WILD ROOTS - Coming Alive in the French Amazon

By Donna Mulvenna

Environment & nature, Travel


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1 mins

Chapter One

“If you go off into a far, far forest + get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.” – Alan Watts

French Guiana. I had never heard of it, had no idea where it was, and had little inclination to find out. But, that is the beauty of life, isn’t it? Things can and do change in a heartbeat.

When my new boyfriend, Franck, said, “Why don’t you come to France with me?” I knew without even rationalizing why, I was going to do it. Who wouldn’t like to visit vineyards, chateux, and Paris? It wasn’t until he bought the tickets I asked, “Where in France is French Guiana?”

The trip was seen as a rash decision to some, but it wasn’t the first time I had fallen for someone and made a fresh start far away from home. And though others raised their eyebrows, my best friend Ketie was supportive of my decision from the start. “Donna, tell me how much you know about this man?” she asked.

“Well, I asked him if he liked nature and camping and he said yes, but not carrying the full kit and caboodle, because he preferred only to take his knife.” I had also asked him how a French man came to be living in Queensland, and he answered that he had followed his psychiatrist friend there.

“Oh my God! You are moving to ‘French Columbia’ with a psychopath!” Ketie cried.
When you put it like that it, it wasn’t the smartest decision, especially as the last time I had run away with someone in the hope of finding happily ever after, it hadn’t ended so well.

There were more than a few moments in French Guiana when I thought my impulsiveness had led to another mistake in my life. It was a huge change from the modernity of Australia, and vastly different from the lush green hills of the Northern Rivers, where I came from. However, Franck was turning out to be kind of special, and as I had put all my eggs in that basket, I didn’t have a whole lot to go home to.

After a shaky start, I agreed to stay on for a few more weeks, and shortly after conceded that perhaps three months was not such a bad idea. Three months quickly turned to three years, and I now call French Guiana home.

Even I don’t fully understand how I came to love this chaotic, bizarre, frustrating, humid, disease ridden, magnificent, exciting, and totally confusing part of the world. And as it happened, something even more bizarre took place. I expected to find a taste of the exotic, a sense of adventure, a whiff of the unknown, and I did find all those things. But in addition, I found something I never knew I had lost.

It is a prize so great I can’t fully fathom how I existed without it.



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