Over three months since my last blog and I am still living the sweet life in the Caribbean. Myself and my Renault Clio have been darting around the island and have been reunited with Simon after a month of lonlieness. From the humble beginnings of staying in a boarding school and at the weekend, being followed by some rather unsavoury characters to an empty boarding school, in the middle of nowhere was enough for me to flee my lodgings to the house of my contact teacher. She kindly let me stay with her until I found my 'logement'. So I set about my search and rather luckily stumbled upon a fine gite (villa). Myself and Simon are now the proud renters of the the top part of a beautiful villa just beside La Grande Anse. In my rather biased opinion, as I live, juste à coté, it is the nicest beach in all of Guadeloupe! To my delight, our landlady has two friendly cats who frequent our house, either for our affection or for our milk, I can never be sure of which! Our landlady has an orchard in her garden and leaves us bananas, avocadoes, coconuts and bread fruit, which
cuts down on a small portion of our weekly shopping bill, but more importantly reminds us that our tropical paradise is just at our doorstep. Unusually, the sun sets at about 5.30pm - 6.00pm and this is typical all year round. It is at this point in the evening when mosquitos decide to infest our villa, but we are protected by our cats, lizards, little spiders and of course our mosquito nets.
On our first night together in Guadeloupe, we watched the beautiful sunset from the comfort of our balcony, beer in hand. Simon remarked on a tree near our house, in the shape of a peacock. Since this observation, I have noticed that they are everywhere in Guadeloupe. An unusual tree called 'L'arbre du voyageur' - The Travellers Tree, resembling that of a palm tree but very distinctly in the shape of a peacock. The Travellers Tree is so called, as the fan shaped leaves collect rainwater in the grooves, to refresh a weary traveller on his journey.
Following Simon's arrival, we set off on island adventures. Our first stop was Chutes de Carbet, three beautiful waterfalls on the eastern side of Basse Terre. The waterfalls are
set in the stunning location of the Guadeloupean rainforest, just at the foot of La Soufrière volcano. There are several treks around the falls, as there are three different waterfalls to view. We went for the easiest trek, but have great intentions to do the other ones at some stage!
Following our short trek to Les Chutes de Carbet, we decided to tackle the more difficult task of climbing La Soufrière, the ominous volcano in the south of Basse Terre. At the foot of the volcano, we jumped into the hot springs, or rather tepid springs, with the unfortunate name of 'Les Bains Jaunes' - 'The Yellow Baths'. After this we hiked a mostly upward struggle to the crater of La Soufrière. A sulphuric, eggy smell greeted us as we peered into the crater. An unusual luminous green colour at the top of the crater, made me remark that the volcanic crater was akin to be being on another planet.
We bought snorkelling kits and a body board, so we could take full advantage of the Caribbean sea that surrounds us and have been in the sea presque tous les jours. Although the beach we live beside is
beautiful, it is not ideal for snorkelling as there is no reef nearby. Luckily, La Grande Anse's little sister Petite Anse is just down the road and has perfect snorkelling conditions. This coupled with a trip out to the Jacques Costeau Reserve has made our snorkelling experiences very memorable. We have seen turtles, octopuses and of course those pesky little Sergeant Majors!
We have explored our little district of Deshaies very well and have trekked up to find canons at La Pointe Batterie, hiked up Le Gros Morne, the big mountain which frames La Grande Anse so perfectly and we have walked from La Grande Anse to La Perle, a beautiful scenic trek that begins and ends with glorious beaches. We have found some hidden beaches and from these hidden beaches, hidden treks leading to even more secluded beaches. As you can imagine, a lot of our days revolve around beach exploring!
Guadeloupe is divided into two islands, Basse Terre and Grande Terre. Basse Terre, (our terre), meaning low-land, is ironically the mountainous part of the island and Grande Terre is relatively flat. Windmills, both new and old are scattered all across Grande Terre taking advantage of the
Atlantic wind that blows across this flat terrain. We have made several trips to Grande Terre, taking in such sights as the beautiful beach of Sainte Anne, where we witnessed a tiny cyclone at sea. Further west from Sainte Anne, leads to the magnificent Pointe les Chateaux, a fantastic headland with several rock jutlands, eroded by the tumultuous sea, giving the impression of a castle. Further north, is La Porte d'Enfer, an archway at sea, close to an unusual beach, devoted to Mary, mother of God! Further north again leads to surfer's territory at Le Moule and surfing is common from here northwards. Another and more beautiful Porte D'Enfer is on the northern point of Grande Terre, with a little inlet full of snorkelers and sun worshippers.
Other excursions to little pieces of paradise have included a trip to Saut Les Lézardes, a wonderful little waterfall at the end of a somewhat arduous trek, the lesser known Saut des Trois Cornes, found at the end of a 3km hike from the volcanic shower of Sofaia and hikes throughout Route de la Traversée have been keeping us occupied.
Christmas time gave me two weeks off from my job for
festive fun. We went to a Chanté Nwel to see how the locals celebrate a Creole Christmas, Christmas carols with a Caribbean lilt. To make things even better, my parents came to visit, so we acted as their tour guides. We spent New Years with them at their hotel and welcomed in the New Year in style.
We are now in the middle of Carnaval season. Rather than just have one big Carnaval, the Guadeloupeans have chosen to celebrate Carnaval every weekend for a month, leading up to the big Mardi Gras celebrated on what we know as Pancake Tuesday. 'Mardi Gras' literally translated is Fat Tuesday and I think this title is more appropriate considering the amount of pancakes I normally eat.
Stay tuned for more blog updates.
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