Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Fri 3 Apr 2009 22:07
I wanted to go in to town today to get Bear his favourite photograph enlarged to go on the lounge wall. No small feat. In St Lucia they had the ink but no paper. In Dominica they had the paper but no ink. Third time lucky. No. The photo shop nearby that had been suggested by the marina office was closed down, Bear rang the number left on a scrap of paper and was told "for about three months", hopefully my passport will have come way before then and we will be long gone.
So off to town, again after going to the marina office where the helpful young lady rang ahead to make sure it could be done. Yes. Finally. A one hour service place in town. We walked down to the main road to the bus stop.
Bit of an odd looking roundabout outside the marina gates.
Opposite the bus stop is the marina in the distance behind the tree, a huge complex with shops, chandlers and enormous haul-out facility. Next door is the University.
The bus terminus, the main square and its fountain. Pointe-à-Pitre. Creole called Lapwent, is the largest city of Guadeloupe, an overseas region and department of France. Although it is not Guadeloupe's administrative capital (that distinction goes to Basse-Terre), Pointe-à-Pitre is nonetheless the economic capital with a population of 171,773 inhabitants in its urban area (in 1999), only 20,948 of whom lived in the city (commune) of Pointe-à-Pitre proper. The inhabitants are called Pointois.
I thought I would be less septic toward the town this time as my last visit was called 'post office day'. The bandstand looked nice enough until you look closer and see the graffiti and we saw some delectable wiring.
The memorial to Felix Eboue, Governor General and French Colonial Administrator. Felix Eboue was born on the 26th of December 1884 in Cayenne, French Guyana. He began his career after graduating from the School of Colonial Administration (l'Ecole coloniale). He was appointed secretary general of the Government of Martinique in 1932 and served in the same capacity in French Sudan in 1934 before his appointment as the first Black Governor of Guadeloupe in 1938. He was appointed Governor of Chad later that same year. Eboue suffered no illusions regarding the implications of Vichy's capitualtion to Nazi racial philosophy for himself and other non-European French nationals. Chad was the first French colony to march into the Gaullist camp in August 1940 and Eboue led the parade. He was appointed Governor General of French Equatorial Africa after the Free French wrested control of the region's other territories. Eboue advocated maintaining ties between metropolitan France and the overseas territories but insisted that they could continue in the postwar world only on the basis of equality. He played a major role in organizing the January 1944 Brazzaville Conference that began the transformation of the French Empire into the French Union. He died suddenly from a heart attack in Cairo on the 17th of March 1944. His ashes were interred in the Pantheon in 1949.
The cinema, the memorial to lost souls of WW1 and a typical side street.
The Hotel de Ville looks very grey and dull. Bear leading the way. The post office workers currently on strike demonstrating loudly outside the main post office. A main strike of all general workers hit the French islands in the West Indies about six weeks ago. We have been told at worst cars were set on fire, petrol stolen from dinghy outboards and a general lack of stuff on the supermarket shelves. The result is many hotels that closed when tourists cancelled their holidays will never re-open but will be sold off as apartments. The French Government settled and gave a 30% pay rise, people are still deeply unhappy, the day after we arrived the electricians went on strike, now the postal workers. Please may my passport get through.
Down a narrow road we saw this roundabout which, on closer inspection is a memorial to a local musician and drummer called Marcel Lollia known as - Velo. He was swamped most of the time with traffic squeezing around him, only just.
The main town market is undergoing a re-vamp. The fountain was dry and again de-faced. Traders carried on nonetheless.
The colour of the market.
Sadly vandalism and neglect has played a hand here, the high street and a swanky mobile phone shop.
A novel little car, looks like a SMART with natural air-conditioning.
Another side street covered in graffiti. In amongst the drab you find brightness, even the plastic table cloths reflect the colourful national plaids. The main road complete with JCB.
Not a bad view from this side of the water from the west.
Looking to the east you can see on the left yachts anchored outside the marina entrance. To the right is a river you can use to cut between the two islands of Guadeloupe.
We saw a tailor offering Paris fashions, perhaps not. En route to the bus station, (I use the words very lightly) Bear stopped for some freshly trimmed sugar cane from a man extremely deft with a very big knife. A pretty little house that shows the by-gone beauty and architecture of the town which now gives off an air of tiredness and fatigue. We spoke to a man that said the people here are basically unhappy, thinking life here should be like Paris, not in a million.
Success, we trotted back to Beez armed with the new view, Bears favourite taken at dusk in Speightstown, Barbados. This replaces the one we bought when we dreamed of waking up with coconut tree lined views.
ALL IN ALL a good day to celebrate with Bear fifty two weeks of retirement today. Congratulations to Bear, many, many more At-ventures to come. xx