Anndra Neen’s Phoebe and Annette Stephens in Suriname
“A good trip always broadens our vision, so we were thrilled when our friend Everard Findlay invited a few jewelry designers to Suriname to experience life in a country that’s 90 percent rain forest. After a quick connecting flight from the tiny country’s capital, Paramaribo, we landed in the middle of the South American jungle and soon found ourselves surrounded by the oldest trees on Earth, with the only sounds those of rain falling and birds calling out to one another. We learned about the so-called telephone trees—pre-Columbian Amerindians would hit them on the base of the trunk to communicate with one another, sometimes as far as five or six miles apart. Then we arrived at a clearing where the rain forest met a river, and guides with rowboats greeted us for a breathtaking tour of the Kabalebo River.
We also met the local painter and sculptor Erwin de Vries, whose work—so free and full of color—reminded us of our grandmother’s, an artist working in Mexico in the thirties and forties. Suriname is built from diverse influences ranging from Dutch, Javanese, and Chinese to Indian and African, all of which contribute to the vibrant music, food, and dress that we saw everywhere we went. Between the culture clashes and the raw power of nature, we were completely mesmerized.”