National Geographic : 1983 Jan
unofficial spokesman to the outside world. In my research on the Wayanas I came across Cognat's name and wrote to ask his help in visiting them. Then I flew to Cay enne, the capital of French Guiana. There, after presenting a medical certificate saying I had no communicable diseases, I applied for government permission to visit the Wayanas. During the week it took me to obtain permission, I had to listen to dire predictions about what lay ahead for me. "You're going alone? You're out of your mind! First thing you know, you'll be raped. You'll have to pay for every picture you take of the Indians. They'll shoot arrows at you, they'll steal your belongings, they'll. ... " I paid no attention. I had heard the same sort of warnings before, when I set out to visit a remote village in the Sahara.* Such predictions nearly always prove to be un founded, and the ones in Cayenne were no exception. Adopted Son Is True Wayana After receiving permission to visit the Wayanas, I flew from Cayenne to Maripa soula, the last French administrative out post on the Maroni River. There Andre Cognat met me, accompanied by two other Wayana men in a dugout canoe with an out board motor. Except for somewhat lighter hair and skin and a narrow beard, Cognat was indistin guishable from his companions. He was short and muscular, with shoulder-length hair and a kindly face that conveyed a sense of calm. Like his companions, Cognat wore only the traditional Wayana kalimbe-a red loincloth drawn between the legs and fas tened by a cord around the waist. Stowing my cameras and gear aboard the dugout, we cast off and headed upriver be tween lush green walls of forest on either bank. On the four-hour trip to Antecume *See "Oursi, Magnet in the Desert," by Carole E. Devillers, in the April 1980 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Foaming rapids test the helmsman during a trip on the Maroni River, the Indians' main highway. Puttingthe Wayanas in closer touch with one another,outboardmotors also increase their exposure to the outside world.