Travels in Guadeloupe part 3: Iles des Saintes

In the last blog I wrote about our time in Basse-Terre. It was very cool, but we didn't spend the whole time there. No, for about the last third we went to a tiny island to the south of Guadeloupe called Iles des Saintes. We liked the look of Iles des Saintes because it was small, you could walk around it in a day. We also thought it would be good to see more of Guadeloupe just to see how thing were done differently. This proved to be a good idea, as Iles des Saintes was very different.

On the boat to Iles Des Saintes. Notice the clouds.

Basse-Terre had a very afro-Caribbean vibe to it, and people were ridiculously friendly. Everyone would say hello to you when you walked by. Forcing me to think about weather I should be saying 'Bonjour' or 'Bonsoir'. This became less stressful with time.

I'm happy because I said the right one. Also I'm eating in the restaurant where they film Death in Paradise.

Also everywhere you went, in taxis in busses in shops people would be listening to the local music like Biguine and Zouke. In the same way that Reggae was invented in Jamaica, Biguine and Zouke are native to the French Antilles. The later being invented by a group called Kassav'. Who wrote the tune "Zouk la sé sèl médikaman nou ni" or "Zouke is the only medicine we have".

Iles des Saintes on the other hand was far more European. Both in climate and culture. The Zouke and Biguine giving way to crappy Bob Marley covers. The climate was much more arid. On Basse Terre is rained every day. Giving rise to rainforest. On Iles des Saintes there was almost no rain. I think island was just too small for clouds to rise up and deposit their water. So instead of rainforest there was desert scrub filled with cacti. Were it not for the hummingbirds you would have thought you were in the Mediterranean.

This was the best picture I managed to get. Probably should have brought a long lens.

In fact at times I began to feel like we were in a JG Ballard novel. Not Empire of the Sun though, one of his later ones. Like Super-Cannes or Cocaine nights.

Cocaine nights

All these factors made it seem like we were on an entirely new and completely different holiday. Which was pretty cool. Also the island was staggeringly beautiful.

The view from our room.

We thought we would try and take in some culture to reflect this. And Iles des Saintes had some pretty cool history. Off it's shores there was one of the most important naval battles of the 18th century. Where the British navy decisively beat the French thus foiling a planned invasion of Jamaica. This battle was actually part of the American Revolutionary War. In fact the French fleet that lost was the same one that had blockaded the British during the battle of Yorktown. As I'm half American and half British I have mixed feelings about this result.

Interesting fact: At the time the island of Jamaica was more valuable than all the 13 colonies put together. Something to do with putting sugar in your tea I think...

I don't want to write about leaving Guadeloupe. It's too soon for me. I need more time to cope with being back in England. In February. So I'll leave it there. But if you like this do please follow me on twitter.

Obligitory holiday lizard.


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