Vive la Difference!
25 January 2017 | Gosier, Guadeloupe
It all started with a blog. Someone was talking about why they had no desire to circumnavigate. This blog was answered by someone else in THEIR blog declaring that those who didn't circumnavigate were somehow lesser people or something along that line. This was brought up in an FB group.... And that is when it was all brought to my attention. And this got me thinking some more about "cruising". I had plenty of time to just think, as we were pulling a couple of days of travel.
I am pretty sure that I have stated before that we have no interest in crossing oceans in our boat. I have actually come to the realisation that I don't actually enjoy the act of travelling (a point brought up in the first blog that got this snowball rolling). Airplanes are a necessary boredom, and while I enjoy living on a boat, the slow travel grates on my nerves. While we are underway, basically the only activities are talking, thinking, looking for obstacles, and maybe a little strength workout (although I did polish some stainless once). Our cockpit is too open to chance having a book or tablet out, and my propensity to seasickness makes this a generally bad idea, anyway. So I stare at the horizon a great deal, and I think, and we talk. Being somewhere is good, getting there is the painful part for me. As for Ken, a long trip tends to fatigue him, and it can take a day or two after a relatively rough trip to feel "normal" again.
We have had friends extoll the virtues of long passages, and trying to encourage us to go farther than the Eastern Caribbean, telling us how much we are missing by visiting the same islands again and again.
We just ran into some cruisers that have followed our blog for a while, and we've corresponded a bit about cruising. They are doing the south run for the first time. We've given them lots of local information, and generally helped them by not making them discover everything for themselves. The first time through is the hardest. Even with a good guide book, figuring out where to go, where to provision, laundry facilities, and all of the day-to-day operations can be overwhelming. As one sticks around longer, it gets easier, and it is also more amenable to actually exploring where you are. We feel less nomadic, and more comfortable, and I might even say, at home. We know where we like to anchor and base ourselves, and we don't have to waste too many brain cells on the basics. We are open to going out and seeing more of where we are, whether it is within walking distance, or if it requires transportation.
Another friend said "going around the world doesn't mean you have seen the world. You just see where you have been." And if you have to keep moving, how much have you experienced? This isn't to say that those who circumnavigate the world, or zip around the Caribbean, are doing something wrong, it is just a different way of doing things.
We've met people who have circumnavigated who seem to come back just as jaded as when they left. We've met people who have travelled the world with a kind of restlessness as if they are seeking something intangible, and they still haven't found it, because it can't be found. If you are travelling to escape your demons, it doesn't seem to work. And not everyone has their horizons expanded by constantly moving.
We don't feel a need to have to do everything, everywhere, all at once. The "Fear Of Missing Out" is not a concern for us. But we know those doing what we call "the two year bounce" who are constantly going, going, going, afraid to miss any experience or Happy Hour sundowner chance, or pot luck, or barbecue, or.... They need to cram it all in. Again, if that is what makes you happy, enjoy.
We see ourselves as weather refugees, not as adventurers, although I won't turn down a good hike if I can help it. We can be quite happy sitting in the same place for a while. We are pretty good at finding peace with where we are at the time, once we find a spot that is comfortable for us. And we now know where those comfortable spots for us are.
Lots of people like to ride a bike, but that doesn't mean they want to ride across Canada or tour Europe on a bike. Not every runner wants to run a marathon. Not every cruiser wants to go around the world
Research? What Research?
19 January 2017 | Le Gosier, Guadeloupe
After the Beauregard Canal mix up (wrong route to it the first time), and not paying quite enough attention to the weather and being forced into a hasty, but acceptable, decision (really, we could have gone back down to Fort de France if absolutely necessary), you'd think that I would be a little more careful, wouldn't you?
Jonathon has been following our blog for a while now, and we have corresponded by email over the last while as he prepared for his Caribbean adventure. As things can happen, they, too, sought the refuge of Gosier for this little weather episode. He might have been encouraged by a certain blogger.
As Ken and I were heading north from the Saintes, Ken was looking at Basse Terre, which was enjoying exceptional visibility, in between searching for fish pots.
"Whats's that? It looks like a landslide or something."
I looked over to where he was referring to. "I'm betting that's Les Chutes de Carbet. The location seems about right." I went below and got an island map to confirm this.
We were now intrigued. Usually that area is under a cloud cover, and in shade, but this was extremely easy to see with the naked eye on that day. The possibility of renting a car and going there was discussed as we made our way to Gosier.
Jonathon and Christine came into the anchorage a little later that afternoon, and when we met for drinks on their boat that evening (and our first eyeball meeting), I brought up the possibility of going up there. They were also quite interested, so we arranged to have a car for Friday, and go up. I basically knew the way there, as I remembered the road signs from when we had taken the bus to the town of Basse Terre a couple of years ago. We also had road maps, and a National Park map with greater detail of the area.
The French islands publish very good maps with the hiking trails. I took a look, and sure enough, there was a trail associated with the first and second falls. The third falls were quite a bit farther down, and not really a priority on our agenda for the day. I saw the icon for "easy" for the trail. Cool, should be a cake walk with a nice view, then off to Les Cascades Paradise for a swim and lunch!
We were on the road before 8:00am Friday morning. I had gone for a run, and picked up the car that morning. I got home, chugged my coffee after a quick sea bath and had some PB on some baguette. Clean hiking clothes and the backpack with a water bottle each was all ready to go.
I had intended to stop to pick up something to carry for a picnic lunch. I procrastinated, thinking there would be at least one more place after the Leader Price supermarket that we passed...even just a small boulangerie. Nothing popped up, but we continued on up to the falls. The road signs were excellent, and we arrived and were ready to hit the trail by about 9:30.
One of the Park Rangers was wearing a Montreal Canadiens hockey team ball cap, which I had to comment on, and we got a picture of. Her husband got it for her in Montreal. She also told me that the hike to the first falls was pretty long, and to have food and water. Remember, I had looked at a map saying "easy", so I figured it wouldn't be too bad.
We went to the easiest and closest waterfall first (le deuxieme chute). This was a beautiful path with cobble stones and flat river stones. This was incredibly easy! No problem! Bring on the path for the Premiere Chute! Sure, it was about 1,000' higher, but a decent path makes up for elevation.
At the turn off to the trail to the Premiere Chute, the sign said that the hike was of "medium" difficulty, and should take about 90 minutes from there. That doesn't sound too bad, so we headed up.
Medium, my backside. There were sections that had ropes, legitimate scrambles, and a whole lot of up and down. This was a Difficult trail. When we got to what I figured was the halfway up point, I asked the others if they wanted to continue. Everyone said yes. I was thinking of the fact that we didn't have much water, and Ken and I didn't have any snacks. Fortunately, Christine said they had some extra's they could share. So we continued up. And up. With some downs. We ascended 566m in total according to my GPS watch. And we finally got up there. It was impressive, it truly was, but in the back of my mind I couldn't help but think "We need to get back down again."
Ken and I left a little earlier than the other two. Ken is a good hiker, and pushed on without complaining, but it was not going to be an easy hike back down. I was concerned that without lots of water (I held back, just wetting my mouth) or much food, it was going to be tough on him (he probably had a bigger breakfast than I did!) And we did it. Four hours round trip of moving time. We were back at the car by 2:00pm.
If I had had any idea of what that hike really was like, I wouldn't have proposed it to Ken. And if we did go up, we would have both had a hydration pack with a couple of liters of water each, snacks, and a picnic lunch. And at least one trekking pole for Ken (I'd recommend two).
On the drive back down, I spied a lady selling homemade coconut ice cream. Oh, heavenly days! It was Jonathon and Christine's first experience with this local delight, and Ken and I are huge fans of this (mostly) frozen confection. It was a much needed caloric hit.
We stopped at the Leader Price this time, and got chorizo, cheese and multigrain baguettes. Manna, absolute manna.
It was now possible to stop off at Decathlon, the sports store, without worrying about low blood sugar. The guys made a quick visit to the hardware store, and we all had quick shop at the massive Carrefoure supermarket.
On the way back to Gosier, I gave my passengers the option of walking the approximate ¾ of a mile from the car rental place, or to get dropped off close to the dock. They took the drop off option. Because of the Friday night Gosier Market, parking anywhere near the dock is pretty much impossible, so I had decided to just drop off the car back at the rental place.
Ken dropped off our fatigued hiking partners, took our stuff back to the boat, then came back to shore to meet me. I had already got the car's tank topped up, and had got back to the market and was grazing my way through, after downing two coconut of their water; the vendors were shocked at how quickly the first one went down, so they gave me a second small one for free. I explained my stupidity to them, and they nodded their heads in agreement that it wasn't very smart.
The other two had planned to clean up, nap, and then hit the market. I don't know if they ever made it or not.
It's a fantastic hike, if you are so inclined (I certainly am, I thrive on that kind of thing!), but one needs to be prepared! In my opinion, it is a harder hike than up to Mont Pelee in Martinique; at least with Pelee, once the hardest climb is done, the path is easy walking at the top. The Chutes don't give much time to relax.