As dramatic as it sounds, six weeks on from the accident I have got my life back. I can now do what I came here to do: explore Guadeloupe.
Located in Basse-Terre traversing along windy mountainous roads, you’ll eventually arrive in the village of Bouillante. Your diving experience begins at the soft black sands of Malendure beach. Just like Grande-Anse à Trois-Rivières, Malendure has glistening black volcanic sand – a drastic alternative to classic white Caribbean beaches.
While it is possible to dive in many spots across the island, it is worthwhile doing so at La Resèrve Cousteau. One of the most beautiful and popular tourist sites on the island, the reserve is a protected natural marine environment. There are numerous diving companies on the shore that offer packages to explore la Reserve. Composed of Pigeon Island and an expansive area of exceptional underwater seabed, the reserve is accessbile by a short boat or kayak trip from the shores of Plage de Malendure. Coral, tropical fish, turtles and even songs of humpback whales can be spotted. For someone who has never been diving before, or ventured too far into open waters due to an acute fear of fish, my first experience of diving was extremely pleasant. I was a child in a sweet shop watching Blue Planet play before my eyes. The limited mobility of my still-broken femur prevented me from fully immersing in the sous-marine world. However, in the short time I spent in the water, paddling with one leg and equipped with a snorkel, I was able to appreciate the aqua wonder. My ‘Under the Sea’ English lesson from last week came to life as I quizzed my little 5-year-old pupil on everything she saw when she was diving – an example of active learning at its best.
The time I lost missing out on deep sea diving was gained above-water. Is time really lost when you can sunbathe on a boat? The backdrop of expansive green mountains reflects the wildness and vivacity of the island. The butterfly-shaped island oozes happiness and character through its colourful landscapes.
Another day spent in paradise on Plage de Malendure. There is a good energy here and geared towards tourists; lively bars play Zouk (traditional music) and the camionnettes serve up local delicacies. Try a bokit (a sandwich fried in sunflower oil) or Accras (fried spicy fish-bites) and wash down with local Carib beer.
The best time for reflection is at sunset; the orange glow behind Pigeon Island prompted me to look back on my recovery journey. Having found petits bonheurs it seems wrong to dwell on the low periods. Thanks to therapy, and a supportive network of family and friends, I’ve battled PTSD and gained a newfound appreciation for everything and everyone. I’ve fallen in love again with this stunning island. Always know there is light at the end of the tunnel.