Thursday, May 14, 2015

Memorial ACTe, Scrumping and the President of France

Memorial ACTe
Sunday May 10th, 2015
Last week when we were in Pointe a Pitre we spotted a new modern building.  Diane asked some locals.  It is a new museum of some sort AND the grand opening would be Sunday May 10th.  Tom and I had already decided that Pointe a Pitre was Kewl enough (along with the whole of Guadeloupe) to warrant further exploration and thus we would sail the boat around to Pointe a Pitre.  Not an easy task as it's way up in the butterfly as previously discussed.

We also decided we would try to go to the Memorial ACTe grand opening.  A big bonus on this new location was that sv Ocean Rainbow had returned from England to their boat located at Pointe a Pitre.  Big hugs all the way around and we chatted yesterday getting caught up.  In our visiting and planning for the next few days, it came out that in fact this opening of Memorial ACTe is a really big deal.  So big that the President of France, Francois Hollande was flying in and the opening is invited only.

From a press release - Memorial ACTe  The Caribbean Center for Expression and Memory of the Slave Trade and Slavery.  The 77,000 square-foot Memorial ACTe complex will serve not only as a memorial site, but foremost as a resource center on the history of slavery and human rights as well as a forum of expression for the growing Caribbean comtemporary art scene.

Well - we all decided that if the President of France and various Ministers knew we were here, they would probably want us at the opening so therefore we should gate crash.  We figured entry by sea would be best.  Nick Nack (our dinghy) is currently out of service because the impeller on the outboard is shot with no backup and the outboard engine shop closed Saturday afternoon.  This meant our gate crashing via sea would have to be done using sv Ocean Rainbows dinghy Puddle II with it's mighty 2.5 horse power outboard.  Sunday morning rolled around and as soon as the sun came up we began to see a very active presence of French Coast Guard, Marine Police, regular Police in tenders and a fire squadron in the water in front of the new museum.  They set up a parementer and no regular boats seemed to be getting through.  Hum?  
Tom's best gatecrashing outfit
After careful observation we decided to try anyway.  We all put on our best clothes - meaning yachtie boat clothes.....nothing like what the "invited" people would be wearing but still our best and off we puttered in Puddle II.  Along the way James mentions that the last time he and Claire tried to go somewhere they weren't supposed to they ended up face down, spread eagle with AK -47's pointed at them.  What?  I was just getting ready to ask for more details on that when the local police came along.  Luckily they did not have their weapons pointed at us....yet.  They were nice but basically said we couldn't pass through this area.  Clare kicked into high gear with her French to assured them it was ok because we weren't passing through but actually going to the party.  "No.  It is forbidden." they said.  I asked in English where we should go to enter, perhaps the land side entrance and where should we park the dinghy.....the old trial close (sales 101 - assume you have the sale....assume your in to the invite only party)  "No.  It is forbidden."  They rattled off some French stating the President was there so forbidden.  James tried to assure them that the President was a friend but just doesn't know James is anchored near by.  "No.  It is forbidden."  Ok.  "Can we go to the town water front?"  They said yes but we must pass out and around "Forbidden to come within 200 meters."  James explained that he only had a small outboard and couldn't we just cut across.  Claire even suggested they escort us.  "No.  It is forbidden."  Sigh.  "When can we come see the museum?"  He shrugged and said after "3pm - after we are gone."  Meaning the water patrol.  Ok
Scrumpers Tom, Claire and James
All dressed up in the dinghy, ready for something and our gate crashing attempt had failed.  So we decided to go mango scrumping.  What?  Scrumping?  Apparently it's like when you go apple picking but perhaps you haven't quite gotten permission.  I had spotted two lovely mango trees ashore just off our anchorage.  We dinghed over there, made a stealth like landing in puddle II and started harvesting mangos like fiends.  The trees were located on school or university grounds.  No one was around AND there were tons of mangos on the ground just going to waste.  It was obvious that no one had harvested these trees.  Many, many mangos were withing reach.  Tom had taken our boat hook to assist in getting higher fruit.  James used to play cricket so he did the catching.  We even got a demonstration of Jame's cricket bowling with a few mango from the ground.  Of course the Yank Tom had to try his hand at mango baseball pitching.  We went home with three full bags of manages - 28 in all for sv Honey Ryder.  Yum!  
James bowling for England

Tom pitching for the KC Royals

The scrumping haul

4pm and we made out way back towards the ACTe museum.  The various water patrols were gone so we thought we were good to go.  There was one offical boat at the landing.  It was fire and he didn't say a thing when we tied up behind him.  He didn't say anything when Claire and I crawled under the locked cable from our dock area to the sidewalk.  However, apparently he said something to James like "You are not authorized."  Claire and I were already wondering along snapping pics, being press and all.  Then a man in a nice suit came down.  Tom recognized him from a tourist magazine as the Minister of Tourism.  James quickly started chatting him up in French.  Claire joined in.  Tom and I just stood looking stupid, smiling and pointing to the building and giving him a thumbs up and ok sign.  Sad monolingual Americans that we are.  It seems this was the grand opening, invite only.  The ACTe museum doesn't actually open to the general public until July 6th.  However, a little more chatting and he said it probably wouldn't hurt if we looked around a bit.  Woo hoo.  It quickly became apparent that we did not fit in.  Everyone was very dressed up - ties, suits, dresses and proper shoes- So we tried out best to fade into the background, take our pics, and see the outside as best we could.  No way we were getting inside so we scooted before drawing too much attention to ourselves.  Actually the President of France and most of the Ministers were long gone so we probably could have stayed and listend to the music but we opted to leave.  

Later we were treated to a wonderful fireworks display that was basically on our doorstep as our anchorage is near the museum.  It was a grand display.  
Memorial ACTe at night

We will have to come back next year to offically see the ACTe museum.

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