If you got as far as the Hindu sanctuary Weg naar Zee, you may well go the other 2 km to the adjacent cremation site. Here the Hindu community cremates its deceased in the open air, and eventually scatters the ashes in the sea.
Cremations take place almost daily. Your best chances to see one being executed are on weekdays, but when the need arises they cremate also on Sundays. The fire is lighted at 2 pm sharp, come an hour early to see the preparations. By 3 pm most of the pile is gone and people go home. Ashes will be collected the next day. On busy days there may be additional cremations in the morning, fire lighted at 10 am.
We found that strangers are welcome at the ceremony. Picture taking is allowed as some of the mourners may be photographing as well. Just be respectful, stand up when the coffin arrives, and do not hinder the proceedings.
The wood piles have been prepared beforehand, with a cavity in which the coffin will be lowered. In case you wonder how a corpse burns so easily: it is generously 'buttered' with ghee before the fire is lighted inside the coffin. Only then the wood pile proper is set to light, the priest carrying his 'match' around the pile once for each additional point he sets ablaze. When we attended a cremation rain started pouring shortly after the pile had been set to fire. For this eventuality they had corrugated iron sheets ready to cover the pile.
Close to the sea-shore north-west of Paramaribo city we came to see the largest statue collection of Hindu deities in Suriname. Several of these have been donated by rich families who want you to know that they did so.
You do not need to be a Hindu believer to be allowed access to the site. Just take off your shoes when you enter a roofed area or step on a paved floor.
The site is known as “Weg naar Zee”, as it is located at the end of a road heading towards the sea. Indeed it lies on a peninsula that is threatened to be invaded by the sea. Can one of these rich families pay for a proper dike?
The all-wooden Sts. Peter- and Paul-cathedral is said to be the largest one in South-America. It was built in the 19th century (inaugurated in 1885), and nowadays in dire need of restauration. The danger of collapse has been diverted by numerous supports on the inside, but the real restauration work has yet to begin.
It is worthwhile to see the interior, with scaffolding, supports and all. There is a tombstone of Peerke Donders, the priest who ran a leper colony in the 19th century.
You may go up to the organ gallery (the organ pipes have been stolen). And if you are not afraid of heights, you may climb one of the towers. The caretaker, mr Grunberg, won't come up with you - he is a bit too old for that. But please, do not forget to give him a tip. Entrance to the church is free.
UPDATE 2013: Since we wrote this tip, the church has been beautifully restored. In April 2013 no more scaffolding inside, but there was outside for a new coat of paint. Peerke Donders is honoured with a new tomb. And now you can attend a concert in the cathedral, see the relevant tip.
As from May 2011, since the Peter-and-Paul cathedral has been restored, a commission organizes a monthly concert in the church, featuring local artists and any singer or musician from overseas who happens to be in Paramaribo.
We attended a concert in April 2013. A young pianist from the Netherlands brought works from Debussy and Grieg. She also accompanied local singers, among them Arturo, 13 year old boy soprano. He sang Pie Jesu by Andrew Lloyd Webber in a duet with soprano Sanchez. A local tenor performed Donizetti's "Una Furtiva Lagrima". Then there were more young people bringing contemporanean songs, primarily of a religeous nature.
The program was a surprise. It had been organized on short notice because the pubicized orchestra had had to cancel because of undisclosed circumstances.
When: Every third Sunday of the month, at 6pm. Come early for a good seat.
Admission: Free, but a voluntary donation is welcomed.
On our second visit to Suriname in 2012 a friend took us to the Neotropical Butterfly Park. Based on a butterfly breeding and exporting firm since 1996, it had been opened as recently as July 2010
Breeding butterflies still is the core business of Ewout and Amira Eriks. But they have added red-tailed boas (boa constrictor constrictor), land turtles as well as plants. It is especially interesting to see how the butterflies lay their eggs on food plants, the caterpillars are fed with daily fresh leaves, the pupae are collected and hung from branches with a bit of glue, and newly emerged butterflies are transferred to the environment where they will live their lives of a few weeks and mate. Of the pupae 70% are exported, the remainder reserved to hatch the next generation of butterflies.
Part of the grounds consists of secondary forest. Following the guide through the forest and the breeding facilities is compulsary. But then one is free to roam the insect museum, the butterfly garden and the panorama. The latter is a 360 degree painting by father Wim Eriks, depicting the various landscapes of Suriname with its animal inhabitants: not to be missed!
Open: Mon thru Sat 8:30am - 4:30pm (no admission after 3:30pm), Sun 9am thru 3pm (no admission after 2pm)
Admission: SRD 30 (January 2012).
The cathedral, from 1885, is the tallest wooden building in the western hemisphere. It is currently closed for renovation after an almost collapse during restoration work in 1979, the work is to financed by the EU. The cathedral has also suffered vandalism to the building and the Maarschalkerweerd organ.
this is the main mosque of Paramaribo and Suriname
Suriname has 20% of muslim population, the biggest of the Americans
it is because, some slaves brought from Africa, and workers from India, Pakistan and Indonedia... who were brought there, some centuries ago
like you see, the mosques has mostly South Asian architecture... but with a caribbean soul
The Central Market is a typical city produce market, with fish, meats, produce, as well as dry goods. Upstairs, there is a labyrinth of corridors and stalls selling clothing, shoes, and accessories.
They market opens early and closes early. Best to get there in the early morning before things close and while the temperatures are still more comfortable.
Aye, you know you need it, so here it is, its got everything you'd expect, plus a bar, and is really close to some good restaurants, and its on the river, its also in a really nice old Dutch Colonial building (as are lots of buildings in Paramaribo).
Fort Zeelandia is a formal Dutch Fort in the capital of Suriname, its located at the left bank of the river "Suriname"
It's also the place were years later the Decembermoorden (Decembre murders) took place... ( 08-12-1982 )
Since 1995 you will find the Surinam Museum there...
Its not a huge thing and its getting kind of run down at the minute, but the largest wooden church in south america is located in Paramaribo, I'm not entirely sure of the history of it, i.e. when it was built and by who etc etc, but its pretty good to find whilst wondering around Paramaribo and looking at the architecture.
Now, depending on how 'green' you are, will depend on how much you want to go to the zoo, it doesn't have a lot of money so not all of the animals are kept in the best conditions in the world, but I have seen worse (notably in Spain).
The cool thing about this zoo is that you can interact with the animals as the zookeepers have a really good relationship with them, and there is no one around to stop you getting really close to them and playing with them through their cages...... the downside to this is that there are the less educated that find it funny to feed tissues to monkeys, but I find a quick clip round the ear sorts that one out.......
Another cool thing is that the animals around the zoo, i.e. wild parrots, come and 'speak' to the captive animals, so you see a couple of wild creatures hanging around sometimes....
As a Reformed Mosque, women are allowed to pray inside, in fact the mosque is quite unusual in that the women's section at the rear of the hall is raised above that of the men's area at the front.
The mosque took 20 years to build as the use of machinery was not allowed and everything had to be constructed by hand.
It is the largest mosque in the Caribbean.
The Jewish community of Suriname is one of the oldest in the Americas. During the Inquisition in Portugal and Spain around 1500, many Jews fled to Holland and the Dutch colonies to escape torture and condemnation to the stake.
The first synagogue was established in 1661and was the first Jewish settlement in the western hemisphere.
The floor consists of white sand, said to represent the journey by Moses to the Promised Land.
There are currently 500 Jews in Surinam, from a total of 719 in 1835. Service is held on the 1st and 3rd Friday every month, and the synagogue needs 10 people to be able to conduct a service. The synagogue is full during festivals only.
The synagogu is situated next door to the Muslim Mosque - the only other place in the world which this occurs, is in Jerusalem. The two religions live happily side by side!
The Palm Gardens behind the Presidential Palace were originally the private garden for the palace (then the governor's house), but were opened to the public in the beginning of the 20th century. The gardens are full of - you guessed it - palms, which are the home to many species of birds.