by Mykel Board
Nov 3, 2013- Nov. 12, 2013
A Parbo Night in Paramaribo
[Recap: From the start, it didn't look good for this trip. Everything went right... always a bad sign. Nothing portends disaster like everything going right.
Easy subletter in New York, smooth flight to Miami, promises of “meet you at the airport/seaport” for the whole trip. $10 a night accommodations in Guyana, the rest free.
Uh oh! Too good. The better the news before, the bigger the fall later. And things get worse. (Better) The Miami trip goes so smoothly you could cry. The only problem was a lot of rain-- heavy rain. I got wet.
Then on to North Trinidad, where my friends pick me up at the airport, take me around drinkin'. Then, I move South to San Fernando T'dad, have some fun adventures, meet a Goddess... er... Empress of a girl. Go back to the airport and fly to Guyana.
In Guyana, my facebook friends from KEEP YOUR DAY JOB! meet me at the airport. From there, we go to Jamal's. This is the only time have to pay for a place to sleep: 15 days for $150US. Not bad. No it doesn't go perfectly. But it goes, and I meet some great people in the country. My trip to Kaiteur Falls is amazing.
The two weeks of my stay in Guyana are adventure-filled, and beer-dulled. Most days, it rained. Sometimes for just an hour or two in the afternoon. Sometimes al day.
“I don't get it Mykel,” Jamal tells me. “This isn't the rainy season.”
Then the band develops a drummer problem. Two drummers agreed to go with them. One, a close friend, the other, more PUNKROCK. They ditch the friend for the punkrocker. He bails at the last minute. The now former-friend does not answer emails. I cannot play drums. Uh oh, here it comes. This cannot work out. We go to Suriname anyway. It works out.
In Suriname, I stay with a punkrock student and his super-generous parents. I mention a local synagogue, they arrange a tour. I mention a trip to “the interior,” bang, we're there... surveying monkey meat. When dad can't do it, they get the poor son, Jose, to chauffeur me around, as if he doesn't have enough to do with schoolwork. I can see he hopes for rain... it's a good excuse to stay home. Often there is rain.
Then it's on to French Guyana. There, Florian, the brother of one of my top ten pals, Simon, lives with his girlfriend Marie. Two blog entries ago, I'd just arrived in French Guiana.
BUT, there was a lot I left out of the Suriname adventure. I did a little back-tracking track last time. Through my escape from the Chinese Restaurant Lunch Terrorist Adventure©, and the general nastiness of being A BAD GUEST.
Last entry, we were right up to my demand to go to PARBO NIGHTS. A beer-sponsored mega-fest with dancers, cheap beer, loud disco, and a most unpunk atmosphere. Jose, my punkrock host, is as anxious to go, as I'd be to go to a Oregon Ducks Football Game-- and that's not very. But he is the host, and Mom and Dad bully him into being THE GOOD HOST, to my BAD GUEST.
Mom and Dad, by the way, have gone so far out of their way to accommodate every little request, that it almost shuts me up... for fear of being taken on a wild ride in search of peanut butter, or something equally arcane. Between Mom's cooking and Dad's tour arranging, they must rank among the top five most accommodating hosts I've ever had. Maybe number one, if you don't count sexual favors... No, I didn't ask!]
FLASH TO TOMORROW, EVE OF PARBO NIGHTS: I want to see the 70s retro folks. I saw 'em on TV. It's a combination of 70s pimp, Sly Stone, and Elvis Presley. Yowsah!
It's about 8 o'clock. Jose's up in his room, way behind on school work. AND he's got this BAD GUEST who he knows wants to see some awful kitch at an event he doesn't have the time or inclination to participate in.
Unfortunately for Jose, it's not raining.
Dad shouts up the stairs: “Hey Jose! Mykel wants to go to Parbo Nights. You should take him before it gets too late.”
“Jose,” shouts Dad, louder. “Mykel is waiting.”
The door to Jose's room creaks open. He slowly comes down the stairs.
“So, Mykel,” he says, “what's up?”
“It's PARBO NIGHTS!” I tell him.
He looks skyward.
“Of course,” I say with a pout that would do justice to every girlfriend from here to Timbukthree, “if you really don't want to go, I could stay home and play solitaire on my computer. You really don't have to worry about me.”
Jose says something under his breath. It sounds like feric. I guess it's a Dutch word in a lesson I haven't gotten to yet.
Jose and I pack into his car and we're off. After a few minutes driving, I begin to hear what sounds like distant bombing. BAFOOM! BAFOOM! BAFOOM! Like in the background of old war movies.
“Are there terrorists here?” I ask the beleaguered Jose.
“No, Mykel,” he says. “That's Parbo Nights.”
The sound gets louder, and more rhythmic We pass a large cyclone fence, and gate. The gate vibrates... rattles... BAFOOM! BAFOOM! BAFOOM! Parked cars pack every street in the area. Double parked. Triple parked. Jose circles a block. Then another block. And another. Not a space... not the smell of a space.
We try further and further away. I have no sense of direction, but even if I did, I would have gotten myself lost in the ever widening spiral search for parking. It's at least half an hour before Jose shouts, THERE! And sure enough,-- there's a small grassy place on the other side of a sidewalk. It's between two occupied cars-- their doors swung open into the space. The occupants are eating something out of styrofoam containers. Their legs hang off the seats into our parking space.
“I don't think we can fit there with the doors open like that,” I say pessimistically.
“The doors won't stay open,” says Jose, pulling in, aiming right for them.
Blam! The doors close and Jose pulls right into the spot.
“They don't seem so happy about the intrusion,” I say. “Maybe they were setting up a... er... liaisan.”
“Naw Mykel,” says Jose, “this happens all the time.... You ready to hike to Parbo?”
And hike it is. I don't know how he's ever going to find the car again. It must be half a mile away. … more! But here we are, back at the gates. I can't remember if we paid to get in... I don't think so... but I do remember that there is a huge mob of people.
First things first... we go over to the PARBO tent to buy beer.
“Wat voor soort bier wil je?” comes the answer
Huh? I THINK that means what kind of beer do you want? but this is Parbo nights, sponsored by Parbo beer. What kind of beer SHOULD I get? And besides, I don't have enough Dutch to ask what are my choices? Should I ask for a Brooklyn Lager?
“Parbo, alstublieft,” I say.
The attractive woman in the Parbo tent hands me two beers. I hand one to Jose.
“Let's get as close to the stage as we can,” I suggest to Jose, beer in hand.
That means crawling through the crowd, shouldering BIG GUYS who don't seem all that friendly, pushing past some horrible white people, probably Dutch tourists, who are more interested in making public displays of possession, than watching the performance.
Eventually we make it to the stage.
On stage is an ordinary guy with two very sexy girls.
At the back of the stage, a dozen musicians make the music. The trio sort of sings and sort of dances to it. The crowd is sort of singing and sort of dancing too.
Yeah, the girls are sexy, but I'm here for the retros... Ah, there they are... off stage. Some are taking iPhone pictures, others are smoking something, still others are just staring off into space.
Oh no, I missed 'em!! I'd better at least take an off-stage picture.
On stage now are some un-sexy guys. They're singing some kind of music I don't know. Like superfast rap, with a little reggae thrown in, all unintelleg- ible, but so much fun my face hurts.
“What is it?” I ask Jose.
“What is it?” I ask Jose.
“What is what?” he answers.
“That music!” I say. “I don't know it.”
“It's bubbling,” he answers, with a vocal link to YouTube. “It was popular ten years ago. Where have you been, Mykel?”
Good question. But no time for an answer. Because HERE IT COMES.
Oh yeah! This is what I've been waiting for. At first there are three of them... but wait... there's more:
Yeah! It's everything I'd want in white jump-suited 70s colored folks of any gender you can name! Hooey!
They dance and sing and get the audience movin'... including girls who wine like I love. (If you've never seen Caribbean wining... well, you can't imagine.) I don't know how they can move like that, but it's something that I don't think white girls could ever do. (Excuse me while I fix my pants.)
When the group leaves the stage, my beer is just about finished.
“Can we go now?” asks Jose.
I nod... reluctantly.
Somehow we shoulder our way out, and onto the street. Even a stranger somehow, we make all the right turns and the left turns necessary to get back to the car.
Jose puts his key into the cardoor. Turns it. Something is wrong.
“Did we forget to lock the car?” he asks.
He opens the car and slides into the driver's seat.
“And look the box is open,” I see he's looking at the glove compartment. It is indeed open.
“We've been robbed!” It's nice that he includes me in the adventure, but I had haven't lost anything.
“They took my iPod... with all my songs,” he says, barely holding back the tears. “And my CDs... I had a CIRCLE JERKS CD! What is a thief gonna do with a Circle Jerks CD?”
“What kind of music do thieves usually like?” I don't ask.
He looks through some papers, and into those handles on the side of the car that you used to close the door. I don't know what they're called, but people usually store gum wrappers and snot-filled tissues there.
“And my condoms!” he shouts. “They took my condoms!! Who would take somebody's condoms? Why? It's just not fair! Not fair!”
Now he is crying. He rests his hands on the steering wheel, and his forehead on his hands. I can hear the sobs. Between them, in English, “They took my condoms.... my Circle Jerks CD... what are they gonna do with a Circle Jerks CD?”
It's several minutes before he can get it together enough to drive us back to the house on Tibiti Staat. By the time I get my boots off, Jose has disappeared.
Dad greets me at the door.
“How was Parbo nights?” he asks.
“I had a great... umm... we were robbed,” I tell him.
Then I recount Jose's sad story, leaving out the condoms and the Circle Jerks.
Dad shakes his head and clucks his tongue sympathetically. Then calls upstairs.
“Jose,” he says, “you should get Mykel something to eat.”
FAST FORWARD: I'm leaving for French Guiana in a couple days.
The next morning, Jose's mom tells me they were doing a lot of research to find the best way to get to Albina (the Surinamese border town)... and then from there across the river to French Guiana.
“The good news is that it costs only ten dollars,” she says.
Uh oh, you know that when a statement starts the good news is... something mighty awful is going to follow. I wait.
“The bad new is,” she continues, “you'll have to get up at 4AM and go into town so you can wait four hours to catch the bus at 8AM. There are no reservations... and...”
“You'll have to ride in a packed bus with the Bush Nenge, their screaming children and probably their chickens... Of course,” she says,” you can also go with a taxi-bus with just a few people... and it'll pick you up right here....”
“But it'll be a lot more expensive,” she concludes.
The rest of the trip to French Guiana you can read about in Entry 8. Next time, we'll pick up from there... entering French Guiana... from the rear.
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