Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Iles Des Saintes, delightful French Islands off Guadeloupe

Cruising into Bourg des Saintes
December 28, 2011

Ah, Iles Des Saintes, a small group of islands that are part of the French island of Guadeloupe, has become my favorite place thus far! There are 8 tiny islands, but only one, Terre d’em Haut, has a small town, Bourg des Saintes, where we’ve settled in.  

The Saintes, with Terre d'em Haut in the foreground
Ferry boats in/out all day long until late in the evening giving us a bit of a roll

Ships of all kinds are here

Learning, Falling & More Learning just outside the Harbor

Impressive sailboat behind us!
Colorful, busy little harbor
Pelicans are smaller in these islands than in the South USA

The colorful buildings are so charming
Arriving on Monday after a short 3 hour cruise from Dominica, we grabbed a mooring ball (anchoring no longer allowed -- too many boats dragged + mooring balls are a good source of revenue), dropped the dingy and off we went.   

This is someone's home
Shop selling acrylic totally see thru kayaks
Walking through this thoroughly French town, I was enthralled with the picturesque red roofs and gingerbread trim all over the brightly colored homes and shops    

This is the ultimate in sophistication as compared to any other we’ve been on, including the larger French islands!  The goods in the shops are much more ‘upscale’ than what we’ve experienced before.

Kids playing on their front porch.

A girl stopped to ask me, as I took this photo, if this was pretty.  She thought it strange that I took a photo!

Watching the world from her window.  Love the gingerbread trims.

Church bells ring often all day
Just off the town square

On the Atlantic Ocean side

Small, dry, steep red and brown cliffs abound, making agriculture never an option here. 

Amazing, as only a short distance away is the most lush productive agricultural island of all, Dominica.  Nature is obviously fickle! Perhaps it is explained by the fact that this island's mountains are not nearly as tall as others, so the clouds pass over, never dropping their rain.  This is also one of the few or only island that did not have slaves - there was no need with no fields and plantations to work.                        
Fisherman area, on the Caribbean Sea side
Fishing supports the small community and now tourism adds $$ to the pots.  

We promptly purchased a   signed & numbered painting reminiscent of the colorful Caribbean directly from the artist, who also has a shop in France and lives 6 months in each place.  We called it our belated Christmas gift to each other.  Sounds tacky, but I bought a small turtle lamp made out of a coconut - that is really pretty cool.....A few t-shirts so far for grandkids and I’ve not yet finished!  This is the first time I've seen anything I'd spend $$ on - except to replace worn out t-shirts!

Charming courtyard restaurant where we ate lunch
Restaurants abound, but rarely with an English menu,  and not many French speak English here. We fall back on our skill set of guessing  what we are reading, pointing to words we don’t understand and then trying to determine what we’re eating.  No matter, it is all good.  

Views from restaurants are always 

At La Saladerie, overlooking the water with a local artist's work all around us

Huge green iguana over our heads during a lunch
However, we still can’t seem to get our act together to get with the program here...the French shut down shops, stores and everything else from about 12-2 or 12-3, except for restaurants serving 3+ course meals for lunch.  Two hour lunches are a bit much for me and I found myself squirming in my seat, past ready to move on yesterday....  

With this normal daily routine, late in the day, tired of walking and thirsty, we could not find a bar/grill/restaurant that would open until 7:00 PM.  We so wanted to find a place to sit, rest and look at the water, sipping a coke or a beer at the end of our day.  No such luck.  By 7:00 PM,  it is dark; dingy rides can be scary and wet and we are ready to be back aboard.  That boater’s midnight still strikes, often at 9:00 PM for Andy and a bit later for me.  Amazing how much fresh air wears one out!   The only down side to this island is that it is French.  The Euro reigns and that is costing us extra $$.  Phew.

 I'm smiling now, because we have stopped. 
My sphincter muscles got quite a workout today up and down the hills

Renting a little motorcycle, we zipped up and down the entire island in about six hours, lunch included.   Huh, scary day for me.  There is little traffic, but what there is we must share what seems like a six inch wide roadway.  That, plus up/down and around somewhat twisting roads kept me dry mouthed all day.  Andy did great keeping us both upright and in one piece, in spite of me constantly pulling on his shirt, saying, SLOW DOWN  SLOW DOWN.

Fencing is often fish netting!

Sharing the beach with goats.  Don't leave your lunch unattended!

No one we knew, but pretty good!

Entrance into the harbor of Les Saintes

Look carefully - you'll see Finally Fun just off the tip of the right little twig sticking up

Ferry departing at sunset off our aft deck

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