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Friday, January 20, 2017

More from Guadeloupe, days in Deshaies

A week later.  I have been too busy doing nothing to write before now. We are now ensconced at our second Guadeloupe location, in the town of Deschaies on one of the main Guadeloupe Islands.

The Touloulou, where we’d spent last week, was just about perfect, a tiny cabin, consisting of bedroom, bathroom, porch, with  coffeepot and small fridge, right on the beach. Lounge chairs in the sun in the sand right beyond our porch, and another plus a hammock in the shade of a tree.
Our porch here, in Deschaies, is literally bigger than our whole bungalow was at the Touloulou.  But I am not complaining. Didn’t need any more. We’d rented a car at the ferry dock, and glad we did.  There’s no tac tacs, the communal truck cabs like in Haiti, Jamaica, and other places we’ve been, We probably could have located cabs, if we’d had a phone or known how to. 

This way, we were able to go into Capesterre for groceries, etc and able to explore the island. In the five days we were pretty much able to cover the whole island of Marie Galante, including a bunch of dirt roads. It isn’t very big. 
The beach was beautiful and just a short jaunt past the restaurant that was part of it, and the parking lot. Loring actually swam the whole way, both directions, while I walked and carried the towels, kindles, snorkels, and his glasses. 
I confess that one of the factors in choosing the place was the name.  I found out near the end of our sojourn that Touloulou is actually the name of a particular crab, with red body and black legs.  Much more lyrical than “crab.”

We only ate one breakfast and one dinner at the restaurant there. Partly because we were happy with bread and cheese and simple meals from the Sol Levant in town. Partly because we’d not realized that the restaurant was closed on Sunday, and on Tuesday, and for breakfast only if you told them the day before. We had actually done that, but the message somehow did not get from owner “Zhose” to the woman who seemed to be really in charge. As she told us the next morning, when she was surprised when we showed up for breakfast, don’t tell him, tell me.
We said we’d just go into town, but she insisted on making us breakfast. “You’re not in a hurry, are you?” And of course we weren’t. But we did get a bit fidgety waiting the half hour or so. It was juice, a fresh fruit cup, coffee, regular and chocolate croissants, and fresh bread. Enough, but  for the 12 euros we’d expected a bit more, like eggs.  A hefty price ( a euro and a dollar are pretty much equivalent at the moment) especially when the dinners were only about 17 or 18 euros. They were, by the way, delicious. Loring had a ceviche like meal, forgot what it was called, and I had a fish curry.
We encountered no Americans, and very little English, the five days we were there. Did meet a Norwegian man the first day, and an Italian one the last night. And Zhose spoke a fair amount of English. Mostly it was French vacationers we encountered.

Here in Deschaies we’ve run into many more tourists, still primarily French. But last night, at the restaurant next door to our house here, the folks at the table next to us were speaking very American English. I contemplated asking where they were from, but then hesitated to do the American compadre thing.  Then as they stood up to leave, I decided to ask anyway, just as Loring noticed, and pointed out to me, that one woman was carrying a tote bag from the Brookline Booksmith!  Perhaps  not quite as remarkable a coincidence as it seemed, since they immediately asked if we’d come down on the ridiculously cheap Norwegian Air flight, which just recently commenced service from Boston and a few other cities, Washington, New York, and Baltimore, I believe.  But still, the only Americans we’d encountered in a week and two different islands. 
So here we are in our second location. I think we’ve picked pretty well. Some French visitors who were also staying at the Touloulou told us it was the only place directly on the beach in Marie Galante.
And here, in a much more modern, much more expansive place right on the water, although not on the beach, in Deshaies. Loring has already swum across the small harbor from right outside the door, and I imagine he will do that each of the days we are here.

There is a restaurant on either side of us, and we were a bit worried it might get loud and rowdy at night. Not a problem so far. The outdoor tables at each were reserved last night. But not a big problem as we have the same view from our own porch. It was a bit loud at lunch today, but don’t imagine it’s going to be much of a problem, if any. There are people who keep coming right along side of our porch from the restaurant to get a better view, but it’s just amusing, not really a problem.
We’ve only encountered one snag so far. When we arrived on the ferry back from Marie Galante yesterday, we could not find the car rental place, although there were several others. We asked at one, and he told us they were not located there, but in Deshaies, where we were heading. He pointed  us in the the direction of the bus terminal, a short walk away. One person there told us first that we’d have to take two busses, then said there was an express bus coming in a half hour. While we were waiting, I noticed in the small print on our reservation something about someone meeting us in the ferry terminal  next to the pharmacy. Well, we’d never gone inside the terminal, all the passengers including us exited alongside of the building, and I assume that’s always the route. So maybe the car guy from Deshaies isnlt any more familiar with the ferry than we are. But I guess it’s our fault, not reading the French directions carefully enough. We assume the guy from the agency really had been there, and left. Loring did run over to the ferry terminal once I’d read that, but no one was there, a half hour after the boat came in.

And when a bus pulled up that said Deschaies, I asked about the express, and the driver told me that there was no express, that hers was the only one going there. And a very slow local it was. A cab did come up to us while we were waiting for the bus, and said she’d ask how much it would be to Deshaies. After 10 or 15 minutes waiting on the phone, she came back over to say it would be 70 euros.  I thought that was too much, although not unreasonable, just too much for us to spend, especially since by then the express bus would be along shortly. (not.)  She was very nice and friendly about  it.
And then the bus ride itself was fine, though slow. We went down the back streets of every village, which gave us a glimpse of the place we might not have had otherwise. It’s only a 40 k drive, probably an hour directly, probably an hour and a half or more on our bus.

Deshaies isn’t very big, and the bus dropped us off just a couple of blocks from our house.  The owner was there waiting for us, even though we were at least an hour later than we’d said we’d be. He had a plate full of fish fritters to welcome us, along with a pineapple and a large bunch of bananas, some rum, some fruit juice, a few other things. This place is really well equipped and modern. There’s two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a shower so fancy, with multiple showerheads, that it startled Loring and he prefers the less fancy one. There’s a large living room and a dining room. The kitchen has more appliances than I’ve ever seen in a kitchen – coffepot, hot water heater, keurig, toaster, blender, microwave, electric juicer. 

The living and dining rooms are almost superfluous. The only time and reason to use them, in our opinion, is when it’s too hot and sunny on the porch.

Our bedroom is air-conditioned, but it’s programmed to only work from 8pm to 6am. Which is no problem.
Right now, we don’t have a car, but are fine without it for a few days. It was even hard to find the car rental place here in Deshaies. It was closed by the time we arrived, and closed today, Sunday. We are just hoping there will be a car for us tomorrow.

If you are reading this, we have room for a couple of you, even three or four (there’s a futon in the living room) , to come join us. This is a serious proposal! The fares were ridiculously cheap when we booked ours, $89 one way and $149 the other, I think. It might have been even a little less on the return.  One hitch – they only fly twice a week from Boston, Thursdays and Sundays. We return next Sunday, the 22nd.  So if you are up for a long Caribbean weekend, let us know!

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