After two weeks in Pointe a Pitre, we are finally moving on tomorrow. There’s not a lot to recommend PaP apart from its calm harbor and access to multiple chandleries and other shopping. We’ve stocked up on boat supplies and groceries for the trip down the chain; hopefully, this is the last big shopping we’ll have to do for a while, as our finances are in a bit of a crunch after Philip’s trip home and the TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS in taxes I had to pay to the District of Columbia yesterday. Yikes! Apparently, unlike the feds, to whom we owed nothing (thank God), DC doesn’t subtract sales of stocks from your taxable income if you’re low income, so we were taxed on the two bunches of stocks we sold to pay for the rigging and the engine work. Sigh. So now I have to sell more stock to pay our taxes.
I did get in a couple of trips downtown to the fish, veggie and spice markets. I’m thrilled that we’re far enough south that there is local produce and fish available, although it’s not cheap: at least $11 a pound for fish and a big bag of veggies that should last a bit less than a week was also about ten bucks. Not quite as much as DC farmers’ market prices, but not as cheap as Des Moines prices, either. (Except the fish. Fish in Des Moines is just generally not recommended. Stick to the pork.) The markets themselves were gorgeous. The fish vendors are set up right along the harbor wall, their fresh wares glistening on ice as they cut huge tranches of dorado, tuna, and swordfish to order. There were boxes of parrot fish, those delightful turquoise, pink and yellow fish I can’t imagine eating because I think of them as my little friends while snorkelling. I even saw a box of lobster, a delicacy that you can’t really find for sale further north because the restaurants buy them all up. Of course, at $37 a kilo, I won’t be sampling them either.
At the vegetable market, under yellow umbrellas, the gaily-clad women hawked their wares to a crowd of locals and tourists. Their tables were packed full of an amazing variety of really fresh produce – none of the miserable supermarket veggies that travelled from California to Miami to San Juan to St Thomas before ending up, a week and a half later, wilting on the shelf in a St. John supermarket. A little further down the street, under a traditional open-air market roof, even more insistent vendors touted their spices and homemade mixes of flavoured rum. Everywhere you looked, you saw the characteristic local red and gold plaid fabric: the market vendors’ dresses, the creepy little dolls for sale on the street, the odd dresses adorning rather frightening looking mannequins outside the shops, and the cloth baskets that contained all the spices for sale.
However, apart from the market, there’s not much to do around here, so we’ve been focused on getting ready to go south: fixing the outboard engine, provisioning, and doing finances while we still have fast internet. Pointe a Pitre is a big city, and comes with the attendant polluted waters and four-lane highways; I can’t wait to get somewhere where I can swim and hike again. That said, I’ll miss the still, flat, glass-like conditions we’ve enjoyed at night here; it’s nice to be able to sleep soundly.
We did have a delightful evening last night when a couple of young (our age) cruisers from the UK pulled up right next to us. We hung out all evening, laughing and drinking way too much Ti Punch. Sadly, they were headed north at 4:30 this morning – I hope that all that rum didn’t make it too hard to get up!
Tomorrow, we hope, we’re off to the Saintes, a group of islands 18 miles south of here that are part of Guadeloupe; we’ve heard rave reviews about them from everyone we meet.