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Two Month Trip to Guadeloupe

Introduction    First Week-Dampierre      SecondWeek-St. François    Third Week- Port Louis
Month on Basse Terre-Deshaies    Last Night

First week/Dampiere


Ocean view in Gosier (Airbnb)
From our little placeKitchen

Beginning

Stephen:
I like to start from where I am right now. As soon as I establish myself, I will go back to the beginning. The photo to the left is from our place. On the right, beyond the chest is our host's apartment; straight ahead is the ocean and on the left is another couple's, Crysal and Jonathan, cabin. I am taking the picture standing next to our outdoor stove and sink. José picked the fruit from his trees. The photo on the right is looking toward our place. Left to right: light coffeemaker, toaster, door to bedroom and bathroom, Dawn with table and chairs, sink, two burner range, microwave and drying rack. All we need and nothing more.



BeachTree

Our Beach

We are near the ocean, but perhaps sixty feet above it. We reach it by going down a path, then some steps and through a gate. Anse Vinaigri is a small beach which on our first day we shared with one man with whom we had a lazy conversation as we lazed in the water. Before we start down the path there is a grassy bluff with a table and some plastic lounge chairs and a beautiful tree, a great place for morning meditation or an evening glass of wine.

Party at the pool You may see some balloons in this picture and the first one. The host's son was setting up for a party for his eighteen year old girl friend. The usual - six to eight people, laughing, music, maybe even giggling. We were away for most of it.

The trip down was smooth. We reserved a LYFT car for the airport probably a half an hour early. The security x-ray machine had trouble with the block of cheese that I brought in order to empty out our fridge, but it was definitely cheese when she opened the bag. Norwegian Air does a nice job organizing its flights. They fill the plane from the back row first so that part goes well. A few days before the flight we decided to check one bag, so we were carrying almost nothing in our hands so everything seemed more relaxed. We met Hubert outside of the exit and he drove us to his office to rent us a car.

Renting a car

Stephen:
We got Hubert's id from José, our host, who was a friend of his and we contacted him a couple of months ago. He offered us a deal for 51 days at $25/day which included everything and we accepted it. We came prepared with copies of our passports and drivers' licences. The rental had its hiccups which led to more hiccups. The first one was that there was a traffic jam on the way to his office so it took a lot longer than he expected. Then our credit card didn't work in his machine so we dug around our stuff looking for our backup credit cards until Dawn found hers but that didn't work either. His assistant finally brought another machine which worked. So that got settled. He graciously said he would lead us to José's place since it was on his way home. So we got into our cars but he took off and we had to follow quickly without really knowing how to operate anything. We finally got the radio turned off and the air set to a reasonable temperature. The disaster happened just as we were arriving at José's. There was a sharp turn off the road coming off the downhill road followed by a steep uphill driveway. I wasn't able to get back to first gear though I tried several times and because I didn't want to stop on the steep driveway I got up the hill and into my parking space by slipping the clutch in some unknown gear and arriving in a cloud of clutch pad fumes.

It pains me still to write this. Here I am in the first fifteen minutes of a seven week rental abusing the car right in front of its owner. We got out of the car saying all the apologizes we could think of in at least two languages. He pointed the smoke from the clutch in the headlights. I could find no hole to climb into.

The story has a tail, or maybe two tails entwined. Although we did notice a strange sound from under the front of the car as we were following Hubert, it didn't seem too bad. We have a similar sound in the same location in our car back at home. We might have mentioned it when we got to our place but that idea was overwhelmed by the fracas of our smoky arrival. The second issue is that a day or two later, I couldn't find my passport and after searching for it thoroughly, we decided that I left it in Hubert's office. So we realized that we had to contact him to get my passport and to tell him about the car, although all my credibility as a good driver is gone and we don't imagine that he won't think we ran through a deep pot hole at fifty miles per hour.

We tried to contact him with no success, but after mentioning it to José, he made contact and continued to do so as we heard that he didn't see the wallet with the passport, and then later that he did and will return it. Our message that we would like to be here when he does so that he can drive the car to listen to the noise has had no response. Today is the day he has said he will be here.


Another take on our arrival

Nous sommes arrivés au-dessous d'une belle pleine lune.
Le Caraïbe est encore étonnant.
Les gens sont toujours accueillants.

We arrived under a beautiful full moon.
The Caribbean is still astonishing.
The people are still welcoming.

Dawn:
After the aforementioned incident with the car, we had no desire to drive again at night to find a restaurant. We had brought from home some carrots, cheese and nuts which sufficed, but we had mentioned to our host, José that we had wanted a Ti punch but did not want to go out. As we were cleaning up from our snack, he came over and offered us two different kinds of Ti Punch...although I think that he does not drink at all since he has declined our invitations to join us. In any case, it was very kind of him. He also offered us a real cup of espresso the next morning as the machine in our little outdoor kitchen is not so great.

Thinking about the Car and the Misplaced Passport

In the past, the clutch incident would have caused me a lot of lost sleep, sharp gut responses when I remembered my failure and a general sense of "woe is me". I really don't have these responses anymore in my life since I began sitting in meditation about seven years ago, so imagine my surprise when they all came back into my world in a rush. In the middle of our first night I found myself counting my breaths, trying to bring myself to a calmer present moment. It took me a full day to recover slightly my centeredness (or perhaps non-centeredness) and that is when I discovered that my passport was missing. I did a thorough pass through all my stuff and then Dawn did one through hers. We decided that it "had" to be back at the car rental place where I must have gotten out my passport billfold to find a backup credit card. Now I consider losing one's passport to be the cardinal sin of an international traveler, but for some reason I hardly seemed to care. I reasoned that I had seven weeks to get a new one and it seemed most likely that it would be found. I do want to share what the only U.S. embassy in the Carribbean (in Barbados ) sent me in case I had to get another one:

Good Morning Mr. Buck,

We have a Consular Agent in Martinique who will be able to assist you in obtaining a new US Passport. You will need to schedule an appointment with Ms. Leah McGaw-Maurice, the Consular Agent, and take a ferry from Guadeloupe to Martinique. In order to take the ferry you may need to obtain travel authority from the Guadeloupe Immigration authorities. Once in contact with Ms. McGaw-Maurice, she should be able to provide additional guidance. Please ensure you file a police report reporting the passport missing. Additionally, before your appointment for the new US Passport, ensure you have completed and printed the DS-11 and DS-64 found at http://travel.state.gov.

Ms. McGaw-Maurice’s office number is: 011596596730621.
Sincerely,

American Citizen Services
Consular Section
U.S. Embassy
Wildey Business Park Wildey, St. Michael
Barbados
Tel: (246) 227-4193 (between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.)
Fax: (246) 431-0179

Stephen:
I can only surmise that all the work put into recovering from the clutch incident slid over automatically into the passport incident. It is strange because losing my passport is a really big deal compared to this car fracas.
But this is the learning place for me and what I learned was that I had been punishing myself for being bad. The truth is that I abused the car but the false narrative is that I needed to feel bad.

I may come back to this another time, but I think it is enough for now. Last night when we came home, we found the passport waiting for us four days after I had misplaced it. The front wheel problem solution is still wa iting for us in the future. And we found Baie des Pelicans, a nice bar next to a harbor and a wonderful place to get a ti punch.


Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets

Lola the dogLet's talk about Lola. She is a four month old, cinnamon colored puppy of undetermined breed(s). Adorable, friendly, craving attention. However, she manages to wedge herself through the bars of the gate to wreak havoc, especially at night when no one can stop her. The first morning we awoke, we noticed that one each of our flip flops was missing, only to find them on the deck across the pool. Last night our drying rack was completely overturned, and she had grabbed my bathing suit, relocated it, and some other nice client here picked it up and draped it over a chair. This morning she left us a couple of "gifts" on the deck. Stephen has now attached her to the long rope outside the gate. She has her own chaise lounge and lovely doghouse out there, but of course, she wants company whenever possible. As we walk to the promontory to meditate or to the beach, she nips at our heels and the edges of anything hanging, like towels or wraps, or skirts. Luckily she is afraid of the steep steps so does not follow us all the way to the beach. So Lola is a nice little Buddhist challenge...a sentient being, and a smart one at that, who can also be quite annoying.

Beaches and Hikes

A Beach Dawn:
We have done a few nice short hikes here on Grande Terre. They follow the coast, sometimes on beach, sometimes through mangrove forests, sometimes through meadows with grazing cattle, up and down over cliffs with astounding views of the sea below. It takes a little time and practice to settle into this life, to realize that we do not really have to do anything. Still, I read the NYTimes online and sign lots of political petitions. A couple of yoga practices on the deck have been good for body and soul. Lying on the beach under a palm tree to find shelter from one of the many intense but short lived downpours of cold rain, I noticed the regularity with which Nature designed each palm frond, the leaves attached to the stem in a perfectly orderly fashion...minimalism, repetition, like a Steve Reich score. Speaking of music, if we had some recording equipment, we would record the night symphony of tree frogs and crickets.

end of email #1

Beginning ofEmail

The Flip Flop Hike

For our third hike, I looked at the map and decided that we would be walking on sand, so when we got to the parking lot I chose flip flops rather than my boots. I was partly right but for the middle half of the walk we traveled on rocky paths that went up and down small hills and I was forced to pick my way carefully, watching my feet at every step. It was not easy and I had a little more respect for the young women that I scoffed at during my earlier hiking days who I would meet climbing up some steep path wearing only flip flops on their feet. It got me thinking that we if we are not careful we will become the people that we have scoffed at.

Photos of the first week


Dinner José invited us for dinner along with the other couple who were staying in the apartment next to us. In the photo, José is at the head of the table which is unfortunately kind of dark. We had an interesting conversation in two languages. José's friend Christien went to school in the States and enjoyed reviving his English. José is a bit of a provocateur in conversation, but we were all good at listening to each other.
In this picture you get a sense of the sertenity of this place. Nice downlighting on the posts combined with the lighted swimming pool to create a special ambiance.
Dinner
St. Anne Beach
On one of our beach hikes, we were struck by the number of downed palm trees. Those are the root balls that you see in the photo. Another aspect of global warming perhaps?
Another view of the mother tree, perhaps mourning her losses....or maybe that is the young tree standing with the older generation on the ground.
St. Anne Beach

So today, Friday, its our moving day and we cleaned the place, organized our stuff and food, and headed for Camilou. You can follow us by clicking on the link below.


Week 2 - Another City, St. François, and the apartment"Camilou"
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