We arrived during siesta time and could not check in until after 4:30 pm. Apparently, closing up shop for 3 to 4 hours in middle of the day is typical on the French Islands.
Checking in to the French Islands is done without customs or immigration officers. No drug enforcement, coast guard, or Navy visits. You simply check yourself in and out on a computer terminal. You just have to find the computer. Luckily, we met up with Kool Kat and Slow Waltz, who showed us the way.
This computer terminal just happens to be inside a small boutique shop. So in one stop you can clear in or out of the country and buy clothing, hammocks, jewelry, incense, post cards, etc. Kind of crazy.
All checked in and legal, we walked around and noticed a graveyard overlooking the town. For some reason graveyards usually seem to have the best views. This one was no exception, being up on a hill with the town below and the bay just beyond. Beautiful. The graveyard itself was not too shabby to look at. The dead are not actually buried but placed in vaults that look like little houses. Some even have an entryway like a mudroom, really cute. Altogether, they look like a city for the dead.
We stopped by the French bakery and picked up a baguette, then returned to the dinghy. The main street through town follows the shoreline right behind these beachfront buildings, most of which are bars and/or restaurants. The rest of the day is for relaxing before we start our hikes and explorations tomorrow.
The morning started none too early, so exploring was going to be hot. That didn’t stop us, though. We pulled up to the dinghy dock and walked through the small town of Deshaies. The main street is really cute and filled with businesses mixed with some homes or homes attached to their businesses. In this picture you can just make out the city of dead above the town and Dave is eating homemade coconut ice cream from a street vendor.
Heading through town towards a hiking trail following the river, we crossed over a canal leading in from the small marina. You’re welcome for that picture, because next we walked through the community dump up a dirt road to the trailhead.
Trying to hold my breath, we continued up the road and passed what looks kind of like a steamroller. It has long since retired from service and nature is reclaiming it.
Still on the dirt road, we passed five cows and a cattle egret hanging around. I love the big docile eyes of cows. These had horns but didn’t look threatening at all. I started talking to them, like I talk to all animals, and one walked over. I think Dave was a bit nervous at first, but I stuck out my hand and the cow nuzzled it before sticking out its tongue and licking it. I must have tasted good, because it couldn’t stop at just one lick. The tongue feels scratchy on top like a cat’s tongue but thick and strong. It felt like it was trying to wrap its tongue around my fingers and pull them into its mouth. Yikes! Sufficiently gooed, I stepped away and the cow approached Dave. Dave put out his hand and the cow immediately started licking him, too. It didn’t take long for Dave to say, “Ewww, okay that’s enough.” Haha! So we continued on.
We finally found the trail and followed it along the river. The trail wove between trees and over rocks, becoming a little tricky at times. I must have 3,000 pictures of lizards by now, but this guy was so bright green I had to take his picture, too. If his eyes were huge and he had a pointed head, he would remind me of a sleestack. Anyone remember sleestacks?
We continued to carefully pick our way over rocks, across the river, through trees – sometimes finding a false trail and doubling back to find another way. We didn’t see any trail markers, so anyone doing this hike is on their own. It is a fun trail, though, and not too strenuous; just requiring some agility.
To this day, our favorite hikes were still in Costa Rica. This trail had some similarities, though, in the foliage and insect life. This is the first time, for instance, we’ve seen leaf cutter ants on the islands. They were all over Costa Rica. These little critters are super industrious and interesting, but we learned that the big-headed dudes are soldier ants that protect the worker ants and have a nasty bite. This is a bad picture, but if the resolution had been better you might have seen a tiny ant on the leaf piece cleaning and preparing it as the bigger ant carried it back to the nest.
Because we got a late start, we didn’t go all the way to the waterfall on the trail. From what we hear, this is a common thing. I think the hike takes longer than everyone expects. We turned back and retraced our steps back to town. This time I noticed an abandoned house reverting back to nature. I’m not sure why I find this so intriguing, but if left alone nature would swallow up our human made world.
Along the shoreline, we saw a few of the hand made boats the locals use in the regattas. These are sailing races. Some are purely local, but others are a gathering of many islands. The biggest one I know of is the Family Regatta in the Bahamas in April. We had to be way south and couldn’t stay for it, but I hope to see one someday. These barebones boats have no comforts inside and no lead keel. They put weights made from rocks, sand bags, and people in the boat so they can adjust the ballast as needed – sometimes tossing people out into the water to lighten the load!
We made it back to the boat just as the sun was setting, ending a nice day with a beautiful view. I love the picture of Dave on the dinghy dock at the top of the page. Life is good. We decided to leave day after tomorrow for Dominica, so we only have one day left in Guadeloupe. What should we do?