Paramaribo Walkabout (Carefully)
Posted by Richard Conniff on March 7, 2012
Getting ready to fly out to Palumeu, and off the grid, first thing tomorrow, if weather allows. (It’s been raining heavily so far.) I did some last minute shopping (umbrella!) and visited some of the main attractions of the city this morning.
Paramaribo is no place for pedestrians. In the old city, full of colonial era wooden houses built in a Dutch style, most houses have a second story balcony over the sidewalk, but also a stoop projecting out to the curb. So you have to go continually up and down if you want to stay under the shelter of the balcony. Or you get forced out into the rain and the traffic. Cars park everywhere on the sidewalks, but if you go into the street, the drivers act as if you are unimaginably out of order and they generally move to summary execution.
Still, plenty to see, particularly the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, a nineteenth-century Gothic cathedral, with all the familiar details, the carved bases and capitals, the second-story colonnaded gallery, the groined ceilings–but all in wood. A delicate band box for the temporary storage of souls. Said to be the largest wood structure in the Western Hemisphere, 161 feet long by 54 wide, built out of rain forest and struggling with every water stain and rusting nail to get back to it. (Think about the termites!) It was pouring rain out, but I also had the illusion the walls were almost translucent, so the sun could glow through on bright days.
I took some photos with my iPhone: