Benzdorp Suriname: The Wild Wild West

I knew Benzdorp Suriname as a perilous place. Illegal gold mining is a booming business here in Suriname, and Benzdorp was one of its hot spots. I am thankful that I have such an interesting job that I get to see places like this. Benzdorp gained notoriety because until six years ago, someone would get shot there every two days. Shootings, murders, rapes, you name it. Since most of the Brazilian immigrants working & living in that area came here ILLEGALLY, it is easy to kill someone. You kill them, dig a hole, and that is that. No one knows he or she was there, and no one cares. It is sad for the family they left behind in Brazil, for they will forever wonder what happened to their loved one.

It was the second week of February 2020 when I left for Benzdorp with a colleague. We went for two nights & I had a magnificent time. I love seeing unfamiliar things and learning how others live and why. The last time I was there was over four years ago, so I was curious what it looked like now.

Benzdorp Suriname is much calmer than before. The Brazilians have mostly left the area. Now it looks like little Dominican Republic (D.R.)

When I went there a few years ago, the area was FULL of Brazilians. They were obnoxious. Loud music, lots of alcohol and marihuana. Now I see them sniffing liquid tobacco. I do not understand the appeal, or why they use it. Some say they use it to clear their sinuses… I do not know. *shrug*

Our chariot awaits – Gum Air

Before I went to Benzdorp the first time, I was terrified of those small airplanes. A friend of mine his father died in a crash in one of those planes… And there was a time when there were many crashes. So, I was not too excited about flying in one the first time. Now? I enjoy it.

Those types of planes are the fastest way of reaching Benzdorp Suriname. From Paramaribo, it is about a 70-minute-flight.

I just love the clouds! They are so beautiful. During the flight, since I am used to these planes now, I can sometimes doze off. But I do not want to: I would miss out on those amazing clouds!

Are they not breathtaking? I mean, how often are we up there and get to see those magnificent clouds? Oh, how I wish I could touch one or lay down on one. THAT would be exceptional!

Have I mentioned how religious Brazilians are? On the back of his cap says (literally), “God Is More.”

When you arrive after the 70-minute-flight, you arrive in an open field in one of the Tabiki’s. I do not know if it is Lawatabiki or Drietabiki. There is a military base right next to the airstrip, but I have never seen over one soldier at a time. Everyone takes their own luggage and you go to the river to take a boat to Ronaldo.

We hired a Brazilian man named Valdemiro to take us to Ronaldo. Valdemiro has been living there for over twenty years. His boat was one of the busiest & most popular ones: he had music and nicely decorated seats. But guess what happened? He became a target for bandits.

They robbed him many times, even took his music apparatus. Now he rides with Surinamese police officers in his boat. They carry MONSTROUS weapons. It is quite intimidating & scary. For me, I am more concerned about if they know any self-defense techniques. The enormous weapon takes two bullets at a time, so you can shoot-shoot, then reload. If you missed, the evil guy can karate chop you. So, I just want to know how great they are without weapons.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention about that plane, is that I did not know so much power came from the little propeller when it first starts up. I can blow you away… no lie.

As you can see, if you ever need a water taxi (or whatever it is called) from the airstrip to Ronaldo, call this number in the photo. It is best if you know Portuguese.

In the pictures, you can see our beautiful river that separates Suriname from French Guiana. You will see a lot of Maroon villages along the river. Just like in Bigiston, many Maroons fled Suriname for FG during the Civil War in 1986. If I am not mistaken, they are from the Aluku Tribe.

Ronaldo, the first little town we stopped in, was not this dirty when I first came here over five years ago. It really has deteriorated. What I noticed is that most Brazilian commercial sex workers have left the area. Now there are so many Dominican women there. They fill the brothels with them.

Then comes the question, “How did they end up here?” THAT is a Significant question.

I am all for going to an unfamiliar country to build a life, especially if it is difficult in your own. But these women come here and work under God knows what conditions. Are they victims of human trafficking? Who brought them here? How much money do they make?

Come to think of it, I remember while waiting for my flight at Gum Air, a Spanish-speaking man dropped a Spanish-speaking woman off. He got into an argument with a local guy and he told him to “Coma mierda!” It means “Eat shit!” in Spanish. I laughed so hard that morning.

I saw that same girl enter a hotel in Ronaldo. Later I found out that commercial sex workers stay in those rooms. Oh, how I would have given anything to talk to her.

Do you see the red building with the yellow doors? That is one of the ‘hotels’ where the commercial sex workers stay. It is a little town, I tell you. They even have a Digicel shop there. Does Digicel know that Ronaldo is an illegal makeshift town with illegal immigrants? Hmm… What my trips to the interior have taught me, is that everyone turns a blind eye when money can be made.

Wow, this is a long post, which I dislike. I will tell you more about this trip in other posts.

What about in your country? Have you seen stuff like this? Or stuff that made you raise your eyebrows? I am curious, so do let me know.


Tiara Ray

I am grateful & blessed to have the life I live. (Soon to be) Traditionally published & self-published author in her mid-thirties. I unsuccessfully tried changing this picture numerous times, so I just left it. I wish you lots of love & may you get what you need. <3

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