From the western part of the country in
Diary 1, I now start exploring the east.
I had hoped for tea-water in Iracoubo, but instead, I get
pulled over by the police for a further investigation. They let me go after
I reach Cayenne at nine, and start with the hotel apartment, as it might be tricky. I have found one location on Googlemaps, and Booking.com send me a map with another. I start with Google's, but fail to find anything like a hotel or a sign with the name. I ask around, but people only speak French, and do not understand the name or 'otel. Actually, they seems to be the most daft people I ever met outside France.
try the other location -
name on the road pretty much the same, but they
only use a fraction of the names, and many are alike. Here, the numbers are
too short, and I fail to find anyone recognising anything.
I drive down to the nearby Botanical Garden - which seems to be closed in the weekends. The Central Market is a bit further on - but it is closed as well. I park the car in a back alley with shade, and walk to the park. Some of the houses are really old and attractive - if you don't have to maintain them. I walk a bit around this old neighbourhood, both to see the houses, but also to find some tea.
Only the Chinese shopkeepers have their shops open, and none have cafes. Finally, I find a single open bar at the big central park. I get a espresso cup, a cream pitcher and two tiny bags of sugar along with a normal teabag. It turns out the lukewarm water is in the pitcher. Exactly how to fit both a drip of water and the teabag into the minute cup is a delicate operation. Well, what do you expect for €3?
While I sip tea, I wonder, if BabyBlue is safe. I look at the cars passing me, and six out of ten have lost a window. I swallow my tea and get to the car! I still have almost four hours to I might get my room, and I head out to Réserve Trésor, south east of Cayenne.
The tour is through landscape familiar with what I have seen so far, but then the hill get bigger. That means a slight change in vegetation, although 280 metres does not change that much. Here are several trails, leading into the forest. They are well maintained, but narrow. I see some new plants, but the scoop is the Thee-Toed Sloth; Bradypus tridactylus, down on the ground for its weekly call. Despite I would love a lot of photos, I only make a few, and leave it to do its thing.
forest is teaming with life. Crickets are numerous, so are the lizards,
feeding on them. And the birds take their share too. I see a single skink
and a real huge lizard or is it a small Varanus?
reach some sort of building along the road, and despite it is closed, the
trail leading into the forest is not. It is allied with signs, telling the
Latin names and a story on French of the different plants. I still have to
see a sign in English here.
The trail leads down to a small, clear creek. The giant Eschweilera grandiflora trees have fantastic stems, but others are amassing in other ways. Some have flat support roots, covering many square metres. Here are several flowering plants, ginger and strelizia represented with several species.
The road is heading on, but I rather get back and try to meet with the owner of my home for the next two days. I meet one of the other persons living here, and despite she doesn't speak a word English, I get the feeling; I'm at the right place. I start working on the diary in the car, and just before three, the landlord turns out.
Not a word English either, but I get connected to the
internet, and use Google translate to communicate. 2*€46 for the rent, and
additionally €100 in deposit. That leave me with 20 cents!
I drive downtown, but it turns out to be a bit tricky: Not only are her numerous one-way streets, they have also closed several due to something happening in a the big park. I drive quite some around in this shithole of a capital (or what the province major town is called), but fails to find any banks.
Then I figure there might be one near the Suriname consulate. I have two addresses, both found several places on the internet. The first I try is right, and a hole in the wall of the building next to it is an ATM. And one of the rare ones: It accept my Visa card! Money in the pocket, and I want tea!
After a couple of kilometres walking, I find a rather posh cafe, which actually is open. I get a Chai con Lait and a cheesecake. I have never had a neutral cheesecake before, but this doesn't even have a hint of vanilla! Then I walk some more. The city is build at the seaside, and here are a pretty nice beach. Some huge granite boulders or bedrock ensure the nearest streets.
I start looking for a supper restaurant, but either they are all closed for the weekend, or at least for later. I even try the park with all the kids and proud parents, hoping for a filled flute. But here are only candy and alike. Then I have to settle with Chinese. It is not my favourite, but I get a reasonable noodles with steamed vegetables.
Then the usual work and booking of a hotel in Kourou and one in Paramaribo. Compared to here, they are a gift! And that is a good thing, as I'm not really sure, that my plan with busses, cars, ferries, immigration and alike actually works. Day 5: Cayenne and Réserve Trésor
5. I get a morning at the office, waiting for the Suriname consulate to open at nine. I get here five minutes before, but they are open, and I'm number eleven in line. It is a smooth operation: deliver your passport and vaccination card along with €30 and wait for ten minutes. No copies of passport, photos, information on purpose and alike.
Then I head west towards Brazil. Here are a few small farms at first, and a bit more as I get close to the little village of Cacao. I meet two large trucks, and apparently, I just missed the daily fruit sale from the area. Litchi seems to be one of the popular fruits to grow here.
The school is quite big, but it must serve a huge area, as the rest of the village is small. Many houses are on poles, most neglected. Here are a butterfly museum, but I rather see them alive. One of the local drunks offers to show me some nice nature, and we drive down to the river. Here are a lot of bromeliads and other epiphytes in the big trees along the huge river.
As every morning, the sun and showers exchanges all the time - favouriting the showers. I recon I have seen what Cacao can offer, and buy a beer at the supermarket for my guide. Then I set the GPS for the Brazilian border at Saint Georges de l´ Oyapock.
It is fairly lowland, but never the less hilly. Here are no small huts at all, but still some deforestation is going on in many places. Bigger farms might be retracted from the road, but is seems so remote and untouched - except from the large areas the trees are missing. I get that Guyana and Suriname, who have little else to make an income by, are cutting down the rainforest, but do France have to do it???
Another sloth (Thee-Toed Sloth; Bradypus tridactylus) is crossing the road, and it seems to have narcolepsy as well. I recon it will spend a day crossing the road, and here might come a car or timber-truck. As slots have their own ZOO, I find a stick and carry it across. Thinking abut is; Are sloths not the only mammals who have no personal hygiene at all? Even algae grow on them!
I stop a lot of times, but it seems like I have seen most of the plants in this altitude. Never the less, the nature is beautiful, especially along the rivers. I stop at one big bridge, and find a bees nest. They turn out to be rather grumpy, and I get several stings. Well, I had it coming.
The police have a checkpoint at one of the big rivers, but my passport is enough to satisfy them. The border is a impressive building in front of a bridge. Considering here are none, and the road is pretty much empty, it must be a boring job! I can't see Brazil from the trees, and figure the view will be better from the village; Saint Georges de l´ Oyapock.
There is, and here, boats are taking people over as well. I find it a bit strange; locals just cross at their delight, while strangers have to go through all the formalities. I fail to find a cafe or alike, but here are some nice, old and partly demolished wooden houses. Besides from them, here are not really any thing interesting, and I turn back.
As I have seen the area on the way out, I just drive
without stopping - much.
Some new crew at the check-point want my passport, and I just get to think;
how stupid always to be the same place, when I bump into another crew. They
are so eager to get me to drive on, as they target the car behind me.
6. I have arranged to meet with the landlord to hand over the key and get my deposit at 07;30. She is a bit laid, but I get my money and no comments. Then it is time to have a look at Cayenne and their Botanical Garden and Central Market.
The garden is the size of a football field or two, but really well maintained - in some way. Here are a bunch of gardeners; I count 15 and two guards along with someone in the office. I guess they are bored, and everything is cut into shapes, also aloes and bromeliads! I see three name tags, and I guess that could make it a botanical garden. Their lakes is nice, except the one with sewer water. I do the paths, and after fifteen minutes, I have seen it all.
It is a short drive to the central market, and I even manages to find a parking in a pretty exposed site. I have all my things in the car, and want to maintain them here. The marked is a big, old hall, and only around 10% are open by now. I can't figure if it is the time or day by asking, and I just have to return.
I start exploring the city by the harbour first. It is just a canal in the mangrove, but here are some activity. The colourful wooden boats are being fixed along with nets and fish are cleaned and sold. It is a rather suspect area, but people great me nicely. Conversation is a bit awkward, due to the languish - or rather; lack of it.
Here are a lot of different birds, mainly herons, but also a large group of beach plovers. The brownish water is at least inhabited with four-eyes. Some larger splashes indicates something else, but half a centimetre down, a mermaid could hide. Their weird eyes make kind of sense here, with all the herons - but why do they want to see down?
A canal leads inland, and it is pretty clean, although falling apart. It seems like Cayenne only have an old part, and that is fine by me. I walk the streets and enjoy the old buildings. The shops are opening, but I don't really need anything. Av. De Gaulle have some souvenir shops, and their polished wood work is nice, but big and heavy. I would love to find a little sloth in some sort of natural material, but no. Turtles, toucans, crocks, frogs and other animals, but no sloths.
I pass the big park, which is back to normal. I find a locust on the size of my middle finger, and calm as a sloth. A bit further out, the coast with high tide is found. I passes the cafe, selling tea in espresso cups, and talk them into giving me a big glass. I had expected it with hot water, but is still come in the tiny cream pitcher! Then, 50 metres further on, I find another one, looking way more right - "I'll be back!".
Mansion of Culture is falling apart, not a window left. The newer concrete
buildings lack the paint for a big parts, and it seems like maintenance is
not an issue around here.
I head towards Kourou, but as I have time enough, I do the last road in Guiana: A small detour south. Besides from some huge green fields with five cows in total, I don't see much interesting. I do a few walks where I can penetrate the forest, and find a few bugs - while a lot find me.
I reach Kourou at three, and drive to where the minibuses might leave for Saint Laurent du Maroni. I find a guy who claim they drive from here, but only at four and seven in the morning. That means I have to return the car today, as they opens at ten. The girl is a bit surprised, but as long as I don't ask for money in return, I can hand it in. I give her the broken fuse, and she feel cheated - which she was.
I ask for a taxi, but apparently, they don't really have any. Well, I was going to walk anyway; it is only five kilometres. And a small de-tour, and I get 70 centimetres of flute, stuffed with cheese and vegetables at my Chinese cafe. As expected, the others are closed.
I'm hoping I have a room: I should have paid via PayPal, but besides from paying additionally €7, I rather get rite of some of my cash I got in return this morning. Luckily, my room is still available. I drop the bag and head for the beach. Last time I was here, there were none due to high tide, but it is a week ago. As expected, it is low tide now, and here is a perfect beach with palms and 28C water. A bit too perfect, as here are nothing to find. Well, a few shells and hermit crabs. Day 7: Cayenne
I return to laundry, flutes and the usual work. I ask for a connection to the Suraname border, and the owner calls a bit around, and find me a minibus for the standard €25, but pickup at the hotel. Then I won't have to walk for half a hour, and I got a reservation.
7. The minibus is almost on time, and despite we
are only two customers, I get shotgun, and we head out of town. When we pass my car-rental company
after 6 kilometres,
the driver get a call; one more passenger. Back into the town where the
traffic have tighten up.
I get a ride, right to immigration, which again is smooth, as I'm the only one using it. Some guys are offering a boat to the other side for €20. I paid three to get here, and I'm going to pay three to get back to Suriname. A 500 metres walk (back through the country I just checked-out of), giving me a chance to warm-up after the air-con in the car, and five minutes after, we set off towards Albina in Suriname. Next stop: Suriname - again.
French Guiana have been interesting, but not fare as
much, as I had hoped for. Perhaps I should have taken a canoe into the
jungle for a couple of weeks, to experience the true country? Anyway, it
have been a bit expensive, although I didn't fly here. I have driven 1422
kilometres myself, and taken as little as 942 photos.