We have entered our second “week in France”, first in Deshais and now in Les Saints, both a part of Guadeloupe, the first island to the south from Antigua.
Brenda and I visited France, the one “across the Pond” back in September, when we flew, not sailed, across the Atlantic, rented cars and moved from hotel to hotel for two weeks including a week with our son Christopher and his partner Melody. It was a great trip and while we were “in France” it’s a lot different than being “in France” aboard Pandora now.
Now that we are “in France” again, our schedule is pretty loose with no deadlines to speak of except perhaps keeping a wary eye on the weather so we don’t end up having to move south when the wind and seas are up. So far, it’s been very calm and we are enjoying the tranquility, warm water and balmy temperatures.
Each day is much the same as the one before with a leisurely start to the day with morning starting at sunrise, coffee and a baguette or croissant followed by a look at the news in the US, depressing, with all the wrangling in Washington. After that, Brenda generally knits, weaves or works on her book and sometimes practices here new ukulele, which she hopes to master, somewhat, by the end of the season. I think that she is making great progress although she doesn’t see it that way. Most days, we fit in a morning swim before getting serious about our chores, such as they are and usually an afternoon swim and perhaps another before dinner. Of course, it takes more than a few laps around Pandora to work off that morning croissant.
Our cockpit looks a bit like a greenhouse including a few tiny orchids that we smuggled into Antigua, buried deep in our luggage. They love it here, like we do, and have burst into bloom. Pandora’s hard dodger can be a bit hot when the winds are calm which is almost never and offers a welcome respite from the strong tropical sunshine. Brenda took this shot, while I made coffee down below, as we made our way south along the west coast of Guadeloupe on our way to Les Saints the other day. In the lee of the island the waters are very calm and the wind, not so much. The view of Deshais from our stern shows how tiny the cove really is, with a lone sailboat just peaking out, more of an indent, than a harbor. And the mountains of Guadeloupe in the morning haze to the south were beautiful. Here in Les Saintes we spend some time most days hunting for groceries, a rewarding effort as there is a remarkable selection of wonderful French food to choose from, and many places to purchase fresh bread and terrific cheeses. Of course, who can resist a nice little rose wine for less than ten euros. In the US these shops would bill themselves as “gourmet” but here high quality is just expected.
And, speaking of great food, today we purchased a bag of Lamb Chops from New Zealand. Some of our cruising friends are planing a beach cookout and we will bring them along to toss on the grill.
This tiny cluster of islands are very popular with tourists from France who fly directly to Guadeloupe and take the short ferry ride here. When the ferries arrive each morning they disgorge hundreds of tourists that turn the tiny village from sleepy to bustling in moments, only to melt away as they take shuttles to the inns and hotels scattered throughout the island.The waterfront is so charming with a very convenient dock to pull up our dink. The waterfront looks like a tiny little village on the Mediterranean. Every view better than the last. The mural on this building near the town landing says it well. There are plenty of reasonably priced places to enjoy a terrific French meal. Last evening we went out for dinner with our friends Mark and Lynn from Roxy and had an amazing dinner of fois gras and lamb chops. Yum.
Fresh food is abundant here and some of the homes have lush gardens. Papayas so big you could never finish even one. Our first stop after leaving Antigua, before Les Saintes was Deshais, a tiny fishing village on the Northwest coast of Guadeloupe. The harbor can be pretty rolly with a wrap-around swell and the swell was up when we arrived. Fortunately, the swell dropped after a day and made for a pleasant visit.
The town, more of a village, and smaller than the town here in Les Saintes, is very quaint, a sort of French shabby chic.The town dock can be a bit tricky when the surf is on, as it was during our visit so we took our dink down the little canal on the Deshais river. We were told that the week before we arrived the waves were breaking at the mouth of this canal. The swell in the harbor can be so bad that they have to remove the top of the dock to keep it from blowing off with the waves crashing against the shore. Even when it’s calm, the town dock can be a bit of a challenge to land on. You can walk a short distance up the river and swim in one of the small pools between the cascades on the river, more of a stream, actually. The water is a bit milky and I expect that is because the water leaches out of limestone springs. As it is coming directly down from the mountains I doubt it’s polluted. After this I went in for a swim. It was chilly but what a change of pace. Fresh Water!The main street in town is lined with colorful restaurants and shops. We had a terrific meal, French of course, here with some cruiser friends. Each restaurant is more charming than the next. This particular one is featured in the TV series, Death in Paradise. Buildings on the waterfront are beaten up from time to time in storms. I guess this one hasn’t been repaired quite yet. Fishing is a big part of what goes on in Deshais and every evening and into the early morning before dawn we were rocking and rolling as the fisherman headed out and returned with their days catch.
And, of course, where there are fish there are pelicans looking to find a way to prove that their “mouth can hold more than their belly can.” I was just happy that they weren’t killing time waiting for their next meal aboard Pandora.Brenda and I spent a day with some friends from a boat Billy Ruffin and toured the nearby botanical gardens, one of the best in the Caribbean. The view from the visitors center is first rate.
They have a large collection of koi that are always ready for a handout. All of these fish, and there are hundreds of them, are up to two feet long. While the gardens are mostly focused on plants, there are a number of birds to enjoy including these beautiful parrots that live in a large open air aviary that you can enter and see up close. And who doesn’t like flamingos?This big macaw, seeming to challenge “what you lookin at?” And, of course, lots of plants and flowers, far too many to show here. These puffy flowers show up before the leaves on this tree. They are 10′ puffs of pink against a perfect blue sky. I love the contrast of the red roofs, a signature style here, against the clear blue tropical sky and even bluer ocean. From the edge of the property, a view of the boats in the harbor. That’s Pandora, third from the right. Pandora up close. So here we are in Les Saintes, one of our favorite spots to spend time. We’ve taken a mooring for a week but it looks like we may have to make a run to Martinique soon as the winds are likely to pick up quite a bit and we need to be there or in St Lucia in a few weeks when we hope that the new compressor for our fridge will arrive and none too soon as it’s sounding worse each day. I sure hope that it doesn’t give up the ghost before the new one arrives.
For now, however, there’s plenty of great food to keep our fridge, as long as the compressor holds up, well stocked. It’s great to be back in France again.
Can I have another baguette? Why not…