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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Beautiful Paramaribo & its friendly people (1)

 
Paramaribo, Paramaribo, Paramaribo – what gets more exotic than this?  Like Timbuktu and Ouagadougou, Paramaribo is one of those places in the world you should visit even if it is just for the name.  It was once attractive enough for the Dutch to exchange that tiny cold island of Manhattan for with the British in one of the worst real estate deals ever done in history, but of course, it's easier to say that with the benefit of hind sight.
 
Paramaribo is today the capital of Suriname, a sparsely populated Dutch-speaking country on the northeastern coast of South America. Graceful Dutch civic buildings and traders' houses next to venerable ancient trees that lined the roads and straats of this UNESCO World Heritage city. Paramaribo certainly looks more beautiful and wealthier than Guyana. Chinese own all the supermarkets here. Both my m1 and Trinidad mobile sim cards cannot work here.
 
Suriname is one of the world's most diverse countries. Indians (brought here as indentured workers in the 19th century) and Creoles (descendants of African slaves, with some European mix) each account for about 30% of the population, Indonesians (brought here by the Dutch), Maroons (descendants of escaped African slaves who intermarried with Amerindians), Amerindians and Chinese make up the remaining.  Upon arrival, I had my passport checked by a Creole officer, money changed by a Dutch bank officer, driven to the city by a Javanese, bought a bottle of mineral water from a Chinese shop, had mee goreng Surinamese style cooked by a Javanese and a strange nice white herbal drink made by Amerindians to ease digestion.  The sugar I had for my breakfast coffee probably came from an Indian run sugar plantation…
 
I met Wilfred, friendly owner of transportation, bus and travel businesses, while making enquiries about transit to French Guiana.  We had a wonderful chat and I showed him my website.  He treated me to a great Surinamese lunch and drove me around the city for the entire afternoon.
 
Going French Guiana on Saturday.  This French possession is not merely a French overseas territory but constitutionally part of France proper and European Union.  It also plays host to the Arianne rocket of the European Space Project.  Because I have misplaced my Yellow Fever certificate, I might have some trouble on the French border tomorrow.  Keep my fingers crossed everything will be ok. 
 
 

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