Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Papillion - Steve McQueen

Those familiar with PAPILLION, a memoir by convicted felon and fugitive Henri Charrière, an instant Best Seller and later a Block Buster film staring
Steve McQueen as Charrière (Papillion the Butterfly)
and Dustin Hoffman as forger and embezzler Louis Dega
may remember that all prisoners deported from France to French Guyana were firstly sent to a Transportation Camp for processing. That camp is no more than a stones-throw from my hotel here in Saint-Laurent-Du-Moroni so, maybe unsurprisingly, this was not to be missed. Mostly the images will do the narration, but safe to say the only 'inmates' these days are the  
IGUANAS and other Wildlife.
The Outer Walls and Buildings
and strategically placed directly opposite the still functioning
The austere welcome for all prisoners
Most of the buildings still function,
this one as a RESTAURANT

La Cuisene
needless to say it was raining!
a working CHAPEL
  some as Collage Classrooms,
even a HOTEL
more of those Swallows
A little light-hearted sculpture.
Yes, still pouring!
Good job there's a Well.
Classes of Prisoner
Some more of the BIRDS 'Within These Walls'
Probably just to make me feel a little more at home
(whoops, that's right I haven't got a home)
hands up all those who have this on their Year List,
put your hand down Lifton!
nothing unusual, but lovely to see.
Back outside, this 'bronze' seemed to say it all.
Maybe he was organiser of another
Failed Escape Attempt?
was nice to see at fairly close quarters
and no ordinary Island this, in fact another
Stricken Vessel
taken over by the jungle.
What is left of the Old Port, where all prisoners, staff and families would arrive and from where those destined for the IIL du DIABLE, the infamous DEVIL'S ISLAND, would depart.
He and I have shared a number of conversations and on one occasion paying me a very high compliment indeed. He had told me of a number of complications with a certain Russian Merchant Ship carrying Rice Husks as cargo. Apart from this being infested by Weevils, he was now getting some serious grief from the Pilot reference her draft. Knowing, from our chats, of my connection with the sea he asked my advice which fortunately I was able to sort out for him - nice to be 'hands on' again albeit for a moment.
Ivan explained to me how everything had to pass across this Weigh Bridge, including Convicts, with special attention being paid to Barrels of Wine. Don't want anyone getting away with 'sippers' do we?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


My guide in Suriname, Otte Ottema, had lived and 'birded' French Guyana for 19 years, so had a good deal of information to impart before our parting. One of the places he suggested was the Awala-Yalimapo National Nature Reserve but advised of little transportation and the private homes of the local Indians as the only accommodation. There was a 'collectivo' leaving St Laurent at 07:00, but any suggestion of a 'return' was about as certain as when I will next buy you a pint! Without wishing to sound, or be, foolhardy return journeys are never paramount in my planning, getting there is the only goal with a 40Km walk the only penalty for not getting a ride. The drive took us through the tiny town of 
MANA, a little broken down in parts
but most definitely some development going on in others.
The approach road to Awala looked promising too,
as apart from the grass verges the jungle beyond was impenetrable.
The Reserve was well sign-posted
and there was a brand spanking new
but devoid of visitors. The driver allowed time for me to make some investigations, but all the buildings were of the 'open' type, just shelters rather than accommodation, and it was a camel-trek back to the footpath accessing the forest!
The approaches to our destination looked promising enough, as there were a few houses and by the look of it communications,
but coming to a halt at first glance it seemed more like we would be met by Bedouins rather than French Colonialists.
Arrival at the coast coincided with
a passage of Terns, of which I could only make
Despite acute language difficulties the French/Chinese driver made it clear that his 'spell' was up and it would not be he driving me back and knew of no planned return transport. Anyway, as stated before, it was wildlife first and one way or another a method of return would be found. 
and COMMON GROUND DOVE had joined the list,
 while here a different side of 
 would be seen
 scavenging the back-garden of this house.
There were very few people here at all, let alone anyone who could 'parlez-vous anglais', so I felt it would be down to a
Wind-Swept Thumb
a section of the Marillion classic
Bitter Suite
(from the album Misplaced Childhood)
On the outskirts of nowhere,
On the ring-road to somewhere,
On the verge of indecision,
I'll always take the roundabout way,
Waiting on the rain.
For I was born with a habit, from a sign.
The habit of a windswept thumb.
And the sign of the rain,
See Link below for an opportunity to see and hear
the much understated
Derek Dick (Fish), Ian Mosley, Mark Kelly, Steve Rothery and Peter Trewavas 
Little did I know that while taking these shots
around the village
and figuring a way to spend a couple of days here
My Carriage Awaited!
Go Back 3 Photos.
That's when I met these 3 lovely French couples, here to visit relatives and on a 'day tour' of their own. We stopped and chatted for a while but they too had no idea of local public transport, then parted company. About to start my 'hitch', they pulled up in their hired van and offered a lift back to St Laurent, the Little Darlings!
On the way back we stopped at some roadside shacks selling wood carvings and there was a chance to snap these WILD FLOWERS.
CHIEFY was sat outside polishing his rocket,
while we all took the opportunity to look round.
No, had a rethink on these and doubt if they are Rockets!
Probably some sort of 'native skittle set'?
is on the Dream List but feel this may be the nearest I get.
Local lads taking advantage of the Floods
all rivers are bursting their banks, with many homes underwater.
In all too short time we had to part company
but if you are tuning in, here's a MASSIVE THANK YOU
for your kindnesses.
next to the hotel,
was the final port of call for a beer and bowl of peanuts.
Was also looked after very well here - Thank You!
 Well, it didn't
from Misplaced Childhood

 Wide boys, we were wide boys, born with hearts of Lothian.
These hearts of Lothian.
It's six o'clock in the tower blocks,
The stalagmites of culture shock, (culture shock)
And the trippers of the light fantastic, bowdown, hoedown
Spray their pheromones on this perfume uniform.
And anarchy smiles in the Royal Mile.
And they're waiting on the Slyboys, Flyboys, Wideboys.
Rooting, Tooting Cowboys, lucky little ladies at the watering holes.
They'll score the Friday night goals.
I was born, with a heart of Lothian.
Having spent my first 'sea-going' year based in Rosyth, Scotland by definition much time was spent enjoying the delights of 'The Royal Mile', Edinburgh (sweet 16 and never been kissed). Mixing with (and probably considered one of) the Rootin', Tootin' Cowboys meeting the "lucky little ladies at the watering holes", there was 'first hand' experience of what Marillion are on about. That's maybe why I consider this and their follow-up album, 'Clutching at Straws', as much Social Documents as damn fine Progressive Rock 'n' Roll played in the most competent manner. I wish once again it were "six o'clock in the tower blocks"!