How our lives have changed! Of course there are obvious ways; that fact that we don’t have a car or a house, but live on a boat makes that pretty easy to see. And we have talked over and over again about how our days are defined by weather: where we go, if we go or stay, how long we want to travel. But there are less obvious ways too.
First of all, we can’t buy English muffins, my favorite breakfast, so I make them. They are not Thomas’, but they do the job. I make my own pizza dough too, now that Publix isn’t around the corner anymore. John’s grilled pizza is a favorite dinner for us so we need pizza crust! I have walked to the beach where the fishermen come in and bought a very large freshly caught mahi-mahi for $3.75 a pound. It was cleaned and fileted right there by the man who reeled it in. He used a piece of wood with two nails sticking through one side and a beer bottle cap tacked to the other to scale it. On my way back to the boat, I stopped at a lady selling mangoes on a street corner and picked up enough to make some mango salsa to put on the fish after it was grilled. We will get five meals out of that one fish. I love having it in my freezer for another day. I have bought some very strange looking vegetables and boiled them to make what is known here as “provisions”, and we regularly cook our rice in a foil pan on the grill now, topped with some chicken or fish. It works beautifully every time.
We wake to roosters every day. They are everywhere on these islands and they really crow nonstop all day long. Goats and chickens walk the beach in some places and no one even seems surprised. Grocery stores are tiny and I have to hope to find what I want. If not, I buy something else. It is no surprise anymore to find that stores and businesses are not open a good part of every afternoon. It’s almost a surprise to find them open! Produce stands can be large with all kinds of fruits and vegetables or as tiny as a native resident next to a stalk of bananas or a bag of mangoes; there are tons of mangoes!
Language changes from French to English depending on which island we are on, and sometimes we can’t even quite understand the English. People on the islands commonly speak French, English, Creole, and other dialects common only to the island itself. Each island also has its own attitude about visitors. Some make every effort to welcome us and to try to make us understand them, and some make little effort to communicate clearly. Currency that was pesos in the Dominican Republic ($1 US = 47 DR) now is Euros ($1 US = .90 Euro) or East Caribbean ($1 US = 2.70 EC) depending on where we are. Some businesses are happy to take US dollars, but some are not. And, to top it all off, did you know that the French use a different keyboard on their computers than we do? There are several differences, but the most noticeable one is that the a and the q are reversed! I discovered that when using an Internet café to check in at customs while in Guadeloupe. Our last name kept coming out to say Dqigle. I really thought they were playing tricks on me, but in checking the other computers, all of the keyboards were strange.
After leaving Montserrat on June 6, we traveled to Guadeloupe. This is another island I had never given any thought to in the past. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember anyone ever telling me they would be vacationing in Guadeloupe, so it wasn’t a place I had particularly tuned in on to be a favorite. I was really surprised when I found out how much I loved this country!
Basse-Terre, GuadeloupeBoats here tie up to whatever is available.Who could believe these colors even exist at sunset?
Guadeloupe, a region of France, is made up of five islands. There are two main islands that are separated by a river through the middle. Together they basically form a butterfly shape. Three other islands are smaller but they all lie near each other making for comfortable winds and travels. We first arrived on the western most main island, Basse-Terre. There we toured the town, also named Basse-Terre, and tried to check in with Customs. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but the dress shop, where the Internet computer for the Customs office was located, was closed for the day in the early afternoon. Most countries have people in their Customs and Immigration office, but the French countries seem to use computers these days. Although we could have spent more time in Basse-Terre, snorkeling and visiting the sights, we decided to move on the next day to the Isle des Saintes.
Terre-Haut, Isle des Saintes, Guadeloupe
This guy attached himself to John and followed him around town.
You have to wonder what stories this doorway could tell.This street in Terre-Haut is closed off to vehicles during the day.This type of shutter is typical throughout the whole village. They are of all different colors, but countless homes have this design on their shutters.Everywhere you go in the Caribbean there is color. Wonderful color! The view around the anchorage is gorgeous.More creative color and designs on a garden gate.
The view from the top of Fort Brimstone.AfterMath is about 1/4 of the way from the right in the foreground.On the beach. Do you see the little goat in the shade of the palm tree?And always, chickens and roosters!So many beautiful beaches!Our cute little golf cart for the day.John and Craig. I asked to sit in the back seat that day so I could get pictures from both sides.
Such an interesting graveyard. Each raised grave has a door in the back to slide a casket in or out. Some were open and, although there were flowers in the front, you could see from the back that they were empty.
We arrived and headed straight to the Customs office, which was, of course, closed. This office was located in an Internet café. We discovered it would be open the next morning, so we decided to arrive at 9 AM, check in, and then rent a golf cart for the day to explore the island. Craig, from La Sirena, joined us on the Wednesday, June 8th, for a wonderful day touring Fort Brimstone where the views were postcard perfect, enjoying lunch at a beautiful spot on the water, and checking out all of the beaches. By the time we finished our day we had driven on every street on the little island and we had fallen in love with Guadeloupe.
There is so much more to see in this country. We feel like we barely scratched the surface. We will see more of it on our way back north. We have heard rumors that we may have company there! More to come on that when plans are complete.
Here is a view of where Montserrat and Guadeloupe are located.
Deb–We spent New Years Eve in Guadaloupe. We chartered a sailboat with some friends. It was wonderful. Great food- a mix of French and Creole. We loved Les Sainte. On New Years, the ships all blew horns and fired flares. Each morning a small boat would go around the harbor ringing a bell and selling fresh squeezed OJ and warm coissants. There were even chocolate coissants. We did not like Dominica. Are you stopping there? There is supposed to be a nice rain forest. However, once anchored, our boat was surrounded by very aggressive boat boys who tried to get us to order food, ice, etc. and kept climbing up our rigging. This went on day and night. On shore, it was very Third World with sewage running through the middle of the street. Also it rained perpetually. There was always a black cloud over the island. We stayed a day and left. Hopefully it has improved since our trip which was many years ago. But Guadaloupe was fantastic. I still recall going to shore to have dinner in a local restaurant. We ran into an American who was grumbling about the food. “Can’t get a good burger anywhere,” he said. The Ugly American.
On another trip we did the Grenadines. There are some wonderful islands there. We sailed from St. Lucie to Granada. Don’t miss Becqui whatever you do. It’s interesting and lovely. They have a history of whaling in small sail boats. They make great boat models.
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We did go to Dominica. Interestingly, people we talked to seemed to love it, but, like you, we preferred Guadeloupe by far! We are now in St. Lucia and will stay for a few days before heading down the Grenadines to Grenada, where we will spend the summer. Becqui is definitely on the list of places to visit. It’s another island everyone seems to love. I’ll let you know what we think when we get there!