This blog is for the Guadeloupe split session starting July 8, 2019, which includes both the 14-day and the 21-day student group.
Tuesday July 9, 2019
On the first day we left from the Miami airport excited for our arrival in Guadeloupe. On the way there our plane made a stop in Haiti where we could see amazing, beautiful mountains outside the window. When we got off the plane in Guadeloupe we could immediately feel the heat. We went through customs, got our bags from baggage claim, and called our parents at home.
After that people went to the currency exchange and then we got on the bus to head to home base. When we got outside it was even hotter but it wasn’t a problem because everyone was so excited to finally be in Guadeloupe. When we arrived at home base we settled into our rooms and enjoyed the amazing views and the incredible ocean breeze, and we played a game to begin to learn each other’s names. We said our name and what we would bring to a picnic, but what we brought to the picnic had to start with the first letter of our name.
When it was your turn to say your name you also had to repeat everyone’s name that was said before you and what they would bring to the picnic. We had a lot of fun playing and it was super funny hearing what some people would bring to a picnic. After that we ate dinner which was pasta with cheese and bacon, French pastries, salad, and veggies. Following dinner Charlotte went over some orientation with us and then we were off to our rooms for the night.
Wednesday July 10, 2019
Today was an eventful day with a lot of social interaction and fun activities. What started off the day was the few people that woke up early to do some yoga and or exercises to wake them up and get ready for the day.
Later in the morning we got on a bus to Petit Bourg. We met a lot of locals and visited a park and played a game and took some group pictures. It was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed being there. Once we were done there we went on a walk touring the town. Even through the heat and sweat we all enjoyed seeing the amazing town.
When we got on the bus a lot of us noticed that we definitely picked up on some French and some fun facts about the town and or Guadeloupe. Being on the bus is really fun, especially when people break out into song and having a great time. Not everyone decided to sing though, some were talking, listening to their own music, and sleeping.
As you may know, yesterday we went to the beach and picked up some coconuts and brought them back to home base. We had opened them and it was really cool to see all the water one coconut has and how good they taste freshly opened. After some fun we got down into some education, our first French class. Separated into beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes we all had a lot of fun and felt well placed in our classes.
Time for more fun, visiting a waterfall and beautiful lake. It was a silent walk but everyone was able to hear the beautiful nature sounds. Everyone took so many pictures of everything and helped take pictures of each other. When we got back to home base, everyone was exhausted but it was definitely worth it. We all participated in a environmental discussion for environmental problems happening in Australia.
To finish off the day we will do group conversations to really talk about the day and see how everyone took things in, ups and downs, and thoughts and feelings.
All in all, it was a really amazing day for all of us. We can’t wait to see what else comes in these next few weeks.
– Hannah C. And Luka MC
Thursday July 11, 2019
The morning started with a delicious breakfast prepared by chef Linda. It included fresh fruits, hand-made pastries, hardboiled eggs, a variety of juices, and cereal. Then our mentor Charlotte had us pick our favorite flowers from the home base garden. We then pressed them in a flower press maker. Then Ryan and Charlotte had us plant succulents in little pots.
Many of the students had fun gardening and enjoyed helping out. We planted a “natural fence” to keep in the chickens and felt the rain. French class came next and we improved upon what we learned on the previous day. in the intermediate group Emily had us play some really fun games. Doing that put us in positions to use the french vocab we knew and put us on the spot. This activity resembled what a situation with the locals in Guadeloupe would be like in order to help us interact with the people we meet.
After french class came another event that put us to the test. We ate lunch but could only speak in french the whole time, or at least try. This was an eye opening moment because when the conversation started everyone began to jump in and ask questions. Being able to do this gave the group more confidence for future instances that require conversing in french . After our lunch we set out to Kassaverie to learn and watch a local treat being made from start to finish.
It was really interesting to see how much work and process goes into making the cassave. The people making these root plant pancake meals spend a lot of time making sure they’re perfect. We were all very appreciative of their work because the final project was delicious. To explain it in the best way possible its similar to a crepe but with a more grainy and bread like texture. What was really cool to see was that it was completely natural and had many benefits.
Everyone enjoyed our different flavors of cassaves while in the way to a french version of target. We had an hour to browse the store and pick out what we wanted. Seeing all of the different brands and people shopping was such an awesome experience. We also all brought back some cool finds. Overall the day was yet again a success. Looking forward to whats to come.
– by Addie and Liz 🙂
Friday July 12, 2019
When we think of children, we tend to think of them as less knowledgeable; a group that needs to learn from us. They are so much more than that. There is so much that we learn from children, and it is so important that this is recognized. There is this stigma around playing and befriending children, but there is much to learn from young people.
When we left this morning to teach children at a local summer camp, I was under the impression that we’d be in desks and chairs speaking and writing together. I hadn’t been told that, but the idea that learning needs to take place in the classroom has really been drilled into my head; even as a person who consciously knows that isn’t true.
Upon arrival, I was confused; we weren’t in a classroom, or even a building. We were at the beach. There were no pencils or pens, either. Instead, we mingled with the locals. At first, there was some tension between the group and the campers. Yet, as soon as we grouped up, everyone found a way to become comfortable, despite the language barrier. Personally, i pushed myself to play soccer although it is not something i am typically comfortable with. I found myself having fun in a way that i never had before.
I also pushed myself to speak french in a more smooth manner, and i noticed that the kids were doing the same with english. There seems to be this myth that learning is not enjoyable; that it getting an education is just something you need to do in life in order to be successful. Learning does not need to be textbooks and writing assignments. It can be dancing to music with newfound French speaking friends. It can be as simple as interacting with the community around you. On the bus ride home, we all sit in the setting sun with rosy cheeks and lasting memories.
Overall, today showed me how two groups can connect despite barriers. By the end, I was talking to the kids as if we had no difference in background at all. It wasn’t just the kids, it was also the counselors and faculty. Within the group, i bonded with so many more people. I feel like I have a much better connection to the youth in Guadeloupe now. I have no doubt that i’ll miss the kids i bonded with today when i go home.
Saturday July 13, 2019
The day started with breakfast and then cleaning as we reached the half way point of our two week stay at the home base. We then got to work on our cumulative project on sustainability. Our four groups broke up to have conversations, thinking of various innovative ways to improve the sustainability of the home base. After discussing, we presented our project drafts to the owner of the property, hearing what amazing things the other groups thought of. We then went off to lunch, which consisted of delicious traditional Guadeloupian dishes along with fruit.
Then we ventured off to the zoo in the tropical rain forest, braving the rain as we walked through the wooded paths and looked at the many animals from the region. We got the chance to walk on a canopy path above the animals and plants, looking at the interesting landscape of the jungle. After a short bus ride, we arrived at our next stop, a beautiful waterfall! While cold when first jumping in, everyone enjoyed swimming in the pool and walking on the rocks along the river next to the waterfall. We swam for an hour before returning to home base for a delicious dinner and a leadership activity. The day was both relaxing and fun, and as we wrap up the day, we can’t wait what’s to come next!
Sunday July 14, 2019
Most everyone woke up refreshed this morning with an extra hour of sleep, although “Randy” the rooster made sure everyone was up and ready by 8 am for breakfast. A few brave early risers joined a push up competition challenging themselves to reach 200 pushups by the end of the day.
Breakfast was delicious as always with the many delicious fruits and pastries. After our late breakfast, we began our “mental community service” learning about permaculture and sustainability. Many felt inspired to find new ways to help the environment and it was very eye opening for many of us to see how we can create things that don’t hurt the environment while also being economically viable and effective.
Monday July 15, 2019
We started off our day with another excellent breakfast of fresh fruit and freshly baked pastries. We then ventured to the town of Petit-Bourg for service. We split into two groups, the painters and the sidewalk builders. The painters painted posts and trees so the local birds can easily find the insects in them and eat them. The people who made the sidewalks used jackhammers and power washers to clean and reconstruct the sidewalks. The work was hard but rewarding and left some of us covered in paint.
Upon returning to base we started our French classes. The advanced class did restaurant skits in French, the intermediate read French fables, and the beginner class reviewed imperfect verbs.
For lunch Linda made us couscous and chicken with vegetables. We went to the banana plantation and got an in depth explanation on the process of farming and exporting bananas. The agricultural business of bananas is way more complex then what we think, it is not just harvest and ship away.
Dinner was potatoes, meat, and different varieties of fresh fruit. Linda made us all brownies for desert. We are all tired from the learning and work from today but the sleep is well earned and good reward.
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Today GLA students had another awesome day in Guadeloupe. We got an early start, eating breakfast at 7. Linda, the goddess of the kitchen, greeted students with a sensational selection of foods, filled with a variety of native fruits. We kept things cool with some free time in the am, students participating in activities such as swimming, coloring, and playing cards.
Next, things got heated when queen of cuisine, Juliette came to teach a motivating cooking workshop. She introduced students to a traditional fritter-like food, known as an Accra. Students split into two groups; one focusing on a cod Accra and the other group made a carrot Accra. The cooking workshop provided just one aspect of the lunch buffet, once again brought to the students by Linda.
In order to continue the cooking workshop in the afternoon and keep students comfortable in the hot Guadeloupean sun, students hand churned delicious ice cream. There was one batch of passion fruit and one batch of coconut. The two flavors tasted delicious on their own, and delicious together.
We finished out the afternoon with a leadership exercise led by Ryan. The activity helped to encourage GLA students to think about their futures and gain a more positive perspective when faced with adverse situations.
The day continued with a Kahoot! made especially for us by Linda’s daughter that tested students on Guadeloupe and it’s history. A pretty calm day concluded with a rendez-vous with our Guadelopean service partners.
-Amy and Ali
P.S. We love our fans!
Wednesday July 17, 2019
Salut! Last night the GLA staff surprised us with traditional Guadeloupean music and dance. We clapped along to musicians playing Gwoka, a style of drumming, while many individuals (both Guadeloupean and American alike) joyously danced inside the circle. Many of our GLA showed their talent with dancing and drumming, and made us appreciate the beauty in diversity of talent.
After that late night, we were graced with a day at a beautiful Pigeon Malendure beach. An interesting aspect of this particular beach was that the sand was black and soft. The weather started off quite nice as their was a light breeze. As time progressed, the temperature spiked dramatically. Almost as soon as we arrived, we made our way to the boats with all of our gear and ventured to the national park where we were extremely lucky to see large varieties of coral and fish. Once we finished our dive, we made our way closer to the shore for our second dive where we would eventually be able to find star fish the size bowling balls and a few small turtles. We continued to find new species of fish as we came closer to the shore.
After we snorkeled, we relaxed on the beach. There were a few small restaurants and shops in the area so many of us went out exploring. There were a couple of adorable little beach shops selling both one of a kind merchandise and imported goods. All in all it was a great day for relaxing and recharging in order to get ready to work tomorrow!
Brendi and Nicos
Wednesday July 18, 2019
Hello GLA friends and family!
Today was an awesome day filled with service and immersion in the quiet town of Petite Bourg.
After having a great breakfast prepared by Linda, the folks at GLA went out to do some urban development in Petite Bourg. Some groups did some landscaping, some painted trees to help the birds, and some built some sidewalks. With lots of sweat and elbow grease, service ended at 10:30. For the past two days of service in Petite Bourg, many trees were painted to help birds kill infectious bugs, over 150 feet of sidewalk was laid and smoothened, and lots of leaves were raked to help keep the city beautiful.
After about 45 minutes of downtime, we went back to a picnic with the citizens of Petite Bourg. After a wonderful creole meal, the folks of GLA got to experience some traditional dancing, singing, and music. Everyone had fun dancing to the awesome drum quartet! Also, we all got to learn about the emotions of drumming. Happiness, sadness, work, night after a long day, etc. After that, everyone got plaques for their involvement in “Project Fleure.” We were all so thankful for the citizens of Petite Bourg for hosting us and being so hospitable.
Friday July 19, 2019
This morning we met a man named Regis who grows coconuts and calibas plants, and uses them to make beautiful bowls, cups, and other creations. He talked us through the process of how they are made, from the plants being grown to them being carved, dried, and painted. All of the things he brought were bought by GLA kids, and tomorrow he is going to come by with some more bowls and cups.
We had our final leadership activity today, which was about emotional triggers. Five statements were said that could be considered triggering, and we wrote down on post it notes the emotion it provoked, and the type of response we thought we would have.
Today we went to the Port-Louis beach in Grand-Terre. There were little shops along the beach and a bar which we got (virgin) drinks at. Some of us went water tubing on tubes that were attached to a boat. It was the perfect way to spend our last day away from home base.
Today was also Brendy’s Birthday. We had a birthday dinner for her and we did karaoke in her honor.
Sunday July 21, 2019
We had to leave our first home base this morning and catch the boat to Terre de Base. The boat ride was short and sweet and we arrived in a beautiful marina. We were then taken to our new home base which is a bunch of colorful bungalows with two beds and a kitchen in each one.
We were given some free time to hangout by the pool and talk. After that a local nature expert took us on a hike through the forest. He showed us what we could and could not eat and told us the history of the land and plants. We all learned an interesting fact, apparently hermit crabs live in the woods as well as the beach. We walked around the local bakeries and got some fresh baguettes for tonight’s dinner.
Monday July 22, 2019
Hey GLA Friends and Family! It’s the three weekers. We’re staying in the city of Terre-de-Bas.
Today was a day filled with service and kayaking.
To start off after a wonderful breakfast of chocolate pastries and croissants, we went and painted the curbs and stairs of Grand-Anse, like what we have previously done in Petite-Bourg. We met some nice teenagers there, and the drive to the site was filled with some amazing French Rap.
A couple of hours and some curbs painted layer, we went back and had an awesome French class with Charlotte and Therese. We played charades as to guess the French word.
Next, we went kayaking. The ocean was clear, only one boat capsized, and everyone had fun.
That’s it for today. We still have 5 days left!
Thursday July 25, 2019
After breakfast, we continued our work with painting the sidewalk and trees at a park in the town of Grand-Anse with some of the local teens. We finished early so we walked down to a restaurant in an area almost void of humans. Why do you ask? There is this horrible smell that is caused by agricultural run off from other countries that comes washing up onto the shores of Terre de Bas and Guadeloupe.
This runoff is called sargass, and because of it many of the residents in this area left. Additionally, now people don’t go to that beach anymore which takes away business from the restaurant. The sight of the mounds of runoff was sad, but made us more aware about the need for more sustainable farming practices.
Later in the day, after lunch, we took a tour of the island. We learned about the islands that make up the Saint Antilles (which includes Terre de Bas) and the massive amount of fighting between the Portuguese, Spanish, and French that occurred in order to gain control of the islands. 10 points goes to whoever can guess which country won! Also on the tour we got to see three amazing viewpoints.
The first was the highest up and we could see the island of Terre de Hâut close by, as well as Dominica to the southeast and Guadeloupe to the north. The second was at an archeological site containing a pottery plantation from the 17th century. It was insane to think that people lived, worked, and were enslaved in those small brick buildings. The third was a sight of science, with a sea of solar panels stretching across the land. We learned that Terre de Bas is completely self sufficient with energy, and the only thing they must import is clean water which cannot be found on the island.
After that experience we hung out with some of the local teens at the pool, and then we walked around the town of Petit-Anse (where we are staying) for a while before coming back to home base.
A tout à l’heure!
Friday July 26, 2019
Thick water, watching The Goofy Movie in eight parts, learning the difference between en and un, and gigantic centipedes called “skullopendres” that can move faster than I can. These are the small things that made our stay here in Terre de Basse what it was. They’re what we forget to tell you about, but without them, it would have been an entirely different trip. Here’s what we do tell you about:
Our last day was one of vague familiarity. We got up when the roosters crowed, and sat down to a table laden with delicious pastries, spreads, and juices. The drive to service in the morning felt short, as we zipped through the mountains for the last time. With only two hours of service ahead, we were faced with our greatest challenge yet— completing the fence. Our work from yesterday had not proved to be enough, and though we only had one quarter done, we faced it head on.
Luckily, with six paintbrushes and a bit of teamwork, we were able to finish what we had started. We made a quick pit stop at the docks on the way back, before heading inside for an hour of rest. After a hearty lunch of chicken and couscous, we waved goodbye to Sevryne, Nina, and Léa for the last time as we made our way to the community center to finish our coconut sculptures. Our work from the day before awaited us, and so we kept our hands busy finishing the coconut turtles.
Afterwards, we split up, with some continuing to explore the town and stores, while others headed down to the beach for the last time. Soon, dinner was ready, and we all came together for our final night on the island. After dinner, we decompressed by watching The Breakfast Club, (English subtitles) before heading our separate ways. Our week on Terre de Basse, though it had a rough start, ended on a high note.
-by Tess F.
Hey GLA Friends and Family! This is our final blog post for our three week journey.
Today was supposed to be a normal day. If everything went according to plan, we would have just woken up, taken our ferry to the main island of Guadeloupe, eaten breakfast, stayed at home base until 2:00 PM, headed to the airport, and flown back to the states.
The last part of the schedule didn’t necessarily go to plan. Actually, it was an absolute catastrophe. It all started when the tire popped. We were pulling out of the driveway of home base when we saw a large cloud of steam shoot out from the front left tire, accompanied with a loud *POP*. The tire was decimated. After waiting for about 30 minutes, we piled all of our stuff into two different cars driven by Therese and Linda then booked it into the airport. We headed to security around 4:15 when our ticket said our flight technically boarded at 4:30, but we actually boarded at 5:30. Our passports were checked without a hitch, then 60% of us had our bags checked by the TSA for varying reasons. Most notably, someone had a suspicious Pringle’s can.
But alas, we made it onto the plane. At the time of writing this, we’re back in the states safe and sound.
Though we had to go through mountains of anxiety to get to our plane back to Miami, it’s all worth it to be able to come home again. It’s all bittersweet, for Guadeloupe has been our home for over 21 days and we obviously don’t want to leave it. But everything good has to come to an end, and we’re all relieved to go our separate ways and see our respective families again.
These are the three weekers signing out. Au revoir, Guadeloupe!