I think the weather is still cold enough to share some more of the welcoming warmth of the Caribbean, especially now that Death in Paradise has left our screens for another year (sniff!).
Guadeloupe has an administrative capital called Basse-Terre, but the happening place to be is Pointe-a-Pitre, right in the centre of the island and not far from the airport. We made a couple of trips there, even braving the transport system and taking the bus in. In previous years everyone used the bus and there were comparatively few cars, but then wham! bang! that scourge of French life, a strike, meant that the buses were out of action for a few weeks and so everyone who could went and bought themselves a car. Hence the buses are quite empty now and the roads are full!
Back to La Pwent, as it is known in creole. When we visit, there is one person above all that we must visit….the man who pushes his brightly coloured cart around town making sinobol! What is that, I hear you ask? Let me explain. Take a huge chunk of ice, scrape at it with a special grater, pop the crushed ice in a plastic cup, add lashings of sirop de menthe and sirop de grenadine for a lovely green/red colour, stick a straw in, and enjoy! Great to suck away at on those hot days, not so great if you are avoiding sugar…
Just behind Bertie in the previous picture is the marché, one section sells fruit and veg, the other gifts, both are very much aimed at tourists. I have been frustrated with presents I have purchased in previous years that have actually been made elsewhere and had Guadeloupe stuck on them, so I made an effort to find genuine local products this time. I am not sure how successful I was but at least they didn’t have “fabriqué en Vietnam” on them! At this market I picked up some local jam and some cute shakers made of coconut shell.
Just behind the market is La Darse, the port area where all the big ships used to come but now they have a different port and this is simply used by fishermen. Here is one of their boats…
…and here is what they are selling – tuna! I am always surprised at how big it is, and that it has any link with what we get out of a tin!
We wandered through the main shopping streets, including the crazy rue Frébault, and couldn’t quite believe how many shoe and clothes shops there were in one small area, not to mention all the Haitian women selling oversized underwear on the pavement in front of the shops! It really is a hustling bustling place, many shops even have an MC standing inside with their microphone announcing to the passing potential customers all the treats there are to find within… When I returned the following week to do wedding shopping with my shopaholic sister-in-law, we went in each. and. every. one. of those shops. Ouch.
If you are in search of some culture rather than shopping, there is the cathedral St-Pierre-St-Paul and the town square, la Place de la Victoire (named for a victory over the English, hmph!) which has a pleasant children’s play area, if you can bear the heat! Nearby is the Musée St-Jean Perse – for all Death in Paradise viewers, they used this colonial house for the episode about Le Clerc and the Deadly Curse, as the place the main pair visit at the start to learn more about local culture.
On this particular occasion, we headed back to the cheaper non-tourist market by the bus station, picked up some pineapple and dried plantain chips, not to mention a well-needed bottle of water, then squeezed into the surprisingly busy bus home.