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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Escaping the Concrete Jungle, Pt. II


At the Hindustan wedding.
This was my second post from Suriname, South America: 

I am staying in a city called Lelydorp. It is the second largest city and the birthplace of my girlfriend, Ellen. Paramaribo is the largest and the capital.

Lelydorp has a very large population of descendants from Indonesia. They are from the island Java, they are called Javanese. They brought their culture and food. Lelydorp is known for their warungs. You havent’t experienced Lelydorp if you haven’t stopped at one of these.  At first sight, they look like stands serving food.  When you get closer, you see that they have a kitchen, running water, electricity, and even a roof.  Except, you may see five or six of theses clustered together under one roof. The food is very good.   

As you can imagine, in a country with such a small population, everywhere you go there is a small town feel. In fact, everyone who knows Ellen has already heard that I am in town and I only speak English. So when I speak a few words in Dutch, they all laugh and look at her and ask if can I understand everything in Dutch. Those who don’t know Ellen assume I am from here and approach me in Dutch. Take away the language and I fit right in.

Oh, and I forgot to mention something. While the amount of English spoken will make the average American comfortable, they drive on the wrong side of the street – ha ha. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car. I have not driven a car here. However, even riding a bicycle requires an adjustment for me.

Speaking of which, Ellen and I rode bicycles and she took me through back roads. What a sight! There are streets where people have built houses and roads in the jungle. The tall exotic trees, plants, animals and people are a sight to see. To add, the people are very friendly. Don’t forget when greeting a person you know, you kiss 3 times on the cheeks – alternate.

The other thing I find interesting in Lelydorp is the demographics of the neighborhoods. If the average house is about 1,500 square feet, you will see right next to that home an 8,000 square foot home that is fenced in as though a celebrity lives there. It looks like it was pulled out of Beverly Hills. I have yet to see a neighborhood of 8,000+ square foot homes.

This past Sunday Ellen and I did visit a beautiful home where we attended a Hindustan wedding. From what I saw, the traditions that originated from India are still practiced here. It is an example of how people retain language in culture even though they are in a very diverse society. See photo of wedding.  

As you are reading this, I will be exploring the diversity of Suriname. I will be touring the Amazon on a four-wheel motorcycle. In the meantime, I have to go. I promised Ellen I would be here on vacation, not a working vacation. At the same time, can you really leave home without the Blackberry and laptop?

If you have questions about Suriname in the meanwhile or want me to write on a specific topic, connect here through the comments.

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