Boundaries and Iron Bars

The transient residents of Langa Tabiki made the impact of their presence really felt yesterday as they, (the miners) had all thrown in a few crumbs of gold to keep the village generator running well into the night. So with the backdrop of drunken laughter and pumping music our usual late-night up-load was helped with the luxury of electric lights, and with so much to condense from a single day's events it served us well.

Our last day on the Marowijne, we loaded the boat with mixed emotions this morning. Happy that we would be back at the sea after six long weeks in the interior ... but sad in some ways that we leave behind a kaleidoscope of rich experience, beautiful people and powerful places. The trip is not over but today signalled the end of our biggest challenge, fairly unscathed, except for one of our crew who got Malaria. We quietly passed the last rapids that mark the end of Bush-Negro territory all reflecting on the wilder waters that we left behind. The widening river finally loosened its grip on us as we arrived at Albina only 42km from the open ocean. We stopped to pick up Sirano Zalman who's been in the background supporting us from Paramaribo. He'll be guiding us through the coastal area of Carib country on the last section of our trip back to the capital. One of the main focuses in the coming days will be the Sea Turtle nesting sites, the largest in the world, that span this coastal area. So to get a wider picture of the drives being taken to protect these amazing creatures we took the short trip across river to Saint Laurent de Maroni where we could travel on by land to the coast.

Our whole trip has been full of unseen and, in most cases, officially unrecognised boundaries so this afternoon's hop to French Guyana was another onslaught to the senses. Followed closely to shore by the machine-gun-wielding stern-looking crew of a French anti-smuggling river patrol boat was a sure sign that this boundary was for real. Saying goodbye to Johannes was difficult, knowing, unlike our other guides, he'd been showing us his own lands. Passing quickly though customs we made our way to the Mayor's office to announce our arrival and hopefully learn a little more about the colourful history of this town. Sadly he was busy, and probably a good thing, as sitting in the super-clean reception area of that smart old colonial building we suddenly felt really awkward and really dirty in our bush-weary clothes, as high heeled, well-manicured office-girls sneered at our appearance. So making a sheepish retreat from officialdom we decided to visit the one place this town is most famous for - the prison.

In a darker chapter of French colonial history, much like the British, their 'bad eggs' were shipped off to far-flung corners of the empire to rot in the cruelly managed inhumane conditions of penal colonies. The main reason that this place was not buried in history was the writings of one of its inmates... Papillion. Tomorrow we'll be briefly visiting Devil's Island where he was sent after repeated escape attempts.... "Ya Comin?'"


The Prisoner

Checking Out the Accomodation

Echoes of Suffering

Papillion woz 'ere