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I had a dream

Guadeloupe standard of living is among the highest in the eastern Caribbean. Bananas and sugarcane are the principal cash crops. Tourism is one of the strongest sources of income. Still, high prices due to the protected French market are among the causes for the weak economic improvement of the last decades. Guadeloupe is a place of contrasts, where pockets of poverty and neglected infrastructures are interspersed between amazing nature and friendly people.

Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” adapted to time and place, Pointe-à-Pitre

(Delicious) coconut sorbet must give way to a tourist bus at La pointe des châteaux

Colorful tiles for the graves of Saint-Francois

Commercial district of Pointe-à-Pitre

Banana market in the outskirts of Pointe-à-Pitre

Beach of Raisins Clairs, Saint-François

Click each picture to zoom in.

Previous and last episodes:

1. My lady of Guadeloupe
2. Sea life of Gwada (Guadeloupe)
3. La Métropole
4. Caribbean intangible cultural heritage
5. Guadeloupe on stage

Guadeloupe on stage

Colorful dresses and graceful silhouettes. In the background the exotic, Caribbean landscapes. A week on Guadeloupe surprises for its cultural diversity and lively ancient traditions. A historic representation of the Indian Ramayana myth welcomed me the day I landed. Brilliant graffiti cover walls and towns of the island. Wild sea shores and vivid sunsets: everything plays life on stage in Gwada.

Players and families in the backstage of the Indian week of culture in Sainte-Anne

Top left: ashes ceremony before Ramayana representation. Top right: the wise men from the mountain. Bottom left: Wedding ceremony. Bottom right: hunting demons

We love Guadeloupe (the Caribbean Butterfly) , graffiti in the town of Sainte-Anne

The cinema theater “La Renaissance” of Pointe-à-Pitre, opened in 1920, now closed

The rocky beach of Anse à Plume

Moving graffiti in Pointe-à-Pitre

Nights fall early in the Caribbeans, 5:30pm in Sainte-Anne

Click each picture to zoom in.

Previous and last episodes:

1. My lady of Guadeloupe
2. Sea life of Gwada (Guadeloupe)
3. La Métropole
4. Gwada intangible cultural heritage

Gwada intangible cultural heritage

Intangible Cultural Heritage means the skills that communities recognize as part of their cultural identity. The Indian community on Guadeloupe is strong of 40,000 people. Most of them are descendant of those Indian workers that were offered a job on the island by the French state over two hundred years ago. After the abolition of slavery in 1794, the demand for workers on sugar cane, rum distillation, tobacco and coffee fields strongly increased in Guadeloupe. A solid migration from India, Vietnam and Lebanon have been supporting local productions from then on. The immigrants who chose to further stay in Guadeloupe maintained their cultural identity and mixed it with others, French continental included. Nowadays food, music and folklore on Guadeloupe are the result of this fusion.

Election of Guadeloupe Miss Teen of India, Schoelcher square, Sainte-Anne

Continental French craftsmen contribute to keeping traditions alive on Gwada: Cédric Coutellier runs a biological vanilla plantation in the tropical jungle near Sainte-Rose. Vanilla plants are epifite, meaning they climb over other tree stems to gain a place in the sun. Front right of Cedric and behind him each tree is climbed by one or more vanilla plants. Vanilla pods (still green) are in hist right hand.

Cédric Coutellier and his vanilla plantation in the tropical jungle, Sainte-Rose

Gwada fishermen still use traditional cages, in addition to modern fishing nets for catching their daily preys.

A fisherman in Saint-François harbor with modern (right) and traditional (left) nets/cages

At funeral ceremonies, as well as on the streets of Sainte-Anne it is not rare listening to the sound of Lambi (conch shells), blown by local players.

A Lambi (shell) player, cemetery of Sainte-Anne

When you pass by La pointe des châteaux don’t miss the local craftsmanship of palm tree hats. Jordan crafts also bowls and Frigatebirds made of the same leaf material. It will not stay green, but it will still look gorgeous.

A maker of traditional woven hats, La pointe des châteaux

If you are a photographer, it is worth learning a couple of words in French for shooting iconic pictures with locals. Je suis italien. Je suis photographe. Je voudrais faire une photo de vous. Et voilà, here is my knowledge of French language.

Painters, Sainte-Anne cemetery

The manioc ants at the feet of Cédric Coutellier in the jungle of Sainte-Rose

Manioc ants, tropical jungle, Sainte-Rose

Click each picture to zoom in.

Previous and last episodes:

1. My lady of Guadeloupe
2. Sea life of Gwada (Guadeloupe)
3. La Métropole

La Métropole

Pointe-à-Pitre is the largest town of Guadeloupe. It is located on the eastern Guadeloupe island, named Grande-Terre. Guadeloupe island (aka the butterfly of Caribbeans) is indeed made of two main islands (wings), Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, divided by a string of sea. Despite that fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and cholera have been afflicting the citizens of this town for the last 300 years, Pointe-à-Pitre is still there with its delicious, albeit decadent French colonial style. West from the central Place de la Victoire (victory on slavery, 1794) you find the modern commercial part. East of it there are artist areas, red-light districts and the modern Museum on Slavery.

If you are a photographer, keep it down when you move to the red-light district even in day-light. “F*ck you” sounds cute with a French accent but faces look still aggressive … not an area to visit by night, with or without camera equipment.

Historical five attics in downtown, desperately looking for renovation in Pointe-à-Pitre

A new,  mysterious main gate leading to where? in Pointe-à-Pitre

Street corner with the usual barred doors, West-side, Pointe-à-Pitre

Scrap materials shaped into a house, East end, Pointe-à-Pitre

Red light district, Pointe-à-Pitre

Tilted-Bar, East end, Pointe-à-Pitre

Click each picture to zoom in.

Previous episodes:

1. My lady of Guadeloupe
2. Sea life of Gwada (Guadeloupe)

Sea life of Gwada (Guadeloupe)

Supermarket goods on Guadeloupe are as expensive as in Europe, if not even more because of import costs from France and French colonies in Central and south America. This is a solid excuse for tasting local recipes based on sea food. Still… same same but different. If you ask for a Dorade in Guadeloupe, you get it sliced like if it was a sword fish. If you think a Lambi (conch shell) might be a good snack with beer, don’t order dinner later. Everything grows unexpectedly larger here in Gwada, especially for a tourist used to the Mediterranean environment. Gwada, Lambi, Bokit (aka “bucket” sandwich) and Gwo-ka (drum music) are some of the creole words you will easily stumble upon during your stay.

Les Métropolitains, town beach of Sainte-Anne with (mostly?) European tourists

Fisherman at work on local-sized Dorade fishes at the harbor, Saint-François

Romance on the beach of Saint-Anne

Lambi (conch shell) and beer, an appreciated combo in Saint-François

The cemetery-beach or the beach-cemetery of Saint-François

Promenada Pointe-à-Pitre, whatever-fish-I-catched daily market

Click each picture to zoom in.

Previous episodes:

1. My lady of Guadeloupe

My lady of Guadeloupe

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

Three days in Turin

With this last episode of architectural fusion of Turin, this picture series end. Click each picture to zoom in. Previous episodes in Turin:

1. Deep red Turin
2. Red code
3. Citizens of Turin
4. Framed in Turin
5. Turin other postcards
6. On colors off
7. City lines Turin
8. Turin top bottom
9. Windows of Turin
10. Turin rooftop: the Lingotto
11. Turin style

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