HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR WHIRLWIND TRIP THROUGH THE LEEWARD ISLANDS—Parts 4, 5, and 6 of 6—Guadeloupe, Iles Des Saintes, and Dominica—April 3 to 11:
As with the other Leeward Islands, but even more so with these last three, we have gained only impressions during our short visits. Our mantra for this year has been… “next year”! It is interesting that most of these islands are separate countries. We must check in at Customs and Immigration in each new country. Their cultures are similar in some ways, but quite different in others, even different languages are spoken! Some of the islands are dry with cacti, and others are rainforest, still others are a combination! We look forward to discovering more of these differences…. “next year”!!
Next stop—Guadeloupe April 3 to 7:
Guadeloupe is another French country, so I got to practice my French a little bit here.
We anchored pretty far out in the harbor.
Mark checked us in at a town called Deshais (Pronounced: Day Ay).
While anchored at Deshais, we walked uphill about a mile to the beautiful Botanical Gardens, and spent all morning. It was a bit frustrating to have all the signs about the plants in French with no English translations, but great motivation to get better at my French! Interestingly, most tourists to the area are French.
Enjoy some of the following sights of the garden, just some, I took a million pictures:
I was thinking more about seeing baby Ava than the scenery when I took this picture. I wonder if she’ll ever visit here with us?
Do you see the lizard? I didn’t even see him when I took the picture! I only noticed him when I got back home and saw the pictures on the computer—surprise!
This is called a porcelain flower because it looks like a porcelain figurine!
The orchids are growing in the trees!
This is where a natural underwater spring gushes from the earth, and….
It was a fun outing, and for a bonus, we met some American cruisers, Rick and Linda on S/V Rascal and Steve and Liz on S/V Aloha . We decided to share a free ride back on the shuttle provided by the garden with our new friends. We all had lunch at a nice restaurant, L’Amer.
The next afternoon , after Mark helped newbies, Rascal, out with their SSB radio, we motored around the point to Pigeon Island. We temporarily moored there for the evening to enjoy snorkeling at the Coral Garden which is part of the Jacque Cousteau Marine Reserve. We really just scratched the surface and will be back “next year”!
I took this photo while I was in the water snorkeling at Pigeon Island looking back towards the mainland where we anchored overnight.
The next morning we dinghied around the point from our anchorage to snorkel another part of the National Park. We shared a mooring with this dive boat.
I admit, I got cocky and snorkeled down to the level with some divers.
I liked taking pictures of their bubbles!
We decided to start heading back. I was swimming back to the boat while Mark drove the dinghy behind me. On my way back around the point, I found a really nice place to snorkel, so we took turns dragging the dinghy behind us and spent about another hour snorkeling there. When we were done, I swam the rest of the way back to Nancy Lu with Mark following in the dinghy and,
that’s when I saw these guys. This is their second appearance in my blog.
Later that afternoon, Rascal and Aloha showed up so we went back to Pigeon Island to snorkel with them. That’s when I found the bust of Jacques Cousteau.
He’s in about 40 feet of water with a strong current so I was a little scared to snorkel all the way down to him. From what I can tell, he’s missing his forearm and hand which was making the OK signal from what I’ve seen in photos. He was a little hard for me to spot, but I was determined and knew his general vicinity after asking a dive tour boat.
We went into town to do a bit of grocery shopping that evening and tied up among the fishing boats in this little harbor. We ate at a little bakery where I successfully asked for a fork in French, YAY! I also saw a pacifier in the window of a pharmacy that said, “I love my grandmother” in French; yes, I got it for Ava!
The next morning we were on to …
Iles Des Saintes—April 7 to 9:
This little collection of islands is part of Guadeloupe so we didn’t have to check in for our short stay. We anchored off of Terre de Haut, which has the only town, Bourges, in The Saints. It is picturesque with all the red roofs! Mark checked out the town and brought back two HUGE pieces of flan! I stayed on the boat with Timmy after a tiring, 6 hours, somewhat bashing motor sail.
Mark rigged up his “on the hip” dinghy lift for security during the nights when we don’t want to go to the trouble of lifting it onto our davits where it must be tied down to keep from moving. We are on higher alert now that we are further south in the Eastern Caribbean.
The next day, we started early before all the tour boats showed up from Guadeloupe and other places. I had fun window shopping the streets full of little boutiques and sights…
This was a high-tech park right on the water.
Close by was a bit more low-tech place for the adults to play some cards by the market and the sea.
We passed by the park later, and I couldn’t resist!
We’re headed for a hike up that mountain right in front of he jungle gym rope, Le Chameaux (The camel).
The countryside along the way
Gaining some altitude
That “little” mound of land down there is Pain de Sucre, Sugar Bread.
No, that’s not a postcard!!
A little more up-close view along the walk
Going off road…
Almost to the old guard tower
In the old guard tower…”kind of” sweaty!
From the old guard tower…I had to get down on my belly and let Mark hand me up the camera.
What a view!!!! I didn’t realize it when I sat down, but that was a sheer drop!
Yeah, we broke a sweat!
One last photo…This was such a gorgeous hike. I think going down was harder than coming up!
The crowds were there when we got back for our ICE CREAM!
That evening, we had sundowners with our friends on Aloha. I wish we could have buddy boated with them, but our plans didn’t quite sync up. That was it for us in The Saints, we got checked out after our short but sweet little stay. We’re definitely coming back “next year”!
Dominica (Pronounced: Doh min KNEE kah) April 9 to 11:
We’re back in an English speaking country, now.
Mark’s raising our courtesy flag after clearing in with customs.
We met another contact given to us by Chuck and Micki here. “Boat Boys” (I hate that name; they’re men, not boys) have become more common the further south we’ve come. In Portsmouth Harbour, Dominica, they have a wonderful organization called PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services). The “Boat Boy’s” have organized and offer all kinds of services including moorings belonging to and maintained by various ones of them, taking you to clear in with customs, organizing and guiding various tours, getting supplies and taxis for you, and safety patrolling the harbour at night!! Even though they are in competition with one another, they work together and provide a very valuable and appreciated service to cruisers, which really encourages our patronage and their economy! It’s so smart! All of their names and pictures are in the Doyle’s Guide Book that we use (approx. 30 of them). However, we had the cell number for Martin on his handmade boat, Providence. We called him before we got to the harbour, and
he met us at one of his moorings, helped us hook up,
and treated us to some island-grown grapefruit, YUM! What a welcome!
Another PAYS member met us on our way into the harbour and offered his services. When we told him we had called Providence, he wished us well and was on his way with no pressure. AWESOME!
We sent pictures of Martin to Chuck and Micki, and he was happy to reconnect with them through us.
We hired Martin for a tour of Indian River. He picked us up at our boat bright and early the next morning at 7:00. He gave us a great tour…
That shack will look familiar to “Pirates of the Caribbean” fans. I think it’s in the second one.
There’s a little bird upside-down on a flower in the middle of that photo. We were lucky to see the national bird, the rarest type of parrot (can’t remember the name) later on in the tour. We heard it squawk first and then looked up just in time to see it fly away. Too bad I couldn’t get a picture! Martin was pretty excited about that!
We stopped for a little hike through the forest. Martin is educated as a botanist at the university there in Dominica. He was very knowledgeable about the plants and their traditional uses as medicine. We got a good taste of coconut meat and milk. Dominican’s are very proud of their country and all of its natural resources. EVERYTHING grows here. Not a lot is native, since it’s a volcanic island, but what ever was brought in years ago flourishes! They export to other islands around the Eastern Caribbean.
That’s a porcelain flower growing wild.
Now THAT’S A Philodendron. The further up the tree it went the bigger the leaves. They looked like elephant ears
This is vanilla. Martin explained how it has a symbiotic relationship with the tree. I can’t remember the term. It’s like an orchid.
Avocados (if I remember correctly) not yet in season (BOO)
On the way back, we stopped and drifted while Martin did something with some vegetation he had gathered on land.
He made THIS for me and the other girls!!
Then he snatched this flower from a tree that we rowed by and fixed it for me!! I LOVE IT!!!
Before Martin dropped us off at each of our boats, he told us he’d bring around flower arrangements he would make for all the ladies!
That’s him out there arranging, making sure to dip them in seawater to kill the bugs
Thank you, Martin. He’s so serious, but WHAT A TOUR-DELUX!!!
I had just the place for both my pretties! You can tell I took the picture of my bird on a different rainy day!
Martin brought his family out visiting some of his customers later that Sunday afternoon, drumming up business for the weekly BBQ that PAYS hosts.
I enjoyed having them on Nancy Lu, getting to know Nicki, Florianne, Nicole and Martin a little, and serving smoothies!
We attended the BBQ and enjoyed some GREAT food served with real plates and real utensils! It was an all-you-can-eat affair once everyone was served.
This pooch was just too cute with his one-ear-cocked-action for Capt. Mark to deny him some table scraps!
My favorite part, besides the food, was visiting with a French family (who could speak English) They were there on a boat chartering vacation. I was looking forward to the dancing that was advertised, but we left before it started. It had been a long day, and we were leaving around 6:00 AM for our last windward passage to get to our first windward island, Martinique!