Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Donkey At My School

The donkey at my school goes hee haw a lot. There is people that live at the house with the donkey and I think that the donkey wakes up all the people at their house in the morning. The donkey is tied up close to the road by my school. At school I hear him when I am working and I hear him when I have recess and I hear him when my teacher is reading a story and I hear him when the parents pick up their kids. And the donkey scared Odin. Some people in my school laughed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Cows

In our neighbour's backyard I saw three cows. They are on a leash. We see lots of cows in Guadeloupe, but no milk cows, only meat cows. And they are all on a leash. I've seen cows on the beach, and on the soccer field and beside the road. They are usually eating grass and there is a kind of bird that keeps care of the cows. The bird is white and looks like a crane. This bird stands beside a cow, and sometimes on the cow, and likes to eat bugs. In French he is called a garde boeuf which means take care of meat cow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Beach of a Weekend

Saturday we beached at Plage des Raisins Clairs. This beautiful white sand, swimming beach is just 5 minutes drive from us.  The boys love to kick the ball around in the wide expanse of sand. Floating in the water is so relaxing (check out Odin below), and many locals grab a tube and just hang out for hours in the water.  Young boys are also in to surfing the waves along the shore.  They run, drop the board on the sand and catch a wave. So fun to watch.

Sunday we went exploring and so glad we did. Past Saint Francois we followed the signs toward Pointe aux Châteaux and stopped along the side of the road. We followed a trail through the trees to the shore, and came across a beautiful protected cove.  The sand was nice, the waves were not overpowering and lots of room to play catch with Stanley.  Just up over the rocky cliffs we found a shallow pool, with waves crashing into a blowhole showering water upon us.  I felt like a mermaid! Such a delightful spot. We can't wait to share it with visitors.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Zoo in Guadeloupe

At the zoo in Guadeloupe I saw some raccoons. There were about 19 raccoons in the zoo behind the fences and they all came over to say hi to us. I liked the green parrot talking to Peter. He was loud. I saw one jaguar. I saw turtles swimming and some sitting and lots walking. There were also crabs walking right on the walkway in front of us. I like walking on the ropes in the trees, and I liked playing on the playground in the middle of the tall trees.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Not Hallowe'en, but Toussaint

Hallowe'en is a favourite holiday of ours. In Toronto we delight in creating costumes, carving pumpkins and decorating the house. The excitement of trick or treating is as much for admiring the efforts of our neighbours and saying hello, as it is for the junk food haul. As Hallowe'en is not celebrated here in Guadeloupe we celebrated a few of our cherished traditions on our own. The kids threw together some costumes and we did some impromptu trick or treating around our home. Instead of our usual post-treat pig-out dance party, the kids jumped in the pool for a night swim, then we finished off the night with our favourite Hallowe'en stories.

This time of year is devoted to Toussaint, the All Saints celebration. Families spend the week prior to November sprucing up their family cemetery plots (which are above ground). Beginning the evening of Nov 1 the cemeteries are open and welcoming. Snacks and flowers are sold at the entry way.The dark night is lit up with candles on all the graves. Family and friends gather around their plots with flowers and rum to pray, give thanks, and reminisce about the good old days. There was such a powerful sense of community and belonging among the candles and we truly appreciated the opportunity to experience this unique Guadeloupe tradition.

Busy in Basse Terre

School's out for the week so we loaded up the six seater Fiat. I've never seen this type of vehicle before, with six full size bucket seats - Peter suggested that Homer Simpson designed it.

Our daily excursions took us exploring in Basse Terre.  The Botanical Garden is located just outside Deshaies in the northern tip of the island.  The gardens were suggested to us by our first landlady Francine, and they were as delightful as she described.  A winding path took us through a goldfish pond, fountains, and beautiful landscapes. Each of the trees and plants were identified by species and country of origin. The kids loved reading the country names. This place is specifically designed for kids with a playground featuring swinging vines and climbing equipment plus a petting zoo. I was a little unnerved by the free range chickens wandering around the picnic area - I have a thing about birds.

Mammelles Parc - Zoo is a jewel of a find carved into the side of the mountain. Small in scope but well designed and thoroughly enjoyable. Best of all were the rope bridges winding through the tree canopy overlooking zoo exhibits. This was a little slippery as it was raining when we were trekking through the zoo, but so exciting wandering through the leafy green trees.

The Cascade aux Ecrevisses hike was not a challenging walk, but the dip in the clear fresh waterfall was so worth the stop. We do look forward to more hikes throughout the National Park however, I think we may wait until after the rainy season.

The Glass Bottom boat in the Jacques Cousteau Water Reserve was located at the Maldure beach, which is a dark sand beach and very touristy.  Second only to St. Anne in regards to buildings, and tourist shops and services. The boat was super and all the kids loved being down below watching the fish swim around us. At Pigeon island we stopped for a snorkel and swim.  Xavier went with Peter to snorkel around the rocks. Odin couldn't wait to jump off the boat and swim around.  He even went off the slide at the back of the boat - no lifejacket or adult needed - an adventurous 3 year old indeed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Into The Woods We Go

 Guadeloupe is home to an expansive protected parkland on Basse Terre. This National Park of Guadeloupe is a rich rainforest with volcanic mountains, waterfalls and excellent hiking trails throughout. We read through the guidebooks looking for an appropriate path for our family to take - 2 adults, one carrying infant in Baby Bjorn, 3 boys aged 9, 5, 3, and our dog Stanley.  We chose one labeled Easy that begins at the base of the volcanic mountain La Soufrier.
We headed through the town of St Claude and followed the steep road up to the starting point. There did not seem to be any signs, however, we were able to follow a clear cobblestone road.  Four barking dogs came out to welcome us as we passed a farm house. The rooster and chickens ran around us as we continued along the path.  It took us past fields and up and up until the path seemed to disappear.  We stopped at the top of the hill for a drink break and a snack and took pictures of the stunning view. We were all pretty excited by our successful first hike and headed back to the car.
On the windy drive back down the mountain we noticed a curious sign directing us down another road. It seemed to be indicating an official hike. This entry point had a map and a sign. This was indeed the trail we had been originally looking for.  We felt a little sheepish as we realized we had just spent an hour hiking and picnicking in some farmer's field.

Anyway, this hike was delightful. We followed a clear pathway through the leafy green forest until we arrived at the riverside. We continued along the rocks to the lovely Matouba waterfall. Water spurts out of the gully and spills into a deep basin. I stayed on the lower rocks at the river's edge with baby Milo, Odin and our dog Stanley as Peter took the older boys up and over the cliff. They loved climbing the rope ladder to the next level.
After a successful day traipsing through the woods we headed to the beach for a quick cool down before dark.  We are looking forward to going on more hikes together, however, this time I think we will remember to bring the map!