Guyana, Suriname, and France travel blog

Not the rocket

Devil's Islands from the viewing site

Launch of Ariane VA244

Further along

The crowd atthe launch

Church at Iracoubo

Mailboxes in French Guiana

Leaving France

A random store

Main square in Paramaribo

Viewing the launch

Up really early after a pretty late night but get bags together and head down to meet the van. Off to the IBIS viewing area to watch the launch of the Ariane flight VA244 launching four European navigation satellites – the Galilea system (like GPS).

We get to the check in area and it is packed with people and about ten buses. We stood in line and finally got our passes and a little booklet about the launch, then stood in another line to get on a bus. The bus got to the road to the viewing site and waited as no one was at the gate!

They finally arrives (with a couple military guys) and they let us in. Off the bus and into a fairly small area with lots of people on a set of wet bleachers and more clustered around the edge nearest the launch. There was a display rocket clearly visible and several people were excited that it was so close. The cars in the parking lots around it should have given it away.

We settled down and waited about 45 minutes then the announcement of the countdown and the Ariane appeared on a tail of flame. It quietly sailed into the sky trailing a line of smoke and went up and then seemed to turn and then was parallel with the horizon for a while before it disappeared. It took about a minute for the sound to reach us!

The whole event took about three minutes until it was out of sight. Then there were TV monitors talking about the program and tracking it’s location. Then the crush to get on the busses. A bus of school kids first, then we were lucky enough to get on the next bus. A quick ride back to the parking lot and off we went.

Except Ann wanted breakfast and demanded that it be a full breakfast, not one of those European things. Our guide was a bit beside herself but she had us drive back into town to the hotel Kitty and I stayed in to have their breakfast. Then, only an hour late, we were on our way.

When we were about half way to the border, at Iracoubo, Ann tried to crack open what she thought was a boiled egg – it was raw. Where we stopped was next to the church we had visited before - and it looked like pretty much all the churches in the country. We cleaned up that mess and journeyed on. To St. Lauren. Through passport control then into a canoe and goodbye France.

In Suriname we went through passport control again then headed off. The driver chatted about how French Guiana and Suriname are different – and everyone in French Guiana gets 400 Euros a month – but prices of everything are very high.

As we traveled through Suriname I noticed a difference between it and France – there are no mailboxes in Suriname. Otherwise the two countries looked pretty much the same.

The drive was an easy one to Paramaribo. Saw and Alice store and all the sights and sounds we had seen before. We checked in the hotel and said goodbye to our travel companions (and good riddance to one). And took our stuff to our room.

We headed down to the local tour agency but they had no tours for tomorrow that would fit our schedule. So one the way back to the hotel we stopped in a gas station and bought some snacks, then at the hotel we looked at some other tour places but no luck.

For dinner we did the hotel’s “Suriname Buffet” which was quite nice – and nice to get back to good prices. Two bottles of water, a glass of wine and a rum and coke for $10 US. In French Guiana one rum and coke was $12 US. In any event we stayed until the bugs got on us then back into the room. One more day in Suriname then back to the states.

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