S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Saintes

Saturday, May 20
Isles des Saintes, Guadeloupe
N 15 degrees, 52.67 minutes
W 061 degrees, 34.64 minutes

Sorry: the last few blogs are out of order. That sometimes happens when we post a bunch at one time.

I think I have written this about every place we have visited so far, but this time I really mean it when I say that Guadeloupe is my favorite island. The food is great, the land is verdant, the mountains are majestic, the water is clear and warm, and the people are quite friendly. Every morning, walking through the small town of Deshaies, we were greeted with a smile and "bonjour" by anyone we passed. People are very patient with my halting attempts to speak French and my deer-in-headlights response whenever they speak French to me. Even the woman who begged me to speak English so she could understand what I was asking for (French being her first language) was very polite about it.

Still, we managed to rent a car on Thursday, and we drove around the island to a series of dramatic and steep waterfalls in the rainforest near the southern volcano. The drive itself was worth renting the car, as the road we took ran along by the ocean for much of the trip, showing us beautiful beaches and seaside communities, interspersed with fields of banana trees and sugarcane and cattle.

The Chutes du Carbet are part of Guadeloupe's national park. From the parking lot you can walk along a paved (with mortar and stone) path for twenty minutes to the first falls, or you can take a rugged, two-hour hike through rainforest and into cloud forest to the more distant falls. We did both.

We were extremely impressed by how well-maintained the trails were, especially since admission to the park was free. The trail to the farther falls was steep, muddy, and subject to erosion, but walkways had been built over a few places, and rope handholds were installed on the toughest parts. In one place, where the land had worn to nearly vertical, a short flight of stairs had been built!

I did lug my hiking boots all this way in anticipation of some good hiking, but after months of wearing nothing but flip flops, my feet want nothing to do with closed shoes. Dean and I decided that, in spite of the rough terrain, we would wear our flip flops for the hike. Surprisingly, they were adequate, though the park wardens and several hikers warned us through a series of finger waggings and stern looks that we would need something sturdier.

Some aliens must have kidnapped Dean and replaced him with an imposter who claimed to love hiking. Dean shot up the trail ahead of everyone (we went with three other couples), hopped around the rocks at the falls like a gazelle, and then shot back down the trail again when it was over. While trying to keep up with Dean, I kept having to remind myself to stop for a minute or two to look around and enjoy the scenery, which was straight out of "Jurassic Park." Among the strangest plants were ones that looked like hostas and ferns, things you might see in any backyard, except these were twenty times their regular size.

The falls themselves were stunning. Both trails led to pools at the bottom of the falls, and we watched these narrow streams of water falling straight down towards us for 350 feet. The highest one appears red because of the high iron content in the water. According to my guidebook, it comes from the nearby volcano. We cooled off in the pool right below the bottom of the falls, and then started back down again, looking forward to the coconut and nutmeg ice cream that vendors were making in hand crank tubs near the entrance.

We took the long way back through the twisty roads of the parkland, and Dean, still in alter-ego mode, floored it around the mountains, causing yet another Canadian couple to accuse him of being a dead ringer for Jacques Villeneuve. The scenery, seen at lightning speed, was breathtaking.

Friday morning we left Deshaies, planning to make a snorkel stop midway down the coast at lunchtime and anchor for the night at the town of Barreterre, on the southwestern corner of Guadeloupe. Neither the snorkel stop nor the anchorage at Barreterre were much to write about, much less spend any time at, so we kept going, making it to the beautiful Iles des Saintes by late afternoon. We are in one of the more remote harbors in this group of islands, and there are only three other boats anchored here with us. It has been raining for most of the day, so we busied ourselves with chores, adding some diesel to the tank (at a whopping six bucks a gallon), catching up on emails and blogs, and making the most of the free water falling from the sky to get Montserrat's ash off the boat and our filth off some of our clothes. Moving through the islands so fast has made us a little short on everything, including water, and Guadeloupe has been slow to give up her resources (by this I mean laundromats). Even Nanny had laundry day easier than this; try washing towels in seawater! I finally just hung them on the lifelines and hoped the rain would continue long enough for the salt to run off them.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Sailor Sr. said...

I'm catching up on your blogs in Wayland. One thing stands out... nutmeg-cocoanut pastries. Yum. I agree with Rose's comment... what's to say to people who are living THE dream, except, "Wish I were there." So, I'm sure it's not that readers don't want to comment as much as it is "Oh, brother, now I have to go back to work." Enjoy.

10:43 AM  
Blogger dcrollins said...

I enjoyed the story about the lightning storm. Were y'all with Greg and I when we had that horrible storm on "Floridaze"? I can't remember if it was off Cape Hatteras (before you joined us) or after Atlantic City. Anyway, the lightning caused Greg's fancy navigation system to blank out, and we left feeling utterly lost for 30 minutes or so (needless to say the storms were too rough to take a reading from the stars/horizon).

I haven't been reading for a while, sorry for the lack of comments. One thing that might be helpful would be for you to post a map with your progress so far. I'm sure Dean can hack this together; you might even be able to feed the lat/long into Google Maps.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Odd to hear Jill quoting scripture: my love is a Stag. I will attribute such things to the abundance of Sun and not some ETOH induced religious zealousness. The Fender and I still laugh out loud or smirk wryly when we here the maid's tale of her Stag on mid-mount. Pictures of Dean in Stag-like leap would be worth a pint or two. On the northern front, the possibility of a Chien joing White Road is growing as the Fender settles into her new economy. The question is not which Chien? But when? I am convinced that the prosective Chien would heel better than the Delilah, which has yet to heel with the Fender aboard. Pictures of the Crew in mid-adventure would be appreciated. Let us know if email works.

Hoist a jar for us should the opportunity be found.

Etienne

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Collins asks Mr Burd delivers:

http://www.ossus.com/delilah

Love the posts, need more pictures

-Tim

10:50 PM  
Blogger dcrollins said...

You da man now, dawg! Thanks.

Didn't they make a stop at Vieques, PR?

Also, I notice they're getting close to Petit St. Vincent (http://www.psvresort.com/html/history/history.html), site of the ill-fated 1995 honeymoon for my "starter marriage". I highly recommend stopping by for dinner with Haze and the guests. For many years it was rated as one of the top five resorts in the world.

10:20 AM  

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