Published: March 11th 2009February 2nd 2009
We noticed an immediate change upon arriving in Martinique, rather than being like any other Caribbean island we’ve been to so far, it’s much like arriving in France. The plug sockets are European, their currency is the Euro, the place is full of boulangeries and everyone speaks French; these things may be good or bad depending on your view of France. We made the most of the cheap cheese, wine and baguettes, I got particularly addicted to the baguettes when we were there and missed them tremendously after leaving. On our second day in Martinique we were thrown into a number of circumstances that I don’t think anyone was particularly expecting; the first was that all the French islands in the Caribbean went on strike to protest against the ridiculous rise in the cost of living. Most places stopped running and the majority of the retail shops and boutiques were closed, this wasn’t a major problem to start with but as the days went by the chaos grew with food running low and people fighting over petrol. The other interesting event of the day was the introduction of our new crew mate, Ciara, who happens to be a vet, a party
animal and extremely Irish. Her introduction to Bob was very messy with lots of drinking, dancing, games and conga lines which resulted in skinny dipping in the sea by some
of the crew...I think the Irish influence has made us all a little madder.
We are definitely the gypsies of the sea with six of us sharing a space of 36 feet. I must admit that I was struggling with the lack of personal space at first, but now I have my own bed back I’m feeling much happier and enjoying the madness. We even had a seventh person stay with us one of the nights, he was a charming French/Italian guy who had spent 2 months at sea on a rescue boat and was eager to meet some new people. We made the most of it and cooked an extravagant meal (we even put the table up, which is a rare occasion on Bob) and had a small party on the boat.
We took a short bus journey to a nearby waterfall, it wasn’t as nice as the one we saw in Grenada but we still had lots of fun. We all bathed in the fresh water
and Scott and Ed were having leaf-races in the shallow river just off the waterfall. We went on a short hike afterwards and took a closer look at some of the plants and trees in the surrounding forest, there’s some really gorgeous and interesting flora around, some with leaves as big as me. A week or so later we hiked for a good 5 hours up Mount Peleé, which I think was about 2500m high. This left my thighs burning for a good three days after, but the views were spectacular and the misty peaks were like some of the scenery in Braveheart.
Martinique and Dominica are the only islands in the Caribbean that celebrate Carnival in February and we were lucky enough to enjoy the preparations for this joyous occasion. Each day a parade would go round the main town with drummers, dancers and music to please the on looking crowds. One group in particular were dressed up in scary masks and wondered round covering people in flour, I had the experience of this myself, much to the amusement of others around me.
We spent a few days in a different area of the island, St Pierre,
The Irish One
Along with her cut up eyebrow from a drunken night when she jumped down the hatch and banged her face in the process
and explored some of the many ruins in the vicinity. Once again, I spent a drunken night going round the ruins of an old prison, although this experience wasn’t quite as scary and amusing as the time in Bermuda. After spending a fortnight in Martinique, however, the protesting began to get out of hand and we promptly left for Dominica. We later found out that shortly after we had left, a bulldozer was used to break into a hunting shop, stealing lots of guns and ammunition, so it looks like we left at the right time. We also heard that Carnival was cancelled in Martinique due to the strikes, which is very unfortunate. As far as I’m aware most of the French islands are still striking now, Guadeloupe being the worst effected as they have been striking for over a month now and there are serious riots going on there. At least we’re away from any danger now, until The Saints that is. . .
There are more photos below