Rivercafe better than new
On both sides of the Atlantic, the Advent season has begun. In our old homeland probably with the usual bitter-sweet mixture of pre-winter festivity and dreariness, where only red wine in front of the fireplace helps. In our current home with Caribbean warmth and pleasant sea. And depending on the place with very different flair.
Also here us the days are a little bit shorter, but a little bit more than 1 hour is the difference from summer to winter. Shortly before 6 pm it is dark, at 6.30 am it is light again. The temperature difference is small, it just rarely goes well above 30 degrees C, at night 22-23 degrees – almost refreshing. Now and then I need a blanket at night.
On the search for the Advent season
one finds very differently. There is no such thing as “the” Caribbean Christmas season. The islands are too different. Although most are rarely more than 100 km away, the pre-Christmas mood on the Anglophile and Francophile islands could hardly be more different.
If you don’t feel like Christmas, you’re in good hands on the French islands. No one would get the idea that a festive event is coming up soon. Hardly any decorations, no music – everything as usual. That’s not just because of the riots in Martinique and Guadeloupe, we know that from previous years, too. And also not because of C19, because the incidences are between 3 (Antigua) and 50 (Guadeloupe).
In the stores, there’s the usual Christmas set-up, but probably more because the corporate mothers in France dictate the display set-up. One “M. Bricolage” hardware store we found real conifers, but in pitiful condition already before December 1. Right next to the antifreeze for cars. Guess both are equally useful.
In the bay in Les Saintes, where we just lay, you can see on land 5 houses with light decoration. 3 of them, however, in the epileptic, blue-white-blinking version. In one bar hangs a colorful string of lights – which, however, hangs there the whole year. Short version: no pre-Christmas mood among the Francophiles. I’m supposed to change that a bit in the next few weeks, so it is said.
Red light district Rivercafe. We did purchase the wrong light color.
The one and only bar with kind of Christmas decoration.
In Barbados and St. Lucia, on the other hand, you can see that big things are coming soon. Palm trees are wrapped with fairy lights, kitschy Santa Clauses are standing around, decorations are hanging out, trees are mostly very colorfully decorated and Christmas music can be heard. Jingle Bells at 30 degrees also has something. Instead of hot wine, you drink beer or a cocktail on the beach or in a bar, often magnificently decorated. The atmosphere seems quite pre-festive. The first and so far only Christmas song of the season, we heard in St. Lucia. Over the next few weeks, we’ll try to figure out why the differences are too enormous. In fact, despite the warmth and for us conditioned lack of Christmas attributes is a beautiful mood. I miss at most the delicious Christmas cookies of Hilde, Karin’s mother, and gingerbread.
Those who know us probably remember that Ka and especially I are big Christmas fans. We celebrate our own Advent on board. Ka plays the first Christmas songs on the piano. More of that soon 🙂
Our last week
It was a very productive and effective week. We had reported that we had to go to Point à Pitre in Guadeloupe mainland for some works to be done on Rivercafe. The solar panel that was damaged during installation was replaced, and the solar frame was optimized. Our favorite electrician Stephane connected our motor batteries to the service batteries, including the regulators. A few systems were connected and our beloved barograph was reinstalled. Plus a warranty issue on the helm-station rooftop. And then we treated ourselves to some custom tailoring for a rain cover in the cockpit on the port side.
We were able to get our complete shopping list done. Everything we couldn’t find in Grenada, St. Vincent and St. Lucia. Guadeloupe is like Europe, a small piece of bliss, because everything and in large selection is available. Even just the grocery shopping, was a sheer joy. Delicious in great selection and good quality and then still affordable. Vive l’Europe. (Sorry, dear British friends of us)
After the successful week – I hardly dare to say it – the Rivercafe’s work list is done. Empty. White paper. Well, almost. We still have two cosmetic warranty jobs, but Leopard can’t do them until February in the Virgin Islands. Until then, all we have left is the normal maintenance work. It’s a great feeling. The Rivercafe is as good as it has ever been. The sailing is fun and one evening we were sitting in the front lounge and Karin said, “what a great boat this is”. As always, she is right. (Note Ka: she doesn’t think the very last sentence is great at all).
We are still on Les Saintes this week meeting sailing friends who will be coming in from Martinique and Bonaire. On Saturday there will be a “Christmas caroling.” We will be there. We also have time to visit our hairdresser in the Caribbean. Unbelievable how well known this woman is among sailors.
Sometimes next week we will sail the Rivercafe slowly north along the west coast of Guadeloupe and from there make our way to Antigua. Our destination for Christmas and New Year. There we will get a visit from our dear friends Rike and Stephane for the first time since we have been traveling. We are really looking forward to that. Oh you beautiful Christmas time. / Holger Binz
Sunrise 6:18 h, sunset 17:33 h. Temperatures day 30, night 23 degrees C. Sun and clouds changing rapidly, heavy rain in between, wind 4-6 Bft, it seems that the Christmas Winds are starting.