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Published: March 6th 2009
My hammock was out, the mosquito net ready and I was about to look for my wind-up torch when the first rain drop hit me. It was then I was reminded: the little dry season was late in Guyane. Like every night it would rain a little here and there with a stronger deluge in the morning and another early afternoon. Sleeping in the car it would be then. For the third night in a row.
I hadn't intended it to be this way. I had known that Guyane was expensive. The guidebooks warned me even more-so than Paris. But 43 EUR for the cheapest single bed in the country? No, thank you. The very next morning I looked at the car rental agencies. Not because I needed a ride, hitchhiking the previous day had been easier than ever. No. I just wasn't up to spending 150% of my daily budget on accommodation. Sixt offered a solution. 9,99 EUR a day for a Peugeot 107 with their logos all over the car and a reduced rate of 0,20 EUR per KM. It was just what I was looking for. Factor in the cost of fuel and my expenditure evened out
at a cool 25 EUR per day for car, fuel, KM and...accommodation 😊 Not bad for the most expensive country in South America.
I had grown up devouring Enyclopaedia Britannica listings and a series of books my parents had bought from a travelling book salesman in Dubai. One of them explained the origin of flight and man's quest to explore space. Alas, I had been born almost a decade after Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon and the most I could look forward to was a Cassini Mars mission. My first foray into Spaceworld, Kitakyushu, Japan was mind blowing and had left me hungry for more.
Fast forward seven years and I find myself in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. Carnival was over, my entry overstayed. I needed to get out of the country or face the consequences. But where? South to Argentina? Been there. West to Bolivia? Going there soon enough. North to Guyane? Hmmm...Devil's island of Papillon fame and...the Arianne space programme! Europe's answer to the Americans and Soviets/Russians. Today the site in Kourou, Guyane has launched more than half the world's commercial satellites. Not only that, they have enticed the Russians to build a Soyuz
launch pad here. I guess the cold war really is over. F*** yeah! I'm going to Guyane!
Ninety-eight hours of travel and fourteen changes of transportation later I find myself in the capital of this département d’outre-mer, spending Euros, speaking French and eating paté with my baguette. Vive la France!
It's a 24/7 deja vu. My time on Martinique and Guadeloupe springs to mind. Super friendly people, friends on every corner and all I have to do is stretch out my thumb or open my mouth and speak French. I always knew there was a deeper reason to learning this language apart from impressing the girls 😉
Devil's island...well, more interesting in literary and film fiction than real life. The space centre? Because of the Nazi at the Surinamese embassy (much different to her fellow countrymen, I later learned), I was left to travel for two days without a passport, while I awaited for the visa to be issued. Without the passport, all I could see was the space museum...but guess what? I still think Guyane rocks. Off the beaten track (only 9.999 other tourists come here a year, almost exclusively from France and Belgium) and the
world's (non-space) radar it remains a hidden gem. Deepest darkest jungle, this I will see elsewhere as my budget did not stretch that far, but the overall atmosphere I give an A+
Love you, Guyane
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