Abigail Wongsodirjo, store manager of PPG Varossieau in Suriname, is keen to tell us all about her beautiful country. Boasting a rich history, people who glow with genuine warmth, stunning nature and cultural diversity, Suriname has much to offer. Oh, and did we mention some of the planet’s tastiest food?
The Suriname Team Has You Covered
The Paramaribo site in Suriname is home to over 50 employees, who work for our Architectural Coatings business unit, producing and selling paint under the local brand HISTOREX™. Distribution is covered through a network of approximately 140 independent general hardware stores, which are mostly privately owned. These resellers carry about 80% of our assortment and are open to the public seven days a week.
There are also four PPG-owned decorating centres located in Paramaribo and an additional one in the most-western district of Suriname. These are full-service shops where any customer can receive personal advice and inspiration as well as choose from the complete assortment of Historex products, complementary Protective and Marine Coatings (PMC) products and Light PMC products, paint supplies, and the Dutch RAMBO® brand for wood applications.
You may remember seeing the Varossieau team recently on our Facebook and Instagram pages, as they are avid organizers of COLORFUL COMMUNITIES® projects. These include one at the OS Pomona School this year and another they managed in 2020, even during the pandemic, at Sabi Yu Kondre.
An interesting fact about the Paramaribo site is that, to mitigate the risk of a big fire (due to so much solvent-based paint production), they built their own fire pond! It contains 300,000 liters of rainwater collected from their roofs via a specially designed piping network, and they have 14 firehoses connected to it through an automatic pump.
“Peace, Rest and Tranquility”
In case you’re wondering, the Republic of Suriname is on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America and is the continent’s smallest sovereign state. Most of its population (fewer than 600,000 people) live in and around the capital city, Paramaribo.
Considered culturally Caribbean, the two main languages of Suriname are Dutch – the official language of government, business, media and education – and the widely used lingua franca, Sranan Tongo (Surinamese tongue), an English-based creole language.
Suriname is the highest forested country in the world (98,3%!), which is one of the reasons Abigail is sure we will all love it!
Amazing Cultural Diversity
The people of Suriname are among the most diverse in the world, spanning many ethnic and religious groups, and they celebrate a wide variety of holidays, including Christmas (Christian), Diwali (Hindu), Eid-UL-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha (Islamic), Day of the Amerindian (Amerindians), Abolition of slavery (Afro-Surinamese), Immigration Day (India and Indonesian) and Chinese New Year!
It is one of the few places in the world you’ll find a synagogue neighboring a mosque and sharing the parking lot!
Sights and Scenes Not to Be Missed
If you get a chance to visit, Abigail urges you to make time for the spectacular 52 meter-high, 1,504 meter-long Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge over the river Suriname. The bridge connects Paramaribo with Commewijne and promotes the development of the eastern part of Suriname.
Also in Paramaribo is the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul – a splendid Roman Catholic cathedral and the biggest wooden structure in the Western Hemisphere!
But according to Abigail, you won’t want to miss ‘Owru Yari’ – New Year's Eve, an event that starts at 10 AM and continues right through to the following day.
In the evening, everyone fills the streets of the capital to enjoy fireworks and see which of the large stores has the longest pagaras (ribbons of red firecrackers). Then, everyone heads home in time to light their own pagaras at midnight before returning to the streets to party till daybreak.
Internationally-inspired Culinary Delights
Due to its interesting history, there are many cultural influences in Surinamese cuisine. Abigail introduces a few favorites:
Pom is one of the most famous and distinctive dishes, especially popular on special occasions in which Tayer (pomtayer), an indigenous root vegetable, is baked with chicken and citrus juice.
Pastei was brought to Suriname by Jewish settlers and is a type of chicken pot pie.
Roti kip is a spicy curry brought to Suriname by the people of India and Indonesia.
Bakabana is a dish of plantains fried in batter served with a sweet and creamy peanut sauce.
Bojo cake is made with cinnamon, rum, coconut and cassava, combining the sweet flavors of the Caribbean coast with traditional Dutch cuisine for a distinctively tropical flavor.
Favorite drinks include local rums "Borgoe" and "Black Cat”, and "Parbo-beer", the most popular local brew.
We are sure that Suriname must now be near the top of your list of post-COVID destinations. Thanks to Abigail for introducing us to your beautiful country and we all hope to see you there one New Year’s Eve!