The multitude of greens comes from the many types of vegetables; the other colors are caused by the abundance of fruit. Besides all the sounds, this is the first thing that stands out at the Public Market in Nickerie: the rainbow of colors. The purple of the sterappel (star apple) stands out among the yellow of the mangos and the bananas. There is the orange of the awara fruit, while the tamarind is exclusively brown in color. And red usually indicates: tomatoes or peppers. Even the section with spices, where the colors of the sauces and powders are more or less similar, is very colorful.
Sometimes there is an abundance of a specific agricultural product at the market. One week later, there are loads of a totally different product. The Public Market in Nickerie is as dynamic as any other market and supply is determined by the demand and by the season.
A television in a corner provides entertainment. For religious products and other items you’ve come to the right place. Kris Bhawan sees to it that you are protected from evil spirits. He stirs a feather in a plate of oil, which he first balances on top of your head and then positions at your knees, and then your feet.
However, the fish department is definitely the most interesting part of the market. Skilled and quick hands peel the shrimp while others scale the tilapias in no time. Only the prehistoric looking creature, the lompu (Batrachoides surinamensis) is skinned. The large species, such as de trapun, jarikaba, anyumara and tukunari, compete for the title of river monster. Only at the live kwikwis one can finally breath normally again. The kwikwis are from Nani zwamp (swamp).
In the street that ends here, you will come across another color explosion; this one because of the array of snacks, meat-or otherwise-stuffed breads and other delicacies. The sizzling sound of bami (fried noodles) or nasi (fried rice) on high heat works like a billboard: everything is fresh here. The ‘odd duck’ among everything here is the stand with cutting boards made of bostamarinde (marblewood).
At this market you are approached from the front with “ja, jaaaa…” and when somebody comes up from behind, you are warned with: “wagi wagi!” Move over when you hear this and make way for the wheelbarrow pusher. In the non-food part of the market where mainly clothing is sold, you are greeted by the hum of sewing machines.
Public Market Nickerie, G.G. Maynard Street, opposite Volksplein, Nieuw-Nickerie, Suriname.
The market is open from Monday through Saturday. The first stallholders arrive at 7:00 a.m. At 9:00 a.m. everyone is present. The market closes at 1:00 p.m. On Sunday mornings you will find a few vendors selling plants and snacks in the front of the market.
The nicely located Residence Inn Nickerie is a short walk from the market.
Text, photos and video: Charles Chang
Translation: Roline Brahim-Tjen A Kwoei/Equivalence Translations
Copy-editing: Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld