Sunday, October 9, 2011


So here we all are, still homeless with all of us assistants scattered about. Some of us have temporary homes, mostly the people who are in St. Laurent or Kourou, but us Cayenne, and its surrounding suburbs, folk are still without a home.

Allegedly, this year the referents for all of us assistants are not too keen on helping us find a home, or say transportation between Cayenne and its surburbs (Remire-Montjoly, Matoury). So some assistants are staying in people's houses, and three of us are staying at the Maison de l'Education still.

So I guess you should consider, if coming to French Guiana and in particular Cayenne, how difficult it is to find housing. We have all been using to find a place to live. I highly suggest trying to find something before you come. Not that everyone at the Rectorat isn't helpful - because they are, and they're very nice and all, but it is difficult period to find an apartment or colocation at a good price in Cayenne. We are all looking for something in the 300-400 euro price range, considering how much we get paid. Already furnished is another criteria since we will only be here for about 6 months (now).

That is all for today.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


So I got into Cayenne on Tuesday. I thought it would be much more difficult to get from Paramaribo to French Guiana but it wasn't at all. I was able to take a group taxi from the Guesthouse Amice to the Surinamese border, which ended up being about 3 hours or so. I managed to meet two really nice French ladies in my Surinamese taxi who gave me a (free!) ride from St. Laurent to Cayenne, which was pleasant and saved me a lot of money.

The trip across the Maroni River in a pirogue was pleasant and rather fast (and only cost 4 euros) and St. Laurent was absolutely gorgeous. The water in the Maroni is clear, which makes St. Laurent that much prettier. As soon as I saw St. Laurent I was uber jealous of the assistants that get to live there (Hi Kathleen, Jama and Lara!).

I also saw the cities Sinnamary and Iracoubo - both are beautiful and quiet and very calm. Actually, everything is beautiful here. It was quite a headache figuring out how to get here and getting my visas for France and Suriname, but so far it really seems worth it. Driving from St. Laurent to Iracoubo we had to stop so two monkeys could cross the road - it was amazing. I am waiting to see some sloths, though. I want that to happen soon.

Cayenne is also wonderful so far. We, all fourteen of us, are all staying at the Maison de l'Education de Cayenne, which was a little difficult to find but thankfully, we did end up finding it. Sadly, no appliances work there so we can't cook (but we can make coffee!) but there is a shower and air conditioning in our room so I'm grateful for that. Right now we don't really know what's going on and are just all sort of wandering around Cayenne, but that's working out pretty well.

Sadly, I haven't taken any pictures yet because I feel overstimulated and overcaffeinated but Cayenne looks like tropical, small town France. There are pharmacies everywhere. And a Leader Price. And clearly I found wi-fi. I haven't seen chez moi, Matoury, yet but that should be happening this weekend (ou bien?). On verra.

Pictures soon? Once I stop drinking so much coffee and staring at things. Hopefully.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The beginning & Paramaribo

So I really should have started this thing sooner and probably not in the hotel room in Paramaribo, Suriname. Maybe before I left? Nah.

Anyway, I thought this blog could serve two purposes: 1) to allow my friends, family members and various creepers to see what's going on in my life 2) to share information on the process of getting to/living in Guyane for anyone interested in working here with the TAPIF program in the future. Donc, on y va.

When I was applying for TAPIF I was looking at the overseas departments because the idea was just really neat. Besides, I was living in Benin so everything else was really just an upgrade. Martinique? Reunion? GUYANE?? In South America? That sounded pretty awesome. That was my rationale for choosing French Guiana. I applied from Benin, West Africa (google it) while serving in the Peace Corps and I was accepted in early April 2011 to the Academie de Guyane (sorry about the lack of accent marks, it involves some effort I'm not really willing to expend). As far as I know, there are 6 or 7 other American teaching assistants going to Guyane, but I guess I will find out tomorrow when I arrive in Cayenne.

So you may have noticed that I didn't fly into Cayenne (the capital of French Guiana). It is so much cheaper to fly into Paramaribo, Suriname than it is to fly into Cayenne. To fly from Miami to Paramaribo (one way), I paid $279 on Caribbean Airlines. However, it is a little more complicated and time consuming to fly into Paramaribo, because you have to get a visa for Suriname. It took about a week for me to get it, but the paperwork wasn't bad. I am really interested to see how the overland travel from Paramaribo to Cayenne will go. Tomorrow I am taking a taxi to Albina, at the border, and then some sort of boat (on va voir) and then another taxi into Cayenne-meme.

I would also like to recommend the Guesthouse Amice if you are going to Paramaribo. It is a great place to stay - the room is pretty cheap (35 euro/night for a single, no balcony) and kind of fancy (hard wood floors, air conditioning, hot shower, wifi - I am living the dream). Plus, the staff is helpful and there's breakfast in the morning. Also, they are setting up my taxi for tomorrow's voyage to Albina.

Also, so far from what I've seen, Paramaribo is a cool city. It's weird, and kind of developed (especially compared to West Africa) but kind of not (h-ello shanties and trash in the street), but eclectic with friendly people and terrible, terrible beer. Sorry. Your beer is terrible, Suriname. But your taxis have seat belts! Yay!

So, I am trying to get some pictures to upload but we'll see how that really ends up.