Monday, November 3

Devil's Island is the smallest island of the three Iles du Salut located about 6 nautical miles off the coast of French Guiana. It was a notorious French penal colony from 1852 to 1952, opened by Napoleon III, there were prisons on all three islands as well as the mainland, and they were known collectively as Devil's Island.

More than 80,000 prisoners, political prisoners as well as murderers and thieves, we're sent here, and just 30,000 survived the ordeal in this disease-infested place. The flowers and lush vegetation mask the horrors.

Ile Royale is the part of the National Park open for visitors. The 1 1/2 hours we spent there, walking to the remaining buildings on the top of the island, was tortuous enough, with oppressive heat, blinding sun and not a breath of a breeze.

The most famous prisoner was French army captain Alfred Dreyfus, unjustly convicted of treason and sent here in 1895. He was later released, tried and convicted again, and received a presidential pardon in 1899.

Our fellow passengers describe the place as “hell on earth,” hotter than Hades,” a God forsaken place,” and “certainly not a vacation spot.”

The peacocks and roosters are pretty, but we're drenched with sweat and robbed of energy by our first real taste of the oppressive heat of the Amazon.