By mailboat to the interior of Suriname     Click for the chartlet

Tours to the interior of Suriname are in general rather expensive. A trip organised by a tour operator takes at least 3 days and costs 80 to 100 euros per day, depending on how luxurious and if a plane has to be arranged. For the Surinamese, tours in their own country are financially almost impossible, because the mean net income amounts approximately 200 euros per month. Trips are organised for the foreigners and take them in groups into tourist resorts in the jungle, from where they travel by bus to visit Marron villages as if they are visiting a zoo. Poor Marrons. 
Fortunately there are other ways to see the inlands. You only have to know how. We went there by mail boat.
PHOTO 1 The mail boat takes every month mail and supplies from Paramaribo to Donderskamp. Bring your own hammock, something to eat and drink and a bottle of rum for the crew... and you can travel in the most authentic way as possible into the jungle.
On the way up the mail boat carried only one letter and some rice; plus a bunch of tourists: a professional bar tender, a former NATO commander, some protectors of nature, a preacher in prisons, an Indian fashion choreographer and her sister deejay-mc-arowak, and us.
PHOTO 2 But on the way back to the city the mail boat would prove that she is still needed, because she now carried 15 indigenous and their luggage: empty gas bottles, cassave and awarra (fruit), birds in cages, necklaces and bracelets, home-woven hammocks and many other things they sell in the city.
The route to Donderskamp takes you through the Saramacca canal (PHOTO 3 , red on the chartlet) to Uitkijk (another sluice) and over the Saramacca river (violet on the chartlet). The borders of the Saramacca river were a bit monotonous but the towns we passed by stimulated our imagination. Who can say that he visited in one afternoon Hamburg, Groningen, Bethlehem, Batavia, Bombay and Calcutta?! Subsequently we turned to starboard onto the Coppenam river and into the night. By the time we were sailing the Wajombo river (green on the chartlet), it was early morning and we enjoyed the breathtaking landscape of the parwawoods mirrored by the transparant black river. PHOTO 4 It was so quiet that you had to look closely to see the difference between image and reflection, and the only moving objects were birds. The Wajombo is quite unique in Suriname, as it connects the Coppename and Nickerie rivers through the Arawarra creek. There exist only three cross connections like this in South America (two of these in Surinam).
As already mentioned, the mail boat visits Donderskamp only once a month, so it is a big happening and the whole village turns out to welcome the visitors.
PHOTO 5 +6 The village people were christianised 100 years ago by father Donders, hence the name. In those years they also built a wooden church, which is obviously not good enough anymore as it is now replaced by an ugly new stone building. But the old building will be kept in tact as a museum. PHOTO 7
Two inhabitants took us along for a walk through the village and the woods (one in all) and they showed us some remarkable trees, for example the walaba with its giant pods that hang from the tree like a mobile hangs from a ceiling in a European child's room. PHOTO 8  
The indigenous live from what earth produces: they hunt for a.o. pingo (kind of boar) and they grow cassave, vegetables and fruit: mango, awarra, bananas and pineapple
PHOTO 9 . The only product they have to import is rice. And stuff like clothing, portable radio's and the universal plastic garden chairs.
The people in Donderskamp are from the Carib tribe, the most warlike Amer-indians that exist in Surinam. But they welcomed us incredibly friendly into the hut of one of the elder women and she demonstrated cotton weaving
PHOTO 10 , served awarra juice from a calebas PHOTO 11 , cassave bread and for the way home she gave us a bottle of kassiri, an alcoholic drink made from cassave. Awful.
The trip home by boat was also very enjoyable and we had great fun with the crew. Multi tasker Sem was busy all day in the primitive galley
PHOTO 12 and he served two hot meals per day (as usual in Suriname). 
This three day river cruise cost us 15 euros per person including the food. Unbelievable, and we wonder if the services of  the mail boat will
continue well into the 21st century.

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