Sometimes sailors stay
quite a long time in Suriname and we hated saying goodbye to our friends
Patricia en Wiebe after 10 months. But there will always be new
friends, sailing or simply by plane. So Caty and Docus came to cheer us
up. We know them already a long time, actually since we became members
of the sailing club in Den Bommel in 1984 with our then 20 feet little
We enjoy showing off with “our” great and beautiful Surinam is, so their
first dinner was cayman stew and subsequently we showed them all those
magnificent spots. First the historical city centre of Paramaribo (world
heritage!), of course the fortress of New Amsterdam, the illustrious
former cane sugar and rum factory Mariënburg, rural Laarwijk, the
botanical garden close to our home and last but not least: the
We headed for Gunsi, a few miles south of the Brokopondo lake. To be
reached by bus (a 6 hours drive on a bumpy bauxite road) but fortunately
also by plane. A little more expensive but lots more comfortable. And
landing on a grass airstrip is time and again a special experience. We
were lucky because there where just too many passengers for the big
scheduled plane to Laduani (20 seats), so we were sent after it in
a Cessna. Docus sat in the front because his photocamera needed to be
used all the time. But not on arrival, when he grabbed his camera
immediately resulting in a heated protest by the locals who were
lined up in front of the picturesque airport office. Marrons do not want
to be photographed uncalled. Some say that the camera swallows part of
their spirit, but money is also involved because for € 2,50 all
objections melt as snow in the sun. But if you remain unnoticed on a
distance, it is still possible to make a nice picture.
The great thing about
Gunsi is that you don't need a touroperator to get there. You just phone
Dennis, the manager on the spot, and he picks you up in a dug-out.
Dennis is ea born bo(')sun:
lean, skilful, knows every rapid in every water level and navigates them
with the greatest ease, making you as a passenger almost forget that one
tiny mistake may have disastrous consequences.
In Gunsi we were welcomed by a gracious lady with all of that day's
dishes on her head. It was Maria, who surprised us the next five days
with her nice meals.
But there is more to enjoy in Gunsi, as it is situated on a three-forked
stream opposite of an island in the Upper-Surinam-river. A magnificent
beauty spot with depending on the water level bigger or smaller rapids.
It is nice to sit between the rocks (be careful not to be washed away)
and enjoy a strong back massage.
Gunsi is a transmigration village, which means that the 120 inhabitants
were compelled to move from the area where in 1964 the Brokopondo lake
was constructed as a power supply for the aluminium production. An
important source of income is Tei Wei (“When you are tired”), a simple
and very friendly tourist resort,
constructed and run bij the villagers. And this is what makes Gunsi
unique: that the profits don't end up in the wallet of one person, but
the complete community benefits from it. The Tei Wei facilities are also
free for the villagers. For example transport of the sick by dug-out to
the medical health service upriver; accommodation of volunteers for
developing aid organisations, who help the children with their homework,
Some of the one room, traditional thatch roofed huts have a small
overlooking the river and every day again we enjoyed the splendid view.
There are two seperate buildings for the cooking, eating and chatting.
Also with the employees, who are very pleasant people.
The only drawback was that
they speak among each other Saramaccan instead of Sranan Tongo.
Saramaccan has Spanish influences and the r is pronounced as an l, so iwe
couldn't understand a word of it. But fortunately they also speak Dutch.
We visited the largest village in the area: Gujaba (7.000 inhabitants). Many
tiny wooden homes, although the stone age seems to have begun.
Women were just baking cassave bread
and obviously Docus wanted to capture this. A storm of objections of
course and the bread baking ladies demanded no less than € 3 for the
picture, although we also bought two breads. Still we also managed to take a
few shots of the characteristic little homes, decorated with woodcarving
and/or defence against evil spirits; sometimes even literally.
And also some
secret shots of scenic
situations, such as women chatting; child on the hip and dishes on the
By the way, marrons are famous for the way how they sand their pans: until
May be they are sometimes a little bit colour blind
or they just love making jokes, as the only street sign in the village shows
sense of humour!
Guided by Otje we tramped through the forest. Around Gunsi there is no real
jungle where the trees grow 40 meters high and the sunlight hardly touches
the ground, so the flora is quite diversified. Thus we saw not only
jungle-like trees with stunning roots formations
but also many types of palm trees, small plants and shrubs. Some trees were
already familiar (the telephone-tree), but the astray-tree with its
new for us and we also never saw flowers of the lianas before.
It was a pity that there hardly any animals and even the hunters
returned without catch. So we got the roasted pakira (small forest swine)
only upon our return to Domburg on our plates, at Mia's!