Haiti, our next country, has gotten a lot of mention in the U.S. news lately. The President has made derogatory remarks about the Caribbean nation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently decided to end Temporary Protected Status for thousands of Haitian immigrants who have legally been in the U.S. since a devastating earthquake struck their home country in 2010. (2010 may seem like a long time ago, enough time for a country to recover from an earthquake, but Haiti has also been struck by a cholera epidemic introduced by foreign aid workers, and by a hurricane in 2016.)
While Haiti is a country with serious problems, dismissing it like the President did would just be ignorant. Let’s be better than that.
Some other notable things about Haiti: it shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with another country we’ve globetrotted to, the Dominican Republic. It was the first independent nation in Latin America and Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, and can even be considered the first African republic because even though Haiti is not in Africa, about 95 percent of the population is of African descent. While there are many creole languages in the world, Haitian Creole is one of the few that has official language status (French is also an official language of Haiti). And now you and I may already know more about Haiti than the American president, but there’s still more to cover.
Welcome to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America! This was not our first visit to the continent’s northeastern coast, where Guyana (once known as British Guiana) is followed to the east by Suriname (once Dutch Guiana), French Guiana (still a part of France), and the state of Amapá (once Portuguese Guiana) in Brazil. To the west is the Guiana region of Venezuela (once Spanish Guiana). Whew! One of the most fascinating lessons of our weekend adventure was that Guyana might well be called Indian Guiana, too, with almost 45 percent of the population being of South Asian descent. With cultural influences from Africa, Europe, Asia, and (of course) the Americas, we were excited to learn more about what holds this small country together and makes it special.
Bon día! This weekend found us in Guinea-Bissau, which happens to be the northwestern neighbor of our previous globetrotting destination, Guinea. While Guinea is a former French colony, Guinea-Bissau once belonged to the Portuguese. As colonies, Guinea was called French Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau Portuguese Guinea.
The number one export of Guinea-Bissau is the cashew:
Bonjour, and long time no see, from the Republic of Guinea! Located on the western coast of Africa, Guinea is a predominantly Muslim country which gained its independence from France in 1958. As for Jess and I, after a busy couple of months we were excited to grab our globetrotting passports again and learn as much as we could about this culturally rich West African nation.
Muchá! Hey, everyone! This weekend finds us in the Central American country of Guatemala, Mexico’s southern neighbor. The country also shares borders with two countries we’ve already globetrotted to, Belize and El Salvador, plus a country we’ll likely get to before too long, Honduras.
Like in Belize, the Maya civilization once flourished in Guatemala, and there are numerous well-known Maya ruins that tourists can visit today. Many Guatemalans are of Maya ancestry. Although Spanish is the official language, twenty-one Mayan languages are spoken in the country. So while the Maya Empire may have fallen, as many people learned in school, the Maya people and their culture are still very much alive.
Greetings from Grenada, a small island nation located off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. Having been the home of native Arawak and Carib peoples, followed by a succession of French and British colonial overlords, who brought with them African slaves and indentured [east] Indian laborers, Grenada is today a diverse society whose culture and cuisine we were keen to explore. Continue reading
This weekend finds us in Ghana. Akwaaba! Welcome!
Coming into this weekend, I knew little about Ghana, except that it’s one of the most popular African countries that Americans visit, probably due to two major factors: one, the official language is English and two, it’s a stable country, though a still developing one. Clearly, I had the potential to expand my knowledge a lot more.
გამარჯობა! Gamarjoba! Greetings from the country of Georgia. Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains in the traditional border zone between Europe and Asia, this small republic sits at a crossroads between some of the world’s oldest civilizations. With that in mind, we knew that this weekend was going to be a real treat! Continue reading
Salaam aleikum! Peace be upon you! This weekend finds us in the smallest country in mainland Africa, The Gambia.
(Art by Derek)
Bonjour from the west coast of Central Africa, where this weekend we visited the francophone nation of Gabon. The country borders three others that we had already visited: Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Republic of the Congo. This part of the world seems to be among the most difficult to find information about here in the United States, but we looked forward to learning as much as we could. Continue reading