Friday, August 24th, 2012
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
I needed to start the process of clearing-in with the authorities, so by 8am I was sitting patiently on the wooden bench outside the Chinese grocery shop waiting for the bus to Paramaribo. If I missed the early bus it would mean a long wait for the next one. The trip into town can take up to two hours. There is only room for about 30 passengers and the driver waits at the Paramaribo end of the route until all the seats are filled, before setting off. By the time it reaches my stop, fairly near the end of the line, it’s almost empty so I jump on and am happy to spend an extra half hour on the road till it gets to the turning point at the far end of Domburg, by which time it’s full again. The road is just a single lane track with wide irrigation canals on either side. Luscious greenery everywhere: banana trees, breadfruit, mango trees, mosques and hindu temples. Coconut trees of course and pink waterlilies in the canals. Roadside stalls selling home-grown pineapples and gigantic pomelos. A fat man on a heavily laden bicycle wobbles along smiling like a happy Buddah. Scraggly, well-worn bitches forage hopefully round rubbish bins. Men take their small song-birds in wooden cages for their morning walk. Birdsong competitions are a popular sport. A green flash as an iguana dashes back into the undergrowth. A beautifully groomed young man gets on board with spangled purple teeshirt, low-slung jeans and glittering bangles upto his elbows.
A shout frightens a blue heron that takes off in low flight above the water lilies and the bus stops and reverses slowly to pick up another passenger.
The sun is quite high by now and the bus lacks air-con. One soon learns on which side of the aisle to sit to avoid getting baked. The sliding door is wedged open to let more air in, which makes it advisable to hang on tight as we take the bends in the road. The traffic starts to build up as we approach the city and soon we are gridlocked. Babies start to get restless. I fan myself with my big hat. The lush greenery has been replaced with a crowded confusion of small shops and businesses. Cars and motorcycles on the side for repairs. It would be quicker to walk but I’m not sure how much further we still have to go. At last we pass a square with a statue of Ghandi and we have arrived. Now to find the No 8 bus for the next leg of my journey to the Foreign Police who have to stamp my one-person ‘crew list’ before I can get a visa. Walk across to a different set of busses and wait for it to fill up before we are on our way inland again.
Friday, 3rd August 2012
Three trips back and forth and today at last I have official approval of my presence here. A strange rule requires that one must return once a month to have the crew list stamped by the Foreign Police. Whew!
On day 2 of my bureaucratic saga I had to fill in some time while waiting for my passport to be returned and did a quick tour of the historic part of the city. Lots of impressive old wooden buildings along the waterfront and an enormous wooden cathedral. The restored Fort Zeelandia was worth a visit. Also a lively indoor market with a good selection of fresh stuff. I couldn’t really indulge my shopping urge as I still had a lot of bussing to do.
Friday, 10 August 2012
The boats anchored at Domburg are mostly empty while their owners are visiting family in Europe or have moved ashore. Suriname is becoming a popular escape from the over-regulation and frustrations of living in the civilized world. Of course nowhere is perfect, so expat conversation relies heavily on the problems of daily life in this very different, very warm and slow-moving alternative venue. There are a number of big supermarkets on the outskirts of town where the owners of the intrusively grand new mansions on the riverside can stock their larders with familiar brands imported from ‘home’. Escape is all very well, but…
Ad and Marianna on ‘Betty Boop’ had hired a car for a few days and offered me a lift to Choi’s Supermarket, a long way out of town. I was grateful as I needed to do a bit of stocking up. There are no sandy beaches here so I would have to buy kitty litter for my fastidious cat. Choi’s proved to be an expat’s shopping paradise brimming with familiar European and American brand names. Shopping trolleys were filled, credit cards performed audaciously. When we got back to Domburg I invested in some ice to go with the newly acquired gin and tonic.
Monday, 20 August 2012
For a while now I have been wondering how to get rid of a heavy and bulky waterproof container of antique emergency flares. They had been on Speedwell when I bought her, already out of date but I had hung on to them thinking it might be tempting fate to dump them and surely some of them must still work. But when I opened the container recently a sulphurous smell blossomed out and I could see that some of the flares were leaking. Time to get them off the boat. I took them ashore and tried my luck at the small police station. The officer I spoke to didn’t know what they were and I had to do some fast talking. I nearly got thrown out with my suspicious baggage when I said it was dangerous for me to keep them on my boat. Interest was arroused when I suggested that they might be used as spectacular fireworks at New Year. A call was made to some higher authority, a receipt was hand-written and I was able to leave empty-handed, really happy to have got rid of the troublesome things at last.