Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil: Exotic Amazon

Text: Irene Wouters • Photography: Irene Wouters

After a year of preparation, and waiting two long weeks in Paramaribo, Suriname, we get the green light from customs officials to uncrate 
and reassemble our KTM 690 Enduro R bikes. Finally, the second phase of 
“The Riding Reporters” South AmericaN adventure is set to begin!

Three years ago, Daniëlle Boelens and I rode the western regions of South America in seven months. This time, I aim to finish circling the continent on the east side in five months, accompanied by Lia Bexkens the first three months, and Carli Kooper for the last two. Jumping off in Suriname, we’ll travel 15,000 miles, riding through French Guiana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. 

Set free, Lia and I attack our crates, and are soon drenched in sweat as we pry the wood from the steel frames in the merciless heat. A dockworker, taking pity on us, moves our crates with his forklift to the only patch of shade around. Our work then proceeds more quickly, and we’re relieved though exhausted when the bikes are back together within two hours.

Finally the time has come to start our adventure after two weeks of waiting to get our KTM 690 Enduro Rs released from customs, a process that took 36 mailings, 32 phone calls, 14 taxi rides, and even a visit to the Dutch embassy. All this because our shipper put “The Riding Reporters” on the official shipping documents instead of my personal name. Beforehand, we tried to get information online about shipping to Suriname but nothing came up and our shipper didn’t have any experience with the country either. It is easier, especially for Europeans, to ship to neighboring country French Guiana because it is part of the European Union as a French region.

Seeing as we planned our first project in Paramaribo, we chose the unknown instead and shipped our bikes to Suriname. We knew we wouldn’t mind a couple days of waiting because we would be busy anyway. Our project did go rather smoothly. In two days’ time we visited Mama Joyce, a woman taking care of orphan children in the city, and I wrote her story and photographed it. Besides the short delay, we had to pay a deposit at customs for bringing our KTMs to Suriname, which we would get back as soon as we crossed the border. 

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2019 back issue.