While in Guadeloupe, we had rented one of the largest cars that you could rent. It was a Chevy Captiva. As in most European vacation destinations, the car had a manual transmission. Over the course of the week, it had come up in conversation a few times that MJ should really learn to drive stick.
After Flyboarding, as we were driving back to our resort, we didn’t have anything really planned. I spotted a large empty parking lot. I pulled into the parking lot with everyone asking me “What are we doing?”, “Why are we stopping?”. I stopped the car and looked at MJ and simply said “Get Out”. He looked at me and said “Really??”
Hey we were in a different country, the rules of the road were similar to the US, but the customs and signage was different. We were using a rental car with the whole family there to watch. What could go possibly wrong?
After 20min of him bumping and grinding the gears, he began to get the feel for the clutch. Although several times I had to instruct him to “ride” the clutch when starting out. He had a mental block and tried to treat the clutch like the brake or gas pedal.
The whole time we were in the parking lot Cathy didn’t say a word. When I felt he had gotten comfortable with starting the car, up-shifting into second and down-shifting, I told MJ to take the exit from the parking lot. All of a sudden Cathy had a lot to say. “Oh, wait!”, “I’m in the car!”, “You’re not going to have him drive in traffic!!”.
I had MJ drive us the remaining 20min to the resort. He popped the clutch a few times and once had cars behind him honking. I just had him pull over and let everyone go by us. We did get safely to the resort. Both Cathy and the car survived.
What is it like to fly like Iron-Man? Try Flyboarding. We did.
While in Port Louis, MJ and I tried flyboarding for a half an hour each.
The flyboard attaches to the output of a jetski via 3″ firehose. The full propulsion from the jetski lifts you out of the water by your feet.
It took MJ about 10min to get the feel for the balance and get out of the water. It was closer to 15min for me to get my balance. At the highest point we were about 10′ out of the water. The instructor controlled our height with the jetski throttle. I really wouldn’t have wanted to go higher until my balance becomes really really good. It is not that you simply fall 10′ when you lose your balance, the jet boots on your feet drive you in to water.
On Thursday, July 9th, we drove up to Port Louis. The town is on La Grande Terre island, about 45min from our resort. The beach front there was absolutely breath taking.
Port Louis is a sleepy little town. Mid week and most of the streets were quiet.
What brought us over to this town was Flyboarding. We ended up in a small restaurant “Le Marin du Souffleur” for lunch. While the food was very good, in comparison to the rest of the island, we decided it was just ok.
Tuesday, July 8th, in the afternoon we went out on the Nautilus. The Nautilus had windows all around the bottom of the boat so you could get panoramic views underwater. It was a nice relaxing afternoon. We got to go swimming and snorkelling off the boat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.