A Monkey, Rockets, and Two Giant Anteaters

Last week, I gave you the first five lessons in a series about French Guiana’s geography. In preparing the next batch, I stumbled upon two things that must be added to the lesson on cities.

Addendum 1: Rockets and Monkeys

I found another picture from our ascent of the Mountain of Monkeys/la Montagne des Singes. This is the sign at the base of the trail.

mountain of monkeys sign

I am extremely fond of this picture. I like that the monkey is so incredibly used to rocket launches that he or she is  blithely walking by without so much as a glance toward the extremely loud burning thing launching toward the heavens. I can’t help noticing that the landscape illustration unintentionally shows deforestation, and that the water is blue, even though the water here is brown (more on that in the next entry).

I would like this picture even more if it were captioned something along the lines of, “Sorry, the rocket launch actually got cancelled today, so you won’t see it from the top of the Mountain of Monkeys. You also won’t see any monkeys. But here is a consolation picture.”

**ROCKET LAUNCH ALERT: Similarly, if you happen to be reading this entry in time, you may not be able to go watch a rocket launch in person, but you can watch it online. The Ariane 5 is launching a little over an hour after this posting, at 18:32 French Guiana time (which is 5:32 p.m. in New York). You can watch the whole thing here. I’ll be watching from the Place des Palmistes in Cayenne.

Addendum 2: Two Giant Anteaters

I told you about French Guiana’s motto, Fert Aurum Industria, which means industry brings wealth or work brings wealth. It’s an especially ironic motto, given that unemployment is at about 20%, and about 25% in Cayenne.

Since then, I’ve discovered that French Guiana has a coat of arms, and Cayenne has a city seal which includes that coat of arms. Here’s what it looks like:


The palms on the top represent the trees in the Place des Palmistes, the town squre where I’ll be watching the rocket launch. The center is an Amerindian canoe full of gold, presumably representing the spoils of illegal gold mining. And on the side are two spectacular giant anteaters.

These creatures can grow to the size of NBA stars, over seven feet long. They look particularly stoic.

I emailed Cayenne’s city hall about the motto. In their reply, they misspelled the Latin as “fer arum industria” which, my friend Lisa let me know, means “by the diligence of female wild beasts” if one space is removed (ferarum industria). I propose adopting By the Diligence of Female Wild Beasts as French Guiana’s new and more fitting motto, in honor of these two giant anteaters.

There are other illustrations of the image online (search for Blason de Cayenne if you want to see more). My favorite is this shirt.

Back to writing I go. By the diligence of female wild beasts!


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