Thursday, December 17, 2009

Amazon Adventure Day 14 – Devils Island

The ship is anchored just off of Devils Island. It is really three tiny islands which together are called Devils Island. This is one of the most notorious prisons in history. Originally the French were going to colonize French Guiana and sent ship loads of settlers looking to colonize this area of the new world. Yet the malaria, insects, bad food, over work, foul water and shark infested waters took a huge toll. As a settlement it was a huge failure so they turned it into a penal colony. The French sent something like 80,000 men to this prison in the first 10 years that it operated and only a few hundred of them came home. Well something like that any way. Yet anchored here it looks like a tropical paradise. The islands are covered with palms and look absolutely stunning.

Since we are anchored here we are tendering to the island. There is huge line up to get on to the tenders as it is a little rough and the crew is having trouble loading the scooters on the tenders (wouldn’t you just know it). However once a shore we realized that it really wasn’t a paradise. It is 95F and 100% humidity. The small climb up the hill from the pier to the remains of the prison was totally draining. The prison was built out of volcanic rock, which was quarried from the center of the island to make a reservoir. The jungle had reclaimed a major part of the prison but it is now being restored, by a French hotelier who has converted the guard’s quarters into a hotel. The prisoners where held in either the main building which had more murders than any place on earth or in these tiny solitary confinement cells. The prisoners in solitary confinement were sentenced for 1-10 years in solitary for escape attempts. It looked like a pretty scary place to me. Compared to Alcatraz, I think I would choose Alcatraz.

Tomorrow is a sea day. YA!


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