AROUND PARIMARIBO BY BUS
Trip Start Aug 14, 2005
13Trip End Dec 16, 2005
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The mango's are falling from the trees here in the tropics. It's hard to think that in less than 2 weeks I will be in ice, snow and Christmas festivities. Christmas is just now beginning to appear, but it is certainly not the intense commercial hype of North America. A welcome relief to not see any signs of Christmas until December first. The hotels are decked with Xmas trees and some of the stores, but nothing remotely like at home.
Some of the things I've been wanting to share with are some typical Parimaribo experiences. Not the least of which are the city buses!
The buses have amused and frustrated us from the beginning. Early on, Amy, one of the participants sighted the buses as her biggest cultural frustration.
The buses are privately owned
Now picture this, the full bus pulls out, often with more than the 30 personon as typically one or two men will hop on and stand in the stairwell. Once the bus is full and begins it's journey winding through the streets we are, of course, also hostage to whatever music and at whatever volume the driver perfers. Shortly someone rings the bell to get off. If this person is in the back the routine is that the person in the fold up seat in front of the exiting person is tapped on the shoulder. Everyone in the folding isle stands, folds up their seats, skinnies up while the person who is exiting makes their way forward. Imagine this as the Surinames, particularly the women are often very "ample". Then everyone shuffles back, unfolds their seat and relocates. This process continues to repeat as the bus empties and fills on it's route. Needless to say, it is a relief to find yourself safely in a non folding seat, which doesn't mean that you still don't have to go through the tapping and waiting for the unfolding of seats when you are getting off. The worst is when you are in a front folding seat as the bus sets out. Chances are you may find yourself moving back one folding seat at a time.
Surinames are patient people when it comes to their buses. They are also generally accommodating. I've often seen people near the door or the seats behind the driver squeeze in an extra person (3 butts to a two seater, or 2 butts on a folding seat) Someone is bound to get off soon and release the squeeze
Amy desperately wants to rip out the folding seats and put a bar down the center isle. She hasn't mentioned this for some time so I expect she is normalizing herself into the idiosyncrasies of bus travel in Parimaribo.
Settled into a seat one of my favourite pastimes is watching the little old wooden houses along the streets. They often seem to me to be slowly melting in the tropical sun as they often have a slightly crooked appearance of the old and tired. Shades of days long gone. These, I expect, would have been homes of the less well to do Dutch in the colonial times who weren't part of the delapitating grand old mansions that still line the Waterkant and the core of the old inner city, which, by the way is a world heritage site. Many of these little houses are now part of Maroon encampments in the city. Some of them are delapitated shacks with tin sheeting additions to protect from the rains. Many, however, while obviously poor have somehow maintained a certain charm, with their gabled roofs and shuttered windows. I find them an endearing part of the Suriname scene.