The French. Caribbean.

Days before Easter, in the ferry terminal at Roseau, I awaited the departure for Guadeloupe.  Where did these months go?  Could I leave Dominica?  That island, that tiny volcanic rock in the far reaches of the Eastern Caribbean, is home in a way I haven’t felt Home before.  I have a whole life there, woven around me like a Kalinago tapestry.

Last Dominica
Dominica’s Top End: My last view of the sweetest island on earth, from L’Express des Iles ferry

Arriving from Dominica, I first noticed how much more structured and commercial Guadeloupe is compared to its neighbor to the south.  I saw an actual highway interchange with exit ramps and thought, gotdam these people are high tech up here.

I spent my first evening in my dimly-lit, mosquito-netted bed writing until I fell asleep, secretly pleased the internet signal didn’t reach the guest cottage from the main house.  The only sounds were the chirping of several species of crickets and the occasional revving of a motorbike’s engine by the distant main road.  And my belly was happy, full of cucumber salad, baguette, and brie.  So, so much brie.  The good shit too: peppery, unpasteurized.

firstsunset
First sunset in Gwada, driving through the beach town of Bouyant

Guadeloupe c’est la France, literally.  Its political status is not a sovereign nation, but a French Overseas Department.  A territory.

In the morning, I went from the country cottage to another ferry terminal, this one in the village of Trois Rivieres.  Guadeloupe is a chain of islands, and I spent the day hopping between them along with a billionmillion French tourists, who saturate the place.  Saturate, tu comprends?  There were so many tourists, it occurred to me I had contact with virtually zero of them since I arrived in Dominica in December.

threesisters
Ok, not ALL French tourists are obnoxious.  These ones were kinda cute.

My first stop was Terre-de-Bas, a rustic, natural speck of hill rising from the sea.  Aforementioned Frenchies headed for the more developed Terre-de-Haut, so I soon found myself blessedly alone, up on a silent forest trail.  Terre-de-Bas’ forest held a distinct and ancient feminine energy of protectiveness that would come to feel familiar to me in Guadeloupe’s few untouched places.

terredebas
Terre-de-Bas’ rock-strewn enchanted forest

A midday ferry took me to Terre-de-Haut, where I took a short, but steep and blazingly hot, walk up to Fort Napoleon.  I went for the views.  I skipped the (self-aggrandizing, flagrantly Euro-centric) HisStory museum inside the fort because fk those colonials, that’s why.

napoleonwindow
Fk Western colonialism forever, but I kinda have a thing for their windows
terredehaut
From Fort Napoleon, you can see all of Terre-de-Haut and the neighboring islands

For the rest of the afternoon, I kicked it on Plage de Pompierre, on the far side of an island on which no side is far.  Time lost me floating on my back, with my face turned toward dramatic rock formations that broke the high-tempered Atlantic.

raffpack
The RaffPack lives to see another island

The next day took me to the Jardin Botanique de Deshaies, where time lost me again sitting under a magnificent banyan tree, watching the French families stroll by in their designer sandals.  The banyan held so much life.  And I mean that in a very concrete and physical way, not just an ethereal, energetic way.  Its roots are literally dripping from it.  At least four kinds of birds are singing from it, all hidden, cool and protected in the crevices of its bark.  So many vines wind and rest over its thousand arms.

The banyan is cool with all of this.  It has the space, and really, where else is it off to.  It’ll be here after us all.

Enfin, because I go full Japanese tourist mode with photographing the plant kingdom while in botanic gardens, imma leave allu with this petite galerie.  If you made it here, thank you for finishing my first blog post ever.  Much, much love xx

 

4 thoughts on “The French. Caribbean.

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