Saturday, March 23, 2013

The promised land : Martinique

Memorial at Anse Cafard
La maison du bagnard
We had left Riviere Sens marina at 6:00, nobody around after a tough night and loud music until 5:00 a.m. Nobody to pick up the  keys to the toilets and the showers (that we did not use as they were not adequate at all) and recover my 20 bucks left as deposit. Maybe on the  way back, we will spend a night there, if it is not a week-end, and recover the money. Again, great sail all day, using the motor only 2.2 hours, mostly to get out of the lee of Guadeloupe. We arrived in Roseaux, the capital of Dominica at 2:15 p.m. and picked up a mooring close to the cruise liner terminal. We are only there for the  night, but it was worth testing the ground. We know now that the  mooring is $15 per  day, which is very reasonable, and there is a Wifi (hothothotspot) at $10/day with a very strong signal.
Crushing the cane
In St Pierre
We left next morning at 6:30 to get to marina de la Pointe du Bout, across from Fort de France. It is a small marina,  with the minimum of services, but I like it. Very friendly staff, lots of shops and restaurants around and, since we are now in French territory, no usable showers and toilets.
We used the motor a little more this  time, as we were in a hurry. Friends were waiting for us for dinner, some of them flying back to France the next day. So we had to clear customs and immigration, register with the marina, rent a car and get ready.
Lobster Dinner
Cathedral St Pierre
All that done in time, and once we got to the house of  Philippe (a brother of the coast who belongs to the table of Haiti), there was Jean-Rene, from Granville, Pierre and Dominique, also from Normandy but spending time in Martinique, and Michel Charron whom I knew since 1975, as a member of the Granville Yacht Club and who, like me, did the 3/4 ton cup in Kiel, Germany on his boat Excalibur while I was on Le Jovial Tiburon. There was also Benoit, son of Philippe, whom I have known since Haiti in 90's and his girl friend. This was so much fun and such a big surprise. I certainly did not expect to meet anybody else than Philippe and Odile. Next day, we stayed on Papy Jovial with a lot of catching up to do. On Wednesday and Thursday, touring and driving around the island, wonderful scenery's, gorgeous colors. We visited the distillery of Rhum La Mauny, where three different rums are made (La Mauny, Trois Rivieres and Clement). There are 15 rums made in the island, in 7 different production plants. They are all "rhum agricole" as opposed to industrial rum. The difference is that first the sugar cane is crushed to produce juice which is fermented to make what they call wine, at 4 degrees proof. Then the wine is distilled, with the help of various yeasts which are an important part of the taste. Then, it will eventually be aged in oak barrels.
In front of the Diamond
The Diamond
The industrial rum is made out of molasses, which can be imported from anywhere. Only Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti and Jamaica make agricultural rum.
On Thursday night, we drove north and took the road from Lorrain to St Pierre, which was the seat of government in 1902, when the "Montagne Pelee" erupted and destroyed the city, killing some 30,000 people.
Getting back to the boat, I get a message from my son telling me that Christian and Suzanne, my best friends since 1964, are spending a fortnight vacation in a hotel built on the side of the marina !
We got immediately in touch with them and arrange to meet and spend time together. First, on Friday, dinner at their hotel with lots of lobster on the menu. Then on Saturday, we drove to a place called "Cap Chevalier" and had a late lunch at "Chez Gracieuse". We left the restaurant at 4:00 p.m. but we did not see time pass.
And we will see then again tomorrow night, as we are having lunch at Philippe's.
How lucky can you be !

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