... And 15 years later?
On the 1st of March 2001 I returned to Suriname after 15.5 years. I was born in Suriname in 1974.
I moved to the Netherlands in 1985 and I didn't go back until 2001. In 1999 I realised that I spent the greater part
of my life at that moment in the Netherlands and that I never went back to Suriname. At that moment it was impossible
for me to visit my native country, but I started to make plans to return to Suriname. I decided that a good moment to
make the journey would be after I graduated. I started to save some money to buy a ticket.
It is a 9 hours flight from Amsterdam (The Netherlands) to Paramaribo. When the airplane reached
the Surinamese area it was nice to see the woods. Of course you also could see rivers, bridges and roads from time to
time. Shortly after entering the Surinamese area the plane landed on the Johan Adolf Pengel Airport also known as
Zanderij. A funny thing is that Surinamese people have a habit of applauding after a successful touchdown.
Well… in a way it is a miracle that the plane landed safely and one should be grateful for that.
The time was about 18.15 when I got out of the plane. The hot air outside welcomes you and you
realise that you are in a tropical climate. Walking down the stairs from the plane the moment is there to touch the
Surinamese ground after 15.5 years. It felt good to be in Suriname. The airport has a balcony on which people can
welcome the airplane passengers. Many persons who came to pick up one or more passengers make use of the balcony, so
it's very busy on that balcony.
Some relatives of mine came to pick me up at the airport and I went to their home, sat down and
relaxed.. Spending the first evening in Paramaribo, I realise that it's so quiet. You actually can see the stars in
the sky. It is late in the evening and the temperature outside is so nice.
Dutch people who never have been to Suriname will experience that it's rather strange that they
speak Dutch in a country so far away from the Netherlands and where the climate is tropical. The Dutch influence can
also be noticed in the naming of the streets, like for instance the "Gravenstraat".
I spent the next day in Paramaribo. I noticed that many things were changed, but that many other
things still were the same. I easily could find my way in the city, because I still remembered the streets. Two of
the first places I went to were the Onafhankelijkheidsplein (Square of Independence) and the Waterkant
Many different cultures and religions live together in Suriname. One remarkable example is that a
Jewish Synagogue and a Muslim Mosque are so close together. They are almost neighbours and everything goes well. If
you want to see this for yourself you have to go to the "Keizerstraat" near the crossing with the
"Steenbakkerijstraat". I also made a picture of this situation. It's picture number 5 on my Suriname Pictures Site.
I went to visit many relatives and friends during the first days. The people are very nice and
hospitable. Everybody offers you a plate with food and time flies, because you are having a good time.
Paranam and Suralco
I got the chance to get a tour in Paranam / Suralco. This company has bauxite mines and processes
the bauxite so that it can be exported to make aluminum out of it. Everybody thinks that Suralco already has passed
away, but I learned that the company still has many activities. At this moment Suralco has two mines where bauxite is
gained: one near Lelydorp and the other one is in the neigbourhood of Moengo (Mungo). Both mines deliver bauxite with
a different quality. The bauxite of both mines is processed by Suralco in Paranam. After processing it is transported
with ships to export it to foreign countries. This can be done easily since Paranam is near the Suriname river.
The weekend of the 9th and 10th of March was Holy Phagwa. Holy Phagwa is a festivity to celebrate
the beginning of spring. This sounds rather odd, because Suriname hasn't got any winters, but even in Suriname a new
weather seasons starts at the beginning of March. We spent the weekend with a nice family. The father in that house
is a civil engineer and told us about the active and the planned projects in Suriname.
Holy Phagwa is rather nice to celebrate. Although the festivity orginally belongs to the Hindustan
tradition and only was celebrated by the Surinamese people with Indian ancestors, it nowadays is celebrated by almost
everybody in Suriname. People put and throw parfum, powder, oil and more stuff at each other while saying "Sub Holy"
to each other. The "Sub Holy" is a wish of goodluck. At the end of the afternoon almost everybody in Nieuw Nickerie
goes to a place called the Zeedijk at the Corantijn river.
The Sunday of that weekend I went to the Surinamese - Guyanese border and I also spent some time
with relatives in Nieuw Nickerie. After that we took a bus and went back to Paramaribo.
Albina and Galibi
Albina is the capital of the district of Marowijne. Marowijne is in the East of Suriname. The
Marowijne river is the border river between Suriname and French Guiana. Albina used to be a nice little village where
people from Paramaribo spent many of their weekends as small holidays.
Albina can be reached by bus. The distance between Paramaribo and Albina is about 150 kilometres.
That is almost 100 miles. Because of the war in the second half of the 1980's a great part of the area including the
road to Albina is destroyed. It hurts to see what happened to that area if you remember driving through the area when
you were a little child and how beautiful it was.
In Albina we went into a small boat (korjaal) that took us to Galibi. The journey across the water
lasted about 1.5 hrs. We left Paramaribo early in the morning and around 14.00 hrs we were in Galibi. The beach
reminds of a small paradise as only can be found in the famous Bounty commercial. We walked through the area and met
the local people who are American Indians. There even was a small tourist shop. And ofcourse the food was nice
The main reason we went to Galibi is to see the turtles. In order to see the turtles we had to
wait until 22.00 hrs. We took the boat and went to the mouth of the Marowijne river. The Marowijne river flows into
the Atlantic Ocean. I thought I'd see small turtles, but I was quite amazed that the turtles turned to be rather big.
I saw turtles with a diameter of approximately 80 centimetres and the guide told us that around August turtles with a
diameter of 2 metres come to Suriname.
The turtles come from all over the world to lay their eggs in Suriname. From places like Costa
Rica but also from Australia. The turtles travel years to reach their goal. It's quite amazing how nature works.
Apparently these animals remember that they were born in Suriname and they return to lay their eggs in the same area
as where they were born.
Unfortunately the eggs are not safe, because poachers hunt for the eggs to sell them on the
market. Many people like turtle eggs. A turtle lays approximately 200 eggs at once, so the nature knows that not all
of the eggs will survive, but people still should not touch the eggs.
This nice mountain is in the district of Brokopondo. It is not to far from Afobaka where
electricity is generated. From this mountain you can enjoy the view across the Van Blommenstein storage lake. My
Brownsberg pictures give an impression of this mountain. Click here for an overview of the pictures I made while I was in Suriname.
Lelydorp / Kofi-Djompo
Lelydorp is the capital of the district Wanica. This small village is used to be called
Kofi-Djompo, but was renamed after the well-known Dutch engineer Cornelis Lely. This man was responsible for the so
called "Zuiderzeewerken" in the Netherlands. A very turbulent lake was enclosed by a barrage to protect a great part
of the Netherlands from the sea. Later on a great part of that lake was reclaimed. The whole plan to do this was made
by Ir. Cornelis Lely. From 1903 to 1905 Mr. Lely was the governor of Suriname.
I don't know where the name Kofi-Djompo was derived from, but it is nice to know that the slaves
used to name their children depending on the day. This habit was inherited from their African ancesters. For
instance: If a boy was born on a friday, his name would be Kofi (Think of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan)
and if a boy was born on a wednesday, he was called Kwakoe (Kwaku). For more information about this subject I refer
to my page about the names the Surinamese slaves used to give to their children.
In Paramaribo you can find a statue of a slave called Kwakoe. Many people think that the slave
represented on that statue is a particular person, but that is not true. The statue expresses any slave. The fictive
person on the statue was called Kwakoe, because the 1st of July 1863 was a wednesday and that the tradition of slaves
was to give their boys if they were born on a wednesday the name Kwakoe. On July 1st 1863 a new era was born, because
on that day the slavery was abolished.
Lelydorp is about 20 kilometres south of Paramaribo. The road from Paramaribo to the Johan Adolf
Pengel Airport at Zanderij goes through Lelydorp. It is a nice place to stop by, because many people sell nice food
over there. The road from Paramaribo to Lelydorp used to be called "Pad van Wanica", which is path of Wanica. In 1984
it was renamed after Indira Gandhi to Indira Gandhi weg.
The Indira Gandhi weg has many side-ways. One of them is called the Java weg and leeds to a place
called Santo Boma. Another one is called the Van Hattem weg. When I was a little boy I used to go there very often. I
went back to meet the people after so many years. At first it was a little bit odd, but afterwards I was really glad
that I visited that place.
Nieuw Amsterdam is a small village in the district of Commewijne. This town is known, because the
open-air museum of Suriname is located there. Many items of the Colonial era still are kept in this museum. This
museum can give an impression of the early days of Suriname and because of that reason it is worth a visit.
This page: Copyright © 2001 Peter A. J. Troon
Note: This page is part of the Peter Troon Site.