Friday, June 16, 2006

Touring Martinique

The next morning at 6 AM we were all off to sail down the coast to Roseau, the capital. Another boat boy, Rudy, showed us all to moorings, $10 a boat for the night. The town was very lovely and we walked all around and enjoyed some cold beers. It was a quiet night for all and an early start again in the morning for Martinique. It was a rough crossing with 15 - 20 knots of wind and 6 - 8 foot waves, but a good point of sail - beam reach - so it was fun. Once in the lee of the island it all calms down and we enjoyed the scenery down to Anse Mitan, our next anchorage. Above right that's Mt. Pelee off in the distance. Que Rico and ourselves managed to squeeze into the crowded bay but the others continued on down the coast a ways. They were anxious to get into the Rodney Bay marina in St. Lucia for much needed repair work and rest the following morning.

Que Rico and ourselves rented a car for a day and drove through the spine of the island, down into jungle forests and up along the crests of the mountains. Above left is a path through a state park we hiked there. Beautiful flowers were everywhere as you can see from a few of my pictures. That lovely green and white foliage hides a pink pineapple growing. Along the road we stopped at a charming restaurant in a garden and had the "plat de jour" - very reasonable for a delicious meal. Scott and I both had French in school but it was very rusty. Very few people admitted to speaking English, but they were very polite and didn't grimace at our accents.

Our goal was the state park at Mt. Pelee where a well used trail goes up to the crater. Despite multiple very serious warning signs over days in advance, the people in that part of Martinique refused to abandon their homes and business and in 1906 the mountain exploded and killed all but two people in the town and neighborhood of Saint Pierre at it's base. One was in jail and the other in a work room basement. The former, Ludger Sylbaris, became quite famous for surviving and was later pardoned. Around 30,000 people perished! Mt. Pelee is 4,582 feet high and unfortunately we started hiking too late in the day to make it to the top. Mist closed in on us as we climbed higher, but the views across the island were great.

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