We spent over three weeks traveling through the Guyanas (in colonial days called French Guyana, Dutch Guyana, British Guyana). Today, they are Guyane, a department of France, Suriname, and Guyana. This is the unique linguistic enclave of South America where one hears French, Dutch (Netherlands), English, and Creole. I also heard Sranan Tongo, which I came across in a Sociology course long ago at the University of Minnesota. In those days it was described as Taki-Taki, a derivation of English Talky Talky unless it was more formal, then Dipi-Taki (Deep Talk) was used.
Travel was a little tricky. There is only one flight a week from Belem, Brazil to Cayenne the capital of French Guyana. There are no flights from Cayenne to Parimaribo capital of Suriname. We booked a share taxi for 4:00 AM to Saint Laurent de Moroni, the river port across from Suriname. A share motorized long boat called a Pirogue took us over the river. There another share taxi took us to the door of our host’s apartment. Three others made the trip with us all the way from Cayenne. Along with getting in and out and watching our bags, we went to French immigration to get our exit stamp at the ferryboat port in Saint Laurent and stopped in Albina, Suriname to show our visitor card and passport. The visitor card we obtained for 35 Euros from the Suriname consulate in Cayenne. This gave us one of the few chances to show our Yellow Fever certificates. We flew from Paramaribo to Georgetown in Guyana. The Suriname airport was built many years ago 40 km from the city on solid land away from the marshy savannas. Similarly, the International airport in Georgetown is an hour drive to the city.
This sampling of photos shows coasts and colonial houses typical of the region.
Cayenne, Guyane Française (French Guyana)
Side trip to Kourou, Guyane Française
We rented a car for one day to drive down and tour the Space Port. It is a huge complex.
There are many national forests and parks that we could have visited that are still quite natural and rustic. Mostly, they must be visited on tours or using a personal vehicle. These are not popular enough to have regular bus service that allow independent travelers to visit. There were a lot of flashbacks to my early days traveling around southern South America in the 1970s. This trip was a mixture of unique experiences that keep alive the memories of the so-called “colonial backwaters.”