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Two Month Trip to Guadeloupe 2017

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



We were in Guadeloupe, January 12 until March 5. We stayed in three different places for a week each and then a month on Basse Terre. And finished up with a single night in Gosier to make our flying out easier.

Map of Guadeloupe
First, Ten Days in Gosier
Then Eight Days in Saint François
A Week in Port Louis
Four weeks above Deshaies
One Night Near the Airport

We chose small places with interesting hosts in a variety of locations on the island. The first three were on Grand Terre which is the flatter, dryer of the two islands that make up Guadeloupe. We saw more tourists in the first two towns, but then Port Louis was mostly locals. The last place was up on the hill above Deshaies and the beautiful golden beach of Grand Anse.
We took a slightly different angle this time. I took the laptop, left the video camera at home. I tried to read more, exercise more and write more. I hoped that by going slower I could do more.

First week/Dampiere

From our little place Kitchen


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.

Beach Tree

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

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.

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.

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

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


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.

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?

St. Anne Beach

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.

So today, Friday, its our moving day and we cleaned the place, organized our stuff and food, and headed for Camilou.

Second Week/Saint François

From Our Hearts

There was no march on January 21 here in Guadeloupe in support of the Women's March on Washington, so we took a long hike, meditated on the meaning of the march and made this short video. It is in English and French. We are both in solidarity with women and all human beings worldwide.

First Days

First evening at the Beach

The First Day in Town

We didn't really have anything for dinner when we arrived, so we walked down through town until we found a woman selling vegetables and fruits. We bought five Euros worth and then headed for the beach. It turned out to be this nice one. It is in the middle of town but still beautiful with lots of trees to sit under.

First evening at the Beach


That is Dawn wearing her croakie at the end of a long day. This is my favorite beach so far. We weren't there long because it was the start of a long hike to and from Pointe des Chateaux where we made the short video. You can see that Dawn is still a little pensive. The water was great on the feet.

I got out my snorkel and mask to see if there were any fish to see. I walked out maybe ten feet where the water was up to my chest and put them on and plunged forward into

the middle of an amazing school of fish.

I was right in the middle of them. Had to be the most amazing snorkeling experience I have ever had. It was like some video editing trick.

Food truck seating
These are the tables and chairs for a food truck that parks along the road at the Pointe des Chateaux. The guy on the far left is the waiter. The truck is behind me. We ate at another place with more shade.
We missed the trail at some point and ended up here. The point is in the distance. We had to pick our way down the rocks that we had climbed up thinking that it was a trail.

Vive la Différence!

On the way back, we managed to get lost again. We met an old islander on the trail who noticed our confusion. He asked if we were looking for the beach, Plage Tarare. I told him we were looking for the path back to Anse à la Gourde where we had started our hike. He kept inviting us to the beach and said he would help us find our way back afterwards. He asked if we were Naturistes, which I mistakenly thought was Naturalistes. Well, yes, we love nature, the birds, the foliage, the sea. Then, having noticed several nude beach goers at the Plage Tarare, I realized he was asking us of we were Nudists! Just one little syllable of difference in those two words! This all took quite awhile as he had a heavy Creole accent and said also that if we had parked at Anse à la Gourde, it was really a long way back. We knew that, but he finally confirmed that the path we thought was the correct one indeed was. And yes, it was a long walk back.
Saturday night and we were out on the town. Dawn was not too happy with me because I wanted to walk down so I wouldn't have to park. If we hadn't got a little lost it would have been a ten minute walk.

The only reason I didn't want to walk into town was because my feet were killing me from the four-hour hike we had done that day! (Dawn)

This was at the Marina, The heart of touristic Saint François. There seemed to be a lot of affluent French tourists. I had a half liter of Affligen and Belgian beer and Dawn had a Mojito.

We abandoned the Marina and ate dinner at the Pirate Burger.
This place seemed to be run and owned by women. It was a good meal. when we went to thank the cooks and the person we thought was the patronne, I said "you know this is a really important day for women..." and they did know, so we had a little solidarité salute before leaving.  (Dawn)
Beer Face
The aforementioned Affligem.

I may be praying to it or playfully peeking through the glass at you, but I do know that I enjoyed it.
I am really trying not to get burned by the sun so this is what  wear when I am going to be six hours in the sun during the midday. So far it has worked.

On this particular day, what you get a glimpse of here is what we saw all day. Miles of ocean waves and not a building in sight until we got to the chapel that was our destination.
Hiking gear

My Thought for the Day

I think that we are wired from an evolutionary standpoint to see the differences between ourselves and other beings that come into our view. It is a survival technique to be able to recognize what is the same as us and what is different. Different might be a predator or a warring tribesman. And you had better be quick about it or your genes might not make it any further.

So I keep working on developing my skills in seeing what I have in common with other beings. It is always easy to see what is different between myself and others and it is ususally the first thing that I think. I get around to realizing how much I have in common with others, but my aim is to recognize this earlier


Lost Soles (Souls?)

I have been struck by the number of soles, and sometimes entire shoes, that we have seen on various paths. They are not only on the beach where they may have been washed in with the tide, but they are also on forested paths and  over craggy rocks. Some of the surfaces are pretty rough around here and may cause "premature" wear and tear on soles. I couldn't help but see them as "lost souls," wandering in search of some kind of "meaning" or "redemption." In addition there are two places in Gwada named "Porte d'Enfer"  meaning The Gate of Hell. Although I am not personally a believer in Heaven or Hell, I couldn't resist the play on words between sole and soul and wondered if these lost souls were running away from the Porte d"Enfer.
The sampling below are only some of the soles we saw on only one of our hikes. It was, after all, the hike to the chapel on the bluff so maybe those souls were running towards that chapel.


lost sole
lost sole lost sole
lost sole sole lost sole
beach Sole sole

L'Entr'Acte, part 1

Wednesday: We started out for the restaurant "Les Pieds Dans L'eau", the feet in the water. We were ready. We had consulted Thierry and had learned what to order, what questions to ask, when to go. Imagine, again, our surprise when we get there only to find that they are cloed on Wednesdays. So this isn't a story about our dinner, but about some tapas and drink at another place, L'entr'acte.
We had seen it the day before coming back from the fish market where the fishing boats pull up and we had bought some Dorade for dinner.

It was a friendly place, one of the clients helped us with our selection of table, suggesting one with the scoopy chairs you see on the right. We had stopped to watch a bit of dance video on the screen and he wondered should they move a speaker so we could see better. Explanations followed and it turned out that he was from Avignon, the most famous dance town in France with its renowned festival.

The mussels were good along with the tuna and drinks and more conversation. We noticed that the next Friday there would be live music, a guitar duo, perhaps in the style of the gypsy kings and were told that we could dance then but we would need to make reservations.

On the way out we asked for the "Patron" to thank him for his place and quickly digestifs were being ordered for us, chairs were being brought and welcome kisses from his wife were being exchanged. The other customers were from Nantes, (our server was from Montreal) but we didn't find out where the patron was from. But we will tonight. We made reservations for four because we have invited our Airbnb hosts to join us. They get up early, so they may not stay too late. We will have some Ti Punches here and then walk down and see what happens.

Curiousity is my new "Thought of the Day". I want to be curious about everything. About now, the past and most importantly about the future.

L'Entr'Acte, part 2

Entr'acte We are back down to the two of us as our hosts had some cerviche last night that did not agree with all of the especially their son, Maxim, who was to baby sit their seven year old grandson of their daughter. We met Arnaud, the perfect seven-year old gentleman. We stopped by their place for a ti punch before we headed down. The walk seemed shorter because we knew the easiest way and we arrived approximately on time.

The music was great, the drinks and beer good and the food okay. There was a small space in front of the musicians to dance although no one did. We finally got up and danced and then again later, but that was all for Dawn. She developed a little timidity about "performing" rather than just dancing. This was the source of some conflict between the two of us, but we worked it out with gentle attention over the next day. As you will see on the next page, this was a good thing because we were going to need our attention to deal with our next town.

At the end of the evening a group of women got up and danced and we joined them. It was a pseudo flamenco number and Dawn enjoyed dancing as a group.

Au Revoir

We were sad to say good-bye to Katherine and Thierry. In fact, we have made plans to see each other again at the Botanical Garden on Basse Terre in another week or so. Not sure we mentioned that it felt like living in a menagerie there, with their two rescue dogs, five or so rescue cats, a visitng raccoon every evening, many birds and iguanas. Fortunately, my cat allergy never got very bad as we were essentially living in the fresh air and kept the door to the bedroom closed so the cats couldn't get comfy on our bed. "Au revoir" literally means "to re-see." So we are glad that we really will see them again.

You can click on the Third Week link below to follow us.

Third Week/Port Louis

This was to be an experiment. I picked a place in a small non-tourist town, but right in town, near to the tourist information office and town offices, two blocks from the town beach and five minutes to its famous beach Le Souffleur. Up to now, all our places have been in the hills in what would be the suburbs of town. Some had pools, others expansive views. Now, we would learn about the life of the Guadeloupean.

We are learning a lot, but about ourselves instead. Nothing here is as we are used to, nor as we like.

The trip over was a nice and easy day although a group of Carnaval paraders were disrupting traffic in the town of Le Moule and the rotary outside the town. They were asking for money, but we saw few donations. Their disruptions gave us stop and go traffic for about fifteen minutes. When I visited my brother up in Vermont two summers ago, the local volunteer fire company did the same thing during the weekend of the Tunbridge World's Fair when thousands of people come to town. They stand along the middle of the road with buckets and solication donations and give you a sticker when you have donated that earns you a smile on your next pass. I must admit that they didn't dance in the street with wild masks on and disrupt traffic for a mile or so.

We had four hours between rentals so we planned a relaxed beach day.We got to our beach and had a little lunch, swam and snorkeled and just generally relaxed. I picked the beach because it was very remote and I could park the car right next to our spot on the beach because it now had all our possessions in it. Next was the Super U in Petit-Canal to pick up enough food and wine for dinner and breakfast (not the wine) because it was Saturday afternoon and we didn't know what stores or restaurants would be open on Sunday.

Because we arrived a half an hour early, I took a little dip in the town beach around the corner from our building. At four we came back, parked the car and Lili called down to us from the top balcony.

The Beginning

Our stay began with instructions on how to brush and wash the sand off our feet which I had to follow carefully because of my wet sandy feet and sandals from my recent swim. I found them hard to understand because of Edmond's thick Creole accent. Then we climbed two flights up a narrow stairwell lit by an odd collection of lit statues and trees, decorated with religious pictures and objects and a poster of a scantily-clad woman. On the top floor we were led to a small bedroom with a wall of glass sliding doors, then a kitchen with plastic madras table cloth, an assortment of table top cooking devices and what we found out later was a cold water set of sinks. This room had the same sliding glass doors. At the end of the corridor was a small brown tiled bathroom where one slid past the sink, then the toilet, to reach the shower. The sliding doors were open a little and the wind rushed through the place with an uncomfortable noise. We now understood the confusion on the Airbnb site about whether it was a room or an apartment because although it was a suite, it didn't have a private entrance. In fact, it was just three small rooms connected by a public hallway. the hallway had a fourth door next to the bathroom that led to a second rental unit.
Kind of like a rooming house or a college dorm.

They asked us if we would like to have dinner and we said yes, About seven? Yes, of course. We unpacked awkwardly. At first there seemed to be space but then there wasn't. Neither of us unpacked totally.

Street View Street view from our balcony

Our lack of unpacking represented a certain unspoken lack of commitment to staying in this place for a week. The place is filled with stuff, tchotchkes galore. The apartment is a bit down at the heels, conforming with the neighborhood of small bungalows and rusty tin roofs, as you can see by the view from our deck, but actually clean enough. The lighting is either too bright, overhead fluorescent, or nothing you can read by. The Airbnb reviews had been glowing but mostly focussed on the hospitality and generosity of our hosts. So we got out and explored the town where I had landed us. We walked down towards the old port. When we got there, we saw a mixture of small sailboats and fishing boats. Someone was selling some sort of prepared food and there was a line of people waiting their turn. We walked back on the road facing the coast and saw one or two restaurants that were closed, but might open later because it was only six o'clock. Our road took us back to the town beach and just past that we saw the Poisson d'Or. Trip Advisor is everywhere and this is the restaurant with by far the most reviews, mostly good with a couple of scathing ones. Next to it there was a small plaza with plastic tables and chairs so we decided to sit down at one of them and see what would happen. At a table against the wall of the restaurant a woman was having her hair braided. Soon a woman came and asked us what we wanted and then a beer and a planter punch soon appeared and were being clinked together, sips taken and two sounds of approval were exhaled. This was perhaps the first positive event of the past couple of hours.

It didn't last long. The yen-yen appeared as scheduled. The internet has touched on the fact that mosquitoes appear at dusk on the beach Souffleur. We were hoping that the restaurant was far enough away but it shared in its plight. They weren't really mosquitoes but gnats. They were annoying but by the time we left to return for our dinner they seemed to be less of them.

Back at our place Edmond arrived with the Ti punch which always comes first. Two varieties were offered. We each took one so that we could taste both. They were delicious . Lili arrived with the food. We found out that Lili's health now requires her not to eat an evening meal. Dawn was disappointed that they weren't going to eat with us. Instead, Lili invited us to eat on our little table on our narrow balcony that overlooked the street in front of the house. There was a soft blue light over the table and after they left us with our meal we turned it on, we filled our plates, turned off the fluorescent light in the kitchen, opened the rosé we had bought, clinked our two glasses, took a sip and exhaled slowly and ate quietly. It was delicious, chicken Creole, gently spicy with real flavor.

After dinner I could not get the wifi to work, so even if we had wanted we could not do any research on where else we could stay. So after dinner I lay on the bed and dozed in a kind of defensive maneuver. But whatever quiet there was soon evaporated.

The local youth were practicing for Carnaval. Their club was at the end of our street. Between the loud canned music, the cracking of the whips that sound like gunshots (symbolic of slavery days and feeling somewhat threatening to a couple of ole white folks), the motos which are always the worst, making a racket speeding down our street, the bright streetlight outside our window, the sliding doors rattling in the wind and even the TV of our hosts next door, we were submerged in and attacked by noise. There was a bar/resto in the other direction playing loud music, but it could barely be heard above the din. This first night was filled with challenges.

We finally figured out that we had to use the "clima" (air conditioner, yes they have one) so that we could close all the doors and windows to dampen sound and then to keep us cool. Stephen got the cable and TV working so we could make our own sound in self defense. The next morning Sunday, the early roosters crowing barely beat the church bells which went off at six AM. House at NightLooking up to our lit balcony from the street.

Since we went to bed so early, although I am not sure how much we slept, I got up and made coffee. We sat on our balcony and as we ate breakfast watched the well dressed ladies go to church. After breakfast, we got the wifi to work with Edmond's help. It really only works in the hallway at the top of the stairs which means that doing any FaceTime would not only be un-private, but would also be pretty boring visually. It sort of works in our apartment, sending and downloading email sporadically. Not only was the place a little iffy, but also connection to the outside and our family which we had taken for granted during the trip so far, was tenuous. So it was a little emotionally isolating.

We felt the need to get out and so we took another coastal hike. This one would go north right from our apartment, by the beach and end at the next town up the coast, Anse Bertrand. Lili caught us on our way out to hike to give us a fresh-squeezed, chilled bottle of Guava juice in an insulated container.

Stephen and Dawn


I feel that I over reacted in the above described response to our place. In this column I am going to try to figure out why. First, I think I was done in a little by the two places that we had just stayed in. Each in their own way had a lot of grace. They were easy to come home to, and served as havens for us each day. I had gotten very used to an elegant, euro-centric life. This was something different. I had forgotten that this had been my plan, to spend a week off the beaten track and I had certainly forgotten to tell Dawn all the details of this plan.

This column will contain a description of my recovery. Slowly I began to tolerate and then love this place. I will come back and finish it later (maybe). If I did it now I might not write about anything else.

This recovery began with two photos that we took. One of the bedroom and one of the kitchen.


The place didn't really look so bad. Now the bedroom photo doesn't really show the wallpaper, but otherwise the rooms are pretty enough. Taking the photos, we didn't try to make the place look better, it just did. It is possible that some attitude on my part prevented me from just seeing what was here .

How does sound become noise? One quick answer is when you don't control it. We had noise the first two nights, but when we learned their schedule that it shut off at some definitive time, it began to be sound. When they began to play live it became music. It was loud but energetic and interesting. I took a very dark video of the event which may make it to the travelogue.

This is not easy writing, to try to find what makes me like or not like something, to find out the source and location of this rejection. I feel the necessity to move on from this emotional and philosophical topic to describing in a lighter way what has happened this week. I hope to return.

Décor in the corner of our bedroom

Whatever funkiness I feel about the place is overcome by the kindnes of Lili and Edmond. On Tuesday, they invited us for an apero which included great canapés of avocado and sardines, fresh coconut and the requisite Ti punches. We chatted about families and shared photos of children and grandchildren, Four of their five children live in France metropole, either Paris or Lyon and seem to be very successful, inviting their parents on various trips throughout the world. After a long chat, Lili excused herself and returned with yet another meal for us: darne de Dorade in Court Bouillon, a delicious local fish, beautifully cooked.

This kind of interaction is what I feel Airbnb's original intention was: for people of different cultures to meet each other and learn about one another's lives, not for someone to rent out a bunch of luxury apartments and never see their clients. Four of us
The four of us in their store under the apartments, just before saying "Au revoir."

Also Port Louis is a much less touristed town than many in Guadeloupe. We appreciated its Creole "authenticity," (a word I rarely like to use, but it seems appropriate here.) As you will read, fabulous beaches and hikes ensued during our stay here.


Beach North of Port LouisThe coastal hike was odd because we were sharing the trail with slowly moving cars that were finding  their way to their favorite picnic spots for a Sunday picnic. The road finally ended at a small sandy parking lot and after paaing a video shoot with three models who looked like they could use a choreographer, although dancing in sand is really hard, we continued onto a real trail that took us past rocky shore and beautiful beaches. Our plan was maybe to hike up to Anse Bertrand and find a restaurant, but at some point we found a little place to soak our feet and then we started back. Wave on rocky shore

There is always a tree that you can find to lie under at the beaches on Grand Terre. Then you find a place to get into the water. There is lots of sand but it is better swimming when the sand extends out to where you can float. We brought our books so we swam, read, lay about and repeated.

We came back for a shower and went out looking for a bar. There was one on the old port, but it was closed on Sundays. It did have amazing hours, being opening from 5 in the morning to 9:30 at night. Back home we ate a light dinner of ham and cheese and veggies and listened to the noise start up again. We were on a later schedule than the day before so by the time we wanted to sleep the street was pretty quiet. But before it got quiet, I made this video.

It seems to be another study in context. What could look like a fight is actually a rehearsal or practice for the part in the Carnaval.


We decided to go out to lunch so we drove up to Anse Bertrand, and parked at the beach. We walked up to the two restaurants at the top of the bluff and picked Ti Madras. We picked a table for two right in front and said we would be back in an hour when they opened at noon. We are learning that lunch in Guadeloupe starts at noon rather than at one as in France. The town itself along the road is not much but we discover a little chapel and meditate for a half an hour. The sentier back to the beach and restaurant goes through a cemetery and brings us to a place where we can watch two surfers work on their skills. Soon it is time for lunch and it turned out to be the best meal of our trip so far.

I really want to know only two things from you if you review a restaurant for me. Did you have a good time and how many involuntary sounds did you make when you put the food into your mouth. Here, the answers are yes and twice. Prtetty good. At home, I like my own cooking but I don't moan too much when I have dinner.

The Plage de Chapelle was flat, lots of trees, had a massage tent with two tables called Mains de Mer. Lots of French families on vacation really enjoying themselves. We drove out by another road as the one we came in looked too steep to get out. We drove north to the Point de Vigie which is a place where a lot of tourists go in their cars. We tend to scoff at these kind of places, but forget that there has to be something to attract all those people. It is not always great, but it certainly was here.



There was a modern building in town called the Mediateque. We think it was the library renamed with computers and wifi added. We went over there and spent some time on this travelogue and how we were going to write it for this week. It was a bright airy space with two floors giving out on an atrium.


fishing nets We got up early and walked tothe beach, taking a few pictures of fishing nets and adding a few wave videos to our collection. Even though it was a little buggy, we meditated on the beach, took a swim and found a bread store on the way back.

In the afternoon, we drove to the same Super U that we stopped at on our way over. Again, it seemed really different to us. The fruits and vegetables seemed to have more color, we could find things easier, parking was easier. We drove on to the Porte d'Enfer (Door of Hell) and found a crowded parking lot and a trail that led past a restaurant up onto the cliffs that looked north over the same cliffs that we looked south to see the day before. We weren't wearing the best shoes, so we made some videos and planned to returned to this part of the island for a longer hike. Port

On the way back we stopped at the Corrida du Sud, which was now open for a couple of beers. This bar is open from 5 in the morning until ten at night. Fishermen, former fisherman, sailors and locals seem to be its clientel. It has a nice view of the harbor and friendly people


After a rainy morning that got dedicated to writing, the weather cleared and we walked to the beach with our snorkel gear. In the middle of our swim we switched gear and Dawn's day improved a lot. We are trying to finish reading our books, before they become presents for Thierry when we meet next week in Deshaies so we spent a relaxing hour reading. Port day
Another trip to The Corrida du Sud for a sunset beer, a little earlier in the day as you can see by the photo. On the way home, we stopped by Harold's, a flourescent lit take out place and got three pieces of delicious chicken that we ate with our vegetables and a bottle of rosé.

On our last day in Port Louis, we decided to go back to Porte d'Enfer that we had visited only briefly in the late afternoon, just before sunset a few days before, . This time, we hiked along the rugged cliffs from there to the "Trou" at the Pointe du Souffleur. As you can see from the photos below, it was wild and beautiful, completely unexpected and unusual.
Pointe Souffleur
Pointe Souffleur
Prte d'Enfer
Prte d'Enfer
Porte d'Enfer (Gate of Hell) itself has a long, shallow lagoon, the mouth of which has huge, crashing waves coming in. Yet something in the topography makes the waves calm down pretty quickly so people can wade, swim, and snorkel in the lagoon itself. After our four-hour round-trip hike and a couple of beers at the local spot on the lagoon beach, we walked out on the rocks close to the mouth of the lagoon to get some video of the crashing waves. I even did a brief little improvisation there as we are thinking of using waves as a metaphor in our video for the Reach program. Stephen found the most interesting choreography of the day, a couple of fish following each other in quick revolutions in a shallow tide pool on the rocks.

The destination of our hike was called a trou (hole), but there were actually more than one huge hole in the rocks where the waves came in and splashed high into the air, making fabulous sounds and sometimes a rainbow in the spray. We were lucky to find a reasonable rock to sit on and have some water and trail snacks while watching this display below. Our return trip was a bit quicker, but it was the heat of the day, and I am not sure we had brought quite enough water. I really boogied for awhile but then had to find a shady spot for a rest! (For those interested in language, I came up with a possible etiology for the English word "to boogie," or to move quickly. In French, I kept saying to myself, "Quand le sentier est bon, je bouge." "Bouger" means "to move"...hence the boogie expression. "When the trail is good, I boogie.")

We are on to Deshaies. We re-cycled our bottles down by the port, stopped for gas, found the street on which we will stay our last night, stopped by the car rental place, ending up swapping out of vehicules with the noisy front right wheel for a quieter smaller hyundai and by four o'clock we were using the intercom to open the gate at the bottom of the hill.

Basse Terre/Deshaies


We are here. It is a beautiful place. We have just finished writing about Port Louis and our adventures there and will start writing about here as soon as we get back from the beach (if the weather clears).
Sunsets are different from each other. We are now getting clearer skies in the evening so prettier sunsets. Sunset There is a storm someplace in the Caribbean Sea that is giving us pretty good waves although the storm is far enough away so that we can not see it. The beaches are steep so the waves just dump everything just at the beach. Yesterday the crest reached about eight feet, twice as tall as some of the kids playing in them.

Jardin botanique

Although I have undoubtedly said this many times before, the thing that most impresses me when in a tropical country during winter is color. Everything is lush green, with fuchsia, red, yellow, pink and orange blossoms in profusion. Yes, the temperature is delightful here, mid-80's most days, but it is the respite from Boston's winter grey that most deeply affects me.

We are now staying high on a hill, near Deshaies (pronounced locally "day ay" with long a's), overlooking the Plage de la Grande Anse, with a sunset view for entertainment every evening around 6:00 p.m. Each sunset is unique, some much more colorful than others. We have indeed witnessed the famous green flash, a half second of a green dot just as the sun seems to disappear into the sea. We first encountered this phenomenon with our dear friends Ruth and Ed, watching sunsets over the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica. Somehow our cameras never seem to catch the magic...another reminder to live in the present and really BE where we are.

Our little gîte is small but adequate. During the week we also have access to the owner's pool and garden and a deck where I do yoga every other day or so. We walk and hike and swim and snorkel, but this time I have not managed to connect with a Zumba class. Two per week exist in another town,  but one is too early and the other too late!
We have made a short promo video for the Reach program, using waves as a metaphor. As usual, it has its silly moments. You will just have to go to the benefit in Cambridge on April 5 if you want to see it! We will certainly hype that fabulous outreach program in a later travelogue. I was warned

We also made a very short video for a San Francisco artist who is creating a collage of women saying, "I was warned...nevertheless I persist," an homage to both Coretta Scott King who wrote a letter denouncing Sessions decades ago when he was proposed for a federal judgeship, and to Elizabeth Warren for speaking her mind outside the Senate chamber when she was "silenced" by McConnell.

Danish family and our hostSpeaking of politics (sorry!), it is interesting to notice how people that we meet here hesitate to bring up the DJT mess until they feel sure they know where we stand, since nearly half the voters in the USA did in fact vote for him. So far we have interacted with many Caribbean and French people, Belgians, Danes, (The Danes are on the left and our host is in the middle) and other Americans. Not one of these people approves of the current administration in the USA, and many have expressed fears of fascism. I can say that at least I am encouraged by the level of global resistance, now even by several corporate entities. Still, Europe seems to be heading in a similar direction, with Marine Le Pen in France and extremists even in liberal Holland. It is somewhat encouraging that the NewYork Times this morning quoted John McCain as saying that restricting freedom of the press is the beginning of fascism. I guess we can't be too surprised that the arts and public media are on the chopping block again, again, again.

Two Thoughts

I have been hanging out on the beach at grande anse, a seven minute walk from our house. I have decided that it is my favorite beach in Guadeloupe. What I have noticed is that when I get to one end of it and look back to survey the whole of it, I judge it against some mythic tropical beach of my imagination. In my mind my perfect beach has blazing white sand, only palm trees and it is on a small island which is very flat. The water is a luminescent teal color and it laps sweetly at the beach -- a deserted tropical island. I have never been on this island, it has been created from overwrought postcards, travel posters and Hollywood films. (There may even be Hawaiian music playing in the background with a soft breeze.)

I love the gold sand of my beach with its surrounding green hills and small hidden parking lot. The occasional raucous waves are fun to drift in.

I am hoping that becoming aware of this other, unvisited, "perfect" beach will help me let it go along with hundreds of other false ideas of perfection that interfere with the proper enjoyment of my life.

There is a part of our story that so far we are not telling. It has to do with an intestinal slow down that now requires a visit to a clinic back near where we rented our car. I start with this because this has caused me to lose weight and have decided that I really do want to be thin, and eat and drink with much more awareness.

But this is not my thought. My thought is to be, in another way, a very large person. I don't know how large I can be, but to at least envelope the room that I am in. I would have a soft edge and everyone in the room would be inside that edge and that I would love them. Very easy lately as Dawn is usually the only person there.


More Photos with Stories

Dawn on the sand
I had to manipulate the video-still of Dawn reading at the beach because of the high contrast so I lost a little of the gold color.

At left is the sand that I was talking about. It changes color beautifully as the day progresses.

Stephen at uninhabited beach

We drove 7 minutes up to Plage Clugny and walked along a trail that led the Pointe Nogent through cows and fields and a couple of seemingly abandonned beaches. I took a swim after negotiating with a crab that seemed to want to be right where I wanted to swim. The size rule won out.

To me, this hanging coconut looked like an ominous shrunken head, with hat and walking stick left behind.-DK

This is Pointe Allègre. The water throws up a lot of Flotsam and Jetsom and some people make art out of them. (Flotsam has floated off a boat and Jetsom has been jettisonned.)

Bird in Hand
We spent half a day at the Jardin Botanique with Katherine and Thierry. They were our hosts in Saint François and they came over to our side of Guadeloupe to renew their memberships. They receive admissions for the whole year for the price that we, the tourists, pay for one day. Thierry is a gardener so he comes here for inspiration. He was a great explainer of all things. We had lunch at the restaurant, the six of us as we had been joined by two friends of theirs.

The bird eating out of Katherine's hand is the same bird whose picture I see as the default photo when I load my photo manipulater. Later, we drove to a sulphur springs wanting to take a walk after lunch but the rain the day before had made the trails impassable.

Color on Ground
Stephen, Katherine, Thierry
Mirror and gracelet
I apologize to all. I couldn't get Dawn out of that terrible light and at the same time get the mirror right to get everything in the shot. Dawn:
Hmm, I do look slightly manic here. Stephen wamted to play with a mirror photo. Joel, or Little Joe, is the artisan who made the necklace from mother-of-pearl and seeds, then took a section from another necklace to make me a matching bracelet. He asked about earirngs, and I told him that I had bought some earrings made from seeds last year at the market at Basse-Terre, and that I thought they would go well with his jewelry. He knew immediately who that earring-maker was and said that he had seen her working with fine leather strands and taught her how to incorporate seeds into her creations. We rarely buy stuff, but when we do, we really like to buy directly from the people who make the goods. After we bought the necklace and bracelet, we walked down the street and Dawn saw this shirt hanging outside a store. We went in and looked for stuff for the grandkids and finally got around to the shirt. It is made in India and it fit pretty well and wasn't too expensive, so after I tried it on, I paid Christine who was the owner and we continued on our way.

Stephen at the Papillon Stephen:
We are at the Papillon the Hotel bar two minutes done the hill by foot. The bar wasn't quite open, so receptionist brought us two planteur punches, mine was the orange and Dawn's was the green. Was she really paying that much attention to what we were wearing? It did matter because mine was without alcohol. Dawn

Well, it turns out that the dress was made by an artist cooperative in Nepal, hardly Gwada, but a country that has many needs. My friend Denise has gone there often and made video documentaries about some extraordinary people there.

We went to a boutique on the back street of Deshaies and Dawn picked out three or four dresses that she liked. While she was in the changing room, I got to try my french with the owner. She complimented Dawn on her French and because I have heard Dawn's explanation some many times, I was able to explain the reasons.


Just left of center, may be our house, (the white speck just above the shadow on the trees.) More likely, it is Daniel's house who is our next door neighbor who is now in charge of us as our hosts have left for France for ten days to see Raymond's father.

The clouds were joining in off to the right at sunset. While waiting for the sunset, we sat on the beach and meditated with this as our view. It was interesting to notice how the quiet but insistent rhythm of the sea overwhelmed the rhythm of my breath reminding me to allow life into my meditative world.
Green flash?

Here are some shots at the beach. Here is a video-still from my attempt to capture the "Green Flash". Use your imagination.
Couple at Sunset

We like to think this is a honeymoon couple.
Dawn and Stephen in new clothes

I did get some sun but the back wall of our studio are red and the others are orange. Talk about color! Next time I will comb my hair.

We have less than two weeks to go. We will stay one night near the airport with Charles to make it easy to catch our 8 AM flight. I seem to be making a recovery.

Revisiting Deshaies

Deshaies, we have now been here almost three weeks and we were also here for a half day last year. It is now my favorite place in Guadeloupe although I am not sure that Dawn agrees with me. Getting to know Deshaies was complicatied.

DeshaiesOur first attraction to it was that it is the location of a British Murder Mystery TV show called Death in Paradise. We are slightly addicted to it at home even though it is really formulaic and kind of stupid. But we loved the scenery. Of course, they made it look very beautiful mostly using lighting to bring up the actors to the levels of the bright beach scene behind them., something that I ought to be doing with my photograhy, using flash to fill in faces against the bright sky. The crowds in the scenes are very energetic. When they hire extras they don't tell them to dress badly and wander around as if you don't what the heck is going on. No, you dress up or down with design, generate a little energy based on some back story that the production designer or you have made up, then you go out there and act.

after sunset
Using the flash works, sort of. It would have been better a little earlier, but this is just a demonstration of when to use flash.

So you have to get over the tourists, of which we are, of course, two. And you have to understand that at different times of day the place looks really different. At lunch time, people eat lunch so the town looks a little deserted. and the biggest food store closes in the afternoon. But slowly we begin to populate the town with the things and people that are really there, the women who owns the restaurant where we first had a beer shows up in line at the bakery, We meet Joel in his shop where he sells what he makes (among other things), we meditate in the church, which you can see in the photo, waiting for the food store to open, the vegetable guy fills his stall with fruits and vegetables, but only in the morning. We've been in the town hall who sent us to the police station when we were trying to find out when the streets shut down for carnaval. Slowly the town has become ours, and pretty much the whole town because there are only two streets , both one way and parallel to the ocean. To park in the lots at the far end of town and walk to the other end and back takes about ten minutes.

Norturnal Parade - Carnaval

Last year we never seemed to be in the right town at the right time to see a Carnaval celebration. This year, we saw in advance on the Internet that there would be a local Carnaval event in Deshaies on February 17. We were determined to get there even though it didn't start until 9:00 p.m. which is when we are usually heading in the direction of bed. We knew we would have to park near the soccer field and walk into town from there, but we didn't imagine how many cars would already be parked outside of town when we got there around 8:30. We had flashlights and joined the other walkers who were heading in.

We found a place to hang out along a barrier, not too far from the red carpet judging area in front of the Town Hall. We did indeed hang out and waited, and waited. We got there about ten minutes before the scheduled start time of 9:00. At 9:45 we were still looking for the first participants in the parade to show up. Finally we heard the drums and began to see some parade on the street behind us. They were heading in to town on the street that is usually the outbound one for cars, then heading out of town on the inbound street.

Having seen many TV news videos of Carnaval events all over Gwada last year, we had the general idea that the music would be loud and the costumes colorful. For once I actually remembered to bring earplugs and was glad to have them.

Although some of the videos we had seen of Carnaval from the big city of Point-à-Pitre had a certain level of professionalism about them, this Carnaval parade is clearly a local, community effort. Various groups come from different neighborhoods nearby and/or are sponsored by some business like a car dealership or insurance company. Costumes are colorful, shiny, and glitzy. Women and girls of all ages, sizes, shapes and colors swing a lot of hips as they progress down the street, without a whole lot of choreography happening. A truck with laptop screens glowing and speakers blaring preceded one of the groups. There was a mixed gender group of drummers that was pretty good, although there weren't any super-complex rhythms going on. They all stop on the red carpet to do their performance bit in front of the judges, then pick up their identifying banner again and continue on.

There was one fairly elaborate float with a young girl, maybe eleven or twelve at most, and a younger boy, dressed up and waving. They were some kind of "king and queen" figures. Each Carnaval event apparently votes in a king and queen. She had the sophistication of a much older woman and the beautiful posture of a dancer as she waved to the onlookers. We have no idea what the judges decided about the various groups and weren't interested in waiting to find out. As we were leaving town to head back to our car, we got to see some of the groups again as they were circling around one more time. I took a bunch of photos, all of which are blurry. They give the impression of the event without the specifics! I did make one short video which is clearer but missed the youngest kids in the group who were, of course, the cutest. Stephen managed to combine some of these images into a short video called "Parade."

Climbing Gros Morne (200 meters)

Gros Morne

We hiked Gros Morne. I am trying to up my level of exercise. I was surprised that there was no real "top", not a cairn nor a sign. We just started going down. We climbed up the right side, some switchbacks, but lots of scrambling straight up and down.


Looking south, we get a glimpse of the mouth of the harbor of Deshaies.
Gros Morne view
That's Grande Anse down below, looking north from nearly the top. (The hike was not long but very steep. I was dripping by the time we were done and very happy to jump into the Caribbean waves when we got down.-DK)

Gîte MangoPlaya


Ray and Co's pool and garden. We had access during the day but not on weekends. Dawn did yoga when she could find shade and I am writing here now.


Post-sunset look from our kitchen.


The climb at the end of our street was steep. You can see our white car half hidden over the crest.

from road
Our place is below the terrace that you see on the house higher up, center of picture. That little red roof blocks our view of road but allows us to see out to the ocean.
In another week we will have to write a review. It will be pretty much five stars all around. One of the nice unexpected things were clean sheets and towels delivered to us every week, (except the last when the hosts were away). Our car is close by but out of sight so we can store our beach stuff in it. Between us and the beach is a gas station where we can get baguettes, yoghurt, beer, and something to use as an hors d'ouervre. Finally we stopped taking pictures of the sunsets and just enjoyed them.


I had a thought today as I sat on a rock at the beach and meditated. I was watching the waves and noticing the differences between each one. Even if two waves were similar, they could be distinguished by the different light that played on them and the different color effects were created. Everything else was the same -- me, the day, where I was, etc.

My thought is that I was wrong, that nothing else was the remaining the same. Every moment has nothing in common with the last one, or the next if you are paying close enough attention. This takes the world of awareness and mindfulness out of the temple and puts it into the wildest amusement park that you could imagine.

If you could pay close enough attention.

Getting Out and About

Another sunset -Paradise Cafe
The view from our dinner table at the Paradise Cafe. We had a drink and then made a reservation for the next night for the same table. The server referred to it as the "VIP" table, a little table for two right on the water. This restaurant had been a hip burger joint a year or two before, but since then the whole team went to Southeast Asia and became enamoured with the food, they came back and totally revamped their place. It is still hip, meaning American music, but all kinds. The staff is friendly and engaging and the food is Thai and delicious.
Morning Rainbow
I need to get exercise, so we take lots of walks on our beach even when the weather looks bad. We were rewarded, wearing our raincoats, with this setting rainbow. Rainbows don't last long enough to set but the concept was enough for me. By the time we got to the end of the beach the clouds were gone and it was a real beach day.

Selfie at the Madras
We are now in "Death in Paradise" land. After having a number drinks at this restaurant, "Le Madras", we finally dropped in for lunch. Good food again and a nice view of the harbor. This is one of the main shooting locations of the TV series although I think they expanded it for one of the scenes when the young police officer gets married. No extra lighting in this selfie but Dawn looks great as usual.
Descartes' drawing
Drawing by René Descartes. Basically, as the sun, represented by A and F gets higher it has to hit lower raindrops in order to reflect into our eyes because the angle between the sun, raindrop and our eyes always has to be the same. Eventually, As the sun rises that rainbow drops below the horizont. That's why you can't have rainbows in midday,  (I think). Descartes is the source of the word cartesian, an incredibly important concept that was discarded by some people after Einstein's explanation of the world.

Thoughts on Our Last Night in Deshaies

Plage de la Grande Anse is our local beach. We walk there almost every day, going down  the very steep but thankfully short road to our place, and then along the whole length of the beach in the sand. It is extraordinary how quickly the shape of the shore changes. The unusually large waves were carving a small cliff of about two and a half or three feet high all along the middle of the beach where they crashed. Then one day, that “cliff” was gone for almost the entire beach, leaving a gradual but steep shoreline, a kind of valley between upper shore and sea. This shape seems to encourage what I call "back waves," those that rebound off the shore and wave right back out again, often causing a pretty steep wave face at the confluence of incoming and outgoing swells. Occasionally I am enjoying riding up on a steep wave only to get smacked by a back wave! One learns to pay attention in both directions.

We will miss having a beautiful beach at the foot of our hill, the Bougainvilla, the palm trees, all the lush greenery, the great local seafood. We have had more rain this last week, bringing out more mosquitos, unfortunately. We've met a number of interesting and nice people here, including way more Americans than we saw last year. I think that Sunday Times article and the cheap Norwegian Air flights have made Guadeloupe a destination for more Americans...plus we are finishing up the season of winter vacation weeks in New England.

Still, I am ready to be home for a bit, to catch up with family and some friends, deal with the mail, get to the gym, haircut and book group, and take off again on March 14 to head west to see Stephen's nephew in Denver, my brother in southwest Utah, and Amber and family in San Francisco.

Winter Photo from Martha

Martha's winter photograph Dawn mentioned winter a few paragraphs up and we are returning to the end of it this Sunday so I want to share this shot from Martha. Here is what I think, winter is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. We will close this travelogue tomorrow we are moving for one night to Point à Pitre.

Last Night on the Island

Looking ahead, we have formulated a plan to leave the car at the lot of the car rental place and have Charles pick us up. Charles has agreed and we got a positive reply from Hubert, the car guy. We just need to make sure we can call Charles to put the whole thing into operation. We will have dinner at Charles' place, perhaps in our apartment and then he will take us to the airport at 6 AM the next morning for the flight.

Driving a rental car to the airport with the filling of the gas tank, the dropping the car, the shuttle to the terminal has always been a very stressful time for me, so this arrangement is my solution.

We shall see.
Before dropping the car, we took our last long walk and swim early this morning on "the most beauiful beach in Guadeloupe,"aka“our” beach that we walk to daily. Unlike this past week of intermittent clouds and rain, it was a beautiful, clear day. After cleaning out our studio, packing the car and saying good-bye to our hosts, Ray and Co who had just returned from a visit to France Metropole to see their parents, we hit the road south, in the direction of Vieux Habitants. We had planned to visit our hosts from last year, Raymonise and Paul, and were to arrive at 1:30. However, we got an early start and found we had about an hour to do something before meeting them. so we stopped at yet another Plage de Petite Anse, the one we had frequented last year. Watching people inch their way awkwardly into the water, we remembered how rocky underfoot all the beaches are at this end of the island. That is another wonderful aspect to Grande Anse, a sandy bottom.

So as not to arrive hungry at Raymonise's house, we decided to have a bit of lunch at beachside Chez Chantal, a place we had seen many a time last year but never patronized. The poulet Columbo was particularly good, and the cook really appreciated our commenting on it. We always like to thank the cooks, but yesterday I could tell that something was "off" at the Flamboyante where we lunched a second time, this time with Boston Friends Vida and Paul. The fish wasn't quite as good as the first time we were there, and I could hear some shouting going on in the kitchen. Still, these people work hard and are likely underpaid, so I still thanked them for the "bon repas."

Since travel, as well as art-making, is for me very much about connecting, it was good to see Raymonise and Paul again. These were the folks who invited us to a fabulous New Year's Eve dinner last year when we arrived on a night when nothing commercial was open. They are our generation and have children and grandchildren, some in Gwada, some in Lyon, France. Paul is always hard to understand because he speaks quietly and in a very Creole manner. Raymonise is easier, but when she gets going, her speech can be too fast for me. Not until we were about to leave did we get on to politics. France is about as much of a mess as the USA, and the election is coming up pretty soon. There was much comiserating on both sides.

We are writing these last paragraphs on a covered porch in what looks like a banana jungle. There are so many leaves, we can hardly see the sky. But our hosts are preparing dinner and we are looking forward to a relaxing evening. Tomorrow we will be home around 1 PM and then face a day of restoring our home and automobile and doing laudry before we head down to the Grotto for a drink and a bite to eat.

Thank you all for reading. We cetainly enjoyed writing.

Dawn and Stephen

Wait! Wait! We thought our adventures were over so we signed out. Little did we know that after meeting upstairs at 7 PM to start the evening we would find ourselves returning at 1 AM. An evening full of conversation and friendship with the hosts and a young French couple from Roissy, the home of the Charles de Gaulle airport. The food was good starting with a broiled christophine with cheese and then on to the the main course of chicken for me and fish for Dawn. Banana flambée finished up the meal. We ate outside, the six of us, at one end of a table for twenty and the lighting was festive without being too bright.This was one of those times where we seemed to be on a movie set.

As promised, at six the next morning, his car rumbled out of the gate and he drove us to the airport. The plane was late taking off but the pilot said he would take a short cut and get us there on time. Which he did, (pilot humor). Passport control was bearable and we were turning up our heat at our house by one PM.

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