27 June, 2016

Belle-Ile-en-Mer, Marie-Galante...

This title is the start of an iconic 80s song by French singer Laurent Voulzy. It lists names of isolated islands from around the world, comparing their isolation with the feelings of the mixed-race singer given his difficulties of cultural and racial assimilation into French society. To me however, the island-themed refrain has always had a more exotic pull to keep visiting fascinating sites all around the world.

I have just come back from Marie-Galante, an island of the French Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe. The diversity of landscapes on the three islands I visited in Guadeloupe is astonishing: sugar cane fields on high plateaux with cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to the East; lush tropical gardens in the steep valleys of the central part of Grande-Terre; rainforest ecosystem on the Soufrière volcano descending nearly directly to the Caribbean Sea to the West of Basse-Terre.

I had a very restful time trekking along the footpaths in different types of ecosystems, scuba diving with sea turtles and all kinds of fish, kayaking in the bird-rich northern sea lagoon. Over the ten days I stayed there, I ascended the Soufrière volcano at 1 460m and descended five times to 20m below sea level as per my current diving limits. The local fruits and seafood were delicious. The sun shone most of the time. All this made this trip a wonderful pre-Summer off-season holiday.

The only thing that was surprisingly missing was music. On the evening of the Fête de la musique on 21 June, it was raining very hard on Marie Galante. Every body stayed at home...

Belle-Ile-en-Mer, Marie-Galante
Laurent Voulzy,
Belle île en mer 1977/1988, Sony