A Short Stop Between Guyane And Suriname
Saint-Laurent-Du-Maroni, French Guiana
St Laurent is a penal colony on the banks of the Fleuve Marconi (Marconi River), which separates French Guiana and Suriname. We asked our bus to drop us at the Tourist Info so we could leave our bags while we checked out the town. We were joined by Marcus, a chatty German that was on our bus also heading to Suriname.
We walked a short distance to the Ancien Camp de la Transportation, a prison camp for "The Transported", convicts who were deported to French Guiana to work hard labour sentences. In the main section where hard labour convicts were housed we saw the double and single storey huts, separating the classes of prisoner.
Another section had the court, administration, the guillotine, special quarters for those awaiting the death sentence or allocation to Devils Island, etc. We found a doorway to this area and went inside to have a look, but were quickly spotted and chased out since we had not paid for the official tour.
After a snack and a very average coffee on the main street, we returned for our bags then started walking to the port, where we could get our exit stamp and a boat to Albina Suriname. We found a boat driver on the way who offered to take us to immigration in his boat rather than us walking as well as across the river which was great, so we set off in his leaky old dugout.
On arrival at customs, we had our passports stamped and were waiting for Marcus who discovered at that point that he needed to buy his Suriname tourist card elsewhere, not at the port leaving French Guiana as he perhaps optimistically hoped would be the case. We had purchased ours prior in Cayenne.
The lovely police officer gave him directions to the Suriname consulate around the corner, and while he went to sort that out, we waited… and waited. Some time later he returned, having not found the embassy at all. So the police officer then drove him there, but they returned reporting the consulate was now closed for lunch, reopening at 2pm.
Not wanting to make the boat driver wait any longer, we said we would go across and arrange a taxi on the other side and meet him there. It only took about 5 minutes to cross the river to Suriname. We had to search a little for the customs office, which isn't clearly marked, but found it and waited a while in the air con for Marcus, at least until the power went out.
We organised with a taxi driver to take us, he was happy to wait and agreed to our negotiated fare. Then Marcus arrived, having got into Suriname without going through the customs office. He had given in to another taxi driver that hounded him as soon as he had arrived, whom he told he had another two people with him, which created quite a commotion between both our driver and his, who had both thought they had secured 3 passengers. We split up as we had promised our driver, and he had promised his, and we were dropped in Paramaribo a couple of hours later.