Wednesday 14th December

Thu 15 Dec 2005 13:24
Title: Message
Iles Des Saintes - Guadeloupe
Everyone was up early this morning. We had all decided to have an early night last night and had arranged for Jeffrey to come and collect us at 8.00am.
First stop was the Customs Office to check in and clear Dominica customs. We had not been able to do this the previous night as we had arrived too late. We filled in the required forms in triplicate and were amazed at the filing systems in what was supposed to be a government office! In fact it was a run down tin shack at the end of the jetty and all of the custom's forms were piled up on the only desk in the adjacent room as well as in the corner of the room on the floor. A further reflection of the poverty on this island.
Before going back to the boat Jeffrey took us for a trip up the Indian River. This is a narrow river that opens out into Portsmouth bay and is a protected nature reserve. You can only travel up it with a permit and in the official hand rowed boats with a guide. No fishing is allowed in the river so it was packed with big silver mullet fish that swam fearlessly around the boat. The land surrounding the river is swamp land and the vegetation created a tunnel effect as we went up river. It is called Indian river as it is used by the original native Indian inhabitants of  Dominica who live inland at the centre of the island and come down river to trade their local crafts and fruits. We stopped at a local river bar after an hour and had some very welcome fruit juice drinks. This was run by a Rasta family and it was great to see the whole family happily living of the fruits of the land in very simple and natural surroundings.
The trip back down river was a little quicker as we had the current with us and a little easier for the guide! It was then back to NOW3 to cast off and head on to Guadeloupe and our anchorage for the night off a beautiful French island called Iles Des Saintes.
This was clearly a popular anchorage as there were several big yachts anchored up as we arrived. We settled the boat in and headed for the shore in the dingy. There were lots of little boutique stores in the main street and several cafe's and restaurants. We all wondered around and spent a few Euros (The currency here) on gifts for Xmas. Refreshments were taken at a lovely harbour side cafe and then Andy ferried the first group back to the boat.
Ian, Tom and Nico under the guise of looking for a supermarket had a walk along the seafront and found a bar packed with locals. We managed to hail Andy as he was on his way back to pick us up and diverted him to the little pontoon by the bar. After a few sneaky beers we headed back to the boat for the evening meal.
The skipper had decided to cook tonight and he rustled up a wonderful meal. Garlic prawns as an appetizer and then Steak with a pepper sauce, potatoes roasted in rosemary and green beans. Delightful all washed down with a few bottles of Chilean Merlot.
Fed and watered it was another early nigh for us all with lights out by 10.00pm! pure luxury.
Nowcrew out.