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Published: October 10th 2010
Taking it easy...
In a hammock on the terrace of our accommodation in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe. View on the Carribean Sea, 32°C!
Guadeloupe is an overseas department of France, like an English county, Essex say, in the Caribbean Sea. This makes it a big contrast from Antigua; it has a thoroughly modern infrastructure, boulangeries and pharmacies in every town and French roadsigns.
Del’s parents met us at the airport, we picked up our hire car and made our way to the accommodation, which is a Gite, a self-contained apartmet near Bouillante on the Basse Terre side of the island. Guadeloupe is a big, butterfly-shaped island, its capital, Pointre a Pitre, is in the centre on the narrow strip of land that makes up the body of the butterfly. Its left wing is called Basse Terre, which is the more underdeveloped, green, mountainous side, we’re about halfway down the wing’s outerside. Grande Terre is the right wing, flatter and looking more like some parts of the south of France.
Our terrace overlooks the sea, good for morning cups of (French) coffee and evening Ti Punches. Guadeloupe’s main industry used to be sugar cane and coffee, although they concentrate more so now on bananas. Consequently, sugar and its derivatives (rum or rhum!) is good quality and cheap. A Ti Punch (pronounce it as
“Tea” or Del goes nuts), is three parts rum, some sugar or cane syrup, and one part lime juice with ice. Lethal and delicious, which makes it doubly lethal.
When not supporting the local economy we have done some nice walks to either warm sulphur springs and waterfalls where it is possible to bathe. The Le Saut d’ Acomat, was our favourite, though the climb down for Del’s parents was arduous.
I would like to write more but I need to return the laptop now. I’ll write some more about Guadeloupe another time. We were hoping to go to Dominica for a week but the ferries are not running at the moment. Therefore, we decided to spend another week in Guadeloupe and are taking a flight to St Lucia, bidding goodbye to Del’s parents, on 3rd October. From there, we’re flying to San Jose in Costa Rica on 8th October. We’ll write at the next opportunity. Take care, Matt and Del.
This entry is being sent from St. Lucia on 7th Oct:
We had a great balcony at the Gite, frequented by hummingbirds. These delightful, turbo-charged little birds were real passionate viewing for our time there. I made
Jardins Botaniques de Pointe Noire
Loris and Lobriquet birds eating nectar out of a cup in Matt's hand... Poupular, he was!
it my mission to try and catch some of them with the camera but they are so fast it took me hours. At one point I remember getting quite frustrated and annoyed that I couldn't get them in focus quick enough before they departed. I decided to put the camera on manual focus at a point in the air where I thought they'd be and waited for a flash. As I was doing this I happened to look out onto the ocean and realised I had no problems!
The highest point on Guadeloupe is La Soufiere, an active volcano. Del, her dad and I climbed it one day. It smelt of sulphur and was a long 3 hour climb but we did it. After the long trek we enjoyed the warm, natural sulphur bath at the bottom!
Another day I climbed another one of the peaks in the National Reserve, called Mamelles De Pigeon, the nipple of the pigeon. Funny on several levels, not least that pigeons, I'm reliably informed, have no nipples.
From there I could see the entire butterfly shape of Guadeloupe, from St Francois in the extreme east on the other wing of the island, Point a
Pitre, the outlying islands called Les Saintes, the Saints and the rest of the green, green Basse Terre.
Finally, we took a boat on the last day to Les Saintes, the outlying islands to the south of the 'mainland'. Apart from one lovely beach populated with more goats and chickens than people, there was precious little else to report. The iguanas which reside there don't come out a day after rain. It rained the day before. None of us were blown away by them.
In all, Guadeloupe was a very positive experience. It is unmistakably French, with an economy that doesn't rely on tourism, meaning the annoyances of the other islands that go with that aren't present. Its Carribbean enough to be different and nicely chaotic but mature enough to be enjoyed, unlike places like St Lucia, of which more in the next post.
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