Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baguettes and Best Yets

     In Deshaies there is a small main street with colourful shops and restaurants. The local shops open early and break for several hours over lunch, so motoring in early in the morning is a must to purchase produce from local farmers and baked goods from the shops. While dusting off their basic French skills to purchase fresh produce, Mom and Dad found some amazing baguettes brought fresh from a bakery every morning. Since this delectable discovery we've been gorging ourselves on fresh bread smeared with nutella on a daily basis. The first day they returned with three baguettes, but they quickly vanished, so yesterday they upped the number to four and we still managed to eat them all in one day. Our logic was that they go hard by the next day, but it wasn't exactly a struggle to finish them off.

     The road leading south from the village of Deshaies climbs steeply over a peak and disappears into the mountainous distance beyond the Jardin Botanique de Deshaies. On a rainy day, Sarah, Dad and I hiked up this hill with cameras in hand to visit the sprawling, lush, overgrown tropical gardens. Our cruising guidebook captures the essence of these magnificent gardens when it says, "This is a perfect botanical garden - nature with a dash of theatre." Nestled among the overflowing tropical greenery and carnival-esque colours of the flowers you can observe the dramatic shenanigans of koi, flamingoes, parrots and a multi-coloured bird called a Lori de Swainson. If you spend .50 Euros for a small cup of bird food, the purple and yellow headed Lori De Swainsons will proceed to land all over your head and arms, nudging their way towards the cup in the most comical way. Even if you don't have any food, if you approach someone with any the birds will land on you all the same, leaving you laughing and hoping they don't leave anything behind when they fly off.

     Along the coast of Basse Terre there are several bays where boats can tuck in for the night. Yesterday we sailed to Pigeon Island and the Cousteau Underwater Park. It is by far the best spot we've snorkeled yet, right up there with "the Indians" and Norman Island in the BVIs. Pigeon Island, Petit Ilet and a brief stretch of the coast at Pigeon Island anchorage combine into an underwater amusement park with hundreds of colourful fish and corals. Between the two islands the water is a bright blue, but as the water deepens fingers of darker blues blend together. Over one short snorkeling session we saw practically every fish we've seen yet on this trip, all in one fantastic location. Floating a few inches above large parrotfish and black durgon felt like swimming in an aquarium. Among the creatures sighted were a snake-like sharptail eel, large squid, and a flat place camouflaged among the rocks. It was a site well worth visiting despite the rolly overnight anchorage we were forced to contend with.

     Pictures of the Jardin Botanique and our hike up Riviere de Deshaies will follow when the internet improves, but so far it has been weak everywhere along the coast. In the meantime, check out pictures from our drive around St. Kitts on the "Travel Photos" side bar. Over the weekend we will continue sailing down the coast of Basse Terre to explore a small group of islands south of Guadeloupe called The Saintes.

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