When I told people my latest travel adventure would take me to Suriname, they wanted to know…. where was Suriname? and why was I going there?? To be very honest my answer was quite simply “waroom neit”……. which in Dutch, when translated to English simply means why not? After all I had been living in the land of “why not?” over the past 12 months and it only seemed fitting that I would continue on path. This path had provided me with so many teachable moments and so why not? With that said, since part of my make up is about discovering the undiscovered, Suriname would be the perfect destination for that.
I came to know about Suriname after spending time at the Kwaku festival, a large Surinamese festival that takes place annually in Amsterdam in the summer. The festival to my surprise had an interesting eclectic vibe and mix of music, food, art, people and culture. And even though I knew little about Suriname , it was time to get to know her, especially since I was looking at Suriname as a potential destination for travel to do good.
First of all, before I write another other word, let me give you a few fast facts about Suriname. It is a former Dutch colony that is located in South America. They of course speak Dutch however English is widely spoken. With more than 94% of this tiny country’s geography covered by rain forest, it is considered to the greenest country in the world. This would be a different type of destination for me, one that has more of an adventure -eco tourism vibe however I was open and willing to seek out new travel opportunities for my clients.
I found Suriname to be a diverse country, perhaps one of the most diverse I have visited. It appears to me that somehow each ethnic group has managed to hold onto its culture and traditions while blending them into one as a nation. It is something that I found very refreshing especially considering the worlds state of affairs right now.
When I wasnt is in the interior, in the upper Suriname river region or in the interior, I stayed in the heart of the city of Pararmaribo, also known as the wooden city. The people were warm and engaging and the food was excellent. There was a lively night life with plenty of great live music and bands.
As usual, I was mixing business with pleasure (mostly business) and was here on a site visit to explore opportunities to travel to do good. With that said, my 14 days in Suriname became part work and part holiday. To my surprise I made the transition from the concrete jungle into the jungle fairly quickly, easily and perfectly for what it needed to be for me.
My guides Julio and Elaine picked me up early at my hotel. Julio is the owner of Brownsberg Canoying, an adventure and eco tour company. We drove into Brownsberg where my outdoor adventure would begin. Julio, is a true nature lover who gets to play in nature each day for a living. I felt like I was on a jungle safari.
As an urban dweller, that was different for me. We stopped to look at nature in all of her abundance, we listened for certain birds and even smelled the air for animal poop.
Julio knows each tree and shares the story behind the special ones. Before heading out, we spent some time chatting and getting to know one another one. Julio knew from our conversation that I was not very athletic so he took it a little easy on me. I was so thrilled that we would not be propelling and dangling from the waterfall today.
On this day, we would take the smallest trek, a hike that would be approximately 2 1/2 miles long to Leo Falls. Up and down, down and up, my body was getting much needed exercise. This is Julio’s world and today I was glad to be a part of it if only for a moment.
The trek wasnt so hard, but it also wasnt so easy either. We climbed down to get the waterfall, and of course on the way back we had to climb back up again. It challenged me. I have spent too many days and nights in front of the computer and this trek, this walk was just what the doctor ordered. It was an actually very peaceful walk. I quickly settled into the fact that this trip would be a good thing for my mind, body and soul, .
And so with my walking stick, I navigated each step carefully and made my way to the falls. For me movement clears the mind. Walking, moving and just being with that. There was no space for thinking, I was navigating my path, truly being in the moment with my life, Having such a competent guide put my mind at ease as well. Julio had done this trek a million times and I was very comfortable in knowing that I could trust him and that oh yeah… he’s so got this.
This little trek was a challenge for me because I am not as active as I should be. I had to carefully navigate each step as I made my way down to the waterfall. Once there it was nice to sit, think and reflect on the journey we had just taken and on life. It was beautiful and serene and being there was so perfect and profound.
And so in that moment, the trek became a metaphor for my own life. While on that path, I rediscovered that I do have the ability to rise to the occasion when faced with any challenge and if I am to climb to higher heights I must remember that about myself. As I made my way back up the hill, I was reminded of life’s challenge and my ability to navigate the ups and downs of life.