking me to the embassy, we saw the president of Suriname drive by in a black armored SUV. The Suriname flag was flying from the two front fenders. There was one chase vehicle behind. I was surprised there was not a police escort to whisk him through town. So when the traffic came to a halt, he did too.
One afternoon when I got back to the hotel I went for a walk. I walked about a mile back into town. At one point, I walked by a rum distillery. They make three different types. Along the street, there were signs for each one. They made excellent photo subjects.
I ultimately ended up at the sidewalk Cafe ‘t VAT. I sat down and had a 15SRD (about US$5) glass of Merlot.
From the café, I walked back toward the hotel. On the way, I came across a Chinese restaurant, Chi Min. I decided to eat there. I started with hot en sour soep (hot and sour soup) for $9.50SRD and zoet-zure kip (sweet and sour chicken) for $22SRD. It was not the absolute best Chinese food, but it was good.
In Suriname, a speed bump is a drempel.
On the way to the main international airport, a one hour drive, I saw a sign for a car wash. It was hand-painted on a square piece of wood. The person that did the lettering did not take into account the number of letters. The sign looked something like this:
During this trip, I noticed several things that are much different from Guyana:
- Squared off telephone poles (I am not sure why they spend the effort to do that)
- Raised garbage bins in front of virtually every residence and business
- Roads are in much better repair
- Very few feral dogs
- Animals are behind fences – very few horses, goats, etc. on the streets
- Drainage canals are cleaner
- Drivers are much more courteous – much less horn honking too
- There is not the constant drone of loud music
- The police force appears to be better equipped (because of that there seems to be better traffic enforcement)
- Not as much visible poverty
- They have a McDonald’s and Burger King!
It is much different in Suriname than in Guyana.