What, Mary? EIGHT days in ONE blog?? That’s just too much. Oh, no….it really isn’t. Welcome to my “vacation” when a) Brian leaves and b) I have to catch up on a crap ton of work.

DAY 1
We packed up and left the treehouse in Martinique at 8am. It was a really rainy morning. Got to the airport and sat there together. Brian was flying to Barbados, then Miami, then Los Angeles. I was flying out an hour and a half later directly to Guadeloupe for my 3 week housesit.

Arrived in Guadeloupe and it was pouring rain. Great. I hate driving as it is, now I have to drive and navigate a foreign country in the rain! Picked up my rental car and hit the road toward Port Louis. The rain stopped just outside of town, and it was an easy and pleasant drive to Port Louis- my home away from home for the next 3 weeks. Like Martinique, Guadeloupe is France. That means good roads and drivers who don’t think trying to run tourists off the road is sport. I pulled up to a large, gated “compound” of sorts, and was greeted by the homeowner, Julie. The home is massive, but is split into different apartments- maybe 5 or so of them. Julie introduced me to the 2 kitties I’d be caring for, and we spent the rest of the afternoon talking about all sorts of things! She is French, but speaks excellent English. Also, she and her boyfriend are both marine biologists! And Julie actually works for a NGO that goes into schools and educates children about the ocean! If you know me, you know I am a serious francophile and even teach a French history course I shot on location in France. Julie took me on a quick driving tour of the little town and the GORGEOUS beach! There are tons of walking paths, one through the mangroves and one all the way to the next town over, Anse Bertrand. I’ll definitely be back here!

Julie started making dinner, a homemade quiche, and her boyfriend came home from work. We sat down, ate a fabulous meal, and talked about marine biology, french history, politics, and more. Seriously, it was like a dream evening!!

DAY 2
Julie works from home, so she worked while I tried to get caught up on my own work. My tailbone wasn’t keen on the patio chair, so I literally went back and forth all day every two hours between the chair and bed. But I got a ton of work done! That night they made coconut chicken in a tomato sauce for dinner that was wonderful! And that ended Day 2. See? Exciting, huh? 😀

DAY 3
Day 3 was departure day for the homeowners. I offered to drive them to the airport, plus I needed to do some shopping as well. They pointed out a Monoprix near the airport. Like Carrefour in Martinique, I know Monoprix from France proper! And it has been known to produce a Dr. Pepper or two!! After I dropped them off, I went back to Monoprix. The parking was ATROCIOUS. So many people, not enough spaces. I drove round and round several times before I got lucky. Went into Monoprix. How do I describe it? Like Whole Foods- lots of the same kinds of things are in different places in the store, you don’t know what the heck 90% of it is, and it’s EXPENSIVE. A roasted chicken that cost $9 in Martinique at Carrefour cost $17 here!! Ok, if they didn’t have Dr. Pepper, I was just going to go find some other place to shop. Went directly to the soda aisle, and heard the angels singing!! Well, only 2 angels. There were 2  bottles on the shelf. $4.50 each. Expensive, but oh so worth it…
So here’s what I ended up with:
2 Dr. Peppers
1 Caramel Chocolate Bar
2 bags of chips
1 bag of rice
1 bag of pasta
1 jar of pasta sauce
2 packs of instant soup
6 bananas
1 bag of frozen green beans
1 pack of butter
1 pack of cheddar cheese
1 stupid expensive deli container of scalloped potatoes that looked so warm and cheesy I couldn’t resist ($8!!!)
24 eggs
1 onion
1 frozen pizza
1 roasted chicken

Grand total? $80!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I bought store brand, not imports. Ouchy. Came back to the house and worked and blogged the rest of the day. And that ended Day 3.

DAY 4
Day 4 was declared a day of “no sitting in chairs or cars”. I’m over this damn tailbone situation. It’s been a week and half since the accident and I’m still hurting. So I literally laid in bed all day, blogged, caught up on 80% of my work (yay!), and hung out with the cats. And that ended Day 4.

DAY 5
Day 5, I needed to get OUT!! I didn’t want to do a major excursion yet. I still want to take it super easy on my tailbone and give it a chance to finally heal without having pressure on it all the time. So I took the car down to the local beach and hiked around. I started by parking at the entrance to the mangrove boardwalk. I knew it was the entrance because fortunately mangrove is the same word in French and English! There was a GORGEOUS boardwalk through the dense mangrove forest, which then opened up into a lovely little path. That path then wound around to a beautiful mudflat. So many little habitats in one small area! So delicate. Best part? There wasn’t a single other soul back there.

A zillion air plants!!

Beautiful mud flat
I snap any wildlife I can. It’s few and far between!

The path eventually put me back out on to the road. I continued walking up it to the end, where there is another path that will take you all the way along the coast to the next town- Anse Bertrand. GORGEOUS empty beaches!! STUNNING tide pools! I really had a blast just wandering along and exploring it all! When the trail wasn’t right on the beach, it was on a wonderful little shaded path. I went a total of 1.5 miles from the car, then turned around and went back. I might get the motivation to walk all the way to Anse Bertrand (about 6 miles roundtrip) one of these days….

Blue Crab (I love this shot!)
STUNNING purple coral, just living in a tide pool!!
Chiton
Cool fish
Another cool fish (took forever to get this shot!)
MASSIVE sea urchin tests!
I ❤ these tide pools!

DAY 6
Day 6, tailbone is actually feeling a little better!! I knew giving it a break would help! However, new problem is that I’m not sleeping very well. My room doesn’t really have any windows to the outside, and it is really hot and stuffy. Even with a fan 3 feet away from me, I’m still uncomfortable at night and it wakes me up a lot. So Day 6 was spent blogging and working (sound familiar??), and following YouTube rabbit holes- in other words, RELAXING! And that ended Day 6.

DAY 7
At home, I am a hermit. A seriously introverted hermit. I live in my house with it’s high ceilings in the living room and huge window that looks out on to my courtyard garden on my 1/3 acre spread surrounded by 6-10 foot high solid hedges, walls and fences (that sounds SO much fancier than it really is. We’ve been in the midst of a massive remodel for 2 years and trust me, nothing is fancy!). No one can see in and I can’t see out and I used to go and teach live classes 1 day a week but the drive is just too much for me (because I’m ridiculous and don’t want to leave home, not because it’s that far!). I’ll go to Lowes to get plants for my yard and to the grocery store once every 2 weeks. Other than that, you need heavy equipment and a major dose of manipulation/convincing to get me out of the house. Crazy that I am also the same girl that travels the world solo!! And when I’m on a long sit and have a lot of work to do, I can easily slip into that mode if there aren’t a lot of really interesting things to do around me. And here’s a good place to have a discussion about my relationship with the Caribbean islands. Caribbean, it’s not you, it’s me. See, I’m not the girl that wants to just hang out on a beach all day. You are great, and you’ll have no problem finding someone to love you! Someone who appreciates that your main offering is sitting on a beach all day. But I need lots of terrestrial wildlife and/or lots of history. And you aren’t meeting my needs. That said, I sat inside and worked all day.

DAY 8
This is officially declared to be “Don’t be a hermit day”!! ROAD TRIP!!! I decided to explore the part of the island called Basse Terre- the mountainous part. Specifically, the southern route. I sat down and plotted out a few things (seriously, it’s hard to find anything that isn’t a beach 😕) that looked interesting and hit the road! I was gone pretty much all day. Found 5 stations on the radio that play 80s American music fairly often, interspersed with French stuff, so at least I could sing along. The best part though was hearing a song that was brand new to me!! It was a rap song- ABOUT KING LOUIS XVI AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION!! WHAT?!!! Some of the history was off, but I forgave it. Came home and researched, and it’s actually a Mel Brooks song from 1981!! LOL!! So fun! Here it is on YouTube. Who knew??

So I’m heading out on my road trip and hit a MEGA traffic jam. Two lane road, and cars backed up as far as I could see at a dead stand still. I sat there for about 15 minutes before I decided there had to be a better way. Turned around and google maps showed me a different route. I swear to god, Google Maps is on a mission to kill me in every country!! It took me off down some crazy dirt road where there was nothing and no one and the grass was so high in the road you knew it was rarely traveled. Of course, then it started to rain. I ended up at a DEAD END. Frustration is an understatement. Somehow managed to turn around and find my way back to another paved road and got back on track. Next time, I’ll sit in traffic.

Dear Google Maps, Just because there are places for car tires to fit does NOT make it a feasible “alternate route”. Love, Mary.

First stop was something that looked cool on the map. Le Parc Archéologique des Roches Gravées. Basically Archaeological Park of Carved Rocks. Who did said carvings? The Arawaks (indigenous people of these islands). When? I dunno. From what I can figure out, around the year 400 or so? What do they represent? I dunno. Why am I so clueless? Well, EVERYTHING was in French. Le sigh. I pulled in, parked, went inside, the guy spoke enough English to tell me to join the tour that had already started. Apparently you can’t just wander through the park alone- you have to have a guide. Bonus score- no entrance fee. The grounds are gorgeous. Seriously. But I stood there kind of smiling and nodding while the very animated guide who everyone thought was hilarious and very knowledgeable based on their reactions did his thing. He pointed at rocks and talked about them. The thing that struck me is that they’re just out here in the open, exposed to the elements!! What the hell, France?! Even Malta has enough sense to put their good shit under huge coverings to protect it. #disappointed

After looking at some rocks, we went on to learning about ancient plants the Arawaks used. I can’t tell you a damn thing about any of it. Le sigh.

If you smash these red seeds in this plant, you can paint your face.
These things were HUGE! Like bigger than my hand. No idea what it is. But I did eat some of it when it was passed around. Tasted kind of nutty.

Back in the car, more driving, made it to the next stop. It was in a guidebook that I have that’s in French. Basically, some kind of lighthouse with cannons. Pointe du Vieux Fort. So….it was a lighthouse….with some cannons….and a nice view.

See the boy in the blue shirt? He’s a jumper. #shudder

Next stop, MONOPRIX!! From what I can gather, there are only 2 on the island. I took the last 2 Dr. Peppers from the one by the airport. I was praying this one would have like 10 or so. Three. Sold. At any price at this point…. And some snacks for the road.

Back on the road to the next point on the map. Anse a la Barque. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but Anse means cove. And everything to see or do here starts with Anse…. Granted, it was very pretty. But what do you DO here??

My little car 🙂

Next pinpoint was supposed to be some kind of hot pools. Ravine Thomas Bain Chaude. Parked and followed the signs. The pool was full of locals, I stuck out like a sore thumb, I wasn’t about to take pictures of them to get a picture of the pool, so I turned around and walked back. Woo. Hoo.

Brian, I’ve found our next remodel. Oceanfront.

It was time to turn from the coast and head inland over the mountains. It was pretty, but not Dominica pretty. And I know there’s no wildlife, so it’s not like a jungle in Costa Rica that I can stare at and imagine what kinds of things might be out there!! Last dot on the map was for Cascade Aux Ecrevisses. Basically, a waterfall. It was JAM PACKED. No parking in the lot, and cars parked up and down both sides of the road. I found a spot and walked to the falls. Pretty spot, too crowded, turned around and went back to the car. Le sigh.
And that was it. Drove back to the house just before it got dark. I was out for about 8 hours and this is all I did. It felt more like a checklist and enjoying myself. Tailbone was thrilled to be out of the car. At least the cats were happy to see me!

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