Satori In Suriname: Naked Lunch & A/C Nightmares As I Lay Dying

Old Paramaribo, Suriname

Old Paramaribo, Suriname

New Year 2009

Paramaribo a traveler’s dream… Suriname one of those great unknowns, I long put off by the presence of a local dialect called “Taki-taki,” figure some sort of pidgin (i.e. bad) English, follow me around like some fart that just won’t go away.  Mea culpa mea culpa mea culpa mea culpa hail Mary hail Mary hail Mary hail Mary.  Taki-taki, aka Sranan Tongo… goes back to the earliest days of colonialism… a complete mystery to me even when written…

…line between Dutch and Sranan Tongo is a horizontal one separating at least educational, if not social levels… Taki-taki the language of no single one, but of all… Dutch the language of government, education and commerce, and some educated native-born Surinamese who speak it amongst themselves… touts and hawkers bark at me in Dutch not English…  testament to the very low level of tourism here and the high percentage of those who are Dutch…

Modern multi-cultural Suriname

Modern multi-cultural Suriname

…then there are the Chinese…. their presence here out of all proportion to their numbers, as it is elsewhere also… may very well have come in originally with Javanese, given that rice and noodle dishes are universally known as nasi and bamie, and the steamed buns are saw paw, same as Indonesia if I remember correctly.

…old waterfront of Paramaribo a UN world heritage site… suggesting nothing so much as… antebellum Mississippi?  Huh?  If the buildings only had yards… they front the street in continental style… tall white Greek columns… red brick, white shiplap, and green shutters are there, like the tri-color flag for unrealistic expectations and broken dreams…derelict servants’ quarters not far away, fallen into ruin, into the footnotes of history… old town a sleepy backwater…

Chinese re-inventing gunpowder

Chinese re-inventing gunpowder

…modern reality a bit different… hotels and casinos dot the landscape like a little mini Las Vegas, presumably to amuse the Chinese… they invented both playing cards and paper money, likely the same thing… New Year here pretty wild… huge street party last night and today even crazier, crowds in the street by mid-morning drinking and dancing and partying to the local music, lyrics all in Taki-taki.

Chinese brought their fireworks with them, reams and reams of red firecracker rounds, ready to unroll and be set off like gunfire in Palestine, leaving burnt red paper and a few near-deafened ears in the literal wake.  Car alarms routinely go off from the percussion waves unleashed.  Traffic stops mid-street… It seems as if everything must be blessed and christened by the purifying noise…

Day before New Year in Suriname

Day before New Year in Suriname

New Year’s Eve an anti-climax, degenerated into roaming bands of teens indiscriminately lighting firecrackers.  New Year’s Day is like death itself, nothing open but the biggest hotels and a few stalls.  So I sit and study Dutch in my cheap hotel, where I’ve got a fridge and a water kettle, almost like home, except no Wi-Fi and no wifey.

Finally Tang calls on my emergency world phone to wish me a Happy New Year while she waits for the Gold Line train to go to Pasadena.  She and her immigrant Thai friends heard there’s a party there so decided to check it out, something about a football game.  I’m good.

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