Driving towards Marienburg, we halted at Lila her parents house. After Kamta's numerous exotic fruits we were now stuffed with small snacks and fantastic roti. When we had cycled from town to New Amsterdam, we had halted at the same house, gaping at the sheer size and the small temple in the garden. We were impressed.
Most of Lila's family had shops or businesses in the neighborhood and one owned the furniture manufacturer across the street from her parents house. Underneath one of the tables in the house, several Dutch and German mail order catalogs were laying around. If you wanted anything from her brother's, you just looked for the right closet, bed, door or cupboard in any of the catalogs and it would be custom built. It explained why many of the Surinamese interiors look quite 'bombastic': Someone is yet to bring in an IKEA catalog. â€¨
Marienburg is really amazing. That is, if you like your buildings in very bad shape.
The factory was opened in 1882 to ensure local sugarcane farmers in getting a reasonable price for their work. After a bloody demonstration, early in the factory's history, the 'Nederlandse Handelsmaatschappij', a precursor to the ABN-AMRO, tried to make the plantation profitable. Sixty kilometers of rail were built and electrical machines for producing sugar, alcohol and rum were imported. However, due to lower and lower sugar prices and several bad harvests, the factory was unable to remain profitable. In 1964, it was sold to another Dutch consortium who sold it, ten years later, for 1 guilder to the Surinamese government. In the early 80s, the factory was closed although still many of those workers receive a monthly pay. In Suriname, it's not easy to lay off government workers.
It is almost impossible to believe that the factory was only shut down twenty years ago. Already, floors are caving in, walls have disappeared, large insects and small animals live all over the place and vegetation is slowly claiming victory.
After I had seen almost every aspect of the area and had been dragged out by Betsy for taking so long, we ate some of the oranges Kamta had taken with him from their plot of land in Commewijne.
Shortly after, a small Javanese guy cycled up to us, saying he did tours of the facility. Since we had already seen the whole place, we didn't need his services but suddenly, he started to speak much faster, in Surinamese, claiming he had three kids, a small salary and, gasp, had just had surgery, after which he showed us a big 30cm scar on his tummy.
Kamta was starting to get annoyed but offered him half an orange. Only when we left and the guy asked me for a coke did Kamta get pissed and cursed the guy away.
Later, when at Kamta's parents place, we heard that the guy doesn't have any kids at all.