Friday, December 16, 2016

YOLO in St. Laurent du Maroni, Fr. Guiana Sep 2016

St. Laurent du Maroni (SLM) is the only place we brought the boat in this country of French Guiana.  This statue of a prisoner or slave chained to a block is in the main circle at the end of the dock ramp for us.  It is the first thing we saw when we came ashore.  A good piece of metal sculpture, it reminded me of Rodin.

The view coming up the Maroni River to SLM.
We anchored off this Amerindian village called Paradise, a mile or so before the town dock at SLM.
Our flag has taken a beating in the wind and sun and the stars are starting to fall off.
A strong storm blew through while we were anchored here and the stars blew away in the strong winds.  Time for our new flag to get installed.

Our neighbors, Annick and Jeff on Enora 3, took us to Albina, Suriname with them in their friends pirogue a few days after we arrived.  Folks cross the river to Suriname to shop for cheaper goods and don't bother with the formalities of clearing in and out.  Customs and Immigration don't seem to mind; they have an understanding.  While we were headig across the river, we had to help another pirogue that had engine trouble.  We towed him to Albina behind us.
The back of Jeff as we approach Albina, Suriname to do some shopping and get gas.  The stores here are run by Chinese, as are all the corner shops in SLM.
The only sign of Ford in Albina--a power washer.
Guys here trap parrots, parakeets, lovebirds and other jungle birds to sell on the street corner.  Some say folks buy parrots to eat.  The seller wanted me to pay for taking this photo but I refused.  Folks here are a bit camera shy.  Lots of drugs come through here to get to SLM and then on to Europe.
The pirogues line up at the beach and fuel docks and just wedge themselves in between each other.  They tie off to the sticks in the mud to keep the boats lined up.
Karen and Jason in the pirogue.  Annick has the umbrella up for sun protection behind me.
Karen, Annick and Jason in the pirogue.  The driver is a friend of Annick's and doesn't speak English or much French, so we relied on Annick or Jeff to communicate with him for us.
Some fruit for sale at the fuel dock.  Locals all seem to sell the same things here.  Not much is grown here; they all seem to buy stuff from the same wholesalers and resell it.
The fuel dock at Albina.  The gas and diesel here are much cheaper than in SLM>
Pirogues at the fuel dock.  They raft up several deep if they can't wedge in.
Gold mining up river is a major source of income for many around here.  This pirogue is filling the barrels with fuel to run the machines up at the mines.  This fuel dock is a gold mine for the Chinaman who owns it.
Annick and Jeff in the pirogue.
The leper island in the river between Albina and SLM.  The last of them died years ago and this is now a daytime picnic area.  Thieves/pirates are still a problem if you are here at night.
One wall of the Transportation Camp at St. Laurent.  This was a penal colony used to populate this land with criminals from France.
The entry arch at the Camp.  Prisoners were called 'transports' as they were transported from France to French Guiana, hence the name Transportation Camp.  It was no camp I'd like to have visited!  The prisoners built all the buildings here and made all the bricks to build them.  Conditions for prisoners were deplorable and tortuous.  Guards here seemed to be sadists, from what we were told.
Looking across the street from the Camp.  Some old government buildings still in use today.
Another wall of the camp.  It dates from the mid 1800's so it's in pretty good shape, really.  Those tiny windows were closed at night to keep the light and air out and keep the prisoners in.  They only got to wash their bodies once a week and their clothes once a month, so imagine the smell of those men after a full sunup-to-sundown day of working outside in the 90-degree+ heat.

A government building across the street, the Palace of Justice.  The old French architecture is a major draw for this town.
More old French architecture in SLM.
Some info on the Palais du Justice/ Palace of Justice building.
A view from the upper level of the law building.
Looking across to the Camp from the Law building.
A famous name for the street, built into the brick pillar.
The front of the bank building looks odd with the streamers of lights hanging down.  Kind of looks like a grimmacing face, doesn't it?
This old clock tower was at a church building at the end of the road by the marina.
Just another view of the street in SLM.
The brick walls and gutters along the road near the marina.  All the bricks were made by prisoners at the camp.

Jason at the dock we shared with the local pirogues.
One of the pirogues at the dinghy dock.  They are all made of wood and leak like sieves.  One must always bail them out, but they put planks above the floor to keep passengers dry.
This island off the marina and in the middle of the mooring field is really an old ship, the Edith Cavell, that ran aground in 1924.
The walkway from the dinghy dock to the 'marina', a tiny office in the end of that building you see.

Looking end-on at the sunken ship that is now an island that sports fully grown trees.
If you get close, you can still see the steel structure of the ship.
The steel slabs of the ship's construction have no barnacles or growth on them, despite the decades the ship has been sunk in this river.  The chemical composition of the Maroni River water is scary. It takes a lot to keep barnacles and slime from growing on a ship!
We celebrated our arrival with our bottle of Splattered Toad wine from South Africa.  Such a cute label.
The Maroni River is pretty shallow at all spots but they keep a channel dredged enough to allow the supply cargo ships to come and go at high tides.  We saw 2 ships come the 25 miles up the river to deliver supplies while we were there for several weeks.
The beach next to the dock.  Anther rusting, barnacle-free hull of a steel boat sits on the shore.  There were several around on the beaches near here.
A typical market stall at the Wed/Sat market in SLM.  Other days this space sat empty.
Lots of cheap produce here at the market.  Not cheap like it was in Brazil, but better than in the supermarket.
Karen in a cutout at the tourism office.  Jason cut off the bottom of the picture.
We watched this man back his lawnmower into the river to clean the blades.  Just gun the engine while the blades are submerged and voila, a clean mower!

This Rastafarian in the matching printed green suit of tunic, pants and headgear was quite a sight here at the market in SLM.  He sports a beard that hangs mid-chest, too. He looked like quite a character and I'd have loved to spend some time chatting with him, but just caught him in passing a few times.
Barracks for the guards in the Transportation Camp in SLM.  We took a guided tour one afternoon.
More housing for the inhabitants here in the Camp.
The mess hall at the Camp. The buildings are being maintained and/or restored.
Looking back at the entrance arch to the Camp from inside.  The building in the photo is now the public library here.
A shot of the Edith Cavell from our anchorage spot just downriver from it.

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