30 June 2018
We’re on our way back from Saint Laurent du Maroni. We stopped for lunch at Iracoubo, a small town between Saint Laurent and Kourou on the N1. It functions as a border point so we were asked for our passports by the gendarmes. The border is here because it would be impossible for the French authorities to police the Maroni. It also exposes the problem of national, and indeed colonial, borders in a location such as French Guiana where there are multiple populations whose existence requires crossing these arbitrary lines drawn up on maps by people elsewhere. The Maroni river is a powerful example of this.
I made use of the post box at Iracoubo to send a postcard and spent some time inside its little church. The church, Saint Joseph, is significant because its murals were painted by a bagnard, Pierre Huget in 1892. He was released in 1909. The church became classed as a historical monument in 1978.
Compared to the murals in the church on Île Royale painted by Francis Lagrange which despite restoration have fallen into disrepair again, the murals in the Église Saint Joseph are in excellent condition no doubt due to the church’s ongoing function at the centre of Iracoubo life.