I love foreign money. It is always so bright and colorful. Well, Surinamese Guilders are exceptional. They have a bunch of jungle stuff, and that one swimmer guy that went to the Olympics (Anthony Nesty?). So, there I was, less than 12 hours into Suriname and I needed to go buy a towel. First, I needed money. I probably just bought some from the other volunteers, but maybe I went to an exchange place. But the important part of this story isn’t the money, or the bank, it’s the language and racial profiling. See, I’m a great big white guy. If I was blonde, it would’ve been worse. And because of that, everyone assumed I was Dutch and on holiday, and a douche bag. If I spoke to the people in Sranan Tongo (sounds like Ebonics/Spanish), they would get all pissed off because I was treating them like uneducated bush people. I had to start off in Dutch. Guess what? The Peace Corps didn’t teach it’s volunteers Dutch. They taught us Sranan Tongo. But, being me, I had spent a few months pre-Suriname learning Dutch.

Here’s how ALL my communications went in Suriname:
Me: Alo, prat u engels? (This is hands down one of the most useful phrases to learn in any language!).
Them: (What the hell language was that?!) Nee (nope).
Me: (Switching to Sranan Tongo and making faces of pain and anguish) Ow mani fu wan sof in sac?
Them: (What the hell language is that?! Oh, you poor “special” man) Blah, blah, blah
Me: (What the fuck are they saying? Cheese? My cheese is bloody? What?!) Uh….

But, the important this is START with Dutch! They instantly knew I wasn’t Dutch when I spoke to them in Dutch. Then, using whatever I could, I communicated. Once they figured out I wasn’t some asshole tourist and I was American, they cut me all sorts of slack. I still got the skin tax though. Meh.