We arrived at the airport in Cayenne and the cost of the Euro hit hard straight away with a taxi into the city costing €30. We arrived at our apartment, the home of the lovely Amani, who sleeps in a hammock in the living room when she has guests.
Amani offered to show us around, but later in the day when it cooled down a bit, so we relaxed in our room for a few hours until then.
When we ventured out, we went first to Place des Amandiers (Almond Place), a grassy park beside the water shaded by some beautiful old almond trees. Groups of old men were gathered playing dominoes and a boules game.
From there we ventured around the town, past a free concert that was taking place in the main plaza, Place des Palmistes. Amani then took us to a restaurant where we could buy Pho (noodle soup), popular and reasonably cheap in French Guiana. It was yummy, and such a welcome change from the rice and beans in Brazil!
The next day we ventured out to explore while Amani was at work. We had a look at the ruins of Fort Cépérou, atop a hill overlooking Cayenne. This was the birthplace of the city. The city is a mix of French style architecture and traditional Créole structures, aside from a few more modern buildings and a main street of Chinese run shops. The tallest buildings are 3 or 4 storeys.
The Hotel de Ville de Cayenne building has signs erected on the fence with the names, ages and origin of all the slaves in French Guiana, as at the date they were freed, when slavery was abolished in 1848. There were slaves as young as 1, and as old as 90.
We enjoyed a pizza for lunch at a nice café overlooking the main square, and had a bit of a look through some shops. There were stacks of highly stocked souvenir shops, which seemed odd given the small number of tourists around!
We visited the tourist info as well, To find out where to catch the bus to Kourou the next day. It was then we discovered the space centre had a launch the next day, but we were too late to register to be able to watch it in Kourou. Such a shame!
We ventured to where the buses departed from, which took some time since the tourist info gave us the wrong street, just to make sure we could find it the next day. We had a timetable, though this means very little as the buses (minivans) just leave when full.
We went back to the apartment in the afternoon, and when Amani returned home, we went for another walk. First, to try some home-made ice cream from Amani's favourite store, Yum! We also wanted to try a croissant but the best bakery in town was closed, as was the botanical gardens being now nightfall.
We walked along the coast back to the city past a local beach, though we never swam in Cayenne as the water is brown and smelly from mixing with the river water. Amani also showed us her favourite Créole restaurant for dinner which had amazing food, and cheap for Guyane. We started with some yummy fried chicken pieces and banana pieces, a very popular Créole snack, then had some chicken, fish stew, rice and lentils which we ate back in Amani's apartment.
On our last morning in Cayenne, we joined a few other locals at Almond Place, where the space centre had set up a large screen to watch the shuttle launch. After some official commentary, the countdown started and the shuttle was blasted into the air.
We followed the crowd as everyone then rushed to the shoreline info time to catch the shuttle passing overhead, with the bright light from the burners carrying it higher and further across the sky. While it was only in the distance and over quickly, it was really cool to watch the shuttle as it disappeared into the atmosphere.
From there we had a look at a monument depicting the freeing of slaves through broken cuffs and chains.
Back in the apartment and packed, we awaited Amani who offered to help us catch our bus. Once she returned from work, we walked in the stifling heat and said our goodbyes before jumping in a van to Kourou.