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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kayaking Suriname River

Suriname, An Eco-Adventure



Snapshot 3 (7-1-2015 12-03 PM)After a communication mix up, forty five minutes later than planned I am picked up by an employee van to be driven to Bergen Dal Resort.




Like most places nowadays Paramaribo has it's early morning rush hour traffic but it is handled the old-fashioned way.



Snapshot 5 (7-1-2015 12-09 PM)Policeman with white gloves and whistles do their best to keep the hectic floor of traffic going.





A few stops to pick up employees and soon we are in the lush green open countryside of Suriname. In about two hours we leave the main paved road and begin a short journey on a gravel one through a dense forest. In less than ten minutes we arrive at our destination for the day.


Snapshot 7 (7-1-2015 12-10 PM)A friendly welcome and my activities for the day are arranged. I relax a bit then it is a motorized boat ride along the Suriname River towards the resort's adventure center.






Snapshot 6 (7-1-2015 12-09 PM)


Here I find refuge from the blazing morning sun and doze off under a nice large shade tree. I am awaken from a relaxing dream as it is time to go kayaking.


Snapshot 8 (7-1-2015 12-10 PM)It is a lazy outing as we paddle upstream then let the river erase all of our progress. This is fine as I am more about enjoying the scenery than kayaking.




We are told that along this part of the river there are piranhas but they are not the aggressive ones that are further upstream.



Snapshot 13 (7-1-2015 12-13 PM) 


It takes a moment for me to accept and process this information but soon my feet are dangling in the refreshing water hoping that our guide is 100% correct. Apparently this area has the larger black piranhas which are not as worrisome as the smaller red ones. Another aggressive fish in the area is the “Wolf Fish” but today they all seem to be on their best behavior. Knowing this we eventually find a sandbar along the river and take a full swim.


Snapshot 14 (7-1-2015 12-14 PM)My swim is not without a bit of adventure.





I manage to take my “waterproof” camcorder with me only to discover it was not really “waterproof”. However, the most disappointing part about this was not being able to capture my next adventure, zip lining.

After a brief safety demo we then set off for what would be one of my best zip lining adventures. A 600 foot line across the Suriname River then zip lining 600 feet upside down across a rainforest is just going to be hard to beat. It is going to be an experience I will never forget.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Around Paramaribo Suriname

Suriname, Walking Around Paramaribo


Leaving Eco-Resort I cross the street and stop at a nearby gas station. Here, I again make a failed attempt to get local currency from an ATM. Fortunately they do accept “Greenbacks” and give me change back in SRD after I purchased a 1.5 liter of water.


IMG_0175 (640x480)It is a somewhat warm afternoon with the sun blazing down so strong that even men are walking around with huge umbrellas for protection.

I am to cool for that and decide to stick with my baseball cap although I end up paying the price later.



Looking to arrange a tour I drop in at All Suriname Tours located inside The Queen hotel. Again it is a challenge to do business with a credit card. In the end I reluctantly part with my dollars after getting a good price for a tour to Bergendal.

Next I make a stop at the local “Tourist Information” center where I get a wealth of information about Suriname and the local happenings. Just outside of the center is Fort Zeelandia claimed as one of the oldest spots in Paramaribo.


WP_20150609_011Unfortunately Fort Zeelandia is only opened until 2pm so I have to save my visit there for another day.




A walk along the Suriname River takes me to Waterkant but not before a brief stop at a war memorial. For me, this is always an honor to show some level of respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

At Waterkant a local hangout for food and drinks I have a recommended Suriname “spicy” dish that along with the afternoon heat has my head sweating like a “oink, oink”.



WP_20150609_018Telo Trie


However, the cassava dish (Telo Trie) topped with salted small dry fish drizzled with a pepper sauce along with sliced cucumbers and a banana is not only unique but full of flavor.

With my head sweating somewhat under control I continue my walk around town to see some of the city's highlights. At one stop I city and watch locals board water taxi's that remind me of being in Mumbai.


IMG_0003I doubt any of these boats would pass a Coast Guard inspection but they are very much a big part of the local transportation system.





The most interesting sight in the city is seeing one of the many mosques in Paramaribo peacefully existing right next to a synagogue.


WP_20150612_010If only this somewhat ironic situation could be duplicate elsewhere maybe many area of the world would be more peaceful too.




On Heck Arronstraat I find another site that is worth a return visit when it is open from 6am-1pm. St Peter and Paul Cathedral is one of the largest wooden buildings in the Americas.



IMG_0171St Peter and Paul Cathedral 



IMG_0176I finish up my walk in the Palm Garden enjoying the beautiful sound of singing birds as much as the hundred plus towering palm trees.








Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Suriname, Arriving Paramaribo


Just before we begin our descent for Paramaribo I switch seats after taking a bathroom break. Now sitting in an otherwise empty “Emergency Exit” row I am surprised that I am told I have to stop reading my book as we make our final approach for landing.

On Insel Air it is a requirement that you give your full attention to your possible duties during takeoff and landing if you are sitting in the “Emergency Exit” row. Maybe this is the way it should be with every airline.

At just pass midnight we touchdown in Paramaribo. It is a quick entry process and at this time of the night it is comforting to easily discover that my pre-arranged transportation is waiting for me. What is not so comforting is that the airport ATM is slow and rejects my attempts to get local currency.

It's over an hour ride into the city and a taxi is about a US$50 fare. Through Eco-Resort I have arranged a US$15 airport shuttle and I am glad I did. It is not too often that I check into a hotel after one in the morning but I guess a long day of traveling makes for a good night of rest.


WP_20150609_005I am up for a delicious breakfast where no doubt I over stuff myself with freshly made crepes, bacon and a local hot shrimp dish.

At least I am now charged up for a walk around the city.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Yohan, Why Not Suriname



WP_20150608_001At an Insel Air transfer stop in Aruba I strike up a conversation with a fellow passenger who questions why I am visiting Suriname. I answer his curiosity with a question, why not Suriname.




WP_20150608_002Satisfied with my response, Yohan proceeds to share with me some information about his country.

I am sure his insights will make my next five days enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Adios New Orleans, Hello FUN


Although I have crossed “The Mighty Mississippi” many times by land and by air, at just pass 4pm on a beautiful Sunday afternoon this will the first time I have sailed it's muddy waters.


CCL Dream Mississippi ViewWith the safety drill quickly over with the Carnival Dream begins what I am told  will be an almost eight hour journey down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.




Our “Sail Away Party” is FUN but what is even more exciting is enjoying the views along the river as we snake our way downstream.



Mississippi Badging

Mississippi Badging



Adios New OrleansAdios New Orleans, Hello Key West.