Tuesday, February 20, 2007

January 19, 2007 - Antigua to Guadeloupe

Jolly Good. After a few days of hanging out in English Harbor, enjoying museums, a laundry, bookstores, roti stands and pizzerias, it was time to make tracks. We had a stunning sail down to Guadeloupe from Antigua: perfect tradewind sailing, 15 - 20 knots across the beam, easy line of sight navigation with Antigua behind us, a smoldering Montserrat to starboard, and Guadeloupe dead ahead. It was easily the best day of sailing that we've had on Mata'irea. And I was finally smart enough to remember to take a Stugeron before we left, so that I could enjoy the whole thing.

We’re anchored in Deshaies. We met a couple from Vancouver who had come to Guadeloupe to practice their French. They are the first non-cruiser tourists that we’ve talked to in weeks. And they were kind enough to lead us over to the grocery, where we stocked up on cheese, yogurt and baguettes. When the folks from Vancouver asked us how long we planned to do this, we experienced, for the first time since leaving Boston, that old familiar look of stunned confusion as they wrapped their minds around the idea of living on a boat for several years.

We spent our only full day in this harbor visiting a botanical garden with tropical plants from all over the world. As we looked at the species labels we thought about all the places that we are going to visit over the next few years. Even beyond the borders of the garden, the island is full of flowing plants and hummingbirds feasting on flowering trees. The lush landscape is so different than the rather arid islands that we’ve visited so far.

At sundown on each of the two nights that we spent in this harbor, a man on a swiss-flagged catamaran heralded the sunset by playing taps on one of those long (approximately 10 feet) horns that you see in the Riccola commercials. It was a hauntingly beautiful sound. The anchorage did not acknowledge the performance on either night. Maybe everyone was just letting the sound wash over them.

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