It is Thursday already and it seemed that this would be a good time to write because as the sun rose over the ravine behind our place a big cloud intervened and began to dump a downpour on our house. Of course, by the time I got myself and the IPad arranged properly the cloud passed and the sun is out. It is the tropics and the weather comes in bunches and everyone just stands under a tree or huddles in a doorway until the rain stops.
Before I start, I want to mention that our lives are slowly becoming more influenced by our stay at Plum Village last fall. Our path has become more about our behavior than about thinking and concepts. Maybe one concept, that life is good, magical and beautiful, and that everything we do has those qualities. We may be looking for a gas station because the right rear tire seems a little flat or being caught in the rain on a seafont hike or watching a beautiful sunset; the magic of our existence remains the same. As we experience this for ourselves we can learn to expand it to everyone we come in contact with. Everyone should get a smile from us and also the care they deserve.
Okay, enough of that.
We thought our travels to get here were kind of long and complicated. On Sunday, we took a Lyft to the Hyde Park commuter rail station to catch the train to Providence and then another Lyft to the TF Green airport for our flight to Guadeloupe. Then Charles picked us up and drove us to his house for an overnight stay; then he took us to the ferry station and we boarded a four hundred passanger ferry for a one hour ride to the island of Marie Galante where we were greeted by the Magaloc car person who rented us car while standing in the parking lot. A ten minute drive up the hill brought us to the house of Pierre and Camille where we are staying the week.
But the couple from Montreal that we met at Charles's, planned to take a bus from there to Providence to take advantageof the low fares, but the bus was cancelled because of weather, so they bussed to NYC and rented a car one-way and loaded his surf board into it and drove to the Providence airport. The next day they would continue by Bus to Port Louis to meet their friends on a boat.
Following is an exerpt of our review of Charles's Place.
It all went smoothly and was totally stress free. After we arrived at his place we all relaxed with a Ti Punch and some accras. Charles and his wife Catherine greeted us so warmly. We had only been there one other overnight stay, that time with dinner, but they treated us as old friends. In the last year, they built a beautiful bar/kitchen area with a long table and comfy chairs under shelter. Above it are some lovely new accommodations. Last year we stayed the night before we had to catch our 8 AM flight back to Boston. At that time, he picked us up at our car rental place the day before and drove us to the airport at 6 AM to catch our flight. Dawn speaks French which certainly helps with communication, but this couple is so outgoing, I think you would be fine with a few words and sign language!
The Studio itself is plain but very well equipped. The shower worked great and the bed was comfortable. Charles sent us a text in the morning inviting us up for a good coffee.
The place itself is a country refuge at the edge of the city. Some people stay here for a week to ten days because it has a good central location.
Marie Galante has been described as Guadeloupe thirty years ago and we feel that is completely possible. There is one National Highway that connects the three towns, some state roads and then lots of local roads. There are few cars on any of them. Coming out of beach parking lot, we never have to wait for traffic, there is none. We can drive minutes before a car passes us in the other direction. There are bars and restaurants but we find them one at a time. They are not crowded one against the other. The ones we have entered are different from each other, but share a general design of starting with a small house in front with a bar, followed by a covered terrace and then some tables in the sand. They all have young attractive waitstaffs. Here's a photo of a sunset.
We had dinner here, and I took charge of getting us a table in good light because after the sunset the restaurant turned on the lights, some more flattering than others. I told our waitress who was at the bar what table I wanted and also ordered a beer. Later after dinner, we had a conversation about the addition on the bill not being correct. I am now channelling Dawn when I tell you that she complimented me on my French. I don't think was my pronunciation, but that I had spoken in French, not going to English and had gotten my thoughts across. It was encouraging.
What do we do all day?
We eat three meals, a small breakfast at home, maybe a sandwich for lunch and then dinner out maybe once or twice a week, the other times some simple vegetarian dish with a bit of sliced ham on the side. We try to eat mindfully, taking the thirty chews a bite. We sit for a half an hour, although today we may do a walking meditation in the garden down below us that we haven't been to yet. Dawn does yoga every other day. I want to go to the beach every day, I want to take a walk every day. These take some research time. I would like to write everyday. Also, we are making another video to be shown at the Reach Program Fund Raiser in April. Last year we talked about waves, this year we are beginning to think and shoot about connections.
With Pierre and Camille, we have our own hot tub which feels good after a hike/walk. We food shop. We try to find time to read. Sometimes we meet people in bars and learn about their lives. On Mondays, at least for awhile, we change our location. This coming Monday, we return our car, take the ferry back and rent another car and find our new place. An opportunity to practice calmness. We have been constantly pumping air into the right rear tire as it has developed a slow but accelerating leak.
Charles is the epitome of Island warmth, greeting us with a big hug and a kiss on each cheek. We had a fascinating conversation over morning coffee. I had asked what the huge, fruit-laden tree was, and it turns out to be a breadfruit tree. He said they call it l’arbre de Dieu...only I heard “l’ab de Dieu” and wondered if God had good abs.😉 I had forgotten that Creole accented French, at least in Guadeloupe, is a bit like Boston accented English, i.e. the “r” tends to disappear. So it is the Tree of God because during the time of slavery here, that tree always provided food for poor folks. The tradition continues now of sharing the copious fruits with one’s neighbors. I said it sounds like l’arbre de la générosité. He agreed.
Speaking of copious fruit, these Caribbean Islands are raucous with growth. Everything is so green, so overgrown, with huge flowers of intense colors and mega fruits.
My hair and skin are much happier here with the humidity than with the dry winter air and interior heating of Boston. One change we noticed from last year is the paucity of bananas in the markets. Apparently the banana trees were the one thing that suffered severe damage during the hurricanes. That is unfortunate because bananas are a staple crop here.
Yesterday was a long drive over challenging back roads, a hike in and out of forest, pasture, sand, seaside rocks, rain, and sun, with a dip and snorkel for Stephen, then a walking exploration of Saint Louis in some more rain, a couple of errands, and a drink at Chez Henri (Isn’t there a Chez Henri in every Francophone town in the world, and plenty of American ones too?)
Stephen: On the walk on the rocks, we took a video of the “Kissing Rocks” and also of a wave nearby that nearly drenched the camera operator. The wave video is to say goodbye to the waves of last year's Reach Video and the rocks are to introduce connection.
So this afternoon we are embracing our laziness. Well yes, we did do a walking and sitting meditation this morning, and I did my one hour yoga warmup, but now I am enjoying the New York Times crossword puzzle in the hammock in a shady spot with a breeze, overlooking the trees to the sea beyond. Gratitude? Indeed.
Stephen: We didn't stay there all afternoon, managing to return to the beach at petit anse for a swim and snorkeling.
Wherever we stay, I find an outdoor spot to do yoga. I have to judge the timing of my practice in relation to keeping the bright sun out of my eyes and having flat terrain for my yoga mat. Usually it is a terrace. Here at Pierre’s place, I was doing my five breaths in Warrior Two position when a hummingbird hummed it’s wings an inch from my nose and then took off. Another time, we were doing sitting meditation just inside an open window, and a little finch flew in and hovered in front of Stephen’s face before flying out the other window. In Guadeloupe, Nature in all forms is a strong presence. In our next entry, I will publish a little poem I wrote, inspired by “la vache qui cri,” the cow that was mooing in the pasture near the house.
We are up early today, with the dawn😀 in order to exchange our rental car here, even though we have only one more day on Marie Galante. We have had to fill our rear tires once or twice a day for the last few days in order to keep rolling so finally we went to the rental “office”-a temporary umbrella at the back of a car at the ferry landing- to see what could be done about it. After much back & forth, it was agreed that they will give us another vehicle, mais “demain à 9:00 h.”
When we got to our parked car at 8:50 to drive it down for the exchange, the tire was so completely flat that we could not drive it. Even Paradise is not perfect! Stephen managed to jack the car up, but the wrench included in the car did not fit the bolts. So I called one of the six numbers on our contract and actually reached a human being. After much difficulty explaining exactly where we were, he said he would come up “après le bateau.” Since the ferry was due at 9:15, we figured he might be here by 10:00 or so. We left the trunk door open with visible jack and wrench and a business card asking him to call my number since I am the French speaker. I walked up to the car at 9:45 and nothing had changed. Then I walked up again at 10:00 to find the trunk door shut, the business card gone, the tools packed away, and a new tire on the car! Vive le miracle! Such grateful relief.
Our review of Pierre and Camille Place
We love light and this place had lots of it. The master bedroom had two large windows and the kitchen had a great view of our garden and the distant sea. The bed was super comfortable. We love airiness and the screened louvers at the top of the windows let in a gentle breeze that was amazingly insect free. The bathroom was beautifully tiled with plenty of space for our stuff. The shower was spacious enough for two of us and was operated with one handle so it was very easy to use. the towels were large and thick. We watched the sun come up from the patio and had some dinners there at night. The kitchen was very well equipped. The whole place felt spacious. The hot tub was an essential part of our end of day ritual after hiking or swimming. We stayed here a week and it felt too short. Pierre and Camille were very welcoming and were perfect hosts. Pierre was full of information about the island which was useful as this was our first visit. We found Sun7 perfect for a punch with which to watch the sunset and enjoyed the dinner later. Chez Henri in St. Louis was good for a drink in the rain and Dantanas in Capesterre served us a couple of cold beers after a day at the beach. If you read French, there are plenty of books in the glassed in bookcase. The place is a short drive from Grand Bourg but it feels like it is in the country. Using the inland roads you can reach all the beaches and the other two towns quickly and easily. In short, we loved this apartment in its own garden and are already thinking about coming back next year for a longer time.
We think this page is done now and we won't add anything else. We have now started to write about St. François. So feel to follw us by clicking the link below
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