Little brown hummingbirds are swishing past as we make our way through the jungle. Water is dripping down from the huge trees on the ferns and from there onto the necks of our expedition members. We are dragging heavy wooden boxes. The two scouts in front of us cut through the impenetrable mass of green with machetes. Getting rid of the lianas in front pays us some time for a welcome break. We can put down our precious goods for a few minutes: gems from a Spanish galleon. They were supposed to be transported to her Majesty in Europe. But after a wild and lossy fight, they fell into our hands.
Only an elect few know of this hiding place, the small cave at the foot of the waterfall somewhere in upcountry Karukera ("the island of the beautiful waters" as the locals call it), where gold, emeralds and rubies in all sizes and shapes can be found from our raids. And those elect few will take this secret to their graves...
On your trip through the National park of the French Antilles island Guadeloupe you can easily start fantasizing – even if the expedition members are wearing baseball caps and sneakers instead of pirate bandanas and heavy leather boots and the heavy load they are carrying are in fact camera bags. The "impenetrable mass of green" is actually partly paved and the 110 meter high waterfall is one of the biggest attractions of the peninsula Basse-Terre. We would have really liked to discover the cave of the pirates. Our guide told us about the sulphur spitting SoufriŔre volcano and the hidden treasures from earlier centuries that haven't been found yet. But without the yellowed map with the big X on it, all the imagination in the world won't do.
At least you don't have to worry about cannibalistic natives and English privateers anymore. The only real life-threatening danger are the coconuts falling from the palm trees on the beautiful sandy beaches.
Guadeloupe is only officially part of France since the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
Life here is like in a French province but in Caribbean style: French cars with French number plates, French foodstuffs in the stores are paid for with French Euros. There lingers the smell of fresh baguette as you jog through Sainte-Anne in the early morning hours while the merchants start piling up their melons, papayas, sweet potatoes and mangos on the side of the road. The cuisine of Guadeloupe is a felicitous mix of the Creole and the French cuisine and offers dishes like "Sans Coche", a delicious stew with salted beef and pork, onions, hot peppers, tapioca, dried peas, sweet potatoes, bananas, coconut milk and dumplings. As for drinks, there is a very sweet aromatic fruit punch with quite some local rum.
A Sea Bus tour of one and a half hours leads us to the dreamy neighboring island Marie-Galante where sugar cane is cultivated and processed. The daily production is 2000 tons. A big part of the produce is used for the distillation of tasty rum. Here and on Les Saintes you can find romantic guesthouses, mansions from colonial times and a little more Caribbean flair. That is something you miss a little on the hyperactive main island except for the National park with its 90 different kinds of orchids.
However sunbathers definitely get their money worth. Diving and snorkeling between colorful fish schools at the coast of the peninsula Grande-Terre is an unforgettable experience.