Disclaimer: There are probably too many pictures in this post!
Somehow this small village on the western coast of Guadeloupe has captured our hearts. We have been here four times in the last year, as a destination, a resting point, a respite from seas and just because we like it.
Each time we stay in Deshaies, we find something new to like. This trip it was Au Jardin Botanique; the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are a steep uphill walk on the road to the right of the dinghy dock for about 1.5 kilometers. It is well worth the arduous walk as the presentation of the plants is fabulous.
Looking back toward the entrance after the ticket gate.
I wish I could tell you about all the plants we saw in the pictures I will post below but, my knowledge is sorely lacking and ALL of the printed information was in French. I SO WISHED my sister-in-law, Emily Stich, was with us. Emily is an accomplished florist and she is fluent in French. Tell me this isn’t the perfect place for Em to visit with us?!
So pretty it looks fake!
We readily admit, our high school French is insufficient, but we managed to read bits and pieces of the posted signs or perhaps we just made up what we thought the signs said. Regardless, we spent a solid 3.5 hours wandering the grounds and admiring the beauty and variety of plants represented.
Frank closely examined the plants!
Each of the signs told the indigenous country of the fauna and the number of countries represented was huge. We didn’t see many from the good old U.S., although our friends on Escape Claws and Sail Pending said they saw several in the desert section. By the time we got to the desert, we had absorbed all we could and we were ready to walk back to LIB.
This photo is for my MIL, Jackie, who loves Bougainvillea!
In addition to flowers, trees and water features, the gardens had a few birds. These flamingos were the only thing in the whole place that I thought needed something…. perhaps a bit of shrimp or algae to add some pink?
Most captive flamingos need a little pinking.
Somehow these birds made me think of Mission Impossible.
I have posted all these photos to demonstrate the variety of colors, the vibrancy of the blooms and some unique leaves in the gardens. I hope you enjoy the pictures even without documentation.
One of my favorite scents – Plumeria
Isn’t this cool?!
This plant is a little “twisted!”
Pictures of the individual species are beautiful, but they were even more stunning in the gardens because the plants were arranged to accentuate the colors, textures, similarities and differences of one another so well. If you stop in Deshaies, a visit the botanical gardens is worth the effort.
I hope you enjoyed this post. It is light on facts but long on beauty.
Our last evening in Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
Okay, let’s admit right now, we do not have much passage experience, so “longest yet” for us is nothing for many others.
Still, we are doing our best to build our experience at a reasonable rate and not jump from square one to 10, thereby skipping the learning in between. This sail was an excellent next step for us.
Our first overnight passage was from Virgin Gorda, BVI to St. Martin (84 nm) and that went very well. We had a great weather window with almost flat seas which made our maiden overnight excellent.
Our second passage was from St. Bart to Antigua (80+nm) and, like the first one, was an upwind sail. So the wind angle and seas weren’t perfect but we made it and added to our experience.
This last sail was from Guadeloupe back to Virgin Gorda, BVI and a total of 202 nautical miles. I know that isn’t a long distance for many cruisers, but it was a perfect step for us since we are fairly green and we don’t yet live on Let It Be.
Happily, once again we had an excellent weather window and this time we were with the wind and waves which made me a very happy 1st mate – especially since I did not get sea sick this time!
So what do cruisers see and do on passages? Well, of course we see a lot of this:
Ocean, ocean and more ocean.
But often we saw other islands, some we had visited on our way south and others we just didn’t have time for on this trip.
Hmm, I am pretty sure this is Montserrat.
We spent the night listening to music or audiobooks, but also staring at the sky because the beauty there is beyond description. The stars are truly innumerable when earthly lights don’t interfere and the sundeck is the perfect spot to watch for shooting stars.
This trip Frank trolled for fish and managed to land a skipjack tuna! We have had several hits on the line and were unable to land any fish, but success was finally ours.
Frank is thrilled with his catch!
Some friends have asked us what the difference was and how Frank was able to land this fish. In other words, do we now have the “secret” for catching fish? Well this picture might give away the secret:
Frank kneeling to the sea gods as he reels in the fish.
Truly I jest…. we do not have the secret, but hopefully just as our experience will make us better sailers, practice will make us more successful fishermen.
This trip we had our first and second visit by dolphins! So often I have heard about dolphins visiting boats but experiencing it firsthand was thrilling. They glide and jump and dart about with so little effort and with amazing speed.
Jumping in front of the bow.
They are literally right below the forward beam!
Both times the dolphins played alongside and in front of our boat. The first pod consisted of about 10 dolphins. The second pod had closer to 15 dolphins and they swam with us for a solid 10 minutes. We both wished we could jump in the water and swim with them.
Other activities that consume time on a passage…. sail handling! Those who know Frank, know he has plenty of energy, so we tend to tweak and test sails often. We sailed with a main and jib, we sailed with a jib only, we sailed with a spinnaker. Yep, we played with all the toys. But that keeps Captain Frank busy and we learn in the process.
Virgin Gorda, BVI
After a pleasant 28 hours of sailing, Virgin Gorda was in sight. We had survived our longest sail to date with no serious issues, thank God.
Returning to the BVIs was similar to returning to familiar streets after a long driving vacation; you have had a really great trip, but it’s also nice to be home.
The main street of Deshaies.
WOW! What a fabulous day we have had here in Deshaies. This small fishing village has a strong French feel and very little English is spoken. Needless to say, our communication is poor since we don’t speak much French, but that hasn’t prevented us from having fun!
Church bells ring at the hour and half hour!
Today began with 8 am Mass. Fortunately all Catholic Masses have the same format and I had my on-line missal with todays readings and Gospel in hand. Without it we would have understood almost nothing. Once the Mass was complete, the priest and congregation immediately began an additional service of some sort. I am not sure why or what the significance was as the only thing I understood was the Litany of Saints. All told, we were in church for two hours. We enjoyed some delightful music and were able to receive Communion for the first time in weeks.
After Mass, we decided to take a walk we read about in the Chris Doyle Leeward Islands guide book. The book said “anyone ready for a cool, shady scramble should follow the Deshaies River as it winds its way into the mountains.”
Create your own path on this beautiful stream.
Well this “scramble” is actually a pretty intense hike as we had to traverse over, under and around boulders. The “path” is not marked and this hike is really an opportunity to get in touch with your inner child and explore a river without having your mom reminding you to be careful and not go too far!
After a solid two hours of rock hopping, we found the road that would allow us to walk home. However, the guide book also said the very adventurous could carry on another few minutes to reach the furthest point along the river. Have you ever known us to stop before completing a challenge? Onward!
It was a shady climb.
End of the line….
About 20 minutes past the road, we found “the end” which was a crystal clear waterfall on the backside of a cave that opened into a small circular area before cascading down through the rocky river. Also a perfect place for a very chilly swim!
Looking out from the cave.
After a total of nearly 3 hours of hiking, we started our walk back to Deshaies via a road. One of the first things we encountered was a retreat or convent of some kind called St. Michael the Archangel. It was a beautiful, peaceful area that included an outdoor Stations of the Cross and a shrine to Mary!
The photo doesn’t capture the serenity of the setting.
There are 10 “beads” between each post; a giant rosary!
After this point, the road descended pretty quickly past houses, dogs, cows and chickens. We were quite happy to reach the dock and dinghy back to LIB!
Frank and Captain took naps while I enjoyed some quiet time reading and watching the sun set.
I thought this would be the end of the day.
One more trip to grass for Captain led us to discover that June 21st is the Festival of Music in France and in Deshaies. So off we went, back to town to enjoy a walk down main street to check out the celebration.
The largest ensemble we saw.
The group with the most unique sound.
There were five tents interspersed along main street and each held a unique musical offering. We enjoyed strolling along and stopping to hear the various groups.
I have to admit, sitting on a street curb, listening to a local orchestra with a quarter moon shining in the night sky was rather enchanting.
I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to experience such a variety of places and people!