It’s all golden

Guyane is a strange place- very french at one turn, and completely different at another.  As a french speaker I was able to avoid much of the problems other travelers have had, but even so, the almost strict ‘Frenchness’ of the the place just doesn’t seem to fit properly.  That being said ,and like in France, once you get accepted you are good as gold.

One of my best experiences of this trip started with a ride along the newly paved road to Cacao.  The wonderful new pavement, thrilling twisty pace, and fantastic jungle views were the perfect appetizer.

Then, as I hit the village and road up to the place I planned on staying another wonderful sight appeared- bikes!

It seems the Guyane bike club decided to take advantage of the new road, so instead of a wander about, I spent the afternoon and night hanging out with the Guyanese and French bikers (well, one guy was Belgian, but we just kept telling him he was going to be part of France soon enough)- Excellent!

But, back to the village.  It’s actually primarily Hmong people who arrived in the 70’s and have kept a little slice of their culture alive in South America.  A wonderful little slice in that it isn’t isolated and inward looking, but more simply proud of its heritage while still being open to its new surroundings.  This openness hasn’t just resulted in a number of blended Hmong/French families, but a culinary blend that still makes my mouth water at the thought.  It’s still undeniably asian, but there is a nuance to the flavours that speak to both their new jungle home and French neighbours…

In the morning I was planning on heading down to the weekly market and eating some more, but a Hmong/French family invited me out on the river for a little tour.  How could I resist?  And good thing too…

Puttering away from the village we were quickly engulfed by the jungle.

Stopping occasionally to set out some fishing lines, or pick some rare wild orchids for planting in the trees around their home, we slowly moved deeper into the deep amazonian jungle.  After a bit we stopped at their little retreat to see how it was doing and I got my first ‘you aren’t in Kansas anymore’ lesson.  Putting my hand up to grab a branch to lift myself out of the boat, Sylvian told me to watch for scorpions since they liked to hide in cracks in the trees.  A quick look, and…

Back in the boat we were going to check the fishing lines when we caught sight of something in the water up ahead.

YES!! A jaguar was swimming across the river right in front of us!  We were all stunned.  Seeing a jaguar is rare enough- people living in the jungle might see one once a year or so.  Seeing one swimming is National Geographic rare (I found out later that no one in the village could remember having ever seen one swimming).

Somehow, I didn’t miss the market food…

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