Tip Marugg: Weekendpelgrimage (Weekend Pilgrimage)
The weekend pilgrimage of the title is a somewhat drunken journey around Curaçao by an unnamed journalist, meeting people, telling stories, reminiscing and commenting on Curaçao. He works for the local newspaper but is not very happy with his job, feeling that it is somewhat beneath him. He is writing a novel but not making much progress with it. We learn that his interest in writing started when, as boy, he sent his name to a boy’s magazine and, in return, received letters from other boys all over the world. He corresponded with many them but gradually dropped all but one, a South African boy. He dropped him when he suspected that the boy was much older than he was claiming to be.
But for now he is out on his drunken binge. He describes the sights of Curaçao. He crashes his car more than once and also breaks down but, somehow, manages to survive unscathed. Some of his activities are somewhat malicious. For example, he meets an American couple and pretends to be Canadian and entices them into buying him drinks. He meets friends and plays poker, getting steadily drunker all the while. They meet Mencha who they know has a harem of sixteen year old girls. They get her to take them to the harem but, in the meantime, they meet a friend, Marcel, who wishes to serenade a married woman whose husband is away but, when they get to her house, they see that she is with a sailor. He bumps into a host of Curaçaoan characters such as Shashi the gravedigger, always drunk and usually alone who tells him that the best period in a graveyard is just before sunset and talks to him of how strange it is that, even after death, we are segregated, with different cemeteries for the different religions. He nearly gets into a fight but avoids it and remember the only fight he ever had had. This was with a black boy called Charlie, when he was at school (our hero is white). He was winning when some of the other boys urged Charlie to knock the hell out of the dirty European. For a brief moment, he feels the shame that he is a European and Charlie take advantage of his hesitation to knock him down. He picks up a fifteen year old boy to give him lift and has the sudden, inexplicable urge to kill the boy but does not.
He does not seem to have much luck with women. Not only is there the failure to get to the harem, he tells the tale of a girlfriend, Edmée, who phones him one time to take her to Yanshi’s aloe farm. Yanshi is happy to show them around and, at the end, Edmée asks for some samples, which Yanshi happily gives. It is only later that our hero realises that Edmée is pregnant (by another man) and that she had heard that aloe could be an abortifacient. Ultimately, our hero suffers from two ailments, as he says, indifference and superficiality. But he gives us a fascinating and well-written tour of both his home island and of a man who is lost and not sure where he is going.
First published 1957 by De Bezige Bij
First published in English by Hutchinson in 1960
Translated by Roy Edwards