Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good enough for Jacque?

[Kyle]Today (17th December), I forced Maryanne to get up really early so we could go to the boulangerie/pâtisserie Amandine in Deshaies (remember pronounced De-hay) for breakfast when they opened at 6:30. What a marvelous experience. Again we were met with friendly Bonjour(s) by everyone at the place where the whole town seems to stop for breakfast (or at least an early morning coffee). We got a pastry each, some strong coffee, and two baguettes for around €6 ($9US), and sat and watched the town wake up. I'd like to say the whole town was filled with people in berets wearing striped shirts and cycling around with baguettes under their arms - but that was not the case. In spite of that, the village did have a very Gallic countryside feel to it. Particularly entertaining was the local produce stand owner, who repeatedly walked by, each time with a different tray of produce to stock his stall; when we finally did get up to leave we noticed he'd finally found a cart to load and make fewer trips. Maryanne said something to him in French and they both had a good laugh.

Finishing our breakfast later than we had intended we decided to wait for the grocery store to open and purchase some cheese and other goodies to go with our baguette for a later lunch. There was a moment of embarrassment and confusion when at the check out I learned that all fruits and vegetables have to be weighed and priced separately (at the other end of the store) before bringing them to the cash register. She sent me off with some French instructions, and quickly rescued me wandering the store, took my limes to the other end of the store and weighed and priced them for me, returning to find the pineapple in my basket and repeating the whole process. Oops.

Maryanne and I also had a little disagreement about rum; she decided it would be nice to have some aboard in order to make Ti punch and was eying the 1L bottles. I insisted that this was WAY too much and we'd never get through it, and talked her down to a 1/2 L bottle. Finally provisioned, we returned to Footprint in order to head for our next destination: Îlet à Goyave (Pigeon Island) - walking back to the boat we each broke off a chunk (or few) of a baguette for a nibble - MAN that is GOOD bread!

The journey down the coast was stunning, picture perfect little villages scattered on lush, green, steep mountain slopes. It was so beautiful, that I'd take a picture of some scene, we'd sail another 100 feet, something else would come into view, and I'd feel the need to take another (thank goodness for digital photography). After just a couple of hours, we arrived at Îlet à Goyave which is special as it is an island in the Jacques Cousteau nature preserve, a place Jacques ranked in his top 10 places to dive in the world.

We circled the island and picked up one of the pleasure boat moorings and prepared for Maryanne's first real dive since she gave up her life in Scotland to spend it with me (Maryanne is a qualified SCUBA instructor and used to dive at least weekly before I met her, since he moved to the USA, 6 years ago, her only 2 dives have been to recover items dropped overboard -and not in pretty waters!). While she readied herself and her equipment, I donned my snorkel gear and jumped in to survey the area and check the mooring. The island in the reserve has lots of steep rock faces and cliffs, and an impressive variety of fish species. The fish, being protected, seem totally unafraid of humans and did not dash off as I approached - I was so excited for Maryanne to see it all. When she finally got her dive gear on and tested, and jumped into the water, I must have been as excited as she was to see her finally diving again, knowing this was something she loved to do, and put on hold for me. After a brief pause on the surface to double check all the equipment was working well, she descended to the bottom below to a depth of about 45'. I know I should have been looking at all the fish and such, but I was mostly following along overhead making sure she was OK, and watching her enjoy herself. I did manage a couple of times to dive down to where she was and say hi, but of course I could only stay for a few seconds before returning to the surface for air. We traversed about half way around the small island, before Maryanne turned around and began to slowly ascend the wall, eventually returning to the boat, excited and very happy.

We had a lunch of the remaining French bread and cheese, and then snorkeled around the other side of the island together, the topography and variety of marine life on the southern side seemed even more stunning; Maryanne won the prize for the day for spotting (and swimming with for some time) a sea turtle (although I got a great picture of the turtle, by the time Maryanne was swimming with it, I was too far away to get a good picture, alas). Noticing the sun dipping in the sky we returned to Footprint, dropped our mooring and took the short hop to the better protected anchorage of the mainland at Malendure. Still full from our great lunch we had a light snack and Maryanne decided to try her hand at making Ti Punch. This we enjoyed (especially me) complete with the gasping, as the sun set behind Îlet à Goyave. Again I could not help but gush on about how fortunate I felt and how happy I was to be there. We really do get to see some amazing things.

Nothing against Antigua, but I fell in love instantly with Guadeloupe, it is much more what I pictured a Caribbean island to be; stunningly beautiful, lush, and filled with warm, friendly people. I was really not looking forward to leaving.

Afterward, Maryanne informed me that we had already blasted through 1/2 the new bottle of rum - who would have thought it? (I guess Maryanne was right all along - I should have learned by now!).


kate said...

boy howdy, that is some spectacular scenery! and i agree, the lush green i would normally associate with a caribbean island. just fantastic! "nothing against antigua" indeed - but at least you now know it's them, not YOU :)

Mommy Dearest said...

Okay, just a second, let me go get a Kleenex...Okay. Dab. Dab. I know how much you, Kyle, have wanted to see Maryanne diving again and I had a feeling you would get it done there. What a moment. While it's true that Maryanne had to give up her diving to come to the US and start a life with you, at a moment like that, you both have to feel it was a good bargain struck. I am so happy you (Maryanne) got to dive and I hope it was as wonderful as you knew it would be. I can tell your husband was overcome with great emotion watching you fulfill this particular dream. What a wonderful love story!