Sunday, June 21, 2015

Exploring Terre de Haut

The most populated island of the five that make up The Saintes is Terre de Haut.  It also has the largest anchorage and protected area although we found that some of the swell was definitely wrapping into the anchorage around the headland to the north.

Mowzer in the anchorage (2nd from the bottom at the left).  Looks all calm now...
As an aside, when I was back in Canada I managed to pick up a sore throat on my last day, and although it seemed to be on the mend the other day in Deshaies it has resurrected itself as a phlegmy chest and cough.  As a result I didn’t feel up to hiking the 1000’ to Le Chameau and the lookout tower, but we did manage to hike up to Fort Napoleon and see some of the other areas of the island around Bourg des Saintes.

Here’s a little history lesson:  The French and the English battled back and forth over these and many other islands over a period of about 200 years.  However, The Battle of The Saintes, fought in 1782 between the two nations essentially established England’s domination in the Caribbean, although today we certainly enjoy the French islands immensely so we’re very happy they managed to regain some of them.  The battle was actually fought in the passage south of the islands and north of Dominica and 7,000 men lost their lives on that fateful day.  Once the French regained the islands a few years later, they wanted to make sure the English couldn’t once again take control so they built a number of fortifications around their holdings, including Fort Napoleon on the north western tip of Terre de Haut.

We set off from the village, past the Doctor’s House that is oddly built like the bow of a ship, walked up the very pleasant roadway to the fort and were quite surprised by the immensity of the site, along with the quality of the restoration.  Along with a very comprehensive museum there is a cactus garden with many labelled plants, just in case you needed to know the French name of those spiny succulents.  There were also reputed to be lots of iguanas, but we didn’t see a single one until we were walking back down the hill to Bourg.

The "Doctor's House", built in the 1940s, still houses the local doctor's clinic.

The immense walls and 'moat' of Fort Napoleon, way up on top of the hill above the harbour.

The garrison, now houses the museum.
A very laid back fellow with beautiful markings.

The elusive Saintoise iguana, in someone's front garden.

After lunch in the village, we took a turn to the windward side of the island where we passed the cemetery and ended up on the beach at the end of the little runway.  We’ve seen a few planes in the air, but nothing came in to land or take off while we were there.

Once again, the silk flower salesperson has made a 'killing'.

Rugged cliffs on the windward side of the island.

A beautiful beach at Anse Grande, but with rip currents and large roller waves, it is off-bounds for swimming and therefore not cleared of the sargasso weed that also comes ashore here.  That's the end of the runway on the right.
Not often you get this view of a runway - unless you're a pilot I guess.

Its amazing what a little French money can do.  Guadeloupe is actually a Departement of France which makes them not just a territory but a full member of the nation.  The soil in Guadeloupe is as French as if you were standing on the banks of the Seine.  As an extension, the commune of Terre de Haut must receive quite a bit of funding as we saw a large college stadium, beautiful roads repaired after Hurricane Lenny impacted the island in 1999, and of all things, an exercise park along one of the roads.

This reminds me of the machines at Goodlife!

If you look through the trees you can see the waves crashing on the beach below.  Hope you're enjoying the view Henry!
Well, this has been just a little slice of what The Saintes has to offer and as with the rest of Guadeloupe we will definitely be back here on the return up the islands.  For now though, this will have to suffice as we are hoping to make our way to Dominica with a weather opportunity on Monday, since after that it will be a bit unsettled for a few days.

Looking southwest across the other islands of The Saintes - lots more to explore and do here!

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