Biography of Raymond Maufrais Part 2

About the French journalist Raymond Maufrais, biography and history of the non-survivor.



On Dec. 11, Maufrais parted from a group of hunters who had journeyed with him almost the full length of the shallow, overgrown Ouaqui. They had found little game and were all hungry and sick. Maufrais himself was so weakened by dysentery and lack of food that he briefly considered returning with the hunters. "I'm as sick as a dog. . .I cough and spit--long bloodstained threads," he noted in his journal.

Maufrais continued his journey alone, except for his white mongrel dog, Bobby. His legs and feet were festering with ulcerations, and he was bothered by swarms of flies that settled on the sores. Twice he lost his way between camps where he had left his supplies. He fell frequently, tripped up by unseen holes and the entangling lianas.

In his journal, Maufrais tells of butchering and cooking turtles, iguanas, and a snake; of boiling palm hearts when nothing else was available; and of eating fish and birds raw as he became desperate for want of food. He wrote often of boredom and homesickness, and of tortured dreams of food. Once he confessed, "I'm afraid."

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, Maufrais killed the starving Bobby. He wrote: "I was just strong enough to cut him up. . . I ate him. I was ill afterwards. . .I suddenly felt so alone. . . ." He had attempted to shoot birds earlier but was too weak to aim his rifle. As his only hope of survival, Maufrais finally decided to abandon his supplies and walk and swim down the Tamouri, then upstream on the Camopi to a small village. His shoes and pants had long since been discarded in shreds; he wore only shorts and had no protection for his feet. Writing a last entry in his journal on Jan. 13, he told his parents, "I'll soon be seeing you. . . ."

The governments of French Guiana and Brazil mounted searches for Maufrais, as did interested persons from France, including three fellow paratroopers who journeyed to Guiana in 1956 with a ton of special equipment. Raymond's father personally made 12 explorations of the rivers and jungles, spurred on by rumors that a white man who had lost his memory was seen repeatedly with Indians from the interior.

Except for evidence that Raymond had reached a point about 35 mi. from where he left his supplies, no trace of him has been found. But Edgar Maufrais, who has now published his own journal, vows, "Nothing else matters. I cannot rest until I find my son again."

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