In Suriname people party continuously as
every ethnic or religious group has their own celebrations, and everyone
joins in. The hindi have by far the largest quantity of religious
festivities, among them
in October Divali, the celebration of the light.
Asking around, almost nobody but our friend Bea seems to know the
precise meaning of the celebration.
As with most of the hindi celebrations, it is all about the good winning
from the bad. with in this case as most important metaphore de woman as
the light and flower at home. (According to
Bea.) On a decorated truck four children were seated as personifications
of four hindi symbols. The leading part is played by Lakshmi, Vishnu's
wife and goddess of wealth and happiness with a flower in her hand, and
the frightening looking ape Hanuman (left on the photo) as a bodyguard.
The light that was blessed by the pandit was placed in front of them.
The two following trucks carried the musicians and were followed by the
worshippers carrying torches as they walked to the hindi temple. It was a
Now that we have this little car and the rainy season has not started
yet, we can be our own tour operator. Kees and Hester (Nenya)
felt like a day trip as well so we went to MariŽnburg.
To check if the place is still haunted.
MariŽnburg is a former sugar cane plantation and sugar factory, and was
responsible for the best rhum Suriname ever produced. The brand still
exists, but the factory was closed in 1986 and under the labels on
today's bottles you won't find the rhum MariŽnburg was - apart
from the ghost stories - famous for.
MariŽnburg has a rich history, i.e. the labourers worked very hard and
the Dutch owners got rich. Rich over the backs of the hindi and later
the Javanese contract labourers. When in 1902 some labourers revolted
and killed the factory manager
(poor working conditions plus sexual assault of their women), all
labourers suspected of being involved in the murder were killed
without a trial and threwn in a mass grave; guilty or not guilty. And if
innocent people are killed, ghosts come to take revenge, as
superstituous Surinamese people believe. So strange accidents started to happen
on MariŽnburg, and every new factory manager died in a brutal way.
In front of the labourers homes just
outside the gate
we met a guide, at least this is what we gathered from his badge
dusplaying ďTourist GuyĒ.
This very kind Javanese man worked for 40 years in the factory and he
gave us a nice and informative tour on the factory premises.
The plantation covered 2,000 ha and there were about 1,300 labourers.
These were all needed as the whole process of making rum from sugar cane
was extremely labour-intensive. And even until the factory was closed in
the í80s, all energy was supplied by steam machines, for which quite a
lot of men were needed. If you look at the machinery (from Dutch
you can imagine the busy atmosphere and the hell of a noise in the
factory, which produced for 7 months per year. The remaining 5 months were
reserved for maintenance, and in the meantime the sugar cane grew.
The sugar cane stems were trucked in with 20 or 30 pieces at a time on
open train lorries (there were rails all over the plantation) and fed
crunch- and flattening machines
from coarse to superfine. The juice was piped into the kettles and the
remains of the stems were used as fuel in the steam kettles.
A perfect form of recycling, and with the remaining ashes the
streets were covered with tarmac.
With the aid of chemicals, the juice was separated from the pulp and
cooked into a syrup. This syrup was cristallized into brown sugar and
packed into bags of 100 kg each. This was all done manually,
lifting and placing the bags on wagons included! A second cristallization process
generated the more expensive white sugar. The remaining brown melassis
was used for the production of the rhum, which was distilled in the
distillation tower that was 45 meters high. Finally the rhum was piped into
barrels containing 17,220 lbs each.
Immediately next to the barrels was the customs office.
MariŽnburg was completely self-supporting. Quality control was also
self-supported by the house laboratory.
After 1975, when the Independance was a fact
and the Dutch sold the factory for 1 guilder to the Surinamese government,
the business went downhill. Know-how was gone. In 1986 the factory was
closed. Nowadays all Surinamese rhum is produced by SAB (Surinam Alcoholic
Beverages) following a chemical process in which not a stem of sugar cane
Lazy times are over. The house is bought and paid for. We had to wait
longer than 2
months for the notary and other legal stuff, and our departure for Tobago is
seriously delayed. If the first phase of the renovation goes according to
plan, we will leave for the Caribbean in January. It is going to be a short
sail then: Tobago, Trinidad and to the north: Grenadines, Santa Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe,
Antigua. By the time we arrive there it is already April and then we will
head for Suriname again; to avoid the hurricane season and to work on the
Domburg's stray dogs start to be a fixed item.
Ramona gave birth again. Two weeks before she delivered, we interfered
in nature's course, as the dog responsible for Betsie's near-death
also started to attack Ramona. When she was crippled after a massive fight
with a wound in her forepaw that needed at least three stitches, we were fed
up with the bad dog. The wound was cared for with some dermatol (always
stand by) and a mysterious impregnated Chinese sticking plaster size 6x10 cm
from the Chinese supermarket. On only a few square meters (size of a grocery
shop) they sell any product you can think of; from food to clothes, toys,
bicycle pumps, sunglasses and umbrella's, and also drugstore products and
mysterious Chinese medicins. The
Chinese wonder plasters combined with the staggering self repairing ability
that characterizes stray dogs, resulted in Ramona's quick recovery, without
even having to visit a vet for some stitches. And how did we interfere exactly in
nature's course? We invited the big bad dog into our car, drove to the other side of
Paramaribo and set her free with a can of dog's food. Problem solved.