All the colors of the rainbow

Anse Mitan

Walking up and down the streets of Trois-Ilets, the sweet smell of colombo and massala spices cooking away in small houses, the sound of waves gently crashing on Anse Mitan beach, the lively market stands selling punch and fruit, live zouk concerts here and there, … all these wonderful things have been part of my daily routine this past week.

Unfortunately I have been unable to rent a car due to having a young person’s driving license. To rent a car, one must have at least 3 years driving experience, and I only have a little over a year. On the upside, this will save me quite a few pennies! My main mode of transportation has been the ferry boat which goes from Anse Mitan to Anse à l’Ane (which I have yet to discover!), and then to Fort-de-France. Of course, I have also been walking around a lot, and have come to know the areas of Trois-Ilets and Pointe du Bout very well.

On board the ferry

What is particularly exciting is the fact that the official carnival festivities commence this week, and there are all sorts of events organized in many villages, including the one in which I currently live in. Make-up workshops, parades, stand up shows, a different dress code every day, live concerts, costume fashion shows, … All these events will be happening as of tomorrow, and I will make sure to be in the heart of things and imbibe as much as I can.

Fort de France

On Saturday I had ventured off again to Fort-de-France, and spent the morning roaming around the markets, boutiques selling carnival gear, cathedral, the famous fort and then lounged the beach. In the afternoon, like in Guadeloupe and Tahiti, all the shops close. What is really striking is the fact that in the morning the streets of the capital are heaving with people of all ages, cars, trucks, stands, pets, musicians.. It is almost exhausting just walking from one block to the next. However, once midday strikes, the shops almost immediately close their doors and the streets become completely deserted – only the pigeons shuffle around as the the cathedral bells announce the arrival of the afternoon.

There is so much color every where you go – young women will mix lots of different bright colors in their attire, men tend to wear loud checkered shirts, houses are painted in yellow, orange, pink, purple, green… And all this color adds a genuine touch of gaiety and charm to Martinique’s surroundings. Of course, so do the palm trees, bougainvilleas, hibiscus flowers, banana trees, royal palms, etc… Once again, it seems I have landed in yet another beautiful bountiful island.

Cathedral

I hear a lot of reggae, dancehall and zouk being played on beachfronts, in restaurants, bars, cars. These seem to the most popular genres. I am looking forward to all the live musical performances organized for the carnival, which will be entertaining without a doubt. Also, the weather has been much more inviting than it was at the start of my stay, so fingers crossed, sunshine and warmth will also be on the carnival’s menu.

Rainbow - view from my room

But I am realizing as days go by that I am on my ‘final’ island, and that this tropical adventure of mine is coming to an end… Thus, I am trying to soak in as much as I can before I get on that plane ride back to reality.

Goodbye Guadeloupe it’s Martinique on Monday!

Pointe des Châteaux

I can safely say that I now know the island of Guadeloupe pretty well. I’ve been to Basse Terre, Grande Terre, through the middle, flown over Les Saintes, been up part of the Soufrière volcano, snorkeled around the Réserve Cousteau, hung out of the beaches of Sainte Anne, Bananier, Bouillante, seen the carnivals in Sainte Rose, Pointe à Pitre and Gosier, visited a coffee museum, tasted many rums, eaten various fishes, bokits and coconut sorbets, swam the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans that hug the island’s coasts, been to the Marinas in Pointe à Pitre and Saint François, been to Pointe des Châteaux, the island’s narrowest tip and spoken with locals of all ages.

In terms of musical endeavors, I have seen several spontaneous jam sessions full of percussion and singing, have watched a floury of musical groups parade by during the carnival festivities, have been to a few créole concerts and discussed the topic of Guadeloupian music with residents as well as tourists. Gwo ka, zouk and dancehall are the dominant and popular genres of music here, and they represent Caribbean island culture so well.

It is fascinating how one can become so adapted and used to a place after a few weeks of exploration and discovery. I know my way around the island, I feel somewhat adapted to its culture, I have been to most of the hot spots and also frequented areas hidden from tourists. I feel not like I have visited Guadeloupe but that I have lived here.

The best part of traveling for a month in each island has been the learning. Once I feel like I’ve settled down, I leave and explore a new environment. Many may not see the appeal in this but I love the thrill, the fast pace, and learning how to adapt quickly and open-mindedly to everything which is exposed to me in each and every discovery. I enjoy the fact that I have just started to settle down in Guadeloupe and that I am leaving on Monday to Martinique. Four weeks will be my time limit to consume as much of this last island as I possibly can, before writing my final Tropicalove articles…

Leaving to another island..