More Exploring from Deshaies
09 May 2016 | Deshaies, Guadeloupe
Lest one thinks that we are actively trying to get away from Deshaies, I have explored the area well on my morning runs, and we are just doing the “make hay while the sun shines” kind of thing”.
So, we had the car for two days. For the second day, Bob and Gigi opted out of going with us, as they had plans to leave the following day, and had things they wanted to get done. That, or my driving scared the crap out of them. We also had a big supermarket on the dance card (to get the coffee) and laundry was a priority. We had seen a couple of laundromats the previous day, so just because Deshaies doesn’t have one (but should), we knew we could get it done.
After my morning run and a quick breakfast, Ken and I dragged the large bag of laundry into the dinghy, the shopping bags and the cooler bags as well, and headed back to the rental car to get an early start on the day. If we got the necessaries done, we would still have time to use the car for less crucial, and more enjoyable, pursuits. We were also concerned that the stores may close at noon, which would be a nuisance.
We know that finding actual beans of coffee is not possible at every store, and we were looking for a specific brand, so we decided that the wisest course of action was to go to a big one that we knew. This took us over the north part of Basse Terre almost to the Riviere Sallee, which divides Grand Terre (the right wing) from Basse Terre (the left wing), and not really all that far from Point-a-Pitre. This is one of those ginormous Carrefour supermarkets that carries pretty much everything; it’s a Superstore. I basically knew where we had to go, and with only one wrong turn, we got there. We found the coffee we were searching for, in beans, so I promptly loaded the cart with 24 packs. Yes, 8 kg of coffee beans. That should last us roughly 6 months.
With that errand done, and a few other things purchased, I wanted to go to a Leader Price supermarket (Canadians, think No Frills). This is a good place to stock up on other things, like soft drinks, and essentials. We also grabbed some sandwich makings, as we figured we could have a bite as we did the laundry. When we are travelling in the French islands, it really is “have baguette, will travel” for us.
Ken had spied a laundromat right by the Leader Price, so we zipped over and started to do the laundry. A lady with local knowledge let us know that the central payment center didn’t take paper money, but the paramutual betting place next door was usually good for a few coins. I bought a Floup (think Mr Freezie) and got some more coins from the harried looking woman behind the counter; I must have come in at the wrong time when people were making bets for race number 4. Paramutual/off track betting is very popular around here.
We loaded up the two large machines with two matching loads and let the machines do their jobs. A few spins in the dryer, and while maybe not perfect, our dirty clothes were now much cleaner, and much better smelling. That took care of our mandatory errands with the car! Now we could go explore some more.
Looking at the map, we realised that we had basically seen much of Basse Terre, one way or another, whether by car or bus. We could have gone up some small roads, but we decided to see more of Grand Terre instead, so we pointed the car east.
I noticed line ups of cars at gas stations, and had a gut feeling that the fuel pumps might close early, like the stores. We topped up at the next place we saw that was open, and didn’t see another open one until a couple of hours later, with a long line up.
Guadeloupe is an island (islands) of contrasts. Basse Terre is geographically much younger, and extremely mountainous. Grand Terre has been ground down for a lot longer, and is relatively flat compared to Basse Terre. I say “relatively”, as it still can be a roller coaster ride in some parts. The north end of the island has more gently rolling hills and is sugar cane country. Hectares upon hectares of cane, interspersed with the remains of old mills. There are a few small “ports” that were used for moving the sugar products by water for further processing or transport back to Europe or the Americas.
We went to the northernmost point of the island, Pointe de Vigie, with its stunning coastal views of rugged cliffs. Farther west we came to les Moules, previously the home of many windmills for cane and other purposes, but now the site of dozens of modern windmills for making electricity. We then started to angle more southwest, coming into more rugged and hilly terrain, interspersed with valleys and ravines. This is an area that is too rough for much agriculture.
We were ready to go home, and the sky was becoming steadily more threatening. Rather than take an inland way back to Deshaies, we chose to stay on the road that I knew, and was not as hilly. When the downpour hit, I was glad of my choice.
As we approached Deshaies, the clouds were threatening again. This could be a problem as we wanted to get our clean laundry home dry, and we had the groceries, too. When we arrived at the dinghy, there was an appreciable amount of water on the bottom, so we put the cans of pop down as a base to try to keep some of the stuff from being immersed. We have large bags that can almost envelope our laundry bag, so that helped. We got back to the boat and unloaded just a minute or two before the rain started. Close one!
Today, we have done a few boat things, and I have spent time getting caught up on blogs and sending pictures to Facebook accounts (that has been a 4+ hour job to punish me for procrastinating). Bob and Gigi got going in good time this morning.
There are still some hikes, including the river hike, that i would like to do before we leave here!