Friday, January 10, 2014

Moving South to Martinique

Roseau from the sea
 After two wonderful days in Prince Rupert's Bay in northern Dominica, it was time to move south again. We actually had wonderful weather for it on New Year's Eve Day. Since it was too far to make a run for Martinique in daylight, we stopped in Roseau, the capital of Dominica, for the night. After an enterprising boat boy (who probably was not officially one) helped us moor and another pair brought us some ice, we were ready to relax. The pair was looking for beer, too, but they settled for rum and coke!

Street in St. Pierre
We did not go ashore as we were not sure how they celebrate. We were hoping it was not going to be "Detroit style" with gun shots. Fortunately, it was very quiet on the waterfront. There was music coming from shore but nothing else.Ours was a quiet night after we finished a dinner of ham and escalloped potatoes, we pretty much crashed. We didn't even crack open the chilled champagne! It was a group decision to welcome 2014 at breakfast!

Still showing Flat Stanley the sights for
the Monteith First Graders!
The waterfront in St. Pierre
The sail across the Martinique Channel was a good one. As usual, the wind was more on the nose than we would have liked, but the real challenge was the east to west current. The more we turned to the east to offset the current, the more we faced into the wind. I can see why these islands are called The Windward Islands. The wind and swells are strong and steady. At least it was a sunny day so it made for a good sail.

We chose to anchor at St. Pierre rather than at Fort de France. We prefer visiting the small villages rather than going into large ports. Large ports are like train stations: they are never in the best part of town and they are busy and industrial. In the villages, we can meet people, see how they live and experience their culture.
Fresh vegetables at last!

This was our first chance to shop at the local open air market. It was great to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. When I was purchasing some cucumbers, I asked the lady who only spoke French (and I do not), how much for the cucumbers. She used her fingers with her words to indicate 1 Euro per kilogram. Okay. I am not sure how many that will buy so I loaded three onto her scale. She then threw what looked like a one pound bag of dried beans on the other side of the scale and said to me: more! So I kept adding cucumbers until she smiled and removed the bean bag. I got more cucumbers than I thought possible for 1 Euro!

A view in the theater that was lost to the volcano.
We always visit the local churches.
Contemporary stained glass window tell the story of
the resurrection of St. Pierre after the eruption of Mt. Pelee
After checking in and out with Immigration, we toured the sights of the museum and the remains of the theater and jail. In 1902, the 250 year old city of St. Pierre was totally wiped out by an eruption of Mt. Pelee. The people died instantly from the blast, heat, gases and ash. It was not the lava flow that got them. Even those trying to escape in ships in the harbor, died and the boats sank. The harbor still has the wrecks of 11 ships below the surface - in the deep area so they do not affect boats like ours.

Until the eruption, St. Pierre had a population of 30,000 and was a booming city, known as Little Paris. The farm land around the town was rich and fruitful. Today, it is plush and green due to the numerous daily showers and the sunshine. The town only has a population of 5,000 as the capital was moved down to the southern end of the island away from the volcano to Fort de France. Now St. Pierre is a quiet village.

We enjoyed getting warm bread and pastries at the bakery. And we had a wonderful dinner at La Tamaya, a well-known restaurant. Hopefully it will retain its reputation with the new owners who just opened on January 1st. Based on our meals, they will be successful. I can still savor the flavors of my veal chop Normandy-style!

Relaxing with a cold one while I fight with the Internet!
The biggest frustration we had here was trying to get Internet service;. We visited and Internet cafe/bar and purchased 20 hours for 15 Euros. However, we could never get online as we were caught in some loop that wanted us to pay again. After fighting with it for hours on several computers and tablets, it was obvious that the seller had not activated the code I purchased. That required a return to the Internet cafe. Unfortunately, our timing was terrible because they were serving lunch and did not want to be bothered with me. I held my ground and after wasting an hour there, he finally gave me the money back.

That was the good news. The bad news was NO INTERNET AGAIN. Just as I was frustrated when I had my cell phone bundled with the home and office land lines and Internet service, I realize when you can't make it work, you can't work! I had the experience of a check getting lost in the mail so they cut off my service,. resulting in no way to communicate at all. That was the end of "bundling" for me! Do keep in mind that as we all become more dependent on the Internet for everything, it can go away in a nano-second. And then you have no access to anything. So as we continue our journey west into the Pacific islands, you will not hear from us often as Internet will be very limited or non-existent.

1 comment:

  1. Martinque looks quite picturesque! Speaking of technical difficulties, Loretta filled me in a little about all the technology you have aboard the Trillium. She sounds to be a great boat, best luck with all the electronics!

    all the best,


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