[I’ve been asking Karen to make a post occasionally – this one is by her. — Frank]
Well, we’re in Martinique now and will be picking up our daughters in St. Lucia soon for the Christmas holidays. I can’t believe that it is almost Christmas. It just doesn’t feel right, but we’ve seen some Christmas decorations around, including a decorated cactus at Fort Napoleon at Iles des Saintes. We don’t have much in the way of holiday decorations, but we’ll be putting up our mini tree before Christmas day.
We had a great time in Iles des Saintes. We rented a motor scooter one day and drove around the island. It was so much fun! And definitely easier and faster than walking. The first day we walked up the hill to Fort Napoleon. I’m definitely not cardiovascularly fit! I had to stop three times to catch my breath and let my heart slow down. But we made it! Just in time for them to be closing. Yep, we had a great hike for the view. But it was a great view. We tried doing some kite photography, but the wind by the fort was not consistent enough (would have crashed the camera). So we stopped on the way down at a little pull out and Frank shot a 360. Very pretty.
The people there are all very friendly but the most curious about us were the goats. They are everywhere except in town! I’m not sure how they tell which is whose, but they keep the grass mowed. We also saw dogs and cats around town. I guess they are the vermin control. The chickens must be for the insects.
After a few days, we headed for Martinique. The sail over was pretty rough. The white capped waves are called “horses” and I understand why now. It seemed like I was riding a bucking bronco, in slow motion! Still, I didn’t get seasick so I can’t really complain. Martinique is beautiful, very green. It is a French island, so we are getting by on the little French we’ve picked up on the other islands. Everyone seems to be very helpful to us non-speakers, but we are trying to speak their language when possible.
We anchored off St. Pierre for a few days. That’s were Mt. Pelee blew its top in the early 1900s and killed nearly 30,000 people who did not evacuate despite the warnings the volcano gave them. There is a museum including the jail cell where the only survivor was in solitary confinement for murder. He was severly wounded and pardoned then toured the world displaying his scars as the survivor of the disaster.
While in Iles des Saintes, we met a very nice couple from the US. They also happened to be anchored in St. Pierre, so we went out to dinner together. I really enjoyed the English conversation although it made me miss my friends from home so much more.
Once again, we were unable to clear into customs. The display screen was broken and, despite the presence of three techno-savy guys trying to clear in, the owner of the shop would not let them temporarily hook up one of the other monitors. I guess it’s government property, and we all know how that can go. So, we left St. Pierre to head to Fort de France, the capital.
The last time we were in Martinique, we anchored at Anse Mitan and took the ferry to Fort de France. It’s a quieter, more touristy place. It was indeed quiet when we arrived. The dinghy dock and fuel dock were no longer there, having been destroyed by a hurricane in 2008. But we managed to find a place to dock the dinghy, a little floating dock designed for about five boats where there were at least ten at the time. I had to climb into/out of another dinghy in order to reach the dock, but we managed to get tied up and on to land. Our plan was to take the ferry to Fort de France and clear in. That was our plan. Oh the best laid plans… We waited quite a while for the ferry which did not come, so we decided to have lunch in Creole Village, a touristy area with restaurants and shops. We found a great bakery which also does lunch which was delicious AND about half the price of the restaurants. Still no ferry, so we headed back to the boat and moved to Fort de France. One thing about living on a boat, you can move your house. So we anchored at Fort de France and once ashore we were finally able to clear customs at a chandlery run by a couple from Quebec, which means they speak French AND English!
After we finished at the chandlery, we popped into a general store which had all kinds of housewares. I needed to get some groceries and we found a store across the street from an internet cafe. What a perfect combination for us! So Frank happily spent his time on the computer without me waiting impatiently (“When will you be done.”) while I was able to shop without him looking over my shoulder (“Do we really need that?”). Heaven for us both!
Well, gotta go now. Merry Christmas to you all.