January 19, 2007
We started the day walking to the junction where the roads going to Cayenne and Mana split. According to the map, this point was just outside of town. However, it turned out to be about a 10 KM walk with all of our gear, so we were pretty hot and sweaty when we finally reached the junction. We were fortunate to get a ride to Mana right away. It was a nice little village, so we had lunch there.
Next, we tried to get a ride to a town called Aula, but it proved difficult because nobody would stop for us. Suddenly, a car pulled up from the other direction and out popped a hitchhiker. When I looked a little closer, I saw that it was none other than Otto himself! He had been trying to get a job at a ranch nearby. "Jesus Christ! You have to be a real cowboy to work at that place!" So the job hunt continues and Otto keeps stalling his payment for the hammock space, which by the way includes $6 everyday for breakfast because he refuses to cook for himself.
Anyway, Otto had never heard of Aura, but he was able to get a truck to stop for us with his great thumbing skills. The driver was a lady heading to a ranch just past where Otto was job hunting, and she was almost positive the place we were looking for was "Awayla," which was actually in the other direction. So the reason nobody had heard of the place was because it was printed wrong in Craig's guidebook. We didn't have time to head back, so we took the ride with the lady. Ottto, always the class act, was able to bum a cigarette from her. As we were pulling away, Otto said, "We shall meet again."
After the lady dropped us off, we got a ride on a big truck to the main highway, then on a bread truck heading all the way to Cayenne. I had to call Alina to make sure everything was OK for tomorrow, though, so we got dropped off in a small town.
We only wanted to go another 20 K's from there to a picnic area where we could camp, but we were unable to get a ride for the last two hours of daylight. We walked off the road a bit, trying to find somewhere to set up camp. We found some flat ground that wasn't visible from the highway, but it was swampy and we were sure to get eaten alive by mosquitoes, so we decided to walk a bit further.
Within one minute, jackpot! A guy picked us up in his truck and drove us nearly to Kourou. Along the way, we had an interesting discussion about the state of French Guiana. It is an actual department, rather than a territory, of France, so French people may freely come and work here. Some people here would like it to become its own country, but French Guiana is highly dependent on its motherland for almost all goods other than some food, and it is widely believed that if independence were achieved, some of the same hellish circumstances that afflicted both Guyana and Suriname in the 1970's and 1980's would apply here as well. However, it is clear that French Guiana is culturally quite different from France, yet it exists under the French law system, which causes many social problems that need to be addressed.
Our kind driver dropped us off at the last of several picnic areas near Kourou and continued on his way to Cayenne to visit his family for the weekend. The location turned out to be prefect with a shelter to protect us from the inevitable rain and a stream with drinkable water and fish. After hitching all day, we were happy campers.
The photo album for this entry is here.