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  • Ten interesting things about Guadeloupe


    Canada plays Guadeloupe on Saturday night, the second game for both teams in the 2011 Gold Cup. In a transparent attempt at mimicking current trends in Internet writing, I compiled a list of 10 interesting things about Guadeloupe to provide Canadian supporters with a deeper understanding of the Caribbean country ahead of the match.

    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]Interesting thing 1

    Ah ha! I've already slipped one by you in the preamble. Guadeloupe is not a country at all. It's a French overseas department. That means it uses the euro and belongs to the European Union, rendering meaningless any xenophobic chants you planned to yell at the television about how "our Loonie is worth more than your (insert currency here)."

    Interesting thing 2

    Guadalupe was controlled by Sweden for 15 months in the early part of the 19th century as part of the Anglo-Swedish alliance of 1813. Here's where I insert a lazy reference to the hockey-related rivalry Canadian supporters could play on. Because although I've never been to Guadeluope, I'm sure the influence of Swedish rule remains strong in its daily culture, and that hockey fans in Canada are dying to care about this match if only they had the proper excuse.

    Interesting thing 3

    About 450,000 people currently reside in Guadeloupe. That means there are about 440,000 more competent French-speakers on this small chain of islands than in all of supposedly bilingual English Canada. This also means that Ali Gerba, Andre Hainault and Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault will have the inside track in taunting the Guadeloupe players.

    Interesting thing 4

    Canada supporters who read "Interesting thing 1," then ran back to the drawing board and concocted a xenophobic chant about Guadeloupe's embarrassing lack of Nobel Prizes in Literature will once again be pounding their desks in frustration. Technically, each place can claim one winner, but to use a hackneyed soccer metaphor, Guadeloupe wins on penalties. Guadeloupe native and poet Alexis Leger won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960, while Canadian-born Saul Bellow turned the trick in 1976. But considering that Saul Bellow spent most of his life in the U.S., Canada laying strong claim to him would be like Winnipeg clinging desperately to Neil Young, even though he fled the prairie city as soon as he could and every notable achievement in his life came after he left.

    Interesting thing 5

    If Guadeloupe were a country for whom its best passport-holding footballers aspired to play, and if time machines were something that actually existed, well then the Gwada Boys would be limbering up to hand Canada a serious hiding. Footballers that count the islands either as their place of birth or the place of birth of their parents include Thierry Henry, William Gallas, Lilian Thuram, Louis Saha, Pascal Chimbonda, Jonathan Biabiany and Ronald Zubar. Also, their 1-0 semifinal loss to Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup is at least equally impressive as Canada's controversial capitulation to the U.S. at the same stage of the same tournament. And if we're just ramming a bunch of facts into one to save space, it should also be noted that Guadeloupe beat Canada by a score of 2-1 at that same tournament.

    Interesting thing 6

    Guadeloupe boasts a rich culinary history, with local Creole seafood specialties mingling amongst French, African and East Indian influenced dishes. In fact, one tourism website that appears to be sponsored by a consortium of local restaurants said Guadeloupe is "one of the true culinary capitals of the Caribbean." Canada on the other hand, boasts no culinary history. Yes, I fully admit that contemporary Canadian cities contain some of the most stunning and richly diverse food choices you'll find anywhere in the world. But historically the approach to eating involved taking basic British meals and making them more practical. The results aren't exactly an orgy in your mouth.

    Interesting thing 7

    One of Guadeloupe's main exports is rum. Now, I'm sure that compared to say, minerals, crude oil or semiconductor chips, rum does badly at being an economic backbone. At the same time, I strongly suspect that any country whose economy relies even partly on the production of rum will be more fun than every place in Canada I have ever visited.

    Interesting thing 8

    Now we're scraping. According to Frommers, if you find yourself in a tight spot in Guadeloupe you can either call 17 or 590-89-77-17. I'm not sure if these are simply two different emergency response services or one is for calls that are more urgent. Either way it seems they should be streamlined somehow.

    "Quick! Call 1-7! I was swimming and something bit my arm!"

    "Damn, no answer!"

    "Wait!... What's the second one?... It'll come to me assuming I don't lose consciousness first due to rapid blood loss... Ah! 5-9-0-8-9-7-7-1-7!"

    Interesting thing 9

    Francky Vincent is considered to be the most successful solo singer Guadeloupe has ever produced. According to Wikipedia, his most notable single is Fruit De La Passion and he is known for his "sexually explicit lyrics, brutal outspokenness and charming smile." Canada's most successful solo singer is Justin Bieber (or at least he probably is, I'm scared to actually do the research). He is known for his brutal lyrics, sexually explicit smile and charming outspokenness.

    Interesting thing 10

    Since Guadeloupe is not actually a country, it can't compete in the World Cup. As depressing as it sounds, beyond making the French national squad the Gold Cup is about as big as it gets for these guys. So if you, like me, despise every other squad in Concacaf, you could do worse than pining for Guadeloupe to nab third in Group C and miraculously knock Mexico out of the tournament in the quarters.

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