We are in Martinique for a day. Why only one day? Well, that’s explained in a future article, Island Hopping in the Caribbean, but basically, we have too many islands to visit in too little time. Yes, we know: everyone should have such problems. 😀
We are staying in Karibea Squash Hotel, a small hotel near the dock at Fort-de-France that we found through Expedia. It is close enough to the dock that we can walk to it.
Okay, this map shows a guy walking to the hotel in 16 minutes. This map is wrong. We disembark after dark and decide to take a taxi; unfortunately, all are taken, and there is a queue waiting. So we start to walk, figuring it’s an easy hike. Wrong. The streets are dark and confusing, and we realize we are, well, not lost, but not where we want to be. So we find a main street and, after a few minutes, hail a taxi. The drive to the hotel takes about ten minutes. It’s on a hill and there are a lot of curvy one-way streets. We doubt we could have found it in the dark.
By the time we check-in to the hotel, it is late. There are no nearby restaurants open. And, we are hungry. With the help of our high-school French, the very obliging front desk girl helps us order a pizza and sells us beer that the hotel keeps available for their guests. We have a good night’s sleep. When we wake up we look at the map and decide to visit les Trois-îlets, just across the bay.
We are fortunate enough to see one of the islands other tourists, a green iguana. The iguana is an invasive species, but it’s the first one we’ve ever seen, and we appreciate the moment.
The shuttles run regularly, and we are soon aboard our Vedettes Tropicales boat.
The shuttle is not crowded and we enjoy the warm Caribbean morning.
Behind us is Fort-de-France. The silver building with the slanted roof is the Tourist Information Center. It seems odd to us that a building dedicated to helping visitors on a Caribbean island would look so un-Caribbean island-ish, but who are we to judge, eh?
From the shuttle we can see Fort Saint Louis. Built in 1699 in the reign of the French king Louis XIV, the fort proved instrumental in protecting the city a number of times. Currently it is an active naval base for COMAR Antilles.
Les Trois-îlets is the birthplace of Joséphine de Beauharnais, most noted for being the first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte. The town is nestled in the green forest of the island — green, no doubt, due to the rain we see in our forecast.
We disembark and begin walking through the town. It’s raining now, warm but wet, and we did not bring umbrellas. 😥 Oh, well. One of the disadvantages of traveling in shoulder season is that the weather can be less than ideal.
We walk up the Avenue de l’Impératrice Joséphine and find a small café, the Le Green Impérial. We step inside to get out of the rain. It is empty except for us. One of the advantages of traveling in shoulder season is that you can have a café all to yourself. 😀
We order the Madinina du chef. “Madinina” is the indigenous Carib islanders name for Martinique, meaning “Island of Flowers”. We have no idea what we ordered, because part of the fun of being in another culture is enjoying a little mystery. The dish is served and is a beautiful array of seafood on a bed of lettuce including shrimp, crab cake (the white food), breaded croquettes, and a purple sausage, all of it delicious.
In the bathroom is this sign. Good advice in any language.
The rain abates, and we continue walking, finding the Église Notre Dame de la Bonne Délivrance. Unfortunately it is not open for visitors at this time.
The cemetery adjoining the church is open, and very interesting. The cemetery counts among its illustrious characters the names of Legris-Duval, the Couédic of Cosquer, Gardin de Boisdulier … rich merchants specialized in the trade of linens known as “bretagnes” and financial donors for construction of the religious building.
The monumental cemetery is well maintained; the artifacts appear positioned purposefully. Except that one rock. In some traditions, a rock at a burial site represents a prayer for the deceased, and an indication that someone has visited their grave. However, we are in a different country with different cultural traditions, so we don’t want to assume the meaning of this rock on this grave.
We meander through out the grounds, appreciating the thought and effort people put into remembrances of friends and family. But the day is getting late, and we mustn’t miss the ferry.
We bid adieu to les Trois-Îlets. Like most places we visit, we wish we could have stayed longer. Still, we cherish the memories of this one, short day, and hope that, perhaps, we will again visit this Island of Flowers.