Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Landfall Martinique - Sorry we're Closed!

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia is a favorite stop of ours. It's just an easy place for cruisers with great shopping and easy access to a marine store, hardware, fuel dock, etc. The Rodney Bay Marina was under renovation when we were here in June. All the new slips are completed including the new dock for the mega-yachts. The marina invited all the yachties to a customer appreciation party while we were there and even those of us anchored in the bay were invited. Free rum punch and beer gets any cruisers' attention. Those of you headed this way, they plan on holding these parties every other Thursday so don't miss it!
One of our island excursions was a trip to the Mamiku Gardens on the east coast of St. Lucia. Joe, Becky, Jim and I took a bus to Castries, then transfered to another bus that took us over the mountains to the east coast. The gardens are on the site of an old plantation. The flowers, especially the orchids were beautiful. Here's a glimpse of a few

Here's Becky and I checking the guide for the names of the plants.

February 7th we headed to Martinique. We didn't spend time on Martinique on our way south so we were really looking forward to doing some sightseeing with Joe and Becky. We planned to rent a car for a tour of the island, do a little rum tasting at the many distilleries, visit the museums, etc. Well, it was not to be. The citizens of Martinique were on stike! As we understand it they are protesting the high cost of living in paradise. I believe they are looking to increase the subsidy they receive from France. Apparently strikes happen from time to time and when it does, everything shuts down. When we went into the capital of Fort du France to clear customs everything was closed. Restaurants and stores closed, no buses or taxis running, garbage piling up on the street. We anchored several miles across the bay in Anse Mitan which is in the heart of a tourist area. The town is wonderful, full of sidewalk cafes, shops, a great bakery for fresh baquettes and a grocery. But by the time we left the strike had been going on for about 10 days. No ships were being offloaded so grocery stores and restaurants were running out of food. At one point the grocery store in Anse Mitan had about 20 people at any given time waiting outside for the opportunity to come in and buy food. They had to control the number of people going in and out because the store was too crowded. Remember, stores in Fort du France and elseware on the island were closed so I think people were traveling to shop in Anse Mitan. There was nothing available to buy but packaged goods and a few vegetables. The dairy and meat cases were empty. It was not a problem for us because we came well provisioned from St. Lucia. But imagine if you had flown in for a week vacation only to discover that the island is basically shut down and the restaurants are running out of food. It was really a shame. We stayed until the weather was good enough for us to move north to Dominica. The French islands of Guadeloupe and Le Saintes are also involved in the strike so we'll be skipping them this time through.

The view across the bay towards Fort du France. At night this is all lights. Fort du France is a large city of 130,000 people.

At one point there were 6 of these large ships anchored in the outer harbor waiting to either load or off-load their cargo.

We took a long walk one day to the town of Les Trois-Ilets seen here in the distance. This is the view overlooking a golf course. No golf today because of the strike. Today it's just a park!

We just had to show you these interesting cottages at the Bakua resort. They're built edge to edge in long, colorful rows. Nothing fancy. Just a bed and bath. They looked like a child's playhouse.

The view from the beach with the Anse Mitan anchorage behind.
That's it from Martinique. I guess we'll save our rum tasting for another time.
C'est la vie!