Sights and stories
Imagine waking up in sunny Greece. After breakfast on your private balcony, your guide greets you outside of your hotel and their comfortable car is all yours. They drive you around the countryside, explaining about the culture, the language, the wonderful cuisine. And they tell you stories that were passed on through generations in their family.
Along the way, you stop at some family homes that sell vegetables and fruits from their own gardens and small farms that sell all sort of cheeses and other local products. Every good thing you will need for your lunch is purchased by your guide, taking into account any wishes you may have. Of course, there is ample opportunity for you to shop for souvenirs if you like.
An oily affair
You then arrive at your first stop, a small local family owned olive farm. You are shown around by the owner’s daughter who gives you details about olive farming and the process of olive pressing you never knew before. Your first activity of the day is to help with the olive picking, plucking them from the trees alongside the family, filling your basket with olives.
All baskets filled, it is now time for lunch. A local cook has come to visit and gives you a cooking class to learn how to make a traditional Greek lunch using the products bought in the morning. The best thing about a Greek lunch, next to fresh ingredients, is the perfect blend between the different flavours. You are taught how to get it just right..
Taste buds heaven
While you are enjoying your cooking workshop, you notice some more people coming to visit. The owners of the olive farm have invited some locals to join you for lunch. These are people that are struggling to make ends meet or perhaps some children from a local school or maybe hospital staff that has worked so hard in the last couple of years. Whomever comes calling, you welcoming them to your table is a ray of sunshine in their day.
After lunch, of course, you are going to make some olive oil yourself. You will learn about the process and the difference between small farm olive oil and the olive oil that is processed by machines and sold in big supermarkets. You will experiment a bit with giving different flavour accents to your oils to find out your favourites. The best produced oils will be sold on the local market later, with a little label attached that shows your name and if you like a special message from you to the buyer.
When it is time to leave the farm, you will take a flask of olive oil of your own making with you. So when you are back home and at work, almost forgetting you ever had a vacation, you will remember that day in Greece when you learned how to make a Greek lunch with olive oil. Deciding to make yourself and your work colleagues smile, you take your olive oil to work and make a special lunch for them. Guaranteed smiles in the office and that sweet vacation feeling lingering a bit longer in your mind.
– buy locally
– help out at a family owned olive farm
– provide lunch for local visitors
Waking up the city
It’s 6am in Paramaribo and it hasn’t really cooled off during the night, so you are happy to go to the beach today where the wind feels so nice. You are picked up by your guide outside of your hotel and while they navigate the morning traffic, they point out some known and lesser known sights of the city. Are they taking a detour? They just might, because your guide know exactly where to get the best local breakfast to start the day.
Enjoying breakfast in the car, you leave the city behind and drive to the countryside. All that city pressure is replaced by the lush green vegetation Suriname is known for and you get that road trip feeling. Along the way, you will hear about the region’s history and traditions. Since Suriname is a melting pot of many different cultures, there is much to tell and if you are a language lover, you will not have time enough to learn them all.
Along the way, you may stop at some sights, such as historic plantations, churches or abandoned factories that have long been taken back by nature. Of course, whenever there is wildlife to be seen, your guide will spot them for you and park the car so you can take some pictures.
Your first stop of the day is close to the coast at a local fishermen’s village. You are greeted by one of the fishermen who tells you about their small business; how they make the nets and boats, what species of fish they catch and the history of the fishing village. Of course you will visit the smoke house and will get to taste some of the best smoked fish you will ever have. Visiting the local market you and your guide will pick up all that you need for your lunch later, which of course will include some fresh fish.
Nature in, garbage out
You then travel to the beach and meet up with a group of local volunteers. After the introductions, the project leader will tell you why they started doing these clean up days, how to do them properly and why protecting Suriname’s beaches is so important. You are handed your ‘protector of the beach’ gear and together with the rest of the group, you will clean the beach of any and all trash that you come across. During cleaning there is plenty of opportunity to get to know the local volunteers and learn about their everyday life’s in Suriname.
After working hard for a few hours and filling many trash bags, it is time for some good food, called njan in Surinamese. While the other volunteers keep on cleaning for a bit, you are greeted by a local cook who will teach you how to prepare a Surinamese fish lunch using the ingredients you have bought this morning. If possible, this will be a BBQ lunch. Your traditional lunch will be enjoyed with the whole group and for sure there will be lots of talk about all the different foods in the Surinamese cuisine. So get the best tips for where to eat during the rest of your stay during this lunch!
Keeping history alive
On our way back to the city, there is one more stop to make. Depending on the exact location of the beach cleaning, this will be a specific local heritage site such as a church or a plantation that is in need of restoration. The keeper shows you around and tell you all about its history. Grabbing some equipment, you set out to do so some light restoration work, for instance painting, tending to the gardens, helping to put up fences or signs…whatever is most needed at that time. Joined by your guide and some local villagers, the job that couldn’t be done without you, is now done with ease and in good company.
– buy locally
– help local volunteers to clean a beach
– help to restore a heritage site