Coronie and Nickerie dull places?  Click for the chartlet
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Tourism in Suriname is concentrated on easy accessible places in the inlands and the sea turtle beach near Galibi. We have to admit that we we were also routed by the touroperator's preselections and by now we indeed have seen the most important parts of Suriname. Only Coronie and Nickerie were still on our list. From Paramaribo these districts are easy to reach by car (distance to Nickerie 215 km and the roads are generally well enough), but there is almost no tourism. People claim that there is nothing to see, that in New Nickerie (de capital of Nickerie and the second biggest town in Suriname) is absolutely nothing to do and that the trip going there is dull and wasted effort.
Of course it is always best to see for yourself, and our conclusion is: Coronie and Nickerie dull places? Nonsense.

While we went ashore, Witte Raaf was peacefully tied to her mooring, enjoying one of those fabulous sunrises that we sometimes have here on misty mornings.
Together with Rob and Ingrid Hollander (Torn Too) we arranged the trip with Mister Twist, who took us earlier in May to Jodensavanna, Brownsberg and Tonka-island. Sociability and good humour are guaranteed so we were happy. Mister Twist too, and he had called his complete network to select nice things to do and to see in so-called dull Coronie and Nickerie.
Coronie and Nickerie are mainly populated by Hindustani. The capital of Coronie is Totness. This place was in April/May the topic of the day as secondary-schoolgirls were possessed by evil spirits. They suffered from severe seizures and many exorcists have been busy clearing the area up. Supposedly the right spells were finally spoken, the spirits were broken and during the ceremony special flags (a Hindustani ceremonial sign) were placed in every corner of the school ground. Anyway,  the evil spirits moved away and the problem in Totness was over. A few days later the evil spirits turned up in Afobaka, but there they may have been washed away with May's dramatic floodings which were the main news item, as afterwards we haven't heard anything about it anymore.

Coronie is famous in Suriname for the stupidity of the locals. There are many silly jokes such as: Why does a Coronian scatter ice cubes behind him when he travels to Paramaribo? Because he thinks that they help him find the way back. Bullshit off course, in our opinion Coronians are smart  because they choose to live in a beautiful district: rural and easy-going and the natural environment is inspiring many artists, as we passed many studio's and pieces of art made from natural materials. Coronie is green with coconut palms, and homes and properties are much more cared for than in the surroundings of Paramaribo. Nature is may be not as spectacular as in the jungle, but this is also true or even more true for Paramaribo. A stay in Coronie is absolutely pleasant.
We had lunch at Mrs Wijntuin's. She is a Creole woman type of “big mama” who after her husband died, earns her living with cooking. She cooks take-away meals but she also cooks on order. For example, the detainees at the police station eat her meals; so crime pays off... MrsWijntuin has a beautiful palm tree garden behind her home and she prepares (as everybody else) her own coconut oil. You need 25 coconuts to make 1 liter of oil. But is tastes excellent! We could choose between the inevitable chicken, pork and... iguana. This choice was not a difficult one.
In Nickerie we continued our culinary voyage of discovery by dining with  kwi-kwi, a black and heavily armoured  little fish. Kwi-kwi is a typical Nickerian delicacy, a fresh water fish that flourishes in ditches, and there are many ditches in Nickerie. Furthermore the landscape is formed by extensive rice fields. Your first impression is a lush green meadow (with cows) but no; it is rice everywhere. Rice cultivation is widely spread in Nickerie and the centre is Wageningen (the name cannot be a coincidence), where many well-managed companies operate. But there is also a lot of decay, as we saw many rice hulling mills that are already since a long time out of operation.
 

Nickerie is also famous for its nature reserve Bigi Pan. In this swamp hundreds of birds species breed and winter. The red ibis is the most spectacular of all species and ofcourse breathtaking when they fly with hundreds at a time low over the water, but unfortunately we were two months too early. So short after the rainy season there is still too much water left and the birds are too widely spread over the water area. More into the dry season, large parts of the area dry out. The bird population gets more concentrated on the big lake, as the birds pick their food from the water: insects and fish. But we saw a lot of interesting species, a.o. four caymen (of which two were quite big), many birds of prey, herons, a huge owl and many pretty little birds.
On the way back we were lucky to pass Mrs Wijntuin's home and restaurant again. When we said goodbye the previous day after the excellent iguana, P noticed a big bowl filled with crabs. And because we would be returning through Totness, the order was placed immediately. And the crab was marvellous!

Indigenous villages in the inlands such as Kalebaskreek are often only reachable by boat. In this carefully maintained village we had a beautiful wooden home to ourselves for one night.  The village elder took us on a tour through the village and showed us a.o. how cashew nuts grow. Now we understand why they are so expensive. The nuts are attached to a large piece of semi-fruit, that also has to be picked. The nuts have to be taken off one by one, dried, peeled and roasted.
We also saw the medicinal noni that should be helpful against cancer. The noni-fruit itself looks a bit like a malicious tumor itself, so may be there is some truth in it. Moreover we did relaxed things like the indigenous do: do nothing, enjoy nature, see the macaws flying over in pairs (look at the movie and hear them cry) and the 781th beautiful sunset.

Movie macaws flying over

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