Sea Trek

Tuesday, July 7th, Jill and I took a  Sea Trek Adventure.  Originally I was calling it SNUBA, but after getting home I found out that Sea Trek and SNUBA are different.  Both are surface supplied air with an avg depth of 15′.  But SNUBA is more free swimming where Sea Trek is all contained in a helmet and you walk on the bottom.

 

We were in the water for about 30 minutes.  There was some coral and a lot of sponges.  I always like diving with tropical fish.   I love the variety of fish on the reefs. You need to be attentive and look in the crevasses. The fish tend to seek protection and don’t always swim in the open. We even got to see a couple of seahorses.


Being Jill’s first time underwater, it was exciting to she her reactions.  The first half of the dive, I don’t think she much of the reef or fish.  She was enjoying the novelty of being underwater and being able to breathe.  During the second half of the dive Jill started to look around.

In the last few minutes of the dive we came across a small jelly fish.  The divemaster started handling the jelly fish.  This species of jelly fish obviously didn’t have any stingers.  He brought the jelly fish over to Jill so she could cup it in her hands.  talk about exciting!

On the dive I did bring my new GoPro, however I screwed up the case and the camera got flooded.  Fortunately the divemaster also had a GoPro we were got some video of us under water. The pictures above were individual frames taken from the video that we did get.  At some point I’ll put together a short video clip of it and post it.

 

Bouillante

On Wednesday, July 8th, we drove to the town of Bouillante.  It is on the western side of Basse Terre island.  From the town of St. Francois, where we were staying, Bouillante was about as far away as you could drive.  It took a full 2 hours and we had to drive over highway D23, which cut through the northern end of Parc National de la Guadeloupe.

Highway D23 is a twisty two lane mountainous road that wanders across the island.  Our car was a 6 speed manual.  At one point I turned to MJ and made the comment that I was being forced to really drive the car.  I had to constantly up-shift or down-shift with each curve and hill.

The trip was worth it.  The beach in Bouillante was pristine.  The sand had a lot of ground up obsidian mixed in, so it was a very dark brown.  Of course with the new camera, I had to play.  I sat the camera on the beach  blanket and took a picture of Pigeon island.  you can see the light and dark sand grains.

 

Mallory

While MJ and Jill were wind surfing and I had the camera going, Cathy struck up a conversation with one of the locals, Mallory.  He was the same age as MJ and was just accepted into University.  He has his private pilot’s license and wants to study to become a commercial airline pilot.  He had been wanting to practice his English speaking, so he ended up talking to Cathy for about 2 hours.

Turns out his grandmother ran one of the local restaurants.  After wind surfing, we ate lunch at his grandmother’s place.  Very nice restaurant where all the local workers went to eat.  The food was fabulous.  Even Jill enjoyed the Columbo de Poulet (grilled chicken in curry with rice).  Cathy and I almost fainted when Jill finished the whole plate and then commented on how good it tasted.

 

Wind Surfing

On Tuesday, July 7th, Jill wanted to go wind surfing.  MJ thought it was going to be to hard to learn, but since we were at the beach and Jill was going, MJ joined her.

MJ of course had to translate the instructions from French to English for Jill.

 

But they both ended up getting on the boards.  The first 30 minutes were spent learning to balance on the board and lift the sail out of the water. They quickly got the hang of it and were able to sail away from the beach.

 

McDonald’s

On our way to Parc National de la Guadeloupe, MJ spotted a McDonald’s.

I was quickly over ruled and forced to stop.

Surprisingly the cheeseburger was really good.  Apparently a lot of the ingredients are locally grown on the island.  The cheeseburger had a real slice of tomato and onion.  The roll was not the life-less doughy garbage you get in the US.  Instead it had flavor, it was also square shaped.

Parc National de la Guadeloupe

Monday, July 6th, we visited the national park on Basse Terre island.  The national park contains an active volcano, some thermal vents and the Carbet waterfalls.  The Carbet waterfalls consists of three distinct falls that have drops of 410′, 360′ and 66′.  Pictured to the left are the first two waterfalls.

The actual volcano is not reachable by the general public.  The thermal vents can be reached by a very arduous trail from the other side of the park.

The hike from this vantage point to the lower falls was 30min.  To get the the upper falls was an additional 1 1/2 hour hike.  The hike into the lower falls had steep terrain.

As we hiked to the lower falls, the kids decided to take a brief swim in one of the many pools.  The water was very cool relief from the 90 degree heat and 74% humidity.

The drive to the starting point of the hike was an adventure all by itself. The road was considered a two lane road, but was wide enough for one small European styled car.  It was windy and very steep.  At several points I had to floor the gas and ride the clutch to get the car to move up some of the steep grades.  Adding to the adventure, there was really no signs pointing the way, no guard rails and several hair pin turns that turned everyone’s knuckles white.

Really love the new Camera

d5500For the Guadeloupe trip, I bought a new Nikon D5500 camera.  Our old camera was a Nikon Coolpix 5400 that was 12 years old, 5mb pixel camera.  The D5500 is a 24mb pixel with two lenses.  The primary lens is a 18-55mm Nikkor DX.  The zoom lens is a 55-300mm Nikkor DX.  This is a big upgrade from the old coolpix, which served us well.

The new camera has a built-in wifi feature that allows a smartphone to connect to it.  From the smart phone you can view the images on the camera and you can trigger the shutter.  Remotely triggering the shutter is great for taking long exposure photos.

I took this picture of the moon from our balcony on Sunday night.  Using the 18-55mm lens set to a focal length of 24mm.  The aperture was set to f/3.5, the shutter speed was set to 2 seconds and the ISO was set to 1600.  I used a tripod and the remote trigger from my smartphone.

 

I took a similar picture on Friday night without the moon. I used the 18-55mm lens set to 24mm.  The aperature was set to f/3.5, shutter speed was 5 seconds and the ISO set to 400.  I also used a Cokin 8 point star filter to add the starburst effect.

 

 

St Anne and St Francois

On Sunday we toured the towns of St Anne and St Francois.  The towns are about 20km apart and both are on the ocean.  We also drove out to the tip of Grand Terre island, Pointe des Chateaux.

St Anne is a small but up beat town.  The main street has plenty of shoppes and street vendors.  There are plenty of places to eat.  The food is a combination of traditional french cuisine and creole.

 

Streets of St Anne:

St Francois is a sleepy town with minimal shopping. The food in St Francois is outstanding.  The center of St Francois is the harbor.

Ask for the check???

Our first night we went out for dinner.  Cathy and I do not speak French.  However MJ is able to hold a brief conversation and Jill knows a few words.  Never realized how bad the language gap would be.  I figured they would speak some English.  Nope.  Notta.

We ate at a restaurant, Kamate, just outside the resort.  Dinner was excellent.

After dinner Cathy and Jill went back up to the room while MJ and I finished our drinks.

I asked MJ to get the check.  He spoke to the waitress asking for the check.   The waitress looked at him weird and asked him his age.  He told her that he was 19, but he was asking for me because I didn’t speak French.

The bartender walks over to the table about 5 minutes later.  He hands me a double shot glass.  I look at MJ and asked him what did he request.  He says he asked for the check.  “Obviously not” was my response.

At first the smell reminded me of a single malted scotch.  I’m thinking this could cost me anywhere from $8 to $30 depending on the scotch he ordered.  As I tasted the drink, it was very smooth.  I started to get worried that this could be a after dinner cognac and it could be more than the $30.

I drank 1/2 of the drink.  MJ finished the remaining 1/2.  Yes, the drinking age is 18 in Guadeloupe, so MJ could legally drink.

After we finished are surprise drink, I walked up to the bar to speak to the bartender who could speak some english.  As I paid the bill, I found out that the shot MJ ordered was a $6 Jack Daniels.  Whew.

We are still not 100% sure how the waitress thought we wanted a shot of Jack Daniels instead of the check, but the next day we did make sure to find out the correct way to request the bill.