Tuesday, December 27, 2011
COUNTRY #196: French Guiana
Welcome, country #196: French Guiana. You thought the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo were confusing, be careful with #196, for there are:
- French Guiana,
- Spanish Guina,
- British Guiana (now called Guyana),
- Dutch Guiana (now Surinam), and
- Protuguese Guina (now Amapa).
To totally discombobulate you, the Guianas are the French, British and Dutch countries combined.
Anyway, this posting is only about the French version:
French Guiana (FG) is slightly smaller than Indiana, and like Reunion, a French overseas department, so therefore uses the Euro. Columbus visited in 1498, but the French first settled here in 1604. The population now is in the range of a quarter million and French is the spoken language.
As the country is near the equator, this is the primary launch site of the European Space Agency. Kourou is just west and north of the capital Cayenne.
You might say that FG is to the French as Australia is to the British, a dumping ground for convicts. Remember, Devil's Island, Papillon, Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen? It's on the map above, but ceased operations 60 years ago. Most convicts then died from malaria.
As a tourist you can listen to Caribbean music during a Carnival while drinking French wine. However, you must show proof of a yellow fever vaccination, and are advised to also take diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies, typhoid and hepatitis A& B shots. Dengue is common, and, whoops, there is Chikungunya here. I can see I'll never go there.
However, if you insist on going, there are no travel alerts. The standard of living is the highest in South America. You will no doubt eat some some variety of creole food, which I tolerated in Reunion and enjoyed in Louisiana. There is even a Best Western hotel in Cayenne.
What can you see there? Turtles:
The sunset from the Novotel (Nancy Stelsslinger):