Doewatta, Suriname
4° 33' N 55° 17' W
May 21, 2004 23:50
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Text written in: English

Duatra (21 - 23 May 2004)

You must know where Duatra is, otherwise you would not even consider stopping where the boatsman stopped. We climbed up the slippery river bank, no concrete place to moor. The friendly boatsman who spoke excellent Dutch took me to Mrs Pengel, just like Marcel had told me to do. Mrs Pengel or Mrs Van Dalen he had said, speak perfect Dutch as they are teachers at the primary school of Duatra. The school was about 50 meters from the river bank and Mrs Pengel was surprised to have a smelly tourist with a big backpack on her doorstep. We explained how it came I had ended up there and the expression on Mrs Pengel's, in het early thirties, face, when she heard the name Marcel Oostburg, told me a bit more about Marcel's reputation.

After having talked with all the four school teachers and some Basyas who had joined the commotion on the school square between school building and houses for the teachers, the kapitein was called because I had to inform the kapitein, the head of the village, about my presence and making my accommodation and food problem his responsibility. The kapitein did not speak any Dutch so Mrs Pengel had to translate all for me. The kapitein ws friendly nonetheless and even friendlier after having handed him the almost compulsory bottle of rum. Well, two small ones make one big one. Of course there was no problem as I had my tent and the girls had given me a can of peas, 12 hot dog sausages and a kilo of rice, because theye did not want to carry all that home. Food enough for two days and in the worst case I could always catch some fish, of which there was plenty I would find out soon.

Installing my tent in Duatra drew the attention of the teachers and the children who all wanted to see what kind of space ship I was constructing in their village. Unfortunately they were to scared to speak Dutch to me, although most of them learned it at school, apart from a group of five young gangster kids who could not go to school because their mother could not afford it.

Bathing draw some attention as there are not often tourists in town. Children were fishing, mothers were doing laundry or dishes and I was soaping up myself and trying to make the river smell like Lux. Bathing was easy too. Nice flat rocks, just under water, to rest on and let the water flow. Current was strong at times, but not as strong as it had been in Djoemoe where you had to be careful not to go too far into the river. In Duatra however there is another reason not to go to far into the river. Piranhas. Although I am not 100% sure that it were piranhas who had bitten me, I can not come up with other small animals with small teeth swimming around. It happened three times. Not too painful, although nive is a different feeling, but no bodyparts missing.

Duatra was a nice relaxing village of maybe 50 huts. Nice to relax here for a day or two and enjoy the river whilst bathing and take some pictures of the village and what is happening. The rain was pooring at times and at other times it was bloody hot. No electricity mean candles and lanterns at night, causing a nice atmosphere. Who needs modernities?

Sometimes it is a small world. Last year I met a hitch-hiker I had taken in my car in Mozambique in 1999 again in New Zealand and this year in Uruguay I met a guy I had met in 2000 in Australia. Things like this can happen everywhere, also in Duatra. Nelly Pengel had asked me where I was from in the Netherlands. Although she had never been there she knew Tiel. Interesting. She knew a retired couple in Paramaribo who she had nursed in an elderly home. they had a daughter who married a Dutch man and lived in Tiel. She told me the first name of the woman, Alexandra, and het last name. It did not ring a bell. She could first not come up with the name of the Dutch man. Hours later she shouted HERMAN KOENEN. Unbelievable, I 'know' only one Surinamese woman in Tiel and it was her! Unbelievable. This Herman used to go to school with my father as far as I remember the story. I have only see these people maybe 20 times in my life, but that does not matter. It is a small world, even in Duatra.

The following day it was time to leave again. It was almost impossible as all three people with a boat in Duatra were not there. We had to walk to the next small village, where everybody was surprised again to see a tourist. We found a boatsman who would take me back to Atjoni for only SRD 30, an excellent price. Before I left I had to joing the ceremony that was going on at the house of Kapitein Baisi Sandelie of Duatra. They had installed a new flag pole in front of his house as every kapitein and granman needs a flag pole. The old one had broken in a storm. As a present I had given him another bottle of rum I had left anyway and the T-shirt he wanted to have. The previous evening when he came over to chat he had asked whether he could have the T-shirt I was wearing. He liked it, although it was almost 2 years old already. I had bought it in New Zealand. he was so happy with it that he had to show everybody his new present before dressing up for the flag pole ceremony. Nice to see the kapitain in his formal dress which was full of wrinkles.

After the ceremony it was time to leave. People were waiting already as my boat was not really a charter anymore. Waiting in Suriname however is no problem. Everybody has plenty of time it seems. Back in Atjoni, through the spectacular sulas again I had to wait about 45 minutes before the first public bus was going back to Paramaribo. The 5 hour trip without any problems only cost SRD 10, a bargain.

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