This is the river Suriname and that thing in the middle is what's left of a ship called the Goslar.
The Goslar was built in Hamburg in 1929 and started moving migrants to Philadelphia in 1935. During one of those trips the 2nd world war started and the captain decided to seek shelter in the harbour of Paramaribo to wait and see how things would develop. It was the 5th. of September, 1939.
Initially the crew was welcome in Suriname and the local police even helped to control a mutiny, started by forty plus Chinese who were part of the crew. I have no idea how these people ended up on that ship nor why they revolted. Anyhow, they were arrested and left Suriname in 1939 on an Italian ship.
Things got complicated on the 10th of May, 1940 when the Nazis attacked the Netherlands. The local police received a telegram with instructions to arrest any and all Germans in the Dutch colony.
The crew had anticipated such a move and prepared the sinking of the Goslar, long ago. When they saw a boat approaching, carrying the police commissioner of Paramaribo and several officers, the Germans basically just opened the tab and sank the ship.
And there she still lies.
This is a gold shop. It's not your usual kind of gold shop where you can buy a wedding ring or a gold watch. This shop buys gold.
I am not talking about earrings or bracelets. This shop -and many others like it- buys nuggets and gold powder from real gold diggers. You know the ones who dig tunnels and wash sand in pans, hoping to see a bit of a sparkle or a shiny object in the dirt.
Suriname is part of Las Guianas. The land in which Sir Walter Raleigh tried to find the city of El Dorado.
El Dorado didn't exist. But there was and still is a lot of gold hidden in this land.
People come from everywhere (but mostly from neighbouring Brazil) and try to find this shiny metal. A successful gold digger eventually turns up in one of these shops and turns his find into spendable money.
20th of July, 2018
The other day I finally ventured into the jungle. Actually it wasn't really a jungle but an 'abandoned' plantation near Paramaribo. In the days of slavery they farmed coffee, cocoa and other tropical plants. But luckily those days are gone. Nowadays it's a sort of national park with lots of wildlife.
As I walked through it strange noises -right next to me- made me jump. Most of the time it was just a giant (about a meter long) Iguana. They seem to be a bit dopey. Iguanas don't move until one nearly steps on them and then they panic. And so did I. Well the first 5 or 6 times anyhow.
But there were other noises. Crashing noises going upwards which is a bit freaky. Specially if it sounds big and there is nothing to see. If you stop and wait for another movement or sound all sorts of insects start landing on you pretty soon. I wonder what the animals think of that pale guy jumping about and slapping himself.
Every now and then I did get a glimpse of a monkey shooting up a tree though. But they don't like to hang around and pose for photos which is a little frustrating but understandable.
I did see some other monkeys high up in the trees observing me. I tried to get a a shot of them extending my zoom lens to the max. I soon learned, for that much zoom one really needs a tripod. So I called it a day and went back to my room, promising myself to be back asap.
The following few days torrential rains stopped me going but this morning the sun was shining. I grabbed my camera and tripod and went back, determined to get some good photos.
And I think I sort of did. What do you think?
Oh I forgot to mention the eagle. I was busy trying to get some good photos of these monkeys up in the trees when they all suddenly disappeared. It was then when I saw that big, big bird soaring above. Wow man it was really big. Of course I tried to get a photo but trees and leaves were in the way. Luckily the bird landed on a branch and started cleaning itself. I took several shots but didn't really get a good one. Mostly because the bastard had its back turned. So this is the best one I managed to get.
Here below is a little treat. A leaf cutter ant procession. You might want to crank up the sound to experience the sound of the jungle.
12th of July, 2018
So I went to New Amsterdam. It was an interesting little excursion. First a half hour trip by bus and then 20 minutes by boat. But there was a lot of waiting involved. First we had to wait for the bus to fill up and then for a boat to arrive. The available boats were already booked for a funeral. Apparently the ashes of some accident victims were to be scattered into the Suriname river. I stood aside and waited patiently. Eventually a boat's man agreed to take me across. Since I was the only passenger, the trip would cost me 50 Surinam dollars which is about 6.27 euros. I agreed and off we went. I was dropped off at some sort of fish factory where I asked for directions. 20 minutes later I arrived at New or 'Nieuw' (Dutch spelling) Amsterdam. The whole place is an open air museum. Some old canons and other murder instruments are on display as well as some classic Dutch style buildings. All in a rather picturesque setting.
Then it happened.
I saw my first real American native. I got really exited. I'd never seen a real, life, wild hummingbird before. After a moment of amazed observation I thought, 'camera, photo'.
Now the problem with these little buggers is, they won't sit for a photo. I took about 20 shots and this one is the best.. Then the little bird vanished, not to be seen again. I waited for a while but no luck. I used the time to have a closer luck at the flowers the bird was so interested in. Anybody knows its name?
After a while I went back to the fish factory to catch a boat back. But I was told, I should go to the pier, half an hours walk down the road. All right. Let's do some more sightseeing.
And what a sight I found. Look at this gorgeous little green mosque.
Eventually I found the pier. The boat there only charged me half the original price to go back. Oh well,live and learn.
8th. of July, 2018
It's getting hotter! No rain today and not a cloud in the sky. Nice!
Did I talk about the traffic in Paramaribo already? Well, I would call it polite. Crossing the road is no problem at all, people stop immediately. Which is not standard behaviour in Europe. Here, everybody knows everybody this might be the reason. Only about five-hundred thousand people living in the whole country (which is 4 times the size of the Netherlands) and half of them live in Paramaribo. So obviously, you don't want to run down a distant cousin or your brother in law's aunt's grandmother.
Being a complete newbie to this country I have to ask for directions a lot.
Again, people are extremely nice and give detailed instructions. I've also been advised to watch out at night. 'Seriously, don't walk alone after dark.' they said. Normally that would be an instant challenge. But the point was made several times by different people.
One of these people was nice enough to take me to a roti place.
A 'roti' in the Netherlands is a well known Surinam dish. It's sort of related to a chapati and it comes with a sauce and some meat or veggies and its delicious.
The place was a couple of miles walk but the guy had no issues taking me there. Brilliant!
On the way there I noticed an interesting sign. It said, Bij Brand Bell 110 which means, 'In case of fire call 110'. This confused me. The advise is pretty straight forward but I didn't understand what Ronald McDonald had to do with it. When I asked about it I was told,' Have a burger while waiting for the fire brigade!'
New Continent. New Country. New City. New Beer.
A few days ago I crossed Europe from south to north and the Atlantic from east to west to get to Paramaribo, Suriname.
Suriname (formerly known as Dutch Guyana) is one of the countries in the so called Guyana region of South America. Guyana (formerly known as British Guyana is to the west) and French Guyana (still an overseas department of France) is to the east.
At the time, the Dutch behaved like a typical colonial power i.e. not good. People were stolen from Africa and brought here into slavery. Also, people from India 'moved' here. The British called it the 'new system of slavery'. It's a long story of white people being arseholes. Eventually, in 1975 Suriname gained independence!
Right now, it's still rainy season. So it's hot and humid but the beer is tasty and cold. The food is good and spicy. But most importantly, people are extremely friendly and helpful. I feel welcome!