Visiting Maroon Villages
in the Amazon Forest
An Amazon vacation doesn’t have to be in Brazil. The Amazon forest stretches over a large area, including the Guyana’s and Suriname. As part of our holiday in Suriname, we enjoyed a trip to the Amazon forest. We went upstream by boat on the Suriname river, visiting several Maroon villages. The Maroons are descendants from escaped slaves, so in fact they aren’t indigenous Amazon tribes, but more like African tribes in the Amazon rainforest.
We have been traveling by boat and bus as far as Brownsberg near the Brokopondo lake. From here, however, there are no roads anymore, so we have to continue by boat. At the landing stage, trucks are unloaded and small boats are filled to provide the villages upstream with supplies. We also step into a boat to go upstream.
The river here is still wide so we can easily find our way. No splashing water this time, but the water comes from underneath. The people in the back of the boat need to remove the water with a cup. Once we arrive in Jaw Jaw, they are pretty tired from the hard work.
Jaw Saw Sula
Jaw Jaw Sula is the first large rapid in the Suriname river. Because of the large rocks where the water rushes through, it is a beautiful swim, bath, and washing area. Women from the village Jaw Jaw are doing the laundry in the river, while the children are playing in it. As soon as we have our stuff installed in one of the tourist huts, we decide to join them.
At the end of the afternoon we get a tour through the village. But other than a small catholic church, there is not much to be seen, and the people are not very excited about our visit. But that changes in the evening. A dance performance is organized for us.
It starts with singing and clapping, but soon the women start dancing and shaking their behinds. We have to join in of course, and we have a nice evening altogether.
The next morning we start the day with another lovely dive in the rapids of the river. We don’t mind that we have another delay, but just before noon it is time to move on, although we could have stayed and enjoyed Jaw Jam forever. But the boats bring us further upstream. This time the river is a little rougher, and the boatsmen have to find a way through the rapids. But we manage to stay dry and after a few hours we arrive at Dan Paati.
Dan Paati is a luxurious holiday resort on an island in the river. Maybe a bit too luxurious for the Amazon forest. But we do enjoy a good toilet and shower. On the island is not much to do. There is a small shop, a swimming place (not as nice as in Jaw Jaw though), and a large domestic parrot. And because of a large rain shower our excursion to the nearby Maroon village is cancelled.
The next day we step in our boats again, which brings us further upstream to the Tapawatrasula, the widest waterfall in Suriname. But before we reach that, we have to pass several rapids. This time we cannot stay dry, but we have great fun and laugh at the others, who stepped from the boat out of precaution.
At the Tapawatrasula we have a swim, and we enjoy the waterfall. A few local women are fishing, and allow us to help them. They use the juice from a local toxic plant to stun the fish before they catch them, very interesting.
In the evening, another dance performance is presented to us. This time, apart from the women there is one man dancing as well. But other than that, the dance is quite similar, with a lot of shaking of the behinds.
Saramakka Village Dan
The next morning, it is time for our excursion to the Saramakkan village Dan. Saramakka is another Maroon Amazon tribe, with different traditions than the Aukaner. We cannot enter through the main entrance to the village, since that is sacred and we cannot make pictures of it. We also cannot take pictures of any people in the village, just the huts. Luckily, these are worth a picture: the Saramakkan people decorate their houses with nice wood carvings, using different colors of wood. Unfortunately, the tin roofs are also present nowadays, but as long as they decorate them, they almost go unnoticed.
While we are walking through the village a man is trying to tell us he has some traditional wooden chairs for sale. They are created from a single trunk, and completely decorated. They are quickly sold, and we amaze ourselves that he doesn’t have more to sell. But that’s the way it works here: he only starts making new ones when he needs more money.
Boto Pasi Ariport
After our visit to Dan it’s time to pack our bags and move to Boto Pasi. From the boat we walk to the airport, which is just a field and a shack serving as arrival and departure building, and traffic control center. There is no airplane yet, so we spend our time playing with the many children. After a while, we hear the roaring of the motors and soon we see the airplane above the trees.
The whole village is now present, and see how the plane is making a successful landing on the grass. The machine is bumping a lot, but that’s all in the game here. We have to get in while the motors are still roaring, and the plane immediately goes back to the end of the field so we can take off. The plane makes some speed and before we know it, we have lifted off. We wave at the people at the airport, and enjoy the views over the village, the river, and the amazon forest. This is a great way of flying, we can see through the cockpit to see what the pilots see. After an hour we arrive at Zorg en Hoop Airport in Paramaribo.
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