[Kyle]Fully recovered from yesterday's scramble up the Deshaies river, our next tourist goal was the Botanical Gardens, just a mile outside of Deshaies (up another steep hill). Walking up the hill we worried several times that trucks barreling down might not be able to brake and swerve to avoid hitting us (even though there was a wide walking area, it was on the same level as the road and the vehicles were making use of it on the bends).
The gardens (a hefty €14 each to enter) was well worth the price of admission. Everything was laid out beautifully, well marked with signs (in French), there were so many picturesque views, waterfalls, ponds, and sweeping vistas of the Caribbean Sea below. Flamingos, lorikeets, 100's of orchids, cactii, plenty of all sorts! We had lunch with a gorgeous view over the gardens and beyond into the ocean, prepared and served by a woman who had so much fun trying to understand our French and practice her English on us, that even when we were done with our food, she continued to call our food order number on the PA in both English and French (complete with giggles).
Kyle looooves Parrots!
The highlight of the gardens though, for me, was definitely the parrots, each pair housed in cute, Caribbean style parrot houses. I have owned several parrots in the past, and absolutely adore them, jumping at any opportunity to spend time with one. I was pleased to see that they had big cages, with lots to do, and were being fed a good diet (not always the case). I befriended one lonely parrot (the only one that was not part of a pair). He had been high up in a tree, driving people off feigning attacks at passers by, and I decided to go and say Hi! Since I understand parrot behaviour fairly well, and how to behave around them so they don't get nervous, he quickly came to like and trust me. Soon, he was crawling towards me and away from other visitors. After some time, when Maryanne and I moved on to other areas of the garden, he seemed quite upset I was leaving. When Maryanne reminded me that the garden was still open for several hours, there was no need not to return to the parrots - naturally I jumped. By then, the place was emptying out (never very crowded) so I had lots of one on one time to spend with my new buddy. He even allowed me to scratch and preen him (although I was probably NOT supposed to do that, I could not resist).
Afterward, feeling happy, we tried desperately to keep from falling down the hill (I would not say walked). On the walk back we passed by Parc Batterie, where we had hoped to spend the evening at a restaurant with great views from the south side of Deshhaies' cove, but found it under renovation. We did get to see the cannons at the park, and then went back into Deshaies and found a French/Creole/Italian restaurant with a table on a balcony directly over the surf. Everyone we met was all smiles and greetings, we experienced none of the irritation we expected from our poor French. We certainly fell in love with Deshaies.
My Birthday dinner was really nice, the exchange rate killed us, but it was worth it. While at dinner I got a chance to try a Ti Punch ubiquitous on menus out here. Most drinks went for between €6-€11, Ti Punch is more like €2.50-€3.50. I had assumed this meant that what I would get was some small. weak, watered down drink (usually about my speed). I was wrong; made from the local white rum, this is a little drink with a BIG kick. Most Caribbean rums we have found are 40% alcohol, Guadeloupe rum is (at least) 50%, the drink consists of the rum, a little sugar (or syrup), a crushed lime segment, and maybe an ice cube. Try as I might, I could not help but gasp audibly at every sip as the strength of the alcohol hit my throat - much to Maryanne's amusement. We lingered for a while at the restaurant, enjoying the night air and the sight of Footprint anchored right beside us, and I felt so lucky to be in this special place. After a while, feeling warm from a nice day (and possibly the Ti Punch) we rowed back to our boat, I opened my birthday presents and fell asleep watching the stars through the open hatch.