On a recent trip to Suriname, the only Dutch-speaking country in Latin America, I come to appreciate the word ‘genieten’ (verb). As a foreigner, you often hear this word from the Dutch but I seem to take it for granted because the word itself is too far from the English equivalent to enjoying, to like, or to relish.
A day before we flew to Paramaribo, my mother-in-law told us: “geniet van Suriname!” which is loosely translated to: “enjoy Suriname!” But of course, she also meant to appreciate everything such as the food, the tours, the people, the hotel and other things that one can derive pleasure from. For many Dutch tourists in Paramaribo, I noticed that they ‘enjoy’ just lounging around the swimming pool the whole day, getting tanned. “Ze genieten van het warme weer” (they enjoy the warm weather). For my 4-year old son: “Hij geniet van zwemmen en daarna patat eten” (He enjoys swimming and eating fries afterward.) We spent most of our time in the swimming pool because my son’s concept of ‘genieten’ during vacation is swimming every day and eating his favourite snack. If you combine the two—that is “erg genieten van…” (super enjoying.)
Besides the swimming pool, there are plenty of things to do in Suriname. Reading the brochures (which are mostly in English, Dutch, Spanish and German), the magic word ‘genieten’ is used almost automatically. For example: “Hier kan je genieten van een welverdiende vakantie waarbij ook voldoende rust en ontspanning wordt geboden” (Here you can enjoy a well deserved holiday including plenty of rest and relaxation). “Je kunt er zwemmen, chillen in je hangmat en van het uitzicht genieten!” (You can swim, relax in your hammock and enjoy the view), says a brochure about a zip lining and quad riding adventure. For the less adventurous, there is dolphin watching in the afternoon. For about 30 euros per person (and 20% children discount), “geniet je van een drie uur durende boottocht met hapjes en drankjes en natuurlijk dolfijnen kijken!” (You enjoy a three-hour boat trip with snacks and drinks, and of course, dolphin watching!).
Personally, my favourite part of our trip to Suriname is the diverse food (Hindustani, Javanese, Chinese and Creole) and the wooden, colonial buildings in the UNESCO heritage part of old Paramaribo. “Ik zou zeggen: Ik heb genoten van de diverse maaltijden in Suriname en de koloniale, houten gebouwen in de stad Paramaribo.” (I want to say that I enjoyed the diverse cuisine in Suriname and the colonial buildings in the city of Paramaribo).
What are your thoughts on the Dutch word, Genieten?