On Tuesday, I departed Paramaribo for only the second time journeying out on just one of two main roads outside of the nation’s capital. The destination was Nieuw Nickerie, Suriname’s second largest city, which much more closely resembles a sleepy farming town than a bustling city. The route to Nickerie is an adventure in itself, traveling through vast swaths of rainforest threatening to reclaim lands that humans attempt to inhabit. In the midst of swerving around potholes and slowing for drempels or speed bumps, one can experience the lush tropical rainforest that Suriname is famous for. Large manors and tiny tin cottages dot the horizon often appearing abandoned at first glance, until you spot a clothes line heavy with drying clothes or bikes littering the front yard. The Surinamese jungle doesn’t hesitate to remind human’s of its dominance and its ability to overtake their belongings- cars, entwined with vines become part of the forest never to be driven again.
Close to Nickerie (pronounced Knee-carry) the forest gives way to acres of grassland and rice paddies. In this open space, crop dusters zoom overhead spraying fields with multitudes of unknown pesticides. Grassland and rainforest mix openly in Nickerie, creating a series of canals and swamplands that can make navigating Nickerie slightly difficult. Dirt roads quickly turn to mud under Suriname’s incessant rains and bright pink and purple lotus flowers abound in the muddy canals. The town could easily be considered a scaled down version of Paramaribo, filled similarly with Chinese stores, a variety of restaurants, several schools, and houses- but Nickerie is its own town, free of the stresses of a larger city, and almost eerily empty in comparison.
For lovers of nature and small towns, visiting Nickerie is a no-brainer. For others, who knows, Nickerie could very well change your mind.