Tag Archives: French Caribbean

☀️ #51 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Martinique” 🇲🇶 (2018)

Martinique logo

 Bonjour mes amis (Good Morning My Friends) and welcome to Martinique! 

Sorry but Sarah & i took no photos at all on the very wet shore excursion. Yes even i was in my wet gear (last time ever) and we had no water proof cameras. But this is a must read and a gripping drama of an adventure we’ll never forget! 

Side note…Although it’s called a post it’s actually more like a short story. So settle back with your favourite beverage and enjoy the drama! 😨  

Let’s have a look and see where we are going… 

Kayaking Mangroves Martinique

Had your fill of sunbathing and swimming? This is one for the more active crowd. You’ll first travel to a nearby islet to pick up your kayaks. And with paddles at the ready, you’ll head off into the quiet mangroves. You’ll be in the water about 40 minutes, gliding under tropical canopies. And red and black mangrove trees sprout from the water. Guides are on hand to make sure you get the most out of the day and help you perfect your technique. Plus there’s plenty of time to chill with a fruit juice, or swim in the sea before taking the boat back to the ship.

On the dock and boarding the boat…

After another lovely breakfast we left the ship and joined our excursion guide on the dock. We stood waiting for a while and started talking to a lovely man and his grandson who he was taking on our trip. When the man knew i was registered blind and still kayaking and swimming he seemed to relax a little. Yay i can help without helping! 😀  

We were then guided onto a small fun boat, it had a totally flat and wide floor (like a dance floor) so was easy for me to get on. We took our seats around the edge of the boat and it pulled away bobbing across the sea. The cool sea breeze flowed briskly through the boat (which i enjoyed) and before long we were pulling up to a small islet. Sarah unplugged her insulin pump and stored it safe in our bags that we’d left on the boat, then we stepped off the boat and after a short lesson on kayaking we were ready to get in. 

The kayak and the mangroves…

 As this was the second time we’d tried kayaking (see 1st time in Mexico) we thought we knew what to expect. Sarah climbed in the back seat and i sat in the front waiting for the navigator (Sarah) to direct. The guide took us across the open sea and we swiftly pulled into line about half way up the group. We were kayaking across the open Caribbean sea and it was incredible, it’s such a lovely feeling being out in the open sea. Then we started to turn towards the mangroves. The group pulled in tight as we made our way along the stunning narrow waterway. 

Then…

I heard a commotion a head of me and a screaming/shouting. As we pulled nearer a woman had fallen in and her husband was still in the kayak trying to help her. The woman was freaking out and on the verge of hysterics and could not be reasoned with. As a side note…During our boat ride from the ship the guides showed the group huge photos (about A3) of the omnifarious types of creatures out there including huge crabs that lay on the floor and the sides of the mangroves, and i think the woman had those photos still etched in her mind. Sarah said the woman was up to her shoulders in water and couldn’t get back in to the kayak. Her paddle had hit the side of our kayak so we stopped to give her support and save her paddle for when she gets back in. 

 With the woman safely back in the kayak (she was fuming) the group continued along the amazing mangroves until we stopped for a rest before heading further along for about 20 minutes until it opened back out in to the Caribbean sea. Now we could test the top speed as we flew back to the little dock thingy. I wouldn’t say our kayaking always went smoothly and we have had a few crossed paddles along the way, but we had fun and made it back.

The boat and the short beach break…

 We sat back down on the boat (tired) after a fantastic kayak trip and the guide said “It’s about half an hour until we get to the beach, so relax and come and have a fresh cold drink at the bar area at the front of the boat. I said to Sarah “That was the Blind Sightseers 2nd kayak trip and we made it without sinking or capsizing again” “Yeah i know” Sarah said very slowly and quite slurry. At firs i thought she was just tired as it took a lot out of us with all of the paddling, and how could it be a hypo as she hasn’t had her pump attached? But i said “Are you ok?” If it is a hypo then i need to hear her speak so i know it is for definite. “I think i’m having a hypo?!” Sarah said as she looked at her pump to clarify the very low reading. I knew Sarah really wanted to enjoy the beach we were heading towards but this was going to be a big hypo! 

I jumped up and headed for the juice bar and asked for any full sugar orange juice if they had any? They did and Sarah was just with it enough to be able to drink it…Now we wait to see if the sugar kicks in or Sarah passes out. I do not enjoy this bit at all, but i just think about how Sarah must be feeling and stop complaining! The music on the boat was loud, the people were chatting away while i was trying to keep Sarah sat upright. About 15 minutes had passed and the juice wasn’t really working, so i got up and asked for another one. I knew Sarah really wanted to go on the beach and would be upset if she missed it, but i also knew she’d be absolutely freezing after this hypo…The T1D’s who read this will know exactly what i’m talking about, the bone chill that happens is like your bone themselves are frozen and the only way to get warm again is to have a hot bath. 

With about 5 minutes to go Sarah’s speech became much more normal again and she asked if we’d already been to the beach. “Not yet my love, we are about 5 minutes away but we can just stay on the boat where it’s safe” I said with my arm around Sarah trying to get her warm. “Now way it’s freezing on here and it’s in the shade, at least the beach will be in the sun and i can warm up” “Good thinking” i said as people were getting ready to leave the boat. “Hang on” i said as i heard a couple of people splash into the water “It sounds like we are not on land” “No we’re not, we are in a beautiful film set looking place but the beach island is a long way over there” The guide said we have about half an hour until the boat sounds it’s 1st of 2 horns then you have a few minutes to get back on board, the guide continued You can swim over to the  beach if you want to as we have permission to use the bar there etc but make sure you’re back on the boat shortly after the 1st horn blast”. Sarah said “The sea should be warmer than being trapped in here and lots of people are getting off so we can have a swim over to the island and get warm” “Sounds like a plan, let’s go”.

The sea and the island…

Sarah guided me to the back of the boat and there were steps leading down to the sea. “Steve you can sit on the bottom step and then push yourself off” “Which way is the beach?” Sarah pointed at a 90˚ angle to her right “Ok thanks if i can’t tread water i’ll head that way until i hit land”, here goes…

As i slid off the last step i went straight under and started to sink like a stone. At the same time salt water filled my lungs as i panicked and i seemed to stop breathing. I kicked my legs and frantically thrust my arms in a a swimming motion with little effect…At first. More water filled my mouth and lungs and finally my head poked out of the water. I think the panic of drowning was overtaking me as i couldn’t keep my head above water long enough to spit out all of the salt water. Treading water was out of the question but if i swam i seemed to stay on top. I only know 2 swimming strokes Breast stroke and doggy paddle (doggy paddle really wouldn’t work right now). I said to myself “Steve you’re not drowning here and leaving Sarah all on her own…Just swim to the beach” I knew if i stopped then i’d drown , and i knew roughly which way the beach is so i started the breast stroke (i’m really good at breast stroke). The faster i went the less likely i was going to drown so i kicked and pumped my arms as hard as i could!

I seemed to be swimming for quite a while and i couldn’t hear Sarah at all, i thought Sarah wouldn’t leave me out here alone? But maybe she is next to me or behind me as i can only hear the water forcing it’s way into my ears, either way i’ll meet up with her on the beach as she is an amazing swimmer”. There was no beach or island getting any closer and i tried looking and i thought i could see a shadow of something to my right (it was just blue everywhere else) so i steered myself towards the shadow and kept pumping my quickly tiring arms and legs.

“YES” i said whilst spitting out another mouthful of salt water “This looks like an island. OUCH” i said as my knee hit something sharp and hard, it stopped me dead and i kicked my legs around to try and get purchase on something. I was so thankful that i’d bought some ‘Hot Tuna’ beach shoes with heavy rubber tread, as all i could feel with my feet were lots of points like hundreds of tall pointy pyramids trying to pierce me. As i’m blind i’m really good at feeling with my feet to compensate my sight loss, and after a few attempts i managed to grip on with a foot either side of the huge point. I was crouched and wobbling as i tried to counter the waves hitting me constantly but i was glad of the rest. Looking straight ahead (where i thought the boat would be) i saw nothing but blue. “Wow no boat or people” i could also hear nothing or no-one. “How far have i swam” i thought whilst looking to my left, i was using and straining my very blurry sight to it’s limit but i could make out that this islet i was on continued further along. Realising i couldn’t stay hear (especially as my foot slipped and my left shin is stinging like mad) i pushed away. 

Finally after swimming around those nasty pointy things  i crawled my way onto the beach. “I thought they said there was a bar here” i thought whilst hearing nothing as i sat down to catch my breath and to think about what had just happened. I expected to hear Sarah calling me…But nothing. I looked out again straining until my eyes burned but couldn’t see a boat either. My left shin was really stinging and i knew it was bleeding and had salt water in it,…

Then…

As i was rubbing my hands to get the sand off i noticed my wedding ring was missing. My heart dropped through the floor so i checked again…Still missing. My first thought was “Sarah’s going to kill me” as i dropped to my knees to search around the sand with my sweeping hands. I couldn’t find it and knew it probably flew off in the mad panic from the boat, so i started walking up and down the beach at the sea edge and thought, “if people were looking for me at least they have a better chance of spotting me if i’m up and moving”. The beach was only about 50 meters long and i’d done a few lengths already and still heard nothing. I walked another time up and down the beach with the realisation of my predicament setting in. I was tired, i’d lost my wedding ring and i was lost on a Caribbean islet, i’d stopped walking at this point and was just looking out into the vast blue sea deep in prayer and thought when…

“Steve?” i looked a little to my right where i’d heard the noise and thought “That’s not Sarah’s voice” “Steve?” “Yes” i said as the man continued “Sarah (your wife) has sent me to guide you back to the boat” I was almost in tears of relief as i started to walk into the sea and join him. He continued “How much can you see?” “Very likktle” i said “Ok just follow my voice as i keep shouting at you”. I was back in the water and swimming along behind my navigator as we arrived at the rear of the boat. My mind was picturing me swimming into the propellers and slicing me into a thousand pieces just as i thought i’d made it, but i hit the bottom step instead. 😲

Here is a photo of my wedding ring that is still in Martinique! 

Wedding Rings

Climbing the last step and into Sarah’s arms she said “You’re not swimming ever again!” i replied “I do not disassociate myself from that statement!”. Sarah continued “Do you have any idea how terrified i was that i’d lost you?!

I heard you enter the water as i was looking down to make sure i didn’t trip on any of the tiny steps. A lady who was smashing around with an inflatable lilo and another person were totally distracting me with another inflatable they’d pulled out of nowhere, so when i’d looked up…You’d disappeared. I quickly looked to the right (towards the beach) to see if i could see anyone swimming in that direction, nothing. I looked straight ahead and still nothing. For some reason i looked out to the open sea, and just caught sight of your head bobbing up and down, The woman on the lilo kept chatting and chatting really loudly, people were behind me getting more drinks and some were trying to get into the water, it was really confusing. I tried asking the woman on the lilo to help but she wouldn’t leave her lilo, so i asked a man behind me for some help, and when i turned back around…You’d vanished again! More time passed and my thoughts didn’t get any happier. I was still freezing and feeling a little sick after the hypo, i just wanted you back and to get a hot shower back in the cabin to get rid of this bone chill.

I continued asking for help when this kind man came over to me and i told him how you were heading for the beach, but i’d seen you in the opposite direction heading out to sea! The man looked out to sea and couldn’t see you anywhere, then he looked towards the beach and couldn’t see you there either. A few more minutes went by and the man said “There he is!” “Where?” Sarah said “He’s on the beach walking up and down the beach” “Is he ok?” “he looks fine” “Steve is registered blind and won’t be able to see the boat never mind how he’s going to get back. Could you please go and guide him back?” I was so relieved when the man left to go and get you…And now here you are! You’re banned from ever swimming again and you’re never leaving my sight! 😡 

Safe on the boat…

We’d sat back down when i was about to tell Sarah about losing my wedding ring when she said “What have you done to your leg?” I lifted my throbbing leg up for her to see “Wow it’s cut and bleeding” “I know it’s stinging like mad” “Ibet it is, how did you do that?” I thought about a reply but it would be too long, and i’ll tell her the details later “I’ve got even worse news than my leg” “What could be worse than this?” I held up my hand and said “My wedding ring has gone, it must’ve come off in my blind panic (pun intended)”. I was expecting a drilling but got a hug instead “That’s ok i’m just glad to have you back” ❤️

Back on the ship…

Me and the marella discovery

⇧ Photo of the Marella Discovery from a later date ⇧   

After a refresh and a very strong coffee, we went to reception and asked if a nurse could take a quick look at my leg to make sure it wasn’t infected. We went down to the hospital deck and had my massive gaping wound (large cut) cleaned and got lots of large plasters to keep it covered for a couple of days. 😀  

We decided not to get dressed up for the evening meal and just go up and get a snack from the buffet restaurant. We were just walking in when…

The man,  his wife and his grandson walked up to us. The man was really limping as he approached and Sarah said “Oh no what happened? Did you enjoy the adventure today?” The grandson said he’d really enjoyed himself and the grandad said “I stepped onto a sea urchin and it pierced straight through my sea shoes and deep into my foot”. Sarah & i made the noise together “Aawwwww” “Yes it really hut and when i stepped backwards after the first sting, i stepped onto another one but luckily it didn’t get me as bad! Did you 2 enjoy the day?” Sarah relayed the story of what happened and showed him my leg. As we said our goodbyes i was in need of a chip butty! 😀  

As we sat down and chatted about the usual Blind Sightseers adventure i said “I didn’t know i could swim that fast?!” “Don’t start” Sarah said with a smile lighting up her face. 😀  

Thank you…

If you are still reading this and can’t quite believe what ’The Blind Sightseers’  can do on a simple shore excursion…Then we thank you profusely for coming along for the ride! This is still an abridged version but i know i can’t go on and on and on like Sarah says i do, lol! 🤣    

We’ll see you in the morning for another (hopefully less dramatic) shore excursion.

To be continued…

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☀️ #48 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Guadeloupe” 🇬🇵 (2018)

Guadeloupe logo

Bonjour mes amis (Good Morning My Friends) 😀  

With your detective hats on did you guess we were landing on Guadeloupe? Sarah & i had never watched any of the ‘Death in paradise’ TV shows so didn’t have a clue that it was filmed on this island….When we returned home we watched (and loved) the whole series! 😀 There was even a shore excursion visiting all of the places from the show…We want to come back here now and do that excursion, maybe one day! 😀  

 Anyway let’s see where we’re going? 

Botanical Garden & Deshaies Beach Walking: 

Locals used to refer to Guadeloupe as Karukera – the Island of Beautiful Waters – and this trip shows you exactly why. You’ll start by visiting the island’s vast botanical gardens, which sprawl out for 17 acres. Packed with everything from tropical palm trees to colourful lotus flowers, it’s one of Guadeloupe’s most-prized possessions. It’s even home to flamingos and a huge parrot aviary. From here, you’ll drive to the biscuit-coloured beach at Deshaies. This long sandy number is tailor-made for lazy days in the sun, and the glassy waters are great for swimming. Head to the waterfront food shack when you’re done tanning, and you’ll get to tuck into spicy fish fritters and handmade coconut sorbet.

On the coach…

After another bowl of porridge, a lovely omelette and a banana we made our way off the ship and onto the coach. Yay the excursion team had booked the front 2 seats for us again. The sun was already hot and i thought it might get a little cooler as rain started to hit the windows of the coach. But the guide was telling us that the climate changes as we drive into the centre of the island, then gets hot again at the coast. ☀️  

Botanical Gardens…

The first thing that hit us (no not the sun) was the vivid and saturated colours! I’m also colour blind but these colours were something else!  

Super clourful parrot

Super clourful parrot

IMG 3532

The whole botanical garden was full of massive trees with fruit, pinecones and other things that were as big (or bigger) than your head. Walking around this incredible place was like nothing else we’d seen especially at home.  

Crazy tree that Sarah liked

Garden

 Cafe & Waterfall…

After a while it was time for a short break and we stopped at a little wooden hut type thingy. The whole group sat down but we found this fantastic waterfall next to the rail. The air suddenly turned fresh the nearer we came to the waterfall…It was lovely. 😀   

Waterfall

Me wearing a vest in the garden

Small digression…

After returning home and watching the whole ‘Death in paradise’ TV show, there was an episode where the detective inspector stood exactly where i am now next to the waterfall! As you can imagine…I don’t stop talking about that either! 🤣  

Moving on we found these beautiful flamingos.  

IMG 3540

Flamingos

 We had about an hour free time to walk around this incredible place and to be wowed some more! 😀   

Tree and fruit

Tree and fruit

Tree and fruit

 Wow did i mention we were in Guadeloupe, colours so bold and vivid and then some more flamingos!  

Flamingos

 Sarah and i managed the hot walk back to the coach but all the way wondering if we could grow any of the trees back at home. We decided it just wasn’t hot enough and it was pointless trying! 

The coach slowed down on the way to the beach and people started getting up, talking and taking photos. I said “I’ve just heard them say that it’s the police station from Death in paradise” Like i said we’d never seen a single episode at this point…But if i did i’d be jumping off the coach by now and trying to get my photo taken, lol! 🤣 I think we need to go back!

 Deshaies Beach. 

IMG 0321

The guide said this was not the beach where the detective inspector lives but it’s not too far away…Man i need to let this go! 🤣  

I’d brought my rucksack with towels, sun cream and other things ready for this moment of Sarah playing in the sea, and it wasn’t long before she got to put her feet in the Guadeloupe water! 

The sea Embrace…

As you may have read on the older posts Sarah loves to splash, play and walk around the edges of the sea where the waves crash in and push her around, making sure she doesn’t go too deep as the current is very strong and doesn’t want to get her eyes wet or damaged.

Sarah was playing with the waves, smiling and laughing when…

A man grabbed her and pulled her further into the sea and past where the waves crashed which was Sarah’s fave. By the time Sarah was stood back up and not impressed she realised her special polarised Oakley Embrace sunglasses had flown off when the man grabbed her! There was no way of finding them as they had disappeared straight away into the sunglasses graveyard! 😭

I obviously didn’t see any of this as i was on the beach with the bags and towels but i knew that those special sunglasses helped Sarah see better than usual. When you have severe sight problems every small increment helps and Sarah said with the polarised lenses and the brightness of the sun her sight was at it’s best.

Beach and sea landscape with the coast line entering the sea

Well the fun was over prematurely and we headed off the beach. I gave Sarah my sunglasses but i knew they wouldn’t help much but at least they’d keep the harmful rays off her delicate eyes. 

The handmade coconut sorbet…

Stepping off the beach Sarah said “Wow that’s a lot of coconuts! Steve there is a table filled with coconuts and then there are piles of coconuts on the floor and the man has and huge machete in his hand” “Oohhh i’ve never had fresh coconut like that” i said as we walked over to the table. Sarah then said with excitement in her voice “They are making fresh coconut sorbet would you like one as i bet you’re roasting?” 

Whilst one man was hacking, whacking and smacking the coconuts the other man was passing Sarah the handmade coconut sorbet. As i tasted the first little spoonful i heard the sound of the bell as this dream food hit the top of the ‘Blind Sightseers Gastronomic leaderboard’ for ice cream and sorbet! It was the best i’d ever tasted and seriously nothing comes close…And still hasn’t! 😀 We’d hit the low (losing sunglasses) and the high (coconut sorbet) in the space of about 20 minutes!

Back at the ship…

You’ve guessed it…We had another iced coffee during our refresh on the ship and left for the dock. We found a small market and slowly browsed each stall until…

A man from the upcoming sandal stall caught sight of Sarah’s ultra bright Asics triathlon trainers. Sarah has to wear these trainers all of the time whilst on holiday because it keeps her feet secure and safe as she needs protection from another ‘Charcot’ foot becoming active. The man lept out from the store and folded in half and said “Wooaahhh i love them! I have a pair of sandals like them that you’ll love, come and look!” We stopped at the stall and Sarah said that they were beautiful and brightly coloured but i can’t wear them. 

He said “I make the best sandals on the island look at the quality” “I know i can see they are good quality and i love the colours” Sarah said as the man ran around the stall with a pair of the sandals “I know feet and i guessed these are your size” They were the perfect size and he kept saying try them on whist Sarah was saying i can’t wear them as i need protection and can’t wear sandals. This good natured banter kept on for about half an hour until Sarah finally managed to get him to understand a little of the problem. 😀  

 Back on the ship…

After a lovely sail away coffee it was time for me to start thinking of the shape my squishy mangled bones would be in if i fall off the zip line tomorrow, and continue to fall all the way down to the hard rain forest floor. 

But first we’ll think about our memorable day in Guadeloupe. 😀  ☀️  

I hope you enjoyed your little tour around this stunning island?

To be continued… 

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