It’s hard to say what the best part of being in the French Islands this winter. It might be the fabulous cuisine, or perhaps the wonderful assortment of fine foods in the markets. Gone are the rows and rows of junk food that you find in American markets. Who needs hundreds of yards of chips, soda and sugary cereals. Here are rows of fine chocolates, cheeses and pates. And, don’t forget about all the great wines and rums to choose from, all at prices that are unimaginable in the US.
Perhaps it’s the simplicity of clearing in and out of the French islands. Yesterday when we went ashore to clear into customs in St Pierre, we were greeted warmly by the customs officer. We filled out entry forms on a freshly sanitized computer. After a few minutes, I printed out my papers and had them stamped. When I asked what I owed, the official pointed casually to a donation cup, seeming to say “pay what you want”. In Deshaies, Guadeloupe the fee was 3 Euros. I’ll pay that.
I guess the French just want us to spend money on wine, cheese and pastry. I’m all for that.
Are the sunsets that greet us each evening while we are enjoying a “sundowner” what makes this so special? Sure, they are great but in the interest of fairness, sunsets are fabulous at every island. Perhaps it’s the magnificent scenery of the tall cloud shrouded mountains looming over the quaint villages that make visiting here so special. We won’t think about the more than 30,000 that died in 1902 when Pele, this peak and still active volcano, blew it’s top and wiped out St Pierre in few scalding moments. Is it the near hourly rainbows that we see in the mornings and late afternoons as the showers in the nearby rainforests pass through the anchorage?Those short lived showers are a great way to keep Pandora salt free after a sporty run between islands. We buddy boated with our friends on Highlander to get here a few days ago from Les Saintes.Everyone wants a photo of their boat under sail and I got a few great ones of Highlander. What’s not to love about a view from Pandora of St Pierre in the late afternoon light?
Or, perhaps the passing of a classic Cornish Crabber as she sailed into the harbor in Les Saintes.Or, the view of the harbor from Fort Napoleon. Ok, perhaps it’s the turquois waters of the nearby reefs that makes these islands so special. Or a visit to a nearby beach. Ok, the view to the left was sandy but not quite a dramatic. Complete with swaying palms. Admittedly, it was, as Brenda woud say, “blowing a gale”. If you like spying local color, look up and see a hefty iguana, feeling pretty proud of himself seeming to say “hey, what you looking at buddy? You can leave now!”But, the best part of all, and what makes visiting most any island, is time with fellow cruisers, fellow Salty Dawgs, that hang out much of the season together. “everybody into the pool!”
Whatever it is that makes cruising in the Caribbean great, it’s surely better in the French islands. Ok, it’s at least as good as most any place other than enduring the cold up north, here in the French Islands.
And, al0ng with great food, wine and terrific scenery, is the rum. Today, off to nearby Depaz distillery for a tour, tasting and a great lunch. Yup, cruising with al the basic food groups with the Dawgs.
So, that’s my report and I’ll wrap this up so I can head to the market to buy some fresh tuna for dinner tonight. Perhaps a baguette too.
It’s all this and more that’s “best” about being in the French islands this season.