LITTLE PARIS OF THE WEST INDIES

Arriving in St. Pierre we spend some time anchoring and re-anchoring. We are wanting to make sure we are going to hold as it is known for dragging. There is not another boat near us, NICE! When we shower off the back deck no need to worry about nosy neighbors looking through their binoculars. 

As we are walking the town there are old ruins everywhere, the town is just built up around them and into them, however, in some cases mother nature reclaimed the ruins for her own use. This place is beautiful with a huge volcano known as Mont Pelee in the distance. 

We go to the museum and I am starting to catch up on the history of this cool little village. Saint Pierre used to be the capital of Martinique back in the 1700s. The town was so successful they called it the “Little Paris of the West Indies”. They built a huge theater in the center of the city that sat about 800 people and brought over big acts from France. Mont Pelee served as the beautiful backdrop for the city and no one paid it much attention in 1902 when it started to emit gases and ash. When it finally erupted the entire town was laid to waste in a matter of minutes. In the little museum we saw coffee  and artifacts that were petrified. It is estimated that there were some 30,000 inhabitants in the city and after the eruption only one survivor, a prisoner that was in solitary confinement. He was horribly burned from the eruption and when rescued went on to join the circus as a side show. 

After spending the day walking through the city; seeing the theater, prison, old churches, the architecture, and grabbing a snack of Lorraine beer and Accaras we headed back to the boat; Johannes promised to make us some of his German potato salad. Lorraine is the local beer brewed in Martinique, they have two kinds a blonde and an Ambree. Matt loves the Amber and wants to get a case to bring home. Accaras are essentially fritters using salted fish, typically cod, every island has their own twist on how best to make them


Back at the boat the boys realize that we do not have an extremely KEY ingredient to German potato salad, nutmeg. The boys go back into town and I start doing my workout while they are gone. The sun is setting so it is getting cooler outside and the water is calm so it is easy to balance on the boat. I have been desperately trying to tone and lose some weight on these adventures. I avoid beer and was making healthy shakes until the blender broke. Sometimes you have to accept exactly how you are and enjoy what is around you. Plus Lorraine Blonde is really good 😉

The sun sets and the boys are still not back, its dark enough for no peeping toms so I shower in the ocean off the back deck, saving water by doing a final rinse in our fresh. I am starting to hear some beautiful music coming from the mainland. A great jazzy sound. AH, I know why the boys are taking so long. When they arrive they tell me about the huge band setting up with cameras and film crew in the main square. Interesting? Maybe a pre-carnival party? Johannes makes us another delicious dish of German potatoes and we are sweet talking him into providing us the recipe. 

The music is flowing into our boat and motivation is growing to get into town and check out the scene. You can never be sure exactly what will happen in this situation. Many times you can hear music going and what may sound like laughter and a party, so you rally to get there because you don’t want to be left out, only to discover no one is there except for a DJ and some very large speakers. As we arrive it is a very chill setting, we listen to the soulful music with a group of kids that are dressed in uniforms and some locals. We walk around and buy the roasted peanuts for sale and when the show ends we head home. That night we are woken up repeatedly by music and laughter and partying. To think they set up that much equipment for one act was short sighted. They must have had 5 or 8 different musicians playing music all night long. It did not stop until 5:00am. 

The car rental does not open until Monday so what do you do on Sunday Funday in the Caribbean. Fish! We pack everything to go snorkeling looking for the wrecks that are in the water from the volcano eruption. We dingy around the island but the water is too deep to see much. We find some parts of a wreck in a little shallower area and swim around, the water feels amazing and it is crystal clear. We see beautiful coral growth and a sea turtle swimming by. However, we are on the hunt for some big fish, eventually we locate what seems to be a good spot. Speargun in hand we dive into the water, the hunt is on. 

A few minutes later the Martinique coast guard has pulled up and started to question us to our surprise in English. He asked who is the owner of the dingy, where we are from, what is the name of the boat, how long have we been here, how long are we staying. Matt is answering all the questions and holding his spear gun out of the water. I am wondering if we are allowed to spear fish, all our knowledge is based on a free tourist cartoon map that does have what looks to be trident on it. Much to our surprise they ended up telling us that by French law we can only dingy 600 meters away from our boat (we were probably 3 miles away at this point), basically to the dock and back again. We are not allowed to drive any further than that. Super confused and relieved we thank them for telling us and quickly climb in and high tail it out of there back to the boat. 

Excited to rent the car and check out some surf spots on the island we get to bed early. In the morning we pack some food, water, extra pair of clothes, the surf board, cameras, and laptop (just in case we get some good wifi), and we are off. Matt waits with the dingy and our belongings while Johannes and I go to rent the car. We approach the building, but it seems to still be closed, hopefully they open soon. There is another spot across town we scoped out earlier that rents cars so we take off half walking half jogging. I am dripping in sweat and it is only 8:15am. We are excited to see them open and a few cars in the parking lot! YES. Success. Once its our turn we try to communicate with them in our english to their french, we come to understand they have no cars available, not for today, not for tomorrow, and not the next day. Shit. We walk/run back to the other spot, hopefully they are open. Still closed. We go back to met Matt and explain the story. We split up to use wifi and try to figure this out, Matt has a local guy call around, no luck, we go on Expedia,  no luck. Finally the other place opens and the guy explains that he will NEVER have a car for us, EVER. Well……what a bummer. Feeling tired and hot and stinky we head back to the boat, unpack and try to decide what we will do. Johannes is going to hike Mont Pelee and Matt and I are going to the Rum distillery, priorities.  To get to the Rum distillery we essentially hike up the mountain along the road almost to the starting point of Mont Pelee. Whew, I am super hot. Carrying the backpack with all our gear I am overheating. I let Matt take over so I can try to cool off. I collect little red beans off the road that are used in jewelry making throughout the island. I have decided that I have a new hobby in jewelry making. I have almost everything I need on the boat and Johannes is my first customer!

The rum distillery was very basic, a self guided tour, and I tried sips of a clear rum and dark rum. As we were leaving we see a wall full of boxed rum. Now I have heard of boxed wine, but never have I heard of boxed rum. We end up buying a 3 liter box for $19.00 euros and head down to the bus station, no way we are walking. As soon we sit down a bus pulls up and picks us up. Sweet! We are so excited I think it shows all over our face. A drunk guy on the bus starts talking to us in his best English and seems to want to be helpful about the cost of the bus ride and where we are going. Finally, some good luck and one French person that speaks some English, haha. It was a short bus ride and I really did not want it to end, strange but true. Matt and I go back to the boat and do some chores and watch about 5 other boats come anchor right on top of us. Yep I think it is time to get moving.  

This is one of the views from the top of Mont Pelee, Johannes took this photo

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