The last few weeks have been filled with travel, and I’ve enjoyed moving from place to place much more than I usually do. The most recent trip was to Paramaribo in Suriname at the beginning of May. I was invited to be one of the featured speakers at the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (ACWWS) annual conference, held this time in Paramaribo. We stayed at the charismatic Hotel Krasnapolsky, the site of the conference.
A highlight of this second trip to Suriname, for me, was hearing Cynthia McLeod, author of ‘The Cost of Sugar’ and one of the premier writers in Suriname regale us with stories of how she began writing, of her desire to write a ‘Gone With the Wind’ type historical romance set in Suriname, and being mistaken for a cook when she appeared at the grand building in Amsterdam where a subsequent book was launched.
Another highlight was the food, for Suriname is a gastronomer’s delight, with cuisines from Java, China, India, the local Creole and Dutch competing for your belly. The Garden of Eden in Paramaribo is the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever eaten at and Joosje Roti downtown saw me return several times with fellow conferencers in tow. The owner/manager there runs a tight ship, with roti and curry rolled out on trolleys, an ultraclean establishment and delectable Jalebis for dessert. Dumpling # 1 (yes, that’s the name of the restaurant) satiated my perpetual craving for dim sum and the amazing Indonesian restaurant we went to in the Javanese sector was something to remember (if anyone can tell me the name of the vine in the photograph above i’d be grateful).
The conference itself was well organized and a lot of fun. Another highlight was a book called Kuis (Chaste–in English) which had the most provocative cover i’ve seen in a while. About a goldsmith commissioned to design a chastity belt for a young woman the cover bore the image of a delicate diamond-studded gold chastity belt snaking around slender female loins. The actual chastity belt in the photograph was made by a South African jeweller for a client in London who ordered it for his bride to wear on their wedding night.
Unfortunately (for me) the book was in Dutch but the author Rihana Jamaludin read excerpts translated into English which sounded quite compelling. The book is a local reading choice for high school students who previously had to choose exclusively from Dutch titles. Not surprisingly its their top choice…