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Blue Monkey – Apartment

Blue Monkey – Apartment

Accommodation Review

Accommodation in SurinameBlue Monkey, Paramaribo
Address: Veldhuizenlaan
Stay: 19-20 August 2017 (1 night)
Facilities: 2 bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, AC, large-screen smart TV, free Wi-Fi, free private parking
Rate: SRD 170 (± $ 22.50), ex 8% VAT
Available at: Booking.com

Domestic turbulence

Sometimes, it so happens that unexpected events cause disturbance in the house.

Last Friday, late evening, I was startled by people screaming outside, drowning out the tornado-like buzz of my noisy fan. Frightened, I jumped up from behind my desk to turn off the fan and check what was going on. It sure sounded like some guys fighting. Or, perhaps the security guards of our gated community had caught someone trespassing?

Fortunately, it was nothing violent. What it was, was that my neighbors – the only neighbors that I actually have – were having a small get-together in their yard Party Surinamewith a couple of friends. I heard Latin music playing, at totally acceptable sound levels. Loud voices, however, were all over the place and filled the quiet air. This went on until way after midnight. With my bedroom window at about 20 feet from the party, I tried to avoid going to bed by keeping myself busy for as long as I could. Finally, in the wee hours, I decided to leave my noisy fan on during what was left of the night and catch some sleep.

The next morning, to my surprise, the party people were still there. They seemed to have stayed up all night and were now hanging in their chairs, legs up. I just went about my business, but in the afternoon, I started noticing increased activity in the neighbor’s yard when unfamiliar sounds caught my attention: Latin music playing at totally acceptable volume levels. Loud voices, however…

Suriname Travel Tips

I took a peek outside, and lo and behold: they now had tables and chairs lined up and guests coming over! In a split second, it struck me that last night was just a dress rehearsal, and that the party was now seriously about to take off! It did not take long before I realized that I do not have the option to sleep in another part of the house right now and I knew that I was not going to put up with another night of disturbed sleep! What to do?

Get Away

I wondered if it would not be great to grab the opportunity to go somewhere, enjoy a short break and forget about the turmoil in the backyard! So, I considered driving down to Moengo, my birthplace – towards the eastern border – or, to Nickerie – all the way to the western border. It was already mid-afternoon, though, and I prefer to head in those directions a bit earlier. For now, I just needed a place at a short drive, with a nice bed and air-conditioning – in
a quiet neighborhood! I went to Booking.com, typed Paramaribo and got
a flood of hits to choose from.

After checking out the pictures of colonial style houses or luxurious hotels with lush gardens, and comparing the online customer reviews, the facilities and the different rates,
I picked Blue Monkey apartment. I did! I made reservations for the night, got my reservation number, packed up my laptop, threw some clothes and toiletries in a bag, grabbed a couple of snacks and something to drink, and took off. A little after 5 pm I was on the road, free as a bird!

Veldhuizenlaan is situated in the outskirts of town, in a quiet, upscale residential area. It is near major roads, such as Johannes Mungrastraat, Tweede Rijweg, and Gemenelandsweg. There are convenience stores nearby, some restaurants and it is actually quite centrally located: downtown, Hermitage Mall (including TBL movie theater) and the Kwattaweg vegetable market for example, are all at about a 10-15 minutes’ drive.

Suriname Map

On my way to Blue Monkey, I picked up a saoto soup at Java Restaurant of Gemenelandsweg and by 6 pm I was checked in! A friendly employee, originally from Cuba, waved his hand and shouted out a cordial Hola from the front door. I parked my pick-up truck smack in the middle of the driveway, behind the gate, the chivalrous concierge gave me a hand with my bags and he showed me around in Yellow Monkey*: a small bright-colored two-bedroom bungalow!

* Blue Monkey is the overall name: there is a house with four bedrooms, one with one bedroom, and Yellow Monkey with two bedrooms. On Booking.com, look for Blue Monkey to find all.

Suriname Blue Monkey apartment

Yellow Monkey is spacious, it has a huge Samsung smart TV, abstract works of art on the living room walls, modern furniture, a simple bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchen. And… aah yes! The air-conditioner was already on when I got there. Suriname is currently in the dry season, with daily temperatures peeking towards 40 degrees Centigrade (104°F) and my new home does not yet have air-conditioners. So yes, it is so nice and welcoming when the air-conditioning in your
home away from home is set to 23°C!

I instantly settled in, installed the laptop on the glass-top dining table, went for a quick shower, and arrgghh… Yellow Monkey does not offer hot water! Since it had been very hot that day and I got there dirty and sweaty, I held my breath and took a nice cool shower using the coconut scent shower gel provided. Feeling all fresh and new, I enjoyed my dinner and then crashed on the couch in front of the inviting large-screen TV. Well, the couch was beautifully white and nice looking but sadly, it is not the most comfortable couch I have ever come across – it is more or less OK. Yellow Monkey’s beds are great, though – both beds have good matrasses.

The living room is decorated with attention to detail and even if for only 1 night, it is nice to have paintings on the wall, a reading chair and fresh plants around. One thing could do with replacement: the tile floor in one of the bedrooms looks old and shabby. Everything was clean and spotless, though.

Sunday, I was so happy to finally have the peace of mind to read a book! The two pillows from my bed made the couch nice and comfy, and when it was almost time to go, I could not help myself and asked for a late check-out! I got an extra hour, at no cost. All things come to an end, though, and at some point, it is really time to go. Late Sunday afternoon I drove home, rested and relaxed.



Booking.com
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I would recommend a break like this to anybody, anytime! Noisy neighbors? Fed up? Looking for inspiration? Go someplace and stay the night! You really do not have to go far to relax and have a great time – Blue Monkey is just 15 minutes away from my home!

Such breaks are good opportunities to get acquainted with some part of town that you do
not yet know. Exploring is not the only option, though – I simply locked the doors, closed the windows, enjoyed the air-conditioning and was in a different world – one night may be short, but it is definitely long enough for a system reset!

Should I have known about the cold shower, I possibly would not have chosen Blue Monkey. Lucky me, I did not know – Blue Monkey was a great choice, a perfect match!

Soothing Aloe Aftersun Gel – Banana Boat

Soothing Aloe Aftersun Gel – Banana Boat

Aftersun Review

Soothing Aloe Aftersun Gel by Banana Boat
Usage: apply as needed
Contents: 16 fl oz (473 ml)
Ingredients: Water, Denatured Alcohol, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, PEG-4 Dilaurate, PEG-4 Laurate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, PEG-4, Benzophenone-4, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl, Butylcarbonate, Fragrance, Yellow 5, Blue 1.
Available at: Amazon.com
Price: $ 9.97

Don’t Mess with the Sun!

One thing not to be messed with in Suriname is our sun. Since we are located at just 6° from the equator, the heat of the sun can be intense. Our skin is our largest organ. It is our buffer to the exterior. Make sure to protect your skin against the sun at all times! Use a high SPF sun screen as well as a cooling after sun lotion.

Sunburn Alert

I really love out of town trips! I recommend them to visitors here on this website and I enjoy taking them myself. For my latest trip, I went to the Amerindian village of Galibi, along the Marowijne river. If I show you a picture, I am sure you will understand why I love this place.

Galibi, Suriname

See what I mean? Does it look like a dream, or does it?

So, I am in Galibi with a friend, who came over from the Netherlands and she is having a blast. The bus trip from the city of Paramaribo to Albina went smoothly and the boat ride on the Marowijne river, with Suriname on the left coast and French Guiana on the right coast, is just amazing! Especially when you get to see a sloth up in a tree, as we did.

In the evening, when we hit the shower to get ready for dinner, it appears my friend’s back looks like this:

NoemiRug

It would have been so much better had she worn a shirt that covered her back and arms!

However, now that we were confronted with her roasted back, it was a good thing that I brought my Banana Boat aftersun. I use it to cool my skin after being hit by the sun, even when there are no signs of sunburn showing – check my half full bottle. Aftersun rechtop2

And, wow! Did it work fast on my friend’s back! Her picture was taken after we applied the Banana Boat aloe lotion. Pretty soon we noticed the bright redness fading into a more pinkish hue. Yes! The picture shows an improvement already – it looked worse before! I seriously regret not having taken a Before and After picture!

This whole thing came as a surprise and since the Banana Boat soothing gel worked so well, I decided to tell you about this product. Let’s have a closer look at it.

Aloevera3I have listed the Banana Boat Aloe Vera gel ingredients at the top, for you to see. I copied this list from the bottle and, unfortunately, it does not say just how much Aloe Barbadensis the product contains. As we should all know, aloe vera is the absolute best when it comes to sunburn. I took a picture of my aloe vera plant to show you what it looks like. Should you ever get burned and there happens to be an Aloe Vera Barbadensis plant around, grab a leaf, cut or tear it open and sooth your skin with the cooling leaf gel. Repeat until it stops burning. The same way, we applied Banana Boat’s Aloe Aftersun to my friend’s back and repeated this as needed. And, even though we do not know how much aloe vera Banana Boat puts into this product, it probably contains a fairly good amount, since very quickly the redness calmed down and – even better – my friend did not feel a thing – no pain whatsoever!

By the way, I have a light tan skin color myself and do not easily get burned by the sun. The two times it did happen, I was on my way to Galibi! No kidding! I really love the boat ride: feeling the breeze through my hair, and the warm Marowijne river water splashing up – one tends to forget about the sun! The first time around, I was wearing bermuda shorts and by the time I got off the boat my knees were the color of Christmas hams. This time, with my friend, my nose had become a fluorescent red!

I am just saying: don’t mess with our sun, especially when traveling to Galibi – read: whenever traveling in an open boat or hiking in open air. Bring a strong sun screen and a cooling aftersun lotion!

Final Word

Aftersun upsidedown2To tell you the truth, I bought my Banana Boat Aloe Aftersun randomly – I was already familiar with the powerful benefits of Aloe Vera Barbadensis and so out of a tremendous amount of products to choose from, I just grabbed that aloe vera one with the nice color. In the meantime, I have come to really like this product – I love the fresh smell (Alcolado Glacial-like), it is easy to apply, it is not greasy and gets absorbed into the skin right away.

There is just one suggestion that I have for the Banana Boat people – now that I am halfway down my bottle, I wish it had a dispenser instead of the regular nozzle cap. That would be so much easier. Perhaps the next edition could be a refillable bottle with a dispenser! That would make it a 5 Star product for me! But hey, I just store it upside down and rate the product 4.95 the way it is today. Get yours now!

In case you need a pile of this great product for the whole family, there are 2-, 3-, 4-, and even 5-packs available. Starting from the pack of 3, you will get smaller bottles, which are great to stick in your handbag or back pocket on a day trip!

                                       

The Cost of Sugar – Cynthia McLeod

The Cost of Sugar – Cynthia McLeod

Book Review

Historical Novel by Cynthia McLeod
Original Title: Hoe duur was de suiker?
Translator: Gerald Mettam
Publisher: HopeRoad Publishing
(September, 2013)
Available at: Amazon.com
Price: Paperback (298 pages) $ 17.00
Kindle $ 4.61

About the Author

Cynthia McLeod is a Suriname native. She gained fame as a writer of historical novels, some of which have been translated into English, German, Italian, and Swedish.

Mrs. McLeod (1936) was born Cynthia Ferrier, a daughter of Johan Ferrier – Suriname’s last Governor under the Dutch administration, who became the first President of the Republic of Suriname when the country became independent in 1975.

Cynthia McLeod2The author finished high school in Suriname and then took off to the Netherlands for studies. She met her husband there, Donald McLeod, and the couple returned to Suriname in 1962. Cynthia McLeod continued her studies in Suriname and worked as a Dutch teacher at a high school in Paramaribo until 1978. She then followed her husband to Venezuela, Belgium and the United States, where he was appointed Ambassador of Suriname. It was during her time abroad that Mrs. McLeod started writing and researching the history of Suriname extensively.
She published her first book in 1987: Hoe duur was de suiker?, the original version in Dutch of The Cost of Sugar. This debut instantly made her Suriname’s #1 author: the initial 3000 copies of the book were sold out in 6 weeks – this is a big deal in Suriname with its small population, that does not tend to spend much on books. To this day, Hoe duur was de suiker? remains the best selling book in Suriname as well as the best selling book abroad by a Surinamese author. In 2013, a Dutch crew turned this title into a motion picture of the same name.

Sweet Merodia - SurinameHere in Suriname, there is probably not a soul who does not know Cynthia McLeod. Either people know her as an author or as the Republic’s first President’s daughter or as the great storyteller that she is, or she has been their teacher back in school. And there is yet another reason for which Mrs. McLeod became known in Suriname and abroad. See this picture here of the barge by the name of Sweet Merodia*? A dream that Mrs. McLeod had came true when she was able to purchase an old flat bottom boat and convert it into a tourist vessel that cruised the Suriname River or the Commewijne River, along the coast where once hundreds of plantations were located. On board, she would talk about the history of the planters, their families, their plantations and their slaves. The tours were open to paying guests, who raised the money for the organization to be able to offer the trip to Suriname primary school classes at no charge. The purpose was to educate anybody interested and particularly Suriname’s youth on the country’s history. After a number of successful years, the maintenance costs of the old barge grew too high and the Sweet Merodia was docked for good. The historical tours are now carried out per bus and Mrs. McLeod also guides walking tours through the historical city center of Paramaribo.

* Merodia was the name of a plantation in Suriname, featured in Cynthia McLeod’s book “Vaarwel Merioda” (1993).

Story and Setting

October 1765 – Sarith and Elza are teenage step sisters. They live at the Hébron Plantation on the banks of the Suriname River, near Jodensavanne.
In their lives and times, Jodensavanne was Suriname’s most important town, larger and of greater economic importance than Paramaribo was back then. Today, the ruins, the cemetery and the tall, old trees are the silent witnesses that remain of this abandoned Jewish settlement. If only the trees could speak, they would tell us everything about life at the plantation, the business deals, the church formalities, the continuous concern for attacks by runaway slaves, the cruelties, the heartbreaks – the daily life that went down at that beautiful spot by the river.
The trees cannot speak, but Cynthia McLeod reveals what life could have been – and probably was – like for two young ladies growing up in the Dutch colony. The book covers 14 years of Sarith’s and Elza’s lives, during which they marry, learn to deal with life’s struggles and become mothers. The author describes life in the young colony in detail – we learn the names of real people, we read about their day-to-day activities and get a picture of how their communication must have sounded like.

Sugar Cane, Suriname
Sugar Cane

Suriname’s plantations produced cocoa, coffee, cotton and sugar. In the 18th century, the production of sugar reached it’s peak and profits were good. Sugar was the colony’s most important export product. Hébron was a successful sugar plantation. But producing sugar was a very labor intensive process. Enslaved Africans would start working the fields early in the morning, at sunrise. They would harvest the sugar cane and chop it into smaller parts using a machete. Then the sugar cane pieces would get pressed by large rollers and the laborers would boil the juice in large, round metal dishes until syrupy. This syrupy mass would go into large barrels, where it would thicken and get shipped off to Europe. The harvesting, pressing and boiling process was not only heavy duty but also a high risk job the slaves found themselves exposed to. Meanwhile, the planters were facing troubles of their own, constantly worrying about the continuous attacks on plantations by runaway slaves. The story of Sarith and Eliza is set against this background of the high cost of sugar.

Final Word

Cynthia McLeod writes historical novels which are set in the 18th or 19th century Suriname – the age of Dutch colonization, when slaves were toiling and plantations were booming. The events are true stories. The places are real places. Some of the people in the books are to be found in historical archives, while other names are fictional but based on real characters.

The book offers a touch of Dutch as well as Sranan. It contains an overview of consulted literature and an extensive glossary of terms, of which the following picture shows you an excerpt.

The Cost of Sugar - Cynthia McLeodYou will get a feel of the humble speech of the slaves (which is still recognizable in today’s speech!) and the degrading tone of voice their masters poured down on them. You will get an understanding of the situation in which Portuguese Jews and Dutch settlers got themselves into, and of the suffering the slaves had to endure. At the same time, you will enjoy the frivolous story of two maturing well-to-do young women who – each in her own right – tried to make the best out of life in the colony. Cynthia McLeod is a storyteller – once you pick up the book, you will find it hard to put it down.

Have you enjoyed this review? Feel free to leave your comment below!

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