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Guadeloupe & Martinique Approx Jan 10 thru Jan 29, 2012

Guadeloupe
Very hilly and lush. There is a volcano that last erupted in1997. I’m dying to go hiking but am sadly out of shape. We saw a volcano observation center with lots of data. The scents are lush. The leaves are as big as umbrellas. Nobody speaks much English. There are fantastic boulungeriees. They are called artesian. Most of the people are black. Everyone has a pretty face.

Because this is part of France, there is in some ways a much better infrastructure than would otherwise be feasible. There is a modern highway system albeit with very few roads, and regular bus service. There is also a newly constructed well-lit and landscaped promenade that runs approximately 10 miles along the coast. Juxtapose to that, the marina here is awful. It is a natural cove behind a rock breakwater that has become depressingly run-down. When the hurricane hit about 10 years ago it wiped out a pier and snuck several boats. The cement pilings from the pier and the hulls or masts of 5 or 6 boats linger in the dank water. the boats at the marina look woefully neglected, and after what we witnessed in st Maarten and saint barth’s it is a bit depressing. Thankfully, we are anchored outside and only use the facility to dinghy to shore.

At the same time, this is considered a wealthy island. There are at least 8 mod restaurants and internet cafes that line the perimeter. There is also the national water-sports facility and an ever present melange of fitness fanatics jogging, swimming, kyaking or just stretching around the marina where it bisects the promenade.

On the far side of the breakwater there is a magnificent black sand beach. It is comprised of black pebbles on the shoreline that diminish in size to a fine powder near the street. Despite the somewhat painful surface, i enjoy this beach because it is so much easier to brush off the pebbles than sand when it is time to go.

Surprisingly the beach has an abundance of exquisite sea glass. The beaches in the northeast where we spend the summer are all carefully combed for these jewels, but on this beach each handful of sand contains at least one finely polished colorful specimen. Jason even found a piece of a brown bottle neck. Now we just have to figure out what to do with it all. Suggestions?

Anyway, on this side of the island, in addition to the still active volcano, there are steep verdant mountains of virgin rain forest or alternatively cultivated banana groves. The banana trees make an odd impression because each one has a large blue plastic bag encasing the budding fruit. They grow them this way to protect the bananas, and also so when the bag fills with fruit it drops to the ground ready for transport.

As we were driving home the other day we saw a few cars parked alongside the road next to s small clearing. Thankfully, we stopped also and discovered a small waterfall cascading into a manmade rectangular cement pool about 15 feet long. We were surprised when we joined the handful of bathers to discover the water was warmer than the air. We also learned that it is possible to position yourself among the rocks of the waterfall in order to receive a powerful hydra massage. Although it sounds unappealing to essentially share an oversized bath with a bunch of strangers, the volume of water gushing in one end and out the other made it perfectly sanitary and more impersonal.

In contrast, today we hiked a 1 km trail up along a rushing river to a deep swimming hole with a real Tarzan swing. The national parks maintain hundreds of somewhat cleared and well-marked trails of varying difficulty. This trail was marked easy, but a bit slippery because of all the rain. We enthusiastically scrambled down the roots and vines to plunge into the remote rock-formed pool. What a shock: it was freezing cold! Colder than the hot tub described above, colder than the ocean in here, and even comparably cold as the ocean in Maine.

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  1. Robert / Feb 6 2012 3:35 am

    It’s my birthday today. Yesterday we celebrated with the best people in the world: Marie-Francoise, Céline, Nicolas and Phoebe – his 9 years girlfriend ). But we could not share with you in person. We’ll organize that very soon! Thank you for all the deep moments spent together!

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