[Excerpt] Contrasts like that mark the French island in the Lesser Antilles chain. Grande-Terre is flat, hot and bright. Its long, straight beaches are a natural extension of low-lying terrain, full of light green sugarcane fields and grassy marsh.
Basse-Terre is a forest green, made somber as the sun rotates the shadows of its high central mountains past the villages below. Only the narrow belt highway around Basse-Terre separates its curving beaches from steep foothills. At every turn in the road, a tiny stream carries the runoff from the mountains, where there are waterfalls and deep pools and springs. Here, instead of the high, classic rainbows of Grande-Terre, the coincidence of sun and rain makes for a thick, stunted rainbow seemingly imbedded in a hillside, like a pre-Columbian slab worshiped by an ancient tribe.