The View
from Here:
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barts film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.
    February '04
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    A WEEKEND IN GUADELOUPE
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    St Barth is not only an island, it is also a town in Guadeloupe. Hold on, you might say, isn't Guadeloupe another island, someplace else in that archipelago of tiny dots in the ocean they call the Caribbean. Well yes, and I recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Guadeloupe with my husband Rosemond. Rather than stay at the Sofitel "La Vielle Tour" in Gosier where we have stayed in the past, we decided to stay at a romantic looking little place called Jardin Malanga. Their web site looked enticing... nine little wooden cottages set in the fragrant acreage of a citrus plantation, and sweeping views of the sea and neighboring islands, including Les Saintes and Dominica. Naturally Air Caraibes (or Air Caribe as one American was heard to say, making us wonder if the airline was now sponsored by a local brewery) was late in leaving St Barth so we arrived in Guadeloupe as the sun was setting. And it was setting directly into our eyes as we drove the hour or so to our little hideaway in the hills. Guadeloupe is divided into two land masses, Basse Terre and Grand Terre, and to confuse matters even more the capital of Guadeloupe in Basse Terre is, you guessed it, Basse Terre, while the largest city in Grand Terre, Pointe-a-Pitre, is near the airport. Since we had an early morning meeting with the local branch of the French Ministry of Culture concerning funding for the St Barth Film Festival, we opted to stay closer to Basse Terre. And we were not disappointed. Jardin Malanga was all it promised to be, and is run by a charming French couple called Maude and Stephane. He does all the cooking and since by the time we got there, it was too late to go anyplace else, we were grateful that they saved us one of the nine little tables on their covered dining terrace. In the morning we set out for Basse Terre, and after our meeting drove up the mountain to La Soufriere, Gaudeloupe's active volcano. It's a great place to go if the tropical heat and beaches get to you as it's downright cold up there, and a ski parka does not seem out of place on those walking up the mountain to peer into the craters. Then a quick lunch in a local place in St Claude with an archeologist friend, then a long drive up to the Beausejour coffee plantation, where we were doubly disappointed. The plantation is beautiful but we were hoping to meet the owner (who is the aunt of Maya from Maya's restaurant in St Barth) and buy some coffee. Unfortunately both were unavailable that day. From there a drive across the island on a windy mountain road toward Pointe-a-Pitre to attend a local film festival that was celebrating the 150th anniversary of people from India arriving in Guadeloupe. The Bollywood film lasted almost four hours but the action revolved around a cricket match so my even my "sports-reporter" husband stayed awake until the last ball was pitched on that sticky wicket. After the film, the hour drive back to the hotel with a quick stop at a roadside joint where Rosemond ran in for a beer and a bottle of water for me. Back to Jardin Malanga by 1:00am and up the next morning for the same hour drive back toward Pointe-a-Pitre, continuing on to Gosier for a seaside lunch with our nephew and his wife and their newborn daughter (as well as a friend who runs the local mediatheque) then back to the airport. Up and down, and up and down and across the island in our little rented Citroen. It's no wonder St Barth has just voted to separate itself from Guadeloupe. You have to drive entirely too much over there.
    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
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