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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
served awarra juice from a calebas PHOTO
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
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.