by Anniel 7/25/15
With A Long Stop In Paramaribo • Way back in the early days of StubbornThings, the Chief Disrupter and early contributors to the site had a Pub Chat wherein they proposed sponsoring Virtual Cruises to exciting places in our world. The Bear and I have never been on a cruise before, but agreed we would prefer a Windjammer Cruise, accompanied by lots of books. Now, having lost the spryness of youth, we have decided to go someplace even Master Kung Fu may not have been (is such a place possible?).
We would have invited Brad on our tour, but he is still weeding, harvesting or canning his garden produce, and he did mention in the Pub Chat the possibility of getting knighted by the queen, or was that a virtual Knighthood? Hard to tell these days.
You are all welcome to join our virtual cruise. We want you to see what we saw.
Our destination of choice is Surinam, the smallest democratic republic in South America. It is situated on the northeastern coast of South America between Guyana on the north and east, Brazil directly south, and French Guiana due east. This piece of land holding all these countries is part of the jigsaw puzzle that slides across the Atlantic and tucks into the West Coast of Africa. Alfred Wegner used this jigsaw puzzle to propound his theory of continental drift or plate tectonics in the 1960’s. His science was not believed then, but today plate tectonics are accepted science.
Surinam (several spelling variations are available), is the former Dutch Guiana Colony and Dutch remains the official language. The residents claim to speak English, but it is really a form of English based on Creole and any real English speakers have a hard time understanding it. Once in awhile a familiar phrase makes ones ears twitch, and immediately sink back into incomprehension. Unless it’s a threat. Threats come across in any language.
Paramaribo is the capital city of the tropical country, which is only 2 to 5 degrees north of the equator, so for our trip we had to be prepared for heat and humidity. Getting to Paramaribo can be a little tricky because there is no actual harbor and we had to get a small boat to take us up the Paramaribo River and we had to arrive at the wharf well before dark to avoid the criminal element along the river. Oh, the mosquitoes are terrible in Surinam, very tiny, less than 1/4 the size of most varieties. And they can be deadly. Malaria is a concern, as is a new tropical disease called Chikunguya, for which there is no treatment available. The disease occurs in many places around the world, including the entire United States, even in Alaska. Yikes! We had to make sure we took lots of repellent, netting and wore long pants, and long sleeve shirts. Air conditioning also holds the mosquitoes at bay. The poor dears can’t take the cold.
Since Dutch Guiana was settled in the 1700’s there are historic churches and other buildings in Paramaribo to satisfy tourists, and Surinam has large deposits of bauxite supporting its economy today.
We stayed in the only big hotel in Paramaribo, which did have screens and air-conditioning. But we were here to enjoy ourselves, so we began exploring the city. Paramaribo is less than 2% of the land area of Surinam, but 98% of the country’s population of around 500,000 lives in the city. Real adventurers fly small planes into the jungle areas where the rest of the small population is scattered. There are manyTribes in the jungle that have never been visited by Europeans. The country has a few mountains, but they have been climbed by only a few adventurers.
Being more sedate adventurers, we visited a wildlife preservation facility on the outskirts of Paramaribo where we helped bottle-feed a baby giant sloth. We were told that the sloths are hard to keep track of because they move so slowly you forget to watch, and when you get momentarily distracted and look up again, they’re gone. That is absolutely true, they just disappear, pfft.
The facility also had a Giant Anteater. They are huge and galvanized creatures that demolish towering ant and termite hills, logs and whole trees. A few days before we were there a worker at the refuge decided he wanted to eat the “jungle meat” critter and went into its enclosure with a machete. The worker was killed by the Anteater. Sad but true. One learns to keep their distance from such an animal.
One amphibian we wished we could have seen was the reclusive mud colored Surinam Toad. When the female toad hears a male click his hyoid bone, she sinks into the mud at the bottom of her pond and then rises up under the male, as he repeatedly swims over her, each time she releases a few eggs which he fertilizes and shoves into holes on her back. Skin and mud seals the holes and babies until they are big enough to “pop” out and swim away. Not much family commitment for the toads.
The Paramaribo River is home to fresh-water dolphins the government is attempting to increase and preserve. The Dolphins may occasionally swim a short way out to sea, but probably would not survive there very long. The next time we visit we have been invited to go along and help count the dolphins in the river.
* * *
Our disclaimer here. We cannot visit Surinam, nor have these adventures, but our eldest son, the Untermensch, can and did. The stories are his, but we do hope you enjoyed them, even second-hand. • (1497 views)