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Dear Diary:

9th September 2005  -  French Guiana - The way it should be!

After my month in Venezulea, I headed south back to say g´day to Klayber and Miri in Manaus. Thanks heaps for the FAB Another dip in the Amazon near Manaushospitality guys! While in town, on another whim I decided to head to the Guiana's with only the "Lying Planet" as company in an effort to get to where the Amazon hits the ocean rather than do the 4 day boat trip from Manaus. My plan of attack was to simply travel through Guyana and Suriname collecting my flags and then check out French Guiana then back to Brazil.

Rough Roads!To say the roads in Guyana could be better is an understatement as even the biggest of 4WDs can have trouble! Check out the AVI Videos of my two wheel drive bus getting rather stuck. I think it took about 3 hrs to go 2 km and about 19hrs to go the full 700km from Lethem on the Brazilian border to the capital Georgetown.

Main Church in GerogetownI only spent a day in Georgetown to get my Another day another flag!visa for travel through Suriname to French Guiana. I don't know if the city is as dangerous as you may had read, but seeing a guy pull his wallet out that also included a nice big knife about 300m from the center of town made me feel good about getting the bus outa town having got my flag!

Paramaribo I spent two nights in Paramaribo having survived an argument upon arrival at midnight with the bus driver who was attempting to take me for a ride saying 40 rather than the agreed 30. We were all having a very bad day and it was very silly of me to have the arguement period. A must have in Suriname! The best advise I can give after the fact is be calm and just avoid conflict as best as you can. A good lesson I´ve taken on board for sure and I paid the agreed amount too! On the lighter side, in Paramaribo the big thing for all of the guys is to do is to carry a small bird around. Every Sunday morning a contest is held and the best bird can fetch up to 2000 Euros! Setting my dissapointing arrival asise, Suriname was a frendly and lovely place to spend a few days.

So... The next stop... French Guiana.

What can I say, but I wish ALL places I visit offer up the fantastic hospitality and help that French Guiana offered! My arrival in St Laurent du Maroni started with a classic school boy error! A Photo I arrived on a French public holiday! DOH! Still with in minutes of discovering my Visa and MasterCard would not work in the one ATM the "Lying" Planet showed on the map, a lovely smiling face in the form of Therese pulled up and brought me up to speed on the public holiday front. She then drove me to the post office where the ATM liked me and let me take Euros out! Thanks Therese, your help was invaluable and the reset of my day was so much the better for it!

Our drive was hiding from teh police!A Photo After a lovely feed in St Laurent I got local transport to the town of Kourou. It took my mini but about 2 hours to depart St Laurent, but that's par for the course in this part of thwe world as public transport in all of the Guiana's do not leave until full!

I arrived in the town of Kororou well after dark and got dropped off outside what the "Lying Planet" describes the tourist office that has dorm beds. Its not and it did not! DOH! At this point I decided to just start walking to the Beach to crash out and organise my trip out to to the Iles du Salut the following morning.

My saviours Nicole, Patrice and Ayla It was right about then my saviours Nicole, Patrice and Ayla from France pulled up asking me directions. It was about now that I wished had brushed up on my French, but who thinks to do that when your on your way to South America! They had the same problem as I, the need to find accommodation for the night. With out hesitation they beckoned me into the car and together we set out to find a hotel. Unfortunately we could only fine one free room that cost lots so we all agree it best to crash at the beach together and get the early boat to the Islands.

Iles du Salut (Salvation Islands) It was not the best nights sleep for myself, but its all part of the adventure! Devil´s IslandThe next morning we broke camp and set about getting a caffeine fix before boarding the boat to the the infamous prisons of the Iles du Salut (Salvation Islands) where the likes of the french political prisoner´s Alfred Dreyfus and Papillon were held on Devil´s Island. Thanks heaps for looking after me guys! I look forward to seeing you in Europe next year some time.

A Resort?The heli pad and space base! So what of the Iles du Salut? Well you get the feeling its more like a resort than an old prison for French convicts these days. I can only imagine what a prisoner of years gone by would think of the fact you can now fly to the islands and across the water on the mainland is where rockets go into space! The highlight was sleeping on a hammock in one of the prison cells on the main island, Ile Royale. If you get a chance to check them out, do so! They rock!

Sleeping Accom! Having survived my evening in the cell and received help in getting myself onto the Space Base tour the following day, I caught the ferry back to the mainland facing the same problem as on my arrival of no accommodation and I was all ready to hit the beach again. Sill, upon my arrival ashore I decided to ask a few people in my broken French where a hotel or Taxi was. Thomas and Elini - Thanks HEAPS guys! The first two attempts were strike outs, but as fate would have it the third person I approached was in fact a French English teacher Thomas walking home with his lovely wife Elini. They offered to walk me to a hotel near there place that may have room. After a few minutes we arrived at the location of the hotel and with a lovely smile Thomas said I would be more than welcome to stay with he and Elini on thier spare bed! WOW! Space Base Control CentreTHANKS SO MUCH GUYS! You took me in and gave me the grand tour of Kourou! It meant the world to me!

The view back to Kourou I ended spending two nights with Elini and Thomas where they took me out to local restaurants and lookouts. Thomas even dropped me off at the space base for my tour at ugly o´clock! Thanks again mate! The tour was good, but again if only I could speak French! DOH! Perhaps even a bigger DOH was the fact I missed a launch by 6 days or so. Something for next time hey! :-)

Any way the time came for me depart for the 400km trek to the French Guiana - Brazil border. I was anticipating this to take me all day given I had to get local transport 60km to the capital Cayenne and then another the rest of the way. So at 6:30am the three of us got up to drive to the local markets to locate the first min bus of the day. While in the parking lot of the apartment, French Guiana through up one final lasting memory...

Maryline and the guys As the same time as we were about to get into the car, Elini´s English teacher Maryline and her two cousins walked into the parking lot too. Greetings were done and Maryline did a lovely Aussie accent. The next simple question was what are you guys doing today? Well..... The answer was "we are just about to drive to St Georges de I´Oapok for a few days". Where or what is St Georges? Its the French Guiana - Brazil border town I needed to get to! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE RIDE GUYS!!!!!!!!!! You save me untold grief at the hands of the local Taxis collectifs operators!

Any way, how do I sum up French Guiana?

IT ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Once again, thanks to Therese, Nicole, Patrice, Ayla, Thomas, Elini and Maryline. I can not begin to express just how much your help ment to me. You will always have a place to stay where ever I may end up - if only I knew where that was though! :-)

Thanks guys!
Hugs and Kisses

Smile - You never know who's watching!

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