Friday, 19 June 2009

Les Marches des Esclaves

It amazes me how the locals here do not visit their beautiful island! I was horrified to find out that Stella has never been to the lovely calm lagoon at Porte d'Enfer so off we went yesterday to put that right.

On the way we crossed another visit off our list and delved into Guadeloupean history as we stopped at Petit Canal and visited Les Marches des Esclaves (the slaves' steps). In the days of slavery, the boats would pull in at Petit Canal and just metres from the port you can see the steps that they went up before arriving at a market area where they would be examined and branded then finally sold.

There is not much to be seen now and they could certainly add more information panels - we had been told of a prison ruin but couldn't find it either. However, as Bertie said, there was a certain sad atmosphere there that he has never felt anywhere else on the island.

When I was in Senegal many years ago I visited the Ile de Goree where slaves left for the Caribbean, so it was very interesting to see the arrival point and wonder at their impressions and emotions as they pulled up and left the boat.

We left Petit Canal somewhat solemnly and made our way to to the other side of north Grande-Terre, enjoying on the way the sight of fields and fields of sugar cane being cut down by huge machines and then loaded (or often overloaded!) into big lorries called Titans to be taken to the last remaining factory at Gardel. This is the end of sugar cane harvest season normally, but the strike has meant they are very behind and working flat out to catch up.

Porte d'Enfer was pretty empty and after a delicious lunch of chicken and pasta (makes a change from sandwiches!) we enjoyed the sea all to ourselves. It was amazing how the fish would come swimming right up to our toes and inbetween our legs, apparently not in the least in awe of us. Thanks to our high temperatures now, the sea was boiling!

JoJo is getting so confident in the water, he wanders around without being held, right up to his neck! (We stand right by him I hasten to add!) Then he loses balance and falls neatly on his bottom with a splash, always a fun sight!

After our bathe, Bertie climbed a tarmarinier and threw the tamarins down for a rather bemused JoJo to pick up. They are so sour!!! I am not sure who will be eating them! We got magnums instead on the way home....

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