We met Lisette and Sergio at E’ Tembe restaurant. Lisette is Dutch born, Sergio a Rasta maroon Surinamese. They are a couple for 7y and run a small travel business. They also work at the restaurant certain days where Sergio puts his cooking skills to work. If you, like us, don’t mind improvisation at times, do go with them for a very local and affordable Suriname experience (our 4 day / 3 night tour was €150 pP ex alcohol) – Optimission on tour (no website yet). Just beware that if you are a single woman (or even with partner) expect harassment from some men.
Laura’s comment: The time on the island allowed us to think and reflect about many things in our life, family, personal etc. The company wasn’t too great at times as our host couple had frequent arguments and some guys were at times a little disrespectful. However, our time as a couple was amazing with music, food and thousand stars lighting up the sky at night. ✨
After a stop to resupply a few things for our time on the island, we headed for Sergio’s home village of Marchallkreek. Some 500 people live there in a mix of old and new houses. Sergio mentioned that there is some structure to the village such as all the sister living in one row. Well, i hope they all get on well with each other 😉
Transmigration: Most of the housing are the result of transmigration (here a little youtube clip). This is essentially the relocation of some 25 villages and 6000 people in 1965-68 to make space for an artificial reservoir now known as Brokopondo. The people from Marchallkreek are some of these resettled people. Brokopondo dams the Suriname river to generate hydropower used for bauxite processing generating about 2/3rd of export revenues though gold has risen in importance.
Village governance: Each village has a certain governance structure. The captain is the ultimate person in charge and has up to four basha’s reporting to him. Further up, each tribe has a major as the ultimate leader. Noteworthy different to normal politicians is that the tribal leader are also spiritual leaders. For some time now, tribal rulers and government work together.
After a brief glance around we continued to Brownsberg for the hiking part of the day. Anne, a french girl from Britanny that lives in French Guiana growing fruit and veggies, joined us for the tour. We will, however, return to the village in two days to join their annual thanksgiving celebration.
Brownsberg Nature Reserve
Brownsberg nature reserve is located some 100km from Paramaibo with a plateau some 500m above sea level. Around 10000 animals were moved here as part of the transmigration in the 60’s.
After an adventurous ride to the plateau, which is best done in a 4×4 especially in rain season, we stopped for lunch amidst amazing views of Brokopondo lake.
Then it was hiking time as we explored the jungle and headed for the Ireen waterfall. About 6.5km hike with 300m altitude gain and 2h net walking time.
The waterfall is a nice stop to refresh oneself though its didnt carry much water owing to dry season.
We spotted some monkeys in the trees and some birds and learned about trees and their fruit from Anne and Lisette.
Island life on Brokopondo lake
We left Brownsberg for our home island a little whike before sunset (sun is out 6.30am to 6.30pm here). In a village Affobakka, close to the dam carrying the same name, we stopped at a bar whike waiting for the boat and enjoyed a Parba djogo together. Eventually we ferried across.
The first night was much about a late dinner (tasty lentils & potato made in the local fashion). We all were tired.
Our only full day on the isalnd started with sunrise for me at 6.30am. Anne was there too to watch.
I was still pretty tired after a mosquito kept me awake at night. I brewed a coffee for Laura and myself and we went for an early morning swim. The lake ia very warm and the sweet water right up my street. We fell asleep again right after – you know, one of these really nice sleeps 😴😴😴
After lunch (red beans, chicken and rice) we tried our luck fishing. The lake is full of piranha’s, which as we found out later, taste supernice in particular when BBQed Caribbean style (like jerk chicken in Jamaica – grilled and smoked in a closed up BBQ set) or simpky fried. I got lucky once to catch one (sadly the only one). Great opportunity to inpect the razor sharp teeth of these predators although we learned from Sergio later that these are not the hyper-agressive little Piranha’s that hunt in schools (groups) and dismantle prey in a heartbeat.
Later we briefly popped over to the mainland for some shopping and returned to an amazing sunset – colours galore 🌈🌇
For dinner we had BBQ chicken, spinach from the forest (thanks Anne), bami (indonesian style noodles) and green beans called kouseband. Lekker 😋
That night, laura and i enjoyed watching the stars and listening to music near our house. Admittedly it was very romantic and bonding and chevere 😉 Plus, she is a great dancer after all. 💏 💃💞 🏝 ✨
Seems like i wasnt the only one though keen on spending time with laura, as one of the workers on the island kept on asking her for her facebook details (naturally behind my back) and walking about in her bikini seemed also like free a public peep show for these guys. Seems where they respect mother nature, they don’t embrace the same reapect for couples nor women. Sad, but i guess had to be expected.
Village life in Marchallkreek
And then the island time was up… Back to Marchallkreek to spend a bit more there. The big party for thanksgiving happened last night and we arrived too late for church (protestant), but enjoyed some manjok soup the women were still selling.
Once we had put up hammocks, Quaraisa and her sister picked us up for a bath in the creek. Refreshing. By the river was a lot of action as well. Women cleaned the pots and dishes, presumably from last nights celebrations. Others came to wash themselves. Loads of kids about also enjoying a play in the cool water.
Laura enjoyed her time with the kids and seemingly made a new friend with Quaraisa. We also met Tim – a french man who has been travelling the world for years seemingly getting by with his juggling, music and dance skills. Seems like the perfect companion for Anne.
The evening was mixed. On the one hand another example of zero respect towards women among the maroon men, as two guys basically popped by our camp and before exchanging any other word told (not asked) laura ‘you like me, right?’ and ignoring completely her case to be in a relationship. As i returned i overheard Lisette following up in dutch explaining respect for women – uphill struggle! Anyway, this farce ruined Laura’s mood.
On the other hand, laura’s new friend made a nice scrarf for her and a bracelet for both of us. Very sweet. Thanks a million!
Back to Paramaibo
Our first full night in the hammocks was far from relaxing. Mosquitos were a constant plague (Lisette and Sergio moved into their car having mosquito net). I also had some say technical issues and my constant movement during sleep made some noise. Need to practice this a bit more and there will be plenty opportunities i think
But it was nice to jump back into the creek for a morning swim and then explore the village a little more like the primary school and the agriforesting project of Sergio’s cousin nearby.
After almost 4 days out, we headed back to town. Anne and Tim will catch a lift on the theatre boat to Trinidad while Laura and I look forward to a night in an A/C room 🚿 🛏 🍻 1before the next trip begins.