Uncommon Beauty: Suriname’s Star & Stripes
It’s never too early to start dreaming about next year’s Caribbean travel adventures, right?
Toward the end of last year, we made a case to put Dominica and Guyana at the top of our 2011 travel wish list. Unfortunately, Guyana will have to wait a bit longer, but our Dominica dreams are on-track to come true in November.
So, what other uncommon destination are we targeting for 2012? How about Suriname?
If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad. Suriname is one country that is decidedly off-the-beaten-path in just about every way imaginable.
Like Guyana, Suriname is physically part of South America, though decidedly West Indian in terms of its culture, heritage, history, cuisine, music, etc. It’s also pretty small, at least by its continental standards as it is the
smallest second-smallest country in South America.
So, what’s so BIG about Suriname? How about nature – miles and miles of wild, untamed, and mostly unexplored nature.
In all of its 63,251 square miles, the small capital city of Paramaribo represents Suriname’s only real developed area. The vast majority of the rest of the country: pure wilderness. Various settlements line the banks of the Suriname River, which effectively serves as the country’s main north-south superhighway. There are a few camps and guesthouses in and around these villages that allow visitors to live as the locals do – no electricity, no running water and a DEEP cultural immersion presenting about as uncommon a travel experience as can be found anywhere.
The other big draw to me is Suriname’s amazing diversity. People here descend from so many different cultures that a good 16 individual languages are officially recognized! With a population estimated at just under 500,000, Suriname is obviously one incredible melting pot. I’ve even read it’s one of the only places in the world where you’ll find a mosque located right next to a synagogue. They even share parking on overlapping holy days!
Seeing and experiencing Suriname’s amazing diversity will certainly be believing, but for now we can all look to the country’s flag as a symbol for all the great reasons we have to visit this unique destination.
From the photo up top you can see that the flag is comprised of five stripes, or bands, with a gold star in the middle. The red stands for love and progress, while the green signifies hope and fertility. White bands represent peace and justice – all fine notions for the country when the flag was adopted following its independence from the Dutch in November 1976.
The star in the middle, though, is the real key to me. It represents the unity of all the different ethnic groups in the country.
How strong is that unity? How fertile and pristine is the country’s natural beauty? What about peace and progress?
We hope to explore it all in Suriname next year…