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Day 66 Nieuw Nickerie, Suriname

Suriname, oh my sweet Suriname. I had great expectations of Suriname. No stinky sewer canals, no mosquitoes, nice hotels, excellent food, a whole new experience

The guidebook stated that the booking office for the Ferry opened at 8am and that people started to line up at 7am. With that, I took it as a warning to get their early. There is only one ferry a day at noon and I did not want to miss it. You can do what they call back tracking, which is hiring one of the speedboats from the Guyana side to take you across the river. You donít go through immigration so you have no legal entry stamp or exit stamp. A lot of locals did this because they were only going over for the day and such so the wait time was eliminated. I on the other hand after experiencing a lot of passport scrutinization was not taking any chances. I grabbed one of the highly colorful mini-bus (which was dedicated to the band Nísync) and made the hour drive to the Ferry dock. The cost was $500G. The booking office actually opened at nine and there were only seven of us there. Ticketing took about two minutes and immigration took as long as a stamp and we were done. By 9:15am we were all done and sitting in the departure lounge. The ferry ended up costing only $2000G so I had an extra $1500G. I had done it just right. I celebrated by buying a orange juice. $200G. From then on it was just a waiting game until noon. Until then I just laid around and napped, read my guide book and daydreamed. At noon there were about a hundred people lined up and ready to go. When it was time we loaded onto the ferry and it disembarked. The ride was uneventful and took about a half an hour. Once we landed, the race started. People took off running, bags flying, suitcases dragged, kids flying and getting dragged. I and half the group just walked our way to the immigration area. Just then it started to rain so instantly there was a stampede into the over hang where the single immigration guy was checking people through. Knowing that my passport always causes problems I walked over to one of the offices that lined the patio, grabbed one of the chairs and had a seat while everybody else lined up and went through immigration. When they were through I went. The guy pretty much just flipped through all the pages, stamped it and sent me through to customs. This guy asked me if I had anything to declare and sent me on my way. Totally painless. When I stepped through the gates I peered out into nothing. Just a huge expanse of nothing. Just bushes and trees and weeds as far as the eye could see. The map in the guidebook made it seem like the city of Nieuw Nickerie (NN) was right there. I asked a guard how far it was to the city and he said about a half an hour. I asked if I could walk and he gave me a weird look and then a shake of his head no. By this time, there were three mini-buses in front shoving people in every crevice. Pretty much everybody was going to Paramaibo. I would eventually get there, but did not want to do another four hours of traveling. NN would be fine. Every once in a while a guy would scream at me where I was going. I would say NN and he would just ignore me. Finally, a guy just started yelling at me to get into the van. I told him I was going to NN and he said get in. At first he told me to get in front, which I was happy about, then the driver said to get in the back. We bounced around until I was just about to tell them to piss off when they made room for me in the back and my backpack stuck under one of the seats.

When I looked out the window, every person had been scooped up and shoved in one of the vans. The way these guys were acting it was really strange. I could have said that I was going to Africa and they would have still shoved me in the bus. Oh well, I thought it couldnít be more than a few minutes to town so that would be why it did not matter. We headed out down the dirt road. Bam, we dropped into a hole. People were smashing into the top of the van. The old ladies started to scream ďPraise GodĒ, we jerked to the left and Bam into another hole. The driver was going insane trying to run and gun down this shitty dirt road. We were just getting hammered and the guy kept going. The ladies were screaming at him and he just kept flying. We drove like that for an hour and a half. We were out in the middle of who knows where. It was one of the single most terrible incidents that I have ever been in. I had white knuckles from holding onto the little side rail. The holes were all full of water and mud from the rain so they had to keep the windows shut. Soon, the mud had covered all the windows so you couldnít even see out. People were starting to get sick and I thought a couple of the ladies were going to die. The guy was so insane we were passing other vans by running through the weeds on the side of the road. When he got to another vehicle he basically just nosed his way past them so they either got out of the way or smashed into us. It was fucking unbearable. Not once did they tell us how long it was going to be or if it was going to get better. Finally, after an hour and a half of beatings, we pulled up to an intersection where it turned into actual road. We pulled over and the guy instantly started telling people to get out of the van. We had gone so fast that we had even passed the people that got through customs first. The rest of the vans pulled up and they started shuffling people about depending on where they were going. There was four of us going to NN so we were kind of just standing there as van after van took off. There was a huge fight when some of the people got left behind that were wanting to go to Paramaibo. Some of the other driver who had a full van had just blown them off so they were stuck. Our driver came over and told us to get in his van. When the people in the van were told that they were going to NN they freaked because they were supposed to be going to Paramaibo. They had been blown off as well. Just then a government bus pulled up and a lot of the people got on there. Finally, after a half an hour everybody was settled and we left. It was an insane day. I told the driver I wanted a cheap hotel so he dropped me off in front of a place. The place was the Luxor Hotel and it actually looked fairly nice with an all glass front entrance way and all glass windows up through the three floors. I was hesitant about the higher quality, but they only wanted $40S or $14US for a room. I opted for an air conditioned room for $18. After the day and prior week that I had, air conditioning was due. I got to my room and it was equally nice. Clean, with a new air conditioner, everything was nice. I was soooo happy. I quickly went into the clean bathroom and took a nice refreshing shower. The water did not smell and I was in heaven. I hopped onto the bed with clean sheets and wrapped myself up and fell asleep. Now normally, a mid day nap usually lasts at the most an hour, but when I woke up it was 4 hours later. I was groggy with my head filled with cotton. I even had a small sleep headache. My body ached like I had just worked out the day before. I actually felt kinda like shit. I had slept so hard, I hurt. After a half an hour of being groggy I slowly woke up and felt a ton better. I had just been through hell for the last week and I guess it really took its toll on me because I basically just passed out. My body was just recovering.

I had an hour before dark so I took off to do my usual walk. The town was totally different than Georgetown. There was no sewer canals down the streets and it didnít stink. The city itself was pretty much the same as all the other small towns in South America with one street having all the shops and a large central area with a open air market. The biggest difference was that NN was definately more asian. All the stores were chinese and there were only chinese food restaurants. Even the people looked more asian than indian. The population was definately more Chinese than anything else. The city area itself was also clean. Very clean and neat. There wasnít trash all over and there were people all about just hanging out. The main means of transport were bicycles and motorcycles. Just with the cleanliness of the place I felt a lot more at ease. The stress level of my body went down fifty percent. I decided it was time to eat so I searched to see what my options were. There were five Chinese restaurants, 0 Italian, 0 Mexican, 0 Brazilian, 0 Indian, you get the point. I settled for Chinese and got some fried noodles with chicken. I went back to the hotel and ate. I still hadnít got my appetite so only got through half of it.

Just as I was getting settled in there was a knock on my door. Two of the ladies that came into town with me had also gotten a room there. They were staying a couple of days and were just hanging out on the balcony drinking Díjogo (basically a Surinames 32oz bottle of beer that you share with friends.) We hung out for a while and just talked about my travels and their escape from Georgetown for a few days. It was a relaxing evening. Afterwards I turned in and wrapped myself up in my freezing room and went to sleep. Tomorrow, Parbo.



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One response to “Day 66 Nieuw Nickerie, Suriname”

  1. Judy says:

    Have to tell you~~your writings are putting the finishing touch on my Sunday evening. I’m listening to my favorite blues program, just finished a homemade saltfish dinner made by the guys downstairs mother who is from Brazil~~boy, do you have a treat in store for you when you get to Brazil if this food is any indication! So, as my foot is tapping to the music and I’m laughing my head off at your sense of humor, I’m having a great time. Thanks. Glad to hear you’re recuperating and glad you’ve arrived in Suriname! Judy