Suriname??

Trip to Suriname This year's exotic destination is Suriname, again with my dad in what's becoming a tradition of ours that we both really enjoy. Most people, including the agent who checked my baggage at the airport counter, have no idea where Suriname is. Picture a map of South America as a right foot and Suriname is where the pinky toe would be. Well, wait, that's French Guyana... so one over to the left. That's Suriname. It's South America's smallest country and most of it is uninhabited jungle. And for us two, out of the way and off-the-beaten-track is the siren call we're unable to resist.

Ahhh, how come our airlines suck so much of late? I'm old enough to remember flying Eastern as a kid back in the 80's. Back then you were waited on by hottie flight attendants (we used to call them stewardesses) who were ever cheerful and they served you actual food with real silverware (seriously!). And you didn't have to pay any extra to put your luggage in cargo. And you would fly widebody jets instead of cramped, ancient 737s. And the list goes on and on in stark contrast to the utter distaste that flying is now. Why the trip down memory lane? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that even in a coast to coast flight now American Airlines has stopped serving the complimentary snacks. Evidently in their most recent board meeting it was determined that two pence worth of salty cardboard disguised as pretzels is just too wasteful a largess so the heathen masses might as well feed their gullets before coming on board. Aaaanyway, excuse my getting sidetracked, three snackless flights later I find myself with a monster 12 hour layover in the island of Trinidad & Tobago. No way am I going to sit it out in this tiny airport so, without any real plan, I go through customs. I'm met outside with the tropical heat and humidity that greets me with all the welcoming charm of a hot steaming towel to the face. With no direction in particular I just started walking away from the airport along the road and eventually wind up at a KFC. Though, strangely, I'm not actually hungry I go ahead and order myself a lunch communicating with great difficulty with the friendly Trinidadian (Tobagian?) whose accent is so thick as to be nearly unintelligible. Evidently I said "yes" when asked whether I wanted the spicy chicken for which I promptly paid the price of singing every one of my taste buds. But don't worry, my tongue healed a couple of days later and all was right again. Lunch being over I took me and my sausage-like tongue back to the airport where I met up with my dad. We still had time to take a taxi and go visit the island's capital which goes by the name of Port of Spain.

Our last flight took us to Paramaribo late at night. We landed in a gloomy airport with a spare expanse of concrete that served as the tarmac. From there it was a walk to the terminal which, with birds, bats and all manner of flying bugs about in the ceiling rafters, bare cinder blocks haphazardly lying about in piles and a lone fan, spinning slowly and with one busted blade, reminded me more of a half finished Home Depot than the dignity one would assume of a country's sole airport. It was the sort of welcome you are greeted with in a third world country, memories suddenly washing afresh from previous trips.

But this is not me complaining. I willfully sought this after all and I'm glad for a certain amount of rawness that validates I have arrived in a less-trodden port of call.

It is late and we take an hour-long taxi ride to our hotel which, while not very fancy, is at least air conditioned and cozy enough.

Next Day