New Year’s Eve in Paramaribo promised to be a wild experience. The celebration begins around noon and carries on until early evening at which point everyone goes home for dinner and waits to launch the remaining fireworks at midnight.
The day was cloudy and threatened rain at 1100 as we boarded a small wooden riverboat in Domburg with a small group of other sailors and local fishermen.
The current was with us as we motored up the river and we arrived at the Platte Brug dock in Paramaribo by 1230. The streets were starting to get busy. The daytime fireworks are not the fancy colourful sky borne variety (these come in abundance after dark) but huge long rows of red pop crackers which when lit on one end proceed along the ground for approximately 25 meters radiating crashing pops, flashes and emitting copious amounts of smoke. Fortunately, we had all donned earplugs and sunglasses.
The streets were full of food stalls wafting yummy smells and on every corner along the main street was a stage with booming live music surrounded by gyrating bodies squished together sweating in the pouring rain. Along the smaller streets were more informal presentations including a huge collection of small cars filled roof to chassis with built in speaker systems. Various tastes of music boomed and battled in this area. All very exciting and great fun to take part in.
And yes, unfortunately the threat of rain delivered. In bucketed down for the entire day. The celebration did go on but was clearly (and quite literally) dampened by the weather. The boat ride back to Domburg was unfortunately against the current and took 4 hours in the dark wetness, entertaining but a little long this time.
And on January 4th, just over 2 short weeks after our arrival we headed back up the river and away.
This country has as many shades of complexity as the jungle has shades of green.
A huge variety and a healthy balance of backgrounds, religions, traditions both new and old, resourcefulness and abundant nature all working in relative harmony. This creates a wonderfully diverse culture and we encountered incredibly open and friendly people. This is a rich and abundant country, unfortunately poor and corrupt management at the higher levels delivers weak infrastructure, unnecessary poverty and want, volatility and some bubbling insecurity.
The day before we left Ricchie took us into Paramaribo to check out officially. We were again dressed formally to present our papers to immigration and the military police. On the drive home, he mentioned that his mother cooked roti for the local toko. Our mouths watering we asked if she could make some for us. He was sure that she would be happy to oblige but that it would be better if we ordered ten (we wanted only four) otherwise if was not worth her killing the chicken. “Make it ten then!” we replied knowing that we would find some hungry sailors who had been dreaming of a good roti.
He delivered the roti steaming hot later in the evening. We portioned off enough for our mid-day needs and gave the rest to the hungry crew of the Pantarei who had just arrived back from an exhausting day of provisioning. We left the Waterland Marina at 1100 the next morning and as we motored up the river we assembled our roti hot out of the oven and it was incredible. A very positive last taste of Suriname…now northwards 475 nautical miles to Tobago.