Contours Travel offers comprehensive tours to Suriname, which include Paramaribo. More: contourstravel.com. au . Caribbean Airlines flies to Paramaribo from Miami or New York. More: caribbeanairlines.com. nesian, Chinese, European, Amerindians and African. With the oldest continuous Jewish community in the Americas, the Neve Shalom Synagogue is next door to Mosque Keizerstraat. The story goes that when there weren’t enough people for worship at the synagogue they invited the close-by Muslims, who accepted.
S SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: From fresh fish to b bush meat, you can buy almost any produce at the Central Market on Waterkant. Open daily from 5am to 5pm, it’s best to arrive early morning before stalls sell out and the humidity hits. The market is a frenzied, smelly, fascinating place, with Rastafarians touting reggae CDs competing with food vendors, and Indian women selling pots and pans up on the first floor where clothes, shoes, hair extensions and plastic utensils are also found. The Witches Market (also known as the Maroon Market) next door sells herbs, bones, shells and mysterious concoctions for any ailment, including sunburn and insect bites.
MIXED PLATES: The city’s bustling dining scene blends age-old Javanese, Indian, Creole and Dutch recipes with modern cuisine. The Torarica Hotel has a menu featuring flavours from the waters of Suriname, plus cassava, the staple diet of Amerindian and Maroon communities. For something up-market, Baka Foto in Fort Zeelandia mixes Italian, French, Spanish and Dutch cuisines with a hand-picked wine selection while Joosje Roti Shop is popular for its chicken roti. In the north of Paramaribo, there’s Javanese food at warungs in the Blauwgrond quarter on a former plantation. More: torarica.com.
A ALL THAT JAZZ: Crowd-watch with a rum and Coke, while perched on a bench outside Cafe ’t V Vat (Kleine Waterstraat and van Sommelsdijkstraat junction, opposite the Torarica Hotel). At sunset, mingle with the locals at Waterkant over a djogo (one litre) Parbo, the national beer, or head out late to hear Afro-Caribbean jazz, a blend of kaseko (dance music combining Western march, jazz and calypso), kawina (Creole pop music) and winti (ritual music) at clubs such as Zsa Zsa Zsu.
A ADVENTURES APLENTY: You can’t go to Paramaribo and not visit the “interior” as the territory of rainforest and wild rivers is known. Take the only road south for 190km to Atjoni and then a motorised dugout canoe to visit Maroon communities. Eco-lodges are all along this part of the Suriname River, from which you can take village tours or go canoeing and shooting the rapids, fishing or swimming in natural Jacuzzis. Or simply put on a lifejacket and float down the river. At Danpaati River Lodge guests are welcomed by local staff singing, dancing and beating drums. Start the day with yoga overlooking the river and end it with storytelling and black caiman-spotting under the stars. The profits here go to the women’s health centre, childcare and elderly home care in the village of Dan. More: danpaati.com.
IN THE SWING: Hammocks are one of South America’s greatest inventions and are of two types, Brazilian (decorative tails and lace) and Surinamese (plain straight edges). Buy one at the Jeruzalem Bazaar (Saramacca Straat 42). Head to Readytex Art Gallery (Maagden Straat 46-48) for baskets, beaded jewellery, pangis (the appliqued, cotton wrap skirts worn by Maroon women), bowls made of calabashes, paintings and carvings. THE BUZZ: As I wait in the lobby at the Courtyard Paramaribo, strikingly tall catwalk models saunter past. At the pool you’re likely to bump into people you met on the dance floor at an eco-lodge down river. The modern six-storey Marriott hotel has 135 guestrooms and five suites, all featuring flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, in-room coffee stations and complimentary Wi-Fi. Upgraded rooms and suites have whirlpool tubs and separate living rooms. There’s also a gym, restaurant, outdoor grill and lobby bar. More: marriott.com.au.
Diana Plater was a guest of Contours Travel.