|Boundaries and Iron
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....
Checking Out the Accomodation
Echoes of Suffering
Papillion woz 'ere