Constantly rocked by Atlantic gusts onboard my 777 flight, I understood why Cristoforo Colombo named Guadalupe the shores he reached with his second voyage. “Jesus Christ“, “Holy Mary“, “My God” would have been good alternatives to me. Of course, nothing against Colombo’s choice: he invoked “Our Lady of Guadalupe” for his fleet, endangered by tropical storms exactly 526 years ago.
Pelican with rusty neck, harbor of Saint-François
The flight from Paris-Orly to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe took me only eight hours. Colombo needed six week-long sailing from Cadiz, Spain. Colombo looked for new commercial routes through the West, slaves, gold and spices. I got to Guadeloupe to meet my friend Josè, cultural mediator at Île du Monde, a Paris-based organization that documents the cultural diversity present in France and Europe. Recently crowned with UNESCO, Josè and his crew were sent to Guadeloupe by the French State, thus to compile an official report on the intangible cultural heritage of this Caribbean island.
Coconut palm trees on the town beach of Sainte-Anne
“What do you know about Guadeloupe?”, he asked me and I was asking myself while flying over the blue vacuity of the Atlantic. Caribbean seas, never-ending summer, winter holidays for métropolitains (meaning French citizens of the European territories)… zika virus, dengue fever, maybe… diving? What do I expect to picture there? Wild pelicans, white beaches and tall coconut trees… what’s more?
Back from school at Mare Gailard
What is the cultural heritage my friend is documenting in Guadeloupe? More than 15 million Africans were traded as slaves to central/south America along four centuries. Do their ancestors still honor their roots or did they get Frenchisized? What happened to Guadeloupe natives? Are there still any? Why was Josè so excited for the opportunity to document a Ramayana event during the Indian (from India?) cultural week of Guadeloupe?
Indian dancers (from India) in Schoelcher square, Sainte-Anne
Despite that Josè invitation sounded as indecipherable as Lisbon story postcard to Winter, I set sails to reach my friend. Follow me in the next weeks and add much more than pelicans and tropical beaches to your own postcard of Guadeloupe. Pictures shot by Lorenzo Borghi, editing by Maria Francesca. All pictures © artborghi. Click each picture to zoom in.
New Episodes (published from 9.12.2019 to 10.01.2020 every Mon, Thu, Fri )
2. Sea life of Gwada (Guadeloupe) on 11 Dec 2019
3. La Métropole on 13 Dec 2019
4. Gwada intangible cultural heritage on 16 Dec 2019
5. Guadeloupe on stage on 18 Dec 2019
6. I had a dream on 20 Dec 2019
7. In need of protection on 23 Dec 2019
8. So lonely on 27 Dec 2019
9. Once we were on 30 Dec 2019
10. Caribbean grace on 03 Jan 2020
11. Resurrection will come on 06 Jan 2020
12. Art insurrection on 08 Jan 2020
13. Life of Gwada on 10 Jan 2020