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No Span Hub

Posted on 28 Mar 2014 by maisha (posted in: blogs)

Did you know our vacation almost ended before it started? In order to enter Suriname, you have to obtain a tourist visa. You can buy it before your departure, or upon arrival. We decided on the latter. After queuing up for customs for over an hour - we were sitting at the back of the plane - it was finally our turn. We were met by a very chagrined customs lady who took one look at our passport and said: 'You can't enter Suriname, you don't have a visa.' We explained that we were aware of that and had been informed we could buy it upon arrival. She continued to say we had to return to the Netherlands. I couldn't believe it! Then finally she found some ounce of professionalism and told us we could buy a visa at the customs office if we were lucky. A fellow passenger directed us to the customs office, where obstacle number two unfolded itself. The visa card costs 20 EUR per person and it can only be bought in EUR or USD. We only had 20 EUR cash on hand. I mean, we had two credit cards and two bank cards, but it did us no good. So I had to pass customs, accompanied by an employee, to make a cash withdrawal in SRD, which I then had to exchange for USD at a snack-bar since the bank had already closed. In the process I managed to forget my bank card at the ATM, something which I only found out the next day. When we finally had our visa's, the baggage claim area was deserted. We were literally the last one's there! I actually had to collect my baggage from the lost and found office. Thankfully our chauffeur was still waiting for us. With water and baka bana (fried battered plantain). We arrived at Hosta appartementen in Paramaribo after roughly one hour's drive. This would be our hub for the remainder of the trip, from where we would go out on multi-day excursions to other places, returning only to re-fuel and do laundry. We really enjoyed our stay in Hosta and would definitely recommend it. The rooms are equipped with a fridge, microwave, electric kettle, and dishes/cutlery. They have a launderette with a washing machine and dryer, so you can wash your clothes in between trips. This allowed us to travel light: two pairs of pants and two long-sleeved blouses each, and of course enough underwear and socks, but that was it! We also had quite a few dinners in their restaurant, which served reasonably priced tasty local dishes. The best thing was their breakfast buffet: fresh fruit, muesli, and real coffee (not the granulated type that they drink all over Suriname).
Paramaribo itself didn't appeal that much to us. It's a busy, stuffy city, that apart from the historical highlights, offers nothing more than shops. Really, two days is all you need to have seen it all, unless shopping is your thing of course. On Sunday it is completely desolated as we found out on our first day in Paramaribo. However, this enabled us to make uncrowded photos.

As my dad so nicely put it: it looks eerily Dutch for a tropical country.

Food-wise, the best place to get an inexpensive meal is at the riverside boulevard. It's mostly rice & beans, chicken, plaintain, water spinach, and long beans.

If you're craving fresh fruit & veg, it's worth making a trip to the central market to load up on mango, papaya, guava, bakove (which is how they call their regular bananas, small and big), soursop, pomelo, oranges, grapefruits, okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, long beans... you get the picture.

Oh, and if they ask you if you would like pepper with your food, don't be ignorant like me thinking they mean ground black pepper and say yes, only to have your entire body on fire for the remainder of the day. OMG, their peppers and sambals are literally to die for, or rather from! They refer to it as 'taste'. The peppers/sambals are essential in their eyes to add taste to the meal!
This post is lengthy and wordy enough as is, so I'll be back tomorrow with our mad biking experience in Suriname and more ;-)


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