To MariŽnburg with our own car  Click for the chartlet
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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 beautiful sight.

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 origin) 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 through various 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 interferes.

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 house.

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.

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