Suriname Travel Blog

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Suriname border sign

Hotel: Guesthouse Albergo Alberga, Paramaribo, Suriname, 30 Euro
We woke up at 4:30 AM today, our taxi driver Roy would be arriving around 5 AM to take us to the border. The weather looked really bad today, big storms all along the coast. The border was about a 3 hr drive away, but there was a ferry in the middle that only ran once an hour. It started raining quite a bit after leaving town and Roy was driving slower to be safe. He was speaking about his experiences in Guyana and New York, how he had family all over the Caribbean and Guyana/Suriname.

We ended up arriving at the ferry about 6:35.. literally a minute too late for the 6:30 ferry! We were still ok on time though, the ferry to Suriname wouldn't leave until 11. However the Suriname ferry only runs once a day, so missing that would be a setback! The wait wasn't too bad, and the next ferry arrived and started filling up. Several trucks and minibuses boarded the side-loading ferry. There was a turntable, but it hadn't worked in years. The ferry ride itself was pretty quick, and the rain had let up some, but  it started coming down again once we reached the other side. It was still another hour and a half before we reached the Guyana side of the ferry. We changed money, though not at the best rate, then bought tickets for the ferry ($10). Sat down to wait, as it was only about 10 by this time, but we had already been on the road since 5 am! The ferry arrived at 11 (it was supposed to leave at 11), then it started raining, and raining, and raining. Noon passed, then one o'clock.. the ferry still sat there waiting while the natives were getting restless. We started talking with an older American woman there, she was from Florida and had traveled quite extensively as well. Her son was posted to the embassy in Georgetown and she was taking a few weeks to see Suriname and French Guiana, by herself! Found out she was staying at the same hotel we were in Paramaribo, so we decided to all get the same minibus/taxi once on the Suriname side. Finally, at 1:30 the ferry set off, it was still raining. Apparently the ferry operators didn't want anyone to get wet, but it was  2.5 hrs late already! There were only a few cars going across. The crossing itself took nearly a half hour, for some reason the ferry terminals on either side are nowhere near towns; on the Guyana side it is 8kms away from the nearest town, at least on a good road. On the Suriname side, it takes an hour to get to the nearest town, and that's if it hasn't been raining...
We hadn't eaten much all day, not much of an opportunity, as we left before the hotel had breakfast ready, and we hadn't bought any snacks for the trip. I had a few Cliff bars I had brought along which helped; and there was a canteen at the ferry terminal where I spent my last few Guyana dollars to buy a packet of stale cookies. We had thought about going to Nieuw Nickerie, the closet town on the Suriname side, to have lunch (though it was already 3:30 pm, Suriname being an hour ahead) and town was at least an hour away. Immigration passed smoothly, then we all got into a minibus heading directly for Paramaribo. The driver offered to drop us off at the hotel since  there was four of us, very nice. The fare was 45 Suriname dollars. The road indeed was pretty horrendous, and we ended up being the last bus to leave, soon all the other buses had zoomed ahead leaving us behind. Pothole, mud, pothole. It was like being in Africa. No signs of human settlement either, just the road and cleared jungle. We did soon come to fields of rice, the tractors here are equipped with huge side paddlewheels so they can work in the mud. Couldn't get a picture of one but saw one tearing through a field like a mudbuggy. It ended up taking nearly two hours to the town, and that still left three hours to Paramaribo, at least this was on a paved road! The road was severely flooded in parts, which made for really slow going. You'd think the Dutch of all people would have drainage figured out! Suriname is the former Dutch colony on the northern part of South America. The Dutch traded a little island in New York called Manhattan with the British for Suriname. Not an even trade methinks. Suriname has quite a multicultural society, with Chinese, Javanese, blacks, Indians, etc.
We  drove on, still few signs of villages, just scattered houses and rice fields. We finally pull into Paramaribo about 9PM, nearly 10 1/2 hrs after we left Georgetown! Paramaribo, or locally known as Parbo, seemed a much more modern and safe city than Georgetown. We got to the hotel to find they hadn't understood my email and didn't have a reservation for us for that night! Luckily they did have two rooms available. It was already pretty late, but we were starving. We decided to head over to the nearby Torarica hotel where there was a strip of restaurants. The Albergo Alberga guesthouse was a great location in an old colonial style building, within walking distance of all the old city. At 30 Euro for a double, the price couldn't be beat either. Suriname mainly gets a lot of Dutch tourists, didn't see much info on the web that was available in English. We walked by the Presidential palace to the hotel. We were very surprised to find a row of bars, restaurants and dance clubs, with lots of people walking around, lots of tourists. Mainly groups of Dutch girls dressed up to party! Quite a change from Georgetown where  you don't walk around at night, certainly not dressed to the nines. :)
We ate dinner at Cafe Vat; I had the Pom which was a local dish, kinda like a pork tamale but softer. Suriname has really good Indonesian food with the Java influence; the Dutch had brought in alot of indentured workers here from their colony, just like the British had done with Indians to Trinidad and Guyana. We were exhausted from the long day though, and went back to the hotel after a little internet. It was already after 11, making for a really long day.

WalterC says:
Wow, that was some adventure, getting from one place to another! Never fun going through rain!
Posted on: Jun 08, 2014
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Suriname border sign
Suriname border sign