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The Eastern Caribbean is divided roughly into two sets of islands: those that receive the Trade Winds first, that is, the Windward Islands, and those that are a bit to the west, the Leeward Islands.  This is neither a political, historical, nor economic division, but a convenient reference.

The Leeward Islands we visited are Anguilla, St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Barths, St. Kitts/Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Les Saintes, and Dominica.  We spent the first 4 months aboard Ocelot (December 2001 through April 2002) in these islands, went south to the Windwards for a bit, then spent May in Dominica again.

You'll see from our photos and descriptions that these islands represent a wide variety of culture: French, Dutch, British, and ex-British/Independent.

They also have a wide range of geographical features: arid and sandy or lush with volcanic mountains.  In fact, the Leewards can be divided into two chains.  Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barths, Antigua, Barbuda, Guadeloupe, and the Saintes are all relatively low, flat, corral islands with dry scrubby vegetation.  On the other hand, Saba, St. Eustatia, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, and Guadeloupe, to the south and west of the other chain, are all tall, volcanic islands with lush tropical rain forests and semi-active volcanoes.  The 2 chains are not very far apart, but they're actually on 2 different tectonic plates.

So, how does Guadeloupe get onto both of those lists?  Guadeloupe is really 2 islands.  Look at its map.  The eastern "wing" of the Guadeloupe "butterfly" is low and flat, while the western wing is the lush, volcanic tropical island.  Although the 2 islands are right next to each other, and you might not even realize that you'd crossed from one to the other (they're only separated by a small stream) we believe the 2 wings are actually on different tectonic plates.

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