We left Portsmouth with the intention of checking in at Grand Bourg on Marie Galante. When we were almost there, Pam read in the guide that the Customs office was closed that afternoon, so we headed a bit north to a better anchorage at Saint Louis. Spent a quiet evening on the boat… after all… we couldn’t go ashore, walk around, check the place out, have a beer, ask about auto rentals, etc… without checking in.
|Making fish traps|
|Look out fish!|
We caught a bus next morning to head back to Grand Bourg to check in. Couldn’t find the place so we stopped in at the local constabulary for help. The wonderful French policeman walked us right to the Customs Office door… but it was closed. So he shrugged… we shrugged… and that was that. I guess we’ll try again later.
|Lots of good info from here...|
|Nobody home at the Customs office|
Marie Galante is like a pancake. Dominica is so mountainous that the little farms are carved out of the sides of hills. It is hard to imagine huge sugar and rum operations in Dominica. Not so in Marie Galante. This place is more or less flat… with huge, wide open spaces for plantations. Our guide book says that at one time there were more than 600 windmills crushing sugar cane. Even today, the remains of 73 are visible and one of them works as well as it did 300 years ago.
Pam wanted to rent a car but there was nothing available in Saint Louis. After our bus trip to Grand Bourg we walked around and found a beat-up Peugeot for 30 EC. I think that’s about $2000 Canadian.
These French Islands are so much better off than their little Caribbean counterparts. We mentioned that about Martinique. France has treated their Caribbean Islands to good old French socialism and the people are so much better off than anywhere else down here. Streets are paved, communities clean and thriving. None of the obvious poverty we see everywhere else.
We loaded our recently purchased baguette, cheese, ham and litre of fruit juice and sped off to see the sites. Really happy that we were able to drive around and have a look. We saw the Murat plantation, checked in at the Bellevue Distillery, found the Moulin de Bezard working windmill and most importantly, the Bagg Cash where they have wholesale wine.
|This one's broken|
|Plantation Murat's windmill|
|The mansion... not a bad looking shack?!|
|At the Bellevue Distillery|
|Moulin de Bezard - this one still works, apparently.|
|Another of the 600 that were here at one time|
|Look at how flat and farmable these fields are!|
After a refreshing malt beverage at a local bar we followed up with a visit to the Distillery Poisson (Pere Labat) for some horrible white rum… which we bought for some reason.
|More post cards from Gran!|
|Truly horrible stuff|
|Wonder what's in that blue barrel?|
Lots of site-seeing and fun stops and then back to Saint Louis where we dumped the car and headed back to the boat for a cooling swim, French wine, Smelts-a-la-Glen and a wonderful sleep on Blue Pearl. (Just an aside… we are having the most wonderful sleeps, cradled in Blue Pearl. Very bizarre dreams… both of us… but wonderful sleeps nonetheless.)
We will try again to check in to France… this time at Les Saintes. The French really have a “don’t give a rat’s ass” attitude to borders down here… unlike all the surrounding little island nations.