Saturday, June 11, 2011

The French Islands

Checking out the botanical garden in Desharis, Guadeloupe 

Lunching at a colorful restaurant on the Deshais waterfront
 The French Islands that we visited, Guadeloupe and Les Saintes (The Saints), were interesting because neither of us speak any French.  However, between the French dictionary and sign language, we were able to communicate with the non-English speakers.  The islands were beautiful, the towns quaint, and the breads and pastries delicious.  However, one aspect of this culture that we found rather disturbing, given our overwhelmingly friendly experiences on all the other islands we’ve visited, is that the inhabitants were quite standoffish.  The cruising guide mentioned that these islanders weren’t much for smiling, but hell, they didn’t even acknowledge you when you nodded or smiled or waved or said “Bonjour.”  But we didn’t stop trying, and we had terrific responses from a few people, which made the effort worth it.  I realize that it’s a cultural difference, but it really cast a pall when we were walking around town.  Okay, enough bitching.  We found a nearly perfect anchorage on Grand Îlet in Les Saintes: good holding in sand and not too deep; short swimming distance from the boat to great snorkeling in warm, clear water; a cute uninhabited island where we collected three coconuts to eat; and for most of the time, we were the only boat there!  We also spent a couple of great days on brand-new (and free!) moorings off of the beach at Îlet à Cabrit.  We found that these islands are great cruising grounds.  We just wished the people were a little more affable.
Chris foraging for coconuts

The tiny roads of Bourg, Les Saintes

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