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The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

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.

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