First Published: 5th of October, 2020 by Patrick Carpen.Last updated: August 19, 2023 at 13:59 pm
It is possible for Guyanese to cross over into the Brazilian town of Normandy from Karasaibai Village in the South Pakaraima/North Rupununi District of Guyana, South America. The border between Normandy (Brazil) and Karasabai (Guyana) is formed by the Ireng River and is usually crossed by small boats such as canoes. Even though the border is monitored by Brazilian police, residents of Karasabai and Normandy cross over to each other’s village freely. The inhabitants of Karasabai Village are predominantly indigenous and Normandy is predominantly indigenous and mixed races with pure Portuguese forming a minority.
To reach the Guyana border with Normandy/Brazil, you have to travel to Karasabai Village. From the city of Georgetown, it is possible to take a bus to Lethem and then another one from Lethem to Karasabai.
If the objective is to visit Normandy, the easier and faster route is to cross over to Bonfim from the Lethem border and then take a bus to Normandy from the Bonfim/Brazil bus station. However, if the objective is to see the Karasabai/Normandy border, it will take about 2 to 4 hours to reach Karasabai from Lethem by bus or other vehicle through the rugged trails.
A Brief History of Normandy, Brazil.
The name “Normandy” is a tribute to the Normandy region in France. It was a name given by Maurice Marcel Habert, which became a town, then later a city.
Maurice was a Frenchman born in Paris. He was sentenced to ten (10) years in prison under forced labor in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni prison in French Guiana. After serving his sentence, he was prohibited from leaving French Guiana, but he managed to flee to Georgetown – the capital of Guyana, and at the end of the Second World War, he was forced out of Guyana by persecutions that the French suffered at the time.
Maurice, together with some of his French friends, fled Georgetown, venturing into the Guyana rainforest, coming out in Lethem (Guyana) bordering Brazil. Finding no shelter, they wandered for a few more kilometers until arriving at the Pirara farm still on the Guyanese side. There they received shelter and stayed for one year before crossing to Brazil.
Maurice’s friends went on their journey and he stayed in the region, married Iracema Galvão, and in mid-1948 moved to a small thatched hut that had not yet been occupied and which belonged to Mr. Nazareno Trajado. Mr. Nazareno Trajado had been summoned for the Second World War, but he did not go to war and decided to stay in Manaus, not returning to Roraima. He finally sold his shed to Maurice who settled down there and named the place Normandy. Maurice died in 1964 but his story lives on.