Whenever one would ask me, what my favorite holiday destination was, as a kid, I’d unconsciously reply “Hawaii”.
It was still night when I arrived at the island, so I couldn’t identify my surroundings quite well. The road to the hotel, however, screamed Christmas: all balconies were aglow with colorful bulbs and cheerful Santas.
My friends were happily waiting for me at the hotel’s pool bar. They welcomed me with a glass of champagne and French festive exclamations.
Geographically speaking, Guadeloupe belongs to the Caribbean, yet the island is considered French territory, thus most of the locals are francophones, as are most of its visitors. Grabbing the opportunity to speak French once again, I spent the entire night sipping champagne and talking about random stuff, from politics and current affairs to Christmas elves!
I woke up early the following day, walking out to the little terrace outside my room to get a glimpse of the daybreak. It was only 6am and the sun had started to rise, warming up the sky. Accompanied by the song of the cicadas, the whiteness of the hotel and the sight of the palm trees surrounding it, enchanted me!
Having put on my bathing suit, I hung my towel around my neck and went for breakfast. My early meal consisted mainly of fruits and French delicacies. I admit to being inappropriately full when I crossed the backyard of the hotel, passing by dozens of swimming pools to reach the beach.
All I could see at the beach was white sand and palm trees stretching towards the green sea. Anchored boats were floating in front of my bare feet while a few windsurfers enjoyed the morning breeze. I picked a spot on the ground and took out my beach essentials: cameras, a book, fashion magazines and sunscreen, allowing myself to drown in idleness – a feeling that prevailed throughout my stay at this worldly version of paradise. Fortunately enough, my friends were in a similar mood. Taking advantage of the near absence of other visitors, we almost took over the entire hotel, constantly visiting each other's room to chat.
That same afternoon, I decided to take a walk to the village close by, Saint Francois, since the jungle was too far for me to explore.
Minuscule though it may be, Saint Francois is the ideal starting point for numerous types of sea-related adventures, since it hosts a top-notch marina where loads of private yachts take shelter. I’d be up for a sea-related adventure myself, if, of course, the weather had been an ally – but it wasn’t. An occasional storm would burst now and then, automatically rendering such thoughts reckless.
Walking around the scarce streets of the village, I quite identified the European flair of the architecture and space planning approach. Most buildings are new, yet a few artsy houses made of tin are also standing.
I walked for three hours, quickly making myself famous as the “picture-taking tourist with the fancy camera” among locals – most of them know one another. A gang of young kamikaze bikers would follow me everywhere, claiming their fifteen minutes of fame by becoming the subject of all my shots.
I soon reached the end of the village, where a huge golf court lies, full of green hills and -guess what- palm trees.
Days went by fast. Here am I, once again, at the airport -during sunrise this time. The palm trees bask in the early daylight while the lamps at the parking lot glow like flying saucers from outer space.
Santa’s been generous with me this year!