September 2002 - big trip - diary - guyane - september 2002


Helpful gendarmes in need of fashion advice

Not much to do at the dam

Saturday 14 - Tuesday 17 September

Underwhelmed by the Cayenne nightlife we set off late after a lie-in to check out the Petit Saut dam near Kourou. We were greeted at the reservoir by some landy driving gendames who informed us we weren't really supposed to be there without a permission. They weren't too fussed however and after a friendly chat they pointed us to a nearby jungle campsite. This was already populated by an extended family of locals on a weekends camping holiday. They were very friendly too and had loads of kit, including a generator, stereo, worklights and a fine supply of refresments which they shared with us. After exhausting our limited french conversation we crashed out, leaving them to sing and dance the night away. The dam turned out to be not very exciting, although we were told taking a boat trip to check out the submerged dead trees might have been worthwhile.

Guyanese family...

...camping in the forest

oh la la

Fellow landy traveller

Heading back towards Cayenne we stopped off in Kourou again to chill on the beach, where we didn't quite meet some interesting local girls but did have the fortune to bump into Olivier who regaled us with stories of his trip to Africa in a series 3 landy and invited us to spend the night at his house. He's an art teacher at the local school and happens to have a small boat, which he offered to take us to the Iles de Salut in, but didn't have time until the weekend, shame we didn't meet on our first visit here.

We showed him the website on the lappy, sitting beside his giant paddling pool, before heading out to the part of Kourou where whiteys don't normally go to eat some traditional Nasi food surrounded by brightly painted tumbledown shacks. He told us about the carnival here in Guyane called Touloulou which entails the women getting dolled up in big dresses to hide their bodies and wearing masks to hide their faces. The guys stand around and get picked by one of the women to dance in a hot rutting style, if you impress her then off you go for a quickie, the womans identity still unknown. Seems a good way to end up with a minger...

Early monday we went to get the permission from the DDE office in Cayenne, where they informed us no permission was required and anyone is free to drive on the road over the river from Regina - typical. After a couple of hours delay caused by the useless staff of La Poste western union office, we got the latest puncture repaired by a Argentine immigrant for a proper price this time, then headed to the river at Regina.

Back at the river we were first told it was impossible to cross with a car, but after a bit of persuasion we discovered that the permission needed was from the boss of the construction company who owned the barge. We went to use the phone in Regina and met more some helpful gendarmes, who, after first telling us it was impossible to cross with a car, spoke to the company boss man, who told them it was impossible to cross with a car too! Some rapid french later they eventually got him to fax us the relevant permission to cross with some construction lorries at midnight, saying were were touring 'le monde' or something like that. This route obviously hasn't been travelled by many tourists in their own vehicles yet.

The bridge...

...isn't finished yet... we took the barge

Smooth dirt road to St. Georges

The barge was going to be operating at 11.30pm that evening when the five lorries were due to cross. At the riverside was the barge operator who bought us a beer and had a bit of a laugh. After a two beer buzz we found some tasty Brasilian food at a nearby kitchen and headed for the river for quick showers before waiting for the lorries to arrive, we would cross with the last one. It took a long time for them all to cross and our turn didn't come until almost 3am. The lorry reversed onto the barge but kept messing it up and took four or five goes to get on in a straight line before the landy went on. Once on the other side it was time to get a few hours sleep before heading off down the very well made dirt road with a brasilian bloke hitching a ride on the roof. We drove through with no problems, the road almost like a motorway with some tarmac sections too. In September 2003 the bridge will be finished and the road tarmacked until St. Georges which is going to make a big difference to the Guyane-Brasil relations. Just before we arrived in town the brasilian guy wanted to get off as he had no documents, one of thousands illegally here, working in the rich gold mines.

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