The Guadeloupe archipel

           

Upon arrival from Martinique, we noticed that in Dominica it is quite dark, but in and around Guadeloupe the lights are switched on again. Oui, c’est l’Europe, a tremendous difference. More people, more money (also for electricity) and more colour (as with more money one can buy more paint). More tourism as well.
The first island we visited in the archipel of Guadeloupe was Terre de Haut, part of Les Saintes (The Saints), the Frisian islands of Guadeloupe and very similar to Vlieland and Terschelling. The population is 500 souls, but during the day over a 1000 people walk around here. That's why the island is packed with terraces. We tried one by the sea and paid no less than €18 for two beers and two cokes! (or is this not expensive?) On Dominica you buy dinner with two persons for this kind of money, and in Surinam you can do that even twice.

This small island has no less than four splendid bays. We anchored in the southernmost bay, on three quarters of an hour walking distance from town (over a high mountain) and per dinghy 1.5 miles. So this was a quiet place.
A specialty of the island are the traditional sailing boats: they have deep keels with no ballast, as this is controlled by five crewmembers who hang in the trapeze when sailing. The boats are raced enthousiastically but more often you find them on the beach because they need continuous care and maintenance. So the boats look real glossy indeed.

 

The archipel consists of ten islands and Guadeloupe itself is formed by two humps forming together the shape of a butterfly, if viewed from above. The names of the islands seem peculiar as Grande Terre is the smaller of the two, and Basse Terre is the younger thus higher island; as with the Saintes the name refers not to the shape but to the position in relation to the direction of the wind.
Naturally we snorkeled every day and since the bottoms of the bays  are shattered with empty conchs occupied by small marine life, the cats got every day a new shell filled with slimy snails, small crabs (proudly presented in our bed), starfish, etc., so they were rather busy.

On Guadeloupe we anchored in the capital, Point à Pitre. With a view on the ever smoking vulcano and right next to the marina where they offer all services. Including a 35-ton travellift, a nice occasion to lift the boat because we found water in the oil of the saildrive. And with a saildrive the only way to remove the oil is by letting it flow out. Expensive job every time, as the boat needs to be out of the water. Anyway, better safe than sorry and find after a year in Surinam that the whole interior of the saildrive is rusted. So we had the seals replaced, new oil and bought spares for every replaced part. In the end we were a bit poorer but our worries were over too. We also ordered a new engine support on Martinique, which we'll collect on the way home.

Point à Pitre is the capital of the French Antilles. Just as in Fort-de-France (Martinique) a web of shopping streets mainly filled with shops for shoes and underwear. Partly because of the “architecture” the atmosphere is quite messy, but compared to F-de-F much more pleasant. The streets are buzzing and the market buzzes even more. We bought a huge piece of tuna and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Three miles to the east is the village of Gosier, with its special attraction the Ilet de Gosier off the coast. The whole coast of Grande Terre is surrounded by white beaches (coral sand) and a turqoise sea, and this attracts tourists. If seen from afar, Ilet de Gosier is idyllic with its lovely firehouse and the surrounding reef (although the island doesn't give  shelter from the wind, there are no waves), but a closer look reveals crowds of French people on holiday, spending one day on a mini island. And spoilt as we are with islands off the beaten track such as Dominica and Tobago, where communication with the locals is only natural (we have the impression that the white French act somewhat hoity-toity towards the coloured French, probably from fear. It is ridiculous and this is the first island where we come across this behaviour but the other way round it also means that the locals here do not immediately know what we stand for...), it was high time for us to continue our trip.
Guadeloupe... it will never be listed in our top 10. The Saintes are located on a convenient spot een goeie plek as a stop-over en route to St.Maarten. But furthermore...

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