AT 10 AM, Suriname’s capital is closed for traffic. Police officers leisurely patrol the streets and women issue earplugs sponsored by 3M. Platforms are constructed on street corners and bands tune their instruments. Food and beer stalls are erected in seemingly random places; Parbo Bier vendors will have to compete with the hard liquor people bring in coolers from home. The atmosphere will remain relaxed — no aggression, no incidents.
Streets are thronged with people. They laugh, show off their latest hairdo, dance, and pose. Live bands, parading brass bands, and blaring music are drowned out when two kilometres of superstring are lit, pounding against ear drums, filling the streets with smoke and red debris. But the evil spirits are gone.
Young and old hop and spin to Suriname’s rhythms. It has the madness of Carnival. At 11:30 PM, everybody returns home. Houses need to be cleared of evil spirits as well, preferably at exactly midnight.