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Dutch people live and work abroad: Paramaribo

Quote looks across the border at Dutch people abroad. This time with Reinoud Ottervanger, who easily blends into the local community in Paramaribo.

Living abroad

Every few years, pack your things and work somewhere where you don’t know anyone, don’t understand the culture and sometimes don’t even speak the language. It is a lifestyle that gives Reinoud Ottervanger satisfaction. “Living and working abroad makes life exciting,” says the man who worked for Heineken in Nigeria and Vietnam, among other places. Two years ago, he was asked if he was open to a job in Paramaribo at Surinaamse Brouwerij, more popularly known as Parbo, which is also the name of the most popular beer in Suriname. Despite his love for adventure, he didn’t just jump into the deep end. Of course his wife had to agree and he first called people who had experience working in Suriname. Without exception they praised the warm culture and the fantastic nature.

Pureness of nature

In September 2019, the family moved into the director’s residence, which is a ten-minute drive from the brewery. Ottervanger likes it very much in the Surinamese capital. “The purity of nature is overwhelming. When I sit in my garden and call people in the Netherlands, they often ask if I’m in a park because of all the bird sounds they hear. In addition, the country is a cultural melting pot. You can also see that in the streets, where, for example, a mosque and a synagogue are next to each other.’ Another plus is that his social circle is not limited to just expats. Visit wejustgotback.com website for more information. ‘Suriname only has about 600,000 inhabitants, most of whom live in Paramaribo. So it is easy to make contact, also because of the language. I mainly hang out with Surinamese, with whom I do sports or drink a beer.’ What also helps is that he works for cultural heritage. “People are proud of the djogo – liter bottle – Parbo.”

New Years Eve

Until he came to live here, Ottervanger didn’t pay much attention to nature, but now he likes to go out. For example to the Peperpot and Frederiksdorp nature parks. Because of corona, he now sees more jungle than expected, but he also misses another side of Suriname. “People can throw fantastic parties. Shortly after our arrival it was Owru Jari, the New Year’s Eve party. This is celebrated here during the day with parades, swinging music and dance. It would be nice if it could continue again this year.”