Happy Birthday SURINAME!!! We celebrated Suriname’s thirtieth anniversary of its independence from the Dutch this weekend alongside about 10,000 other people. Most of the day went as any normal birthday party for a country would go – parades (the military, police, military band, etc. etc. all marched by at least three times during the afternoon), music, singing of the national anthem, booths selling food and drinks, flags everywhere, national paraphernalia, and people milling around in gorgeous traditional costumes…
There were a few surprises too! Like the delegation from the French army there helping to celebrate the occasion, a contingent of Dutch marines, and a whole host of Venezuelan parachooters who dropped from the sky mid-afternoon on November 25.
What a party! Many Surinamese have more patriotism in their pinky fingers than the average Canadian. Then again there are Surinamese like our Dutch teacher, Sandra, who doesn’t think Suriname is free (overrun by Holland, America and other nations) and refused to celebrate the occasion, opting instead to stay home all day.
Sandra did ask us if we (meaning us CCI volunteers) wanted to go to the presidential palace for an open air party in the afternoon. Of course we said yes! So Sandra took our passport numbers, got our names and gave us tickets a week later. Today, we dressed up, and headed with our CCI counterparts to the presidential palace. We are also very proud that we smuggled in Shane, Lindsey and Peter on our tickets (actually they weren’t really caring who came in anyway). So we enjoyed an afternoon of food and drinks on Suriname’s equivalent of the White House!
These Surinamese know how to throw a party! Food and drinks everywhere. Music. Dancing. People milling around 100% proud of their nation. You see, over half of Suriname's original population now lives in the Netherlands – they were given the option of Dutch nationality at Indenpendence and half the country picked up and left. But people are starting to return – now that the revolution is over and the country has had a peaceful life for the past 10 years or so. There were a lot of shirts today that said, "I may live in the Netherlands but I'm 100% Surinamese."
The party isn’t done yet though, in fact it’s just beginning. We're going out again tonight to witness Surinamese fireworks and how they celebrate at night.
I just had to add a quick note because Amie doesn’t get nearly as excited about free food as I do. When we were approaching the celebration grounds, we were handed a can of energy drink. That pumped us up for the day. Later at the presidential palace, the reception consisted of a bunch of tables set up in a courtyard giving out cake, drinks, and Indonesian hors d’oeuvres. The best part was that all 8 or so tables were giving out the same things and you could get your food and then just line up at the next table. I think we lined up about 7 or 8 times.