The Suriname Visa Struggle: Attempted Muggings, Over Charging, Black Market Exchange Rate, Rip Offs and Just ONE Fucking Nightmare

The Suriname Visa Struggle: Attempted Muggings, Over Charging, Black Market Exchange Rate, Rip Offs and Just ONE Fucking Nightmare


One of the joys of travel is without doubt passport decoration; in other words visas, entry stamps and exit stamps. Having been in 68 different countries down the years, this has also involved applying for many visas. Some are easy to organise – at the border/at airports (e.g. Cambodia – visa at the border/ Indonesia – visa at the airport). Some can be done online (e.g. my Australian working holiday visa in 2009). Some can be done by post (e.g. my New Zealand and Hong Kong working holiday visas). Some can be done through the embassy (e.g. my Russian visa in 2007). And others (Czech Republic to Germany) merely a quick stamp on the train is enough. Now, having had a lot of experience with borders, visas and emigration, Suriname would have been an easy visa to get, or so I’d have thought…


The reason I thought it would be easy was because it is an ex-Dutch colony and I was travelling on an EU passport (my Great Britain and Northern Ireland/UK passport). I also have the back up of my Irish passport (also EU) just in case. And besides, surely Suriname relies on tourism and will easily hand out tourist visas to any potential visitors. Particularly for the ardent Northern Irish enthusiast whose sole purpose of visiting Suriname was to see what it was like, experience the culture, enjoy the beer and actually…relax! I knew it would be an easy place to relax, being an untouristy tropical paradise. I prefer places that attract less tourists to be honest and Suriname was one of my certs for South America. Something had to give though, and due to time constraints I had to give Guyana and French Guyana a miss. The only two countries in South America I have yet to visit (EDIT – I headed back in 2014 and toured them both now!). Ah well. A glance at the above list tells you that a British and an Irish passport need to apply in advance and before arrival for a visa for Suriname. (I have a feeling Dutch people are allowed to apply at the airport on arrival, but I cannot be sure).


So I didn’t have much time to play with and I found out in Montevideo (in November 2010) that only the following cities in South America could issue a visa for Suriname: Bogota, Colombia/ Brasilia, Brazil/ Georgetown, Guyana/ Cayenne, French Guyana/ Caracas, Venezuela. Now I had no plans to visit Brasilia whatsoever (and it would have taken me way off my route and involved an extra 2 flights – bus there would have been ridiculous given my route), so it left me with three options – Bogota in Colombia, Caracas in Venezuela and on standby Georgetown in Guyana. The thing was I had booked a flight into Paramaribo in Suriname from Caracas in Venezuela so I kind of left things last minute expecting everything to be straight forward when I got to Caracas. The main reason I was flying into Suriname was also due to time constraints – I would dearly have loved to visit Guyana and get the boat across the border. Guyana, an ex-British colony doesn’t require visas either and I also found out (INTERESTING FACT THIS…) that Suriname is the ONLY country in South America that British or Irish people need a visa for, so there you go…




So I arrived safe and well in the hellhole of the world! Yes, Venezuela is not the safest place on this planet and on many occasions has boasted the highest murder rate in the world. And there isn’t even a war their. It’s the divide between the rich and the poor that does it. Plus drugs, guns and bribery doesn’t help its cause. Whatever you look at it, Venezuela is anything but a solo traveller’s paradise. I witnessed a lot of bad things there and won’t ever speak highly of the country. But on a hot, dusty morning my night bus arrived in the city of Caracas. I had decided to stay in Altamira and had e-mailed a hotel there, though nothing was confirmed. Alone, hot, bag laden and inspired I found my way to the Hotel La Floresta without incident. In fact, in retrospect I was rather lucky in Venezuela not to be bothered by the locals. I dressed like a tramp and hadn’t shaved in months…


If you can understand the streets of Caracas then you’ve clearly lived there. It’s an odd system and the same street name will often appear 10 or 11 times in the same city, at different parts. My internet search had led me to believe that the Suriname Embassy was close to my hotel. So on arrival at my hotel that morning, I wasn’t able to check in yet as the room wasn’t ready. This was a worrying thought as I didn’t particularly want to leave my bag (with its valuables) in the hotel without a locked room. I also didn’t fancy carting my heavy and ripped bag round Caracas with me that morning. Yes, my bag had been badly ripped/knifed open by some Venezuelan thugs on one of the buses (or at the border town to get in – Cucuta in Colombia) so the stuff in there could easily fall out. The most precious of which was my hard drive with ALL my photos from well…my entire life (but most recently my Antarctica and South America trips). But alas on a hot morning I always felt safer  with my bag ON ME rather than leaving it there, so I was on a mission – to find the Suriname Embassy and pronto!


Despite what you will hear about Caracas and Venezuela, the city sits pretty and has stunning views. Indeed the backdrop in Altamira had me in awe at times. The thing was Venezuela is a beast and infuriates you at the best of times, so this was no fucking sightseeing holiday. I used Venezuela for one thing in the end (sadly) and that was to get the fuck in there and get my Suriname Visa. As soon as I got my Visa I got the fuck out. Yet my time spent in Venezuela was four days, two of which were Visa struggles, and one of which involved a night bus. Don’t you worry yourself, I’m a Northern Irish fighter and I took them by the balls to get this visa. Enjoying my beers on my final night in Caracas let me tell you…



So let’s start at the beginning. Caracas was baked in sunshine. Sweat was dripping down me. Tramps lined the streets. I hadn’t had a home for 3 days (since leaving Santa Ana Alta in Colombia). I had slept partly on two night buses. I had slept for about 20 minutes in a bus station. I had been strip searched. I had seen guns touch my bags. I had crossed a dodgy border. But I had some Venezuelan money. I had a bed for the night (I was told I could get into my room at 12 noon). There was a bar in the hotel. I had two passports. All I needed was my Suriname Visa. So Off I went, with said ripped bag. I pulled out some extra money from a cash machine on Avenida Francisco de Miranda. And I had plotted the route (albeit using the Caracas/Altamira map on page 928 on the Lonely Planet book). Venezuela had already tested my nerves to the point of breakdown, this would be a simple walk up a hill, drop off my passport, documents, photos and money and pop back tomorrow for collecting my Suriname Visa. I had jotted down the address of the Suriname Embassy in Caracas, it was 4A Avenida Entre 7A y 8A Transversal, Qta. Los Milagros, Altamira, Caracas, VENEZUELA. So I headed to the corner of 7A and 8A Transversal in Altamira. I also knew that the Embassy had irregular opening times and that getting there was my priority in Caracas. Within about 20 minutes after a walk up a hill, I arrived at the exact corner where the Suriname Embassy was meant to be, now I had four options, as it was a crossroads, so I took it in turns to walk down each of the four streets. But, I’ll be honest I knew it wasn’t here before I started. EVERY building looked residential. There was no surprising sight of a Suriname flag flying high, nor did it look like an area where an Embassy would be. I had arrived in Caracas around 8am, got to the hostel around 9am, and it was now around 10.30 am and I had TWO days until my flight to get my visa. And I was lost, lonely and probably at a low ebb. I trundled over asking a couple and their baby where the Suriname Embassy was. My Spanish was surprisingly understood. But they looked at me almost as if to say you are totally in the wrong place. That I was. This WAS Altamira, but the district was Altamira, yet the area of these streets was not Altamira, it was Los Palos Grandes. Actually from what I noticed, probably one of the safer and richer parts of Caracas. Yet the embassy I was looking for was “in the next suburb along” yet on the same street with the same number, on the same corner. As someone who considers themselves good at geography and directions, I was baffled. AND TOTALLY IN THE WRONG PLACE.


Gutted, baffled, tired and hungry I changed my plan. Well not the whole plan, but for the next few hours. I needed to get my head straight. I saw a McDonalds (!) the first I had seen in South America in three months of travel and so I went in because they advertised a meal deal for 29 Bolivares. But the staff are rude to me and refuse to serve me…so I went for a coffee somewhere in Centro Commercial Central Plaza, heading back down towards where the Hotel was.


I have no idea what coffee shop I went to, but that’s the view from my table and it was inside that centre. It had a Nescafe sign on the window and no other customers. I ordered a cafe latte which was 15 Bolivares, and I hand in a 20. The woman in there tried to rip me off then said they had no change – so they couldn’t give me my 5 Bolivares back. I moaned and moaned and gave her a total bollocking until her boss came out and apologised. It was now not even noon, no progress on my visa and the time was ticking. The decision I made while sipping my Venezuelan coffee was that I would just check in to the Hotel at 12 noon as normal, have a shower, leave my stuff in the hotel room and head out with ONLY the things I needed for the Visa. This time I was going to find that Embassy and get my visa. The only problem now would be if they closed in the afternoon, which given my luck and events recently, was a cert. A guarantee.


A free 7 Up followed my coffee as I stared at Venezuela from a lonely coffee shop in Altamira. I have no idea where that coffee shop was and could not find it again. No way was I paying for that 7 Up having been overcharged for my coffee, they didn;t ask me to pay for it. But sure I was fine. I had my blue hat (in view). I was lucky. On the way out, I asked for a free bottle of water from the fridge and the girl who worked there just brushed me aside, let me take the water and get on my way. I had worked Venezuela out. It was all about money. Nobody cared that I had taken a bottle of water, as they already had 20 Bolivares from me.


And at 12 noon sure enough I checked into my hotel room in Hotel La Floresta!
Although Altamira was one of the better parts of the city, let’s not forget that killings are still regular and indeed a crazy massacre and public shooting of three people occurred in Plaza Altamira, a 3 minute walk from my hotel. That may have been 9 years before my visit, but things you hear linger…


If an angry venom lay outside, my tranquil hotel room was a Godsend. BUT hang on a minute, it was going to cost me $70 US Dollars PER NIGHT. Now come on, I never spend that much on a hotel room! So every soap, sugar sachet was mine. Agitated but at least the shower worked, and I had a balcony view…

Nice. But this was no time for admiring scenery in this corrupt capital city so attention turned to that Suriname Visa problem again. I dressed like a tramp, leaving behind my famous lucky blue hat and putting on my green flourescent hat. I took my camera (with photos from that day only), both my passports (in case I needed the Irish one), my flight details, a photo, my accomodation details and my wallet with ALL my cash. It was a venture into the unknown, and I enjoyed the walk up towards the real Suriname Embassy. I was right this time. It was only a 20 minute walk, but the opposite side. What disturbed me most was how quiet the streets were.

It felt a bit eerie. I crept up to the door at Transversal where I had finally found the Suriname Embassy. A little bit of luck was shining on me. It was a Wednesday. So the embassy was open from 8am to 12 noon and from 1pm to 4 pm. It was now around 1.30 pm and after ringing the bell, they let me inside…


Opening hours. Possibly the most important thing I needed at the time, except for the visa itself.



I mean how unelaborate an entrance sign can you get? No wonder this place was a nightmare to find. I should have hopped in a taxi from the offset, but sure I’m a selfish budgeter.



Once inside I relaxed and enjoyed the ambience. I was of course the only customer in there and there seemed to be just three staff. One was the security guy who let me in, one was the local receptionist who gave me the forms and kept me updated. The other was the person I neversaw – a lady in behind who is the sole Surinamese representative in Venezuela. The lady who would ultimately decide if I could get my visa or not.



The reception. Proud Suriname flags and bars on every window. Caracas is a severely dangerous place. Every house and building is boarded up and enclosed to prevent the risk of break in, attack and murder. That’s not an exaggeration. The sad way of life.



Some Suriname souvenirs on the other side, plus a big Suriname flag. I was actually happy and safe sitting there and so I started to fill in the forms. First she told me what I needed:


Obviously they are all ticked off on that photo as I nailed the Visa in the end. But at the time, I didn’t have most of the 10 things they needed, the main one now that would find extremely difficult to get was the $45 US Dollars in cash for the visa fee. I had withdrawn well over that amount in Venezuelan Bolivares, but had NO US Dollars left. I had been forced to swap them over just past the border in order to be able to afford my bus from San Cristobal to Caracas. That day I actually had numbers 1 – 5 on me. Which was lucky. So I filled in the forms…



Naturally it was all written in Dutch, as Suriname is of course an ex Dutch colony, funny I was able to understand the Dutch very easily and took no time filling in the details. I was worried about the fact that ALL the money I had on me was in Bolivares. It was odd that they don’t accept Bolivares, but my timing was horrendous, Venezuela that very day had an even worse Black Market crisis than could have been foreseen and my money turned into nothing in a matter or days there, this report kind of outlines the problems: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-03/venezuela-s-bolivar-slides-in-unregulated-market-on-devaluation.html It was now the 5th January so that report from two days earlier hit me badly. Had I foreseen it, I would have withdrawn loads of US Dollars in Colombia, booked a shit cheap hostel in a dodgy area and just taxi-ed it to the embassy and back. But here I was in a lose lose situation as I applied for my visa. After about an hour of filling in the form and handing all the stuff in. I was point blank refused my visa. It wasn’t just the fact I didn’t have bank statements, employment details or the US Dollars, the reason for turning me away was NOT ENOUGH ROOM LEFT ON MY PASSPORT!! I had 3 FULL pages and a host of spaces on other pages. But one page was badly stained (may have been wet from a hike in Australia or New Zealand where I was carrying it, or more probably from a luggage tag I had once stuck on there, for no real reason. They argued not enough space and a dodgy passport. Holy good fuck. My time in Venezuela couldn’t get any worse could it???


So I left the Embassy, above and walked down the street, I knew it was only a 20 minute walk back to the hostel but the street was quite and odd. It didn’t feel unsafe, but then I didn’t know. It was almost 4pm and I had no option but to call back tomorrow to the Suriname Embassy using my Irish passport (which had more room), a new application, my US Dollars (which I still had to source) and the bank details and job details (I would go online to get them, and probably have to draft up a fake job contract!). I was out in the open air and decided on a spot of casual sight seeing on the way back, maybe even some food and a beer. I bloody well needed it!


We right at the top part of Altamira, with the incredible mist and mountains in behind. If you check out Caracas photos, its quite amazing the way the city sits. I also liked the church and thought about popping in to pray. But it was a Catholic church and the area didn’t seem too safe to be honest.



Crossing the road I took great joy in seeing the red hand there. A Northern Irish emblem and one that appears on our flag.



So I got onto this quiet street, where I took the above photo! I had stalled for a while just before that making a video. Nobody else appeared to be about. But then within seconds of this photo, a fat, ugly Venezuelan guy comes out of nowhere and runs towards me. In broad daylight. There are no cars or other people about. I am alone and he must have seen me taking a photo, so he knows I have a camera. As he approaches me, at first I wonder is he foreign too and wants to chat. Then he raises his arms towards me as if to grab me. In a flash I am the subject of a mugging. But I follow my instinct and simply just RUN. I know I am fast. But I also do not know if the street is a dead end or if there is anywhere about. If I didn’t choose to run, he would have punched me, mugged me and probably taken everything (passport, camera, wallet – all my money and visa details for Suriname). I knew how important the stuff I had on me was so I bombed it. He was a bit ugly fat bloke and I knew he had a knife and I didn’t so I had to run. As odd as it sounds, I ran into a bit of luck on the next street down. Still no people about and I was keeping up the pace yet hot. I found a restaurant so I had to go in…it was here, the Little Rock Cafe…



At first it looked closed and it was a risk to walk up to the door to be honest but I went with instinct. He followed me inside and I went straight to the bar and ordered a beer. The guys in there could see what was going on. This guy was a wanker and was basically trying to get my camera. Hence why I kept my camera out and hid all the other things I had. At the time I could have afforded to lose my camera but not my wallet, passport or visa stuff for Suriname. I even leant out my hand to shake his and asked him if he wanted a beer. Yes, the guy who had just brandished a knife, raised his arm to me, and probably grabbed my neck. I don’t remember the ordeal or what happened. I was estimate the entire event from him confronting me to arriving at the bar to be less than 2 minutes. But a scary 2 minutes. Now he was inside the bar and refused to go away. I was still shaken and stirred. Fucking dickhead wankstain mugger. I was a decent bloke I thought, visiting his country and would gladly have had a beer with him. But he refused to go away and they didn’t serve me a beer as they may have felt we were in a fight together, or even knew each other. Alfred Hitchcock would have had an entire film script right there you know.



This was the bar at Little Rock Cafe where the mugger confronted me right in front of the staff. I told him they had a video camera and to go away and not harm me. I am just a tourist loving Venezuela I said. I was sure he wouldn’t get a knife out in the bar in front of staff and about 5 – 6 customers. You know what, I won. The dickhead had failed to get anything from me. He had attempted to mug me with a kitchen knife and an ugly bake. He had chased after me but couldn’t catch me. Now I had outsmarted him by finding a lovely wee bar which had beer and food. And he turned his back and walked out. At that point I feared for my throat, thinking he may come back in a few minutes with a gang, a gun, anything. Honestly I hadn’t a clue. But my relaxing drug in life has always been a fresh cold beer. Fitting then, that the beer served by Giovani was cold and delightful…and my first ever Venezuelan beer!



Cervez Zulia. Cheers! I was still taken aback though trying to comprehend the entire day. Dodgy bus, hotel room not ready, first three ATMs didnt accept my cards, wrong street for the embassy, ripped off for coffee, not served in McDonalds, $70 US Dollars for my hotel room, refused a visa, exchange rate gone scitz and just escaped a mugging. Life however, for this culture hungry Ulsterman was sweet. I fucking enjoyed that beer. And I wrote down a description of my attempted mugger. Ugly bake, circular, missing teeth, clean shaven, short hair, brown skin, blue and yellow t-shirt (old and unfashionable), blue jeans (cheap and dirty), trainers were either white or black. Everyone in the bar, The Little Rock Cafe had seen this guy. He was truly embarrassed and made to look a right dickhead in front of his own people. I got to know the staff. My server, waiter was called Giovani. The helper was a guy called Luiz, who also doubled up as the chef. The owner came out to talk to me. These particular  Venezuelans could have sided with their fellow countryman, El Wanker, but they didn’t. Perhaps they knew I was business for them. And I then order Nachos. Venezuelan style! They did not disappoint…



My amazing nachos in the Little Rock Cafe, Altamira, Caracas. Plus one Zulia wasn’t enough. I needed another one and I also wanted to stay in there for a while before heading back to the hotel, just to chill and let the situation calm down, plus El Wanker was probably still lurking around waiting to steal a camera. Thanks to his poor mugging skills then, these photos exist and see the light of day. I was still pissed off by the visa refusal to be honest but was willing to give it another shot first thing tomorrow. By this time, darkness was setting in on Caracas and I relaxed and asked if one of the staff could order me a taxi back to the hotel. In the end it was VERY close. But I was shaken and wanted a safe trip back to sort things out.



The Little Rock Cafe. I had never heard of it or been in it before and had I not escaped a mugging, I would never have heard of it or been in. I enjoyed it immensely. It even has a website, here: http://www.littlerockcafecaracas.com/  and here: http://rumbacaracas.com/locales/little-rock-cafe/ The chef or manager Luis Alfredo Madriz gave me his business card and a lift home to the safety of my hotel. Looking back this was just another story on my journeys. But not a story I want people to experience or go through.



To get my visa was going to cost a lot. At midnight my Venezuelan Bolivares turned into liquid gold as I slept in the comfort of my Caracas bedroom.




And so the new day began. I walked around and found an internet cafe and printed all the stuff I needed (bank statement, current job contract [forged of course], flight details and my hostel confirmation for Paramaribo). This cost a total of 37 Bolivares, which was pretty dear but essential. The bills were topping themselves up…Time and safety were of the essence and around 9am, I got a taxi over to the Embassy this time and that was another 30 Bolivares. I had also already enjoyed the privilege of a hostel breakfast all included, and believe me I fucking milked it. I toyed with the idea of getting a late night bus to Caracas airport that night and just sleeping there as the city had ripped me off so much. Ramon, my now regular taxi driver in Caracas offered an airport taxi for the next morning for 170 Bolivares. I cannot begin to compare this price into pounds or dollars, as that currency (The Venezuelan Bolivar) was rendered obsolete and had to be replaced by a new currency called The Venezuelan Bolivar Fuerte. As a rough guide to how much I was ripped off, the page printing and internet use (which took me less than 20 minutes) cost about 8 or 9 US Dollars and the taxi to the embassy was around 7 US Dollars.The taxi price quoted to the airport would have been about 40 US Dollars. This was the most expensive three days of my life (OK, except for buying a car and booking a trip to Antarctica).

Once I got to the Suriname Embassy they informed me that the lady was willing to process my visa this time, but it would take a few hours and I would need to pay in US Dollars Only!!! I had in my hand about 480 Venezuelan Bolivares which in comparison with my first day’s exchange rate would have meant I had well over100 US Dollars and money to spare. But the payment had to be in US Dollars. I didn’t have enough so I went on a mission round Caracas looking for $45. I had left my passport in the embassy, so only had money and my camera on me and felt much safer now to walk around. So I walked back to the hotel (the same way I’d been almost mugged the day before) thinking the hotel staff could help me get the US Dollars. The chef, who was from Ecuador phoned round his mates bless him to no avail. And Ramon the barman had a mate who could bring me the money by 1 pm. That would be too late, I thought as the Embassy was due to close and they would literally hold onto my passport until the next morning, the day of my flight. I felt like a secret agent, as if I was after some seriously confidential details. All I wanted was 45 US Dollars!!! I was literally at the end of my tether and I sat on my own on a pillar outside the hostel and a lady approached me. (I also forgot to mention running around every bank in Altamira asking for US Dollars to no avail, obviously).

But then this lady turned up. I was going to listen to her, mainly because she was black and didn’t look Venezuelan. I felt I could trust her more. She turned out to be from Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago (ironically my next destination for a day stop over before Suriname). I told her my story. She gave me her business card. She had a company called Intipata, which I recognised from my time in Peru as meaning “sun gate”. She was a travel tour operator in Caracas, and looks for money on the side too. I knew she could help me, but I also knew I’d have to pay her a bit for it (I had paid Angel in San Cristobal 2 days earlier for his help in getting the Venezuelan money – ironically that day I DESPERATELY NEEDED VENEZUELAN BOLIVARES AND HAD ONLY US DOLLARS. Today I DESPEARATELY NEEDED US DOLLARS AND HAD ONLY VENEZUELAN BOLVIARES.


Her name was Luisa and she was a Promotor and Tours Guide [sic]. Business card above. It was a bit sad that my entire time in Caracas involved trying to get my bloody visa, as I have heard and seen that the sightseeing and a venture into the dodgy Barrios can be very enjoyable if a little scary! plus the wonderful Angel Falls had to be given a by ball. There was no time for any of that as Luisa and I got talking as to the cheapest way to get me the US Dollars. We would need to go downtown, to a dodgy pawn shop. She knew a girl that worked there. This gave me the chance to see a little bit of downtown Caracas at least and an extra experience into the sad corrupt culture that exists in Venezuela. Life was good again as we boarded the metro system together in search of my money for the golden ticket to Suriname!


So Luisa and I got on the metro system and I made her pay for the tickets etc. and would pay her back later. It was now 11.45 am and I basically had 15 minutes to get there, get back to the Suriname Embassy and get my bloody visa. But Luisa is a local tour guide, she is fluent in Spanish, she lives in Caracas, she can go with me to the embassy and force them to give me my visa. I had that in my head all along, and for a cost of about 200 Bolivares I’m willing to give her that money, ask her for a quick tour of the city centre and leave me back to the hotel with my visa. We stop at a station called Capitolio, or El Silencio. This is basically central Caracas. And my first time there. I had been to La Bandera the previous day walking from the bus station to the metro station, but in the heat and rush of a busy city, I popped onto Pedrera (the street corner) in downtown Caracas.

The first photo I took in downtown was oddly of a lampost! They were celebrating 200 years of being shit, at everything!


I’m entrigued by Luisa and her route round the city. We veer in and out of side streets and busy junctions and end up in the above shop. People are swapping money for drugs and money for money and it’s all backhanded stuff. A guy holds a gun while waiting on a silver watch to be handed over. I went to the corner of the room to take that photo, which basically is a black market exchange shop. You go in, ask for something and you get it. We went in and asked for 45 US $ Dollars, but ridiculously they want 480 Venezuelan Bolivares such is the madness of the currency crisis that week. I didn’t quite have enough.

I tried THREE cash points and THREE different cash cards and finally one back round the corner came up with the cash I needed. A quick dash back to the dodgy pawn shop and I had $50 US Dollars in my hand!!! I was happy, even though the whole thing was a rip off.

It was time for my one and only bit of sightseeing in downtown Caracas. I knew I had to be back at the embassy to get my visa, but I decided to take the piss and go back there a bit later than 12 noon now I had the benefit of a local tour guide with me!! Downtown Caracas in a snap shot will appear in a separate report actually! Time to get that visa.

We get the metro back to Altamira station after the quick sightseeing and then a taxi to the Suriname Embassy. Without further ado, and having spent about 400 US Dollars in a day, I get my Suriname Visa! See the happinness in kodak moment below…



Holding my treasured 45 US Dollars just before parting with them in the Embassy.



Stamped in Caracas and ready for use the next day. My Suriname Visa.

The receipt for the visa. Lucky I exchanged for $50 US Dollars in the end, as they charged $5 US dollars for out of hours pick up. Yes I kept the bastards waiting, just as they done with me.

I wanted a photo with Luisa, who I paid for her help so here’s the one photo I got with her. She didn’t want me to take it but I had to for the travel memory! Thanks, Luisa, you helped me out even if it means I won’t ever want to visit Venezuela again.

Instead of a taxi back to the hostel, or walking Luisa paid for my local bus ticket and she hopped off just before me. I had done it. This is the longest report and struggle to date for any country’s visa. To close, I will recommend a few things:

1. Arrive in Venezuela with US Dollars on you. And lots of them.
2. If you’re getting a Suriname Visa, get it well in advance (and preferably in your native country)
3. NEVER head to Caracas in Venezuela with the sole intention of getting a Suriname Visa!


Ah the joys of it all. My visa entry form on the flight into Paramaribo the following night!


And yes!! I made it to Suriname as I landed at Zanderij Airport.


Aside from the visa, you also get a wee passport stamp in Dutch!


The story ends with a happy one. A relaxing Parbo bier was my welcome to the wonderful Amice Guesthouse in Paramaribo, capital city of Suriname.


Flying the Northern Ireland flag at the parliament in central Paramaribo. I fucking deserved that moment alright!

Visa Obtained – Republik of Suriname

What I Needed To Get It –
1. Filled out application form in Dutch, English or Spanish
2. Two passport photos
3. Original of my passport with 6 months to run and 3 free pages (I didn’t have 3 free pages but they ended up letting me away with it)
4. Copy of my passport
5. Original and copy of flight tickets in and out
6. Confirmation of hotel reservation in Suriname
7. Bank statement of the last 3 months
8. Job letter indicating post, time and last salary ( I forged this, typed it up on Microsoft Word as I didn’t actually have a job letter for my previous few jobs)
9. Copy of the business register if necessary
10. $45 US Dollars
11. A further $5 US Dollars for out of hours service

(easy peasy eh?!)

Nationalities Met – Surinamese, Venezuelan, Ecuadorian, Trini

Transport Used – Taxi, bus, metro

Trips to embassy and back – 3

Days to secure visa – 2 (seemed longer at the time)

Visa refusals – 2

Key Song –

1. R.E.M. – LET ME IN (I love this song, written about Kurt Cobain and containing the first line “yes all the stars drip down like butter” and the choral screech of “hey, let me in”

2. PRIMAL SCREAM – GIVE OUT BUT DON’T GIVE UP:

3. THE TOASTERS – DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN:

My Videos –

VIDEO IN ALTAMIRA, CARACAS PRETENDING TO BE HAPPY ABOUT THE VISA STRUGGLE, LITERALLY WITHIN A MINUTE OF THIS VIDEO I ESCAPED MY ATTEMPTED MUGGING!:

VIDEO IN THE LITTLE ROCK CAFE AFTER THE ATTEMPTED MUGGING:

WEE VIDEO FROM PLAZA ALTAMIRA:

AND THAT CAPTURED MOMENT OF CRAZYNESS…WHAT I REALLY THINK OF VENEZUELA. LIVE, REAL ANGER IN CARACAS:

Oh what a fucking joy to get the hell out of Caracas and safely into Suriname…




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5 thoughts on “The Suriname Visa Struggle: Attempted Muggings, Over Charging, Black Market Exchange Rate, Rip Offs and Just ONE Fucking Nightmare

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