Bernadette

Guyana

This is
Bernadette Bastemeijer (1972)

Country of origin
Guyana

In the Netherlands since 
1985

Lives in
South East

Profession
Fitness trainer and weight consultant 

Loves
Caribisch carnaval

First impression of Amsterdam

A quiet city for a city capital with a lot of nature

Favourite spot
‘The Gaasperpark and the Nelson Mandelapark in Amsterdam South East. Over there I love to train and to watch people train. Also I like to watch all the families who are eating and barbacue. In Amsterdam South East I visit a lot of theatre, the Kwakoefestival and I enjoy to walk through the wooded area. Than I became very calm and it feels like home.'

“I’ve already lived in Amsterdam for 31 years. I was born in Guyana and came to Holland via Surinam, where we lived for three years, with my mother, two sisters and brother.


My father had already arrived here and lived in Rotterdam. Not long after our arrival, my parents divorced and we went to live in the Zuid Oost district of Amsterdam with my mother. I still live here. I find it a brilliant area to live in; trees, nature, parks. When I want a more energetic environment I can go the centre of Amsterdam, or Amsterdam Poort. In Gaasperdam, where my house is, I can relax. Cows graze in the meadows not far from where I live; just like in Guyana. I think Amsterdam is an amazing place! There is so much to do.

I only returned once more to Guyana in 213. Everyone had warned me not to, and had told me negative stories about my homeland. I was told that theft is rife, but you can have things stolen anywhere in the world. I never felt unsafe there. I still have an aunt in Guyana and everyone from my village there knows her and vice versa. I miss the social contact when I’m in Amsterdam. I find social contact so important, and try to integrate this concept into my work as a fitness coach and dietician. I organize various activities so my clients have the opportunity to meet one other. I organize trips such as Escape Weekends where we train together and have get togethers every evening.

But what I enjoy the most is carnival time. With a large group coming from a wide range of different cultures we travel to carnivals in Rotterdam, Berlin and London. Then I can once again submerge myself in the Guyanese culture; soca, calypso and reggae music – three sorts of music which tell stories from life in the Caribbean. It’s often joyful music, with reggae being more about love.”

402 people in Amsterdam have the Guyanese nationality

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