Chasing Rainbows – French Guiana (3 of 3)
The following day we set off for a drive across the country to St Laurent du Maroni which was some 200 km from Kurou. The excellent roads were built for speed and Kevin wasted no time that day. It was a pity for the tortoise and the large lizard that we were singing to the radio and not watching the road as perhaps they might have lived a little longer. We took a little more care not to run over hitch hikers who seemed to pop up every few miles with either a mean looking machete, a meaner looking woman or an ancient rifle. But the day was ours, and ours alone. We were Kings of the Road (or at least Kevin was, I was more a lady-in-waiting) and nothing could come between us and adventure, not even my terrible singing.
St Laurent was a wonderful town. I have no intention of dying soon, but I could have happily spent the rest of my life there. It was a sleepy, quaint place, untouched by modern day life and as strange a border town as one could hope to find. I gazed across the bank towards Suriname and promised myself one day to return. We toured the Transportation centre where the original convicts were processed; it was crumbling into the jungle slowly which I felt was terribly appropriate. I still couldn’t understand man’s inhumanity to man, and so we went for a beer instead.
We drove back with happy hearts via Mana, a small dirty grey coloured sandy beach in between Kurou and St Lauren in the hope of spotting turtles. We weren’t in luck, but we splashed around in the sand for a while and I did a passable turtle impression for some bemused locals.
The drive back was fantastic, the sun was sinking slowly into the sky and a light rain began to fall. Steam began to blow off the treetops and drift down to the road.
“This,” said Kevin in-between cigarettes, “is what you might call a typical smoky forest. Cool!”
A large rainbow that seemed to stretch across the road guided us home, and we chased the dream until we got back to our hotel. It was then that the world dropped out of my bottom. It’s at times like this that you find out who your friends are. I know now, I have less of them than I originally thought.
Two days of intense communication with the toilet passed slowly. I cried on the phone to my girlfriend’s mum and Kevin offered me a cork. I wanted to be anywhere apart form in French Guiana.
When I was finally better I took myself off for a tour of the Space Centre in Kurou. It was something that I had been looking forward to and had been boasting about to all my friends. The tour turned out to be rather bland and I got more enjoyment out of watching the party of Gendarmes who had obviously been forced on the tour, trying to keep awake.
I met up with Kevin just after lunch and we drove down the slick new road to Cayenne.
We drove round the streets in search of a travel agents who might be able to sell me a ticket to Brasil, and after an hour of banging our heads on walls we took refuge in the local McDonald’s where we were at least guaranteed a smile – a rare commodity in a French territory. It says a lot about my trip when the highlight was the Crispy McPoulet burger that they had just released. For some unknown reason this dissolved me into fits of hysterics made worse when we left and I found that the statue on the roundabout opposite had been dressed in a red tank top and green shorts. Cayenne, without a doubt, was my kind of place.
We drove around the busy streets towards a quiet beach at the even of Avenue Jumblier where, apart from a few sorry looking locals and lots of rubbish, we were alone to watch the sun set. The sun setting turned the rocks which dotted the horizon black and hundreds of skipjacks fought the incoming tide. It was a scene out of Robinson Crusoe, Kevin told me. As the sun dipped lower into the sky we drove through the throbbing vibrant streets of downtown Cayenne.
Cayenne seems more of a party than a town and each shop, no matter how small, had its own DJ and sound system. The night air was thick was soca beats or R&B. To get into the spirit of things we rolled down the window and turned Madonna up full volume. It seemed the whole world was shopping and dancing at the same time. The local youth, who seemed to have a preference to silly hats, postured and posed on every street corner. This was not only about being seen, this was about seeing too. We cruised by slowly, feeling, for once in our lives, immensely uncool. Even the traffic policeman, a real amazon of a woman, who had somehow squeezed her immense posterior into a pair of regulation skin tight shorts and lurid polo shirt with the word POLICE written across it, was directing the traffic whilst shaking her ass. I loved the place. It was just the right side of safe and just the wrong side of decadent. We cruised around a little more in silence soaking up and sounds and smells of the night. There was little more to be said or done.
The next day Kevin dropped me at the airport. I guess we were both quite sad that our adventure, at least together, had come to an end. Saying good bye is never easy and so we left quickly promising to meet some where else sometime soon. Somewhere without French people I hope.
Read the whole adventure: