French Guiana (or Guyane), Suriname (previously Dutch Guiana), and Guyana (until 1966, British Guiana) are undoubtedly the three countries you fail to come up with when trying to fill in a map of South America.
Situated along the northern coast, between Brazil and Venezuela, this obscure region shares little with the rest of the continent. These nations were never conquered by the Spanish or Portuguese, and thus the typical Romance languages you associate with South America aren’t spoken here (they speak French, Dutch, and English, respectively). Culturally, they’re closer to the Caribbean than the rest of South America.
Given the diminutive size of the Guianas, my partner and I expected to cross the region in a matter of weeks. Instead, we stayed a year and a half, and the following experiences were only some of the reasons we had a hard time finally leaving.