Rain, Devil's Island, and Rain
Jul 24, 2018
|Up at 6:00 and went to the hotel breakfast – nice but cold eggs! Then took luggage down to the lobby and packed up the van and headed off to the cruise to Devil’s Island. Or Triangle Islands. Or Salvation Islands. Anyway, on a catamaran.
It took about an hour to get to the island complex (three islands) and we noticed lots of rain in the vicinity – we also saw, from afar, the Arianne rocket on it’s launch pad. We were in and out of the cabin area and spent quite a bit of time on deck. We sailed through the three islands and the swells were quite large. Got close to Devil’s Island itself and got a good look at the house Dreyfus was kept in for three years at the turn of the 19th century.
Then we made dock on Isle Royale, the main prison island of the group. It was pelting with rain. We walked up to the restaurant to wait for the rain to clear up a series of very wet and slippery steps. When we got to the top Robin was exhausted so we chatted a bit and decided to do the tour backwards as the ground was quite slick. Robin remained behind and we headed off.
We went to the area near Devil’s Island and were shown a tower that was part of the communication system. There was a pully and food and other items were send back and forth from the main island to Devil’s island. It was right next to the slaughter house where the blood drained into the sea – drawing lots of sharks. They also dumped the bodies of dead prisoners in the sea around the island and that brought even more sharks.
The we saw where the prisoners built a pool so they could swim without sharks (high tide) and the other works they did – all to no purpose other than keep them busy. There was a prison brick factory (all bricks marked with “AP” so show their origin. They also worked metal for the island and made tools to send to the mainland.
In one of the several museums on the island there were pictures of events around the prison painted by a prisoner who was a forger as well. There were many explanatory signs and one indicated that the famous Papillon was actually never on the island but was in prison in St. Lauren. There was an extensive display on the Dreyfus Affair as well. He was the only prisoner on Devil’s Island and there were 24 guards.
We visited the Church that had been decorated by the same forger wo did the art work. Then to the only cemetery on the island – a children’s cemetery. All prisoners were “buried at sea” and guard’s bodies sent back to France.
During the day we saw quite a few animals that had ben released on the island over the years. There were several agouti in a number of places, peacocks making us feel right at home, and spider monkeys as well as squirrel monkeys. All were quite unafraid and were looking for a handout.
At this point Ann drifted off somewhere as she usually did and we went to the prison complex itself – At one end of the cells were two buildings. One was a kitchen (it had a chimney) and the other was the “rat” house. Prisoners who worked with the guards to keep things in order.
In the middle of the complex there were still four blocks where they would set up the guillotine for executions. The prisoner got a final meal then had to sign his “release” papers prior to the
execution. There were also cells were people were kept in solitary for sometimes years. The record being over 3,500 days in a fifteen year sentence.
Then we broke for lunch at the island café. Diablo beer (flavored with tequila!) as well as a buffet with many items. At this point it started raining again and continued to pour heavily for well over an hour. We probably got four to five inches of rain in that time! We stayed for a bit then had to travel down the path to the boat. It was quite flooded and Robin had significant issues so I stayed back just in case. We made it safely though.
When we got to the boat the rain slowed so we went to another island and many people went on a zodiac to the island to swim. About an hour we waited ion the boat being already quite soaked and having very slippery shoes. Robin nodded off as she frequently did in the cabin.
When everyone was aboard we headed back to the mainland. We found out that the island (which has a hotel) had to be cleared of everyone by 4:00 as it was in the path of tomorrow’s rocket launch. As we sailed back we spotted some dolphins and came onto Dreyfus Tower – one of the semaphore towers used to communicate between the islands.
Off the boat we passed a fisherman unloading his catch and some strange googly eyed fish. We found that we would stay in Kourou for the night and Ann and Robin off to another town.
At the hotel we ordered food from a local bowling alley and had drinks at the hotel bar. The one thing that was most critical to do was to dry our clothes! Everything was soaked – including passports, money, and a pack of gum I had to pour water out of. We sure missed Mr. Blue and his waterproofness. Then to bed and we meet at 6:30 tomorrow morning!