Priorities

Posted on May 17, 2016 by Feiko Beckers

Two weeks ago I rented a car in Suriname for a few days. At first I was a bit anxious, because they drive on the left here and I had never done that before. But in the end it all went fine. If the steering wheel is on the other side of the car, you automatically also drive on the other side of the road.
      The thing that did made me anxious was who has priority at intersections. Because in countries with right-hand traffic, priority is given to traffic from the right. Does that mean that in Suriname you give priority to traffic from the left? According to a taxi driver that’s not the case. After some hesitation he told me that also in Suriname they use the priority-to-the-right rule.
      A young man in Moengo however, who just got his driver’s license, told me that left has priority. To make things even more complicated, a third person told me that a rule like that doesn’t exist in Suriname.
      “You just have to get eye contact with the other driver when you pull up to an intersection.” He told me. “And than you have to be polite.”
      I’m still not entirely sure, but after driving around for a few days I think that the last man is right.

And that wouldn’t immediately be a bad thing. If Suriname taught me one thing is that you don’t need rules for every little thing in life. Sometimes looking each other in the eye is indeed sufficient.
      That doesn’t mean Suriname doesn’t have any rules. They have a lot, but they’re just different. Last month for example I was at the birthday of Cynthia Pinas, who celebrated her 50th birthday. I was surprised to see that not only her, but also other people were dressed in bright yellow clothing.
      But now I know that was no coincidence. Because in a shop in Paramaribo I came across the sign on this picture, that explains which color you should wear when you complete a decade. In Suriname you apparently don’t just put something on when that happens. No, there’s rules for that.

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