Mon 1 Feb 2016 12:56

Guadeloupe – last few days

Our weeks wait for the new board for the watermaker has been relieved by a day in Pointe a Pitre and the company alongside of Tim and Philippa from England aboard their Moody 38, Seraphim.

Last evening we were invited aboard for drinks along with Simon who is Guadeloupe – last few days.

crewing for Judy aboard her Catalina 42, based in Malta. The previous evening Philippa and Tim drank on board with us and we must have been so in need of a good chin wag in our native tongue that both evenings stretched into their nights and Rob has had to retrieve his head from the shed twice. Still it was well worth it.

Lots of little jobs have been done on board; Zoonie’s bright work now shines so bright having had its layer of salt cleaned off that sunglasses are obligatory from the cockpit outwards. I was busy polishing the stanchions (vertical supports for the guard rails) when I heard a massive splash as one of the local pelicans dived for a fish.

We caught a bus into the ‘city’ and went firstly to the very new Memorial ACTe Slave Museum which was opened last July by French President Hollande. You know how it is when, through your adult life, you learn snippets of knowledge and information about a subject, in this case The Slave Trade.

 Well I have never before been in a museum that so effectively and efficiently tells the entire story of this dark trade from Arabic Muslim start to the present day and recognises that the old trade may have been abolished but slavery never will be.

We passed from room to room with our English commentary overlaid over animated film of people telling the story. There was a room made out like a lecture hall complete with brass desk lamps and a courtroom where an abolitionist was on trial. A giant ‘peace’ tree covered in symbols from Africa brought over by the slaves was re-assembled after its tour of the world.

 We wandered along a Carnival street filled with fabulous costumes to celebrate creole festivals and along a narrow dark corridor literally walking over the lying, writhing life size images of the slaves as they would have been crammed sardine-like aboard their death ship.

Simple numbers can be so evocative, 12.5 million slaves left the African west coast and 10.5 million landed in the West Indies.

After three hours at this rich memorial to slavery we walked in to the Tourist Info centre in town and were recommended the Marie Galante Restaurant for lunch. We were famished. The first genuine Guadeloupe meal we had tasted comprised a choice of pork, chicken, lamb or red fish with steamed white cabbage, grated carrot and white rice, the latter which did not contain peas because we arrived too late. The red beer was good, 5.9% and spiked with Tequila!

After that our energy levels were flagging but we managed to discover a genuine example of a cottage industry, which you will see in my sideways (!) pics. The gingham material that we see used so much here, not only in clothes but table coverings and household goods, was cut and sewn into beautiful dresses for all sizes and ages right behind the counter of the shop. I couldn’t resist a top in my favourite colours.

The markets full with gold and silver decorated bottles of varieties of flavoured rum and spices were just starting to pack up. A cruise liner sound her siren to get all her punters back on board ready to slink off to the next port.

The town is very compact and it looks as if people have moved from their old wooden shacks into new small apartment blocks, so there is evidence of the old town alongside the new.

At the bus stop a young drunk man was trying to extract the correct bus number for the marina from two bewildered local girls, so we told him. He then told us how he disliked the city and was heading for Antigua, which he thought would be much nicer. Stall holders packing up their van ignored a tall, black man, wearing only the briefest trunks as he flashed at them, must be the heat!

Yesterday we had a lovely chat with both grand- children, Henry and Ruby, just after they returned from school. Beavers is a big hit with Henry and Ruby was preparing for a teddy bears’ picnic.

We have been doing our homework over the Panama Transit and I have emailed the Ships Agency. As we are not fluent in Spanish it is best to have an agent or we could be ripped off somewhere along the process. Shelter Bay Marina is where we will stay while arrangement are made, so I have also contacted them.

You can watch our transit on their webcam if you want. It’s a system used by the authorities which has been opened up to those in transit as well. The address is: www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html  You can watch it anytime, not just as we go through, if you want to experiment.

At 8.30 this morning, with no fuss or assistance, Tim and Philippa left with their engine now starting and stopping when asked. Soon it will be our turn.

Yesterday we went to the Aquarium but did not find our Mystery Fish and then we lunched on Lobster and today, Monday, Frederick has just fitted the new circuit board in the Watermaker and all is working ok, so tomorrow we will be off and take about four days to get to Curacao. So we will be in touch again on route. By for now and take care.

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