Colorful Martinique, St. Lucia, Bequia

As I write this, I am sitting in the harbor on Bequia, and we’ve now visited several islands since I last wrote about living onboard in the Caribbean.  I was surprised to learn that my sister and a few friends have visited St. Lucia.  It’s so nice to share our experiences!  And St. Lucia was one of my favorite islands this winter.

Before that, we spent about a month in Martinique, between three harbors:  Fort de France, a moderately large city that is the capital of Martinique, followed by St. Anne and Le Marin.  We rented a car twice during our long stay in Martinique and enjoyed driving around different parts of the island.

There was plenty to do just walking around in Fort de France. The morning produce and spice market in Fort de France was pretty exotic.  I would love to have bought some of everything–well, maybe not everything!  I still have spice blends I bought in St. Martin last year, so I hesitated to give in to everything colorful bottle and jar that tempted me!IMG_8746

Since it was early February, it was getting close to Carnival, and the various fabric shops in Fort de France were busy selling bright, shiny fabrics and lots of feathers and glittery trims to customers.  I was lucky to wade through the crowds to find a beautiful linen/cotton blend fabric with a subdued floral print in muted greens and creams on a pale periwinkle ground. So French…  Meanwhile, you can see what types of fabrics attract the locals!

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There is a beautiful public library in Fort de France designed by Gustav Eiffel and named for the man who abolished slavery on Martinique–Schoelscher.  We passed this library on every walk through the city we took, and I spent a productive afternoon inside the library doing work on the Archie Brennan Project.  It was the fastest internet I’ve had all winter!  It’s a bit shocking that the interior of this building is completely different from the exterior.  Inside the rooms are institutional and drab!

We also walked up to the bus station to catch a bus to the well known Ballata Gardens.  This botanical garden was the private home of the grandparents to the designer.  He spent his childhood in the simple, traditional syle house, and when he chose gardening for his vocation, he spent a great deal of time and resources turning the surrounding area into a remarkable place.

Just outside the back porch of the house, that has a deep overhang on the roof shading the verandas on each side of the house, there were nectar feeders that attracted quantities of hummingbirds. Bob got this shot with our digital SLR–it would have been nearly impossible for either of us to catch this moment with our iphones, but plenty of others were trying!  When the sun catches them, they are so iridescent!

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Later in St. Anne, Carnival arrived and Bob got this shot of a very pretty little devil!

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While we were in St. Anne, there was a barbecue for cruisers every Friday at noon.  We met in the shade of trees along a beach, and the couple on Out of Africa brought a grill and charcoal ashore, in their dinghy (!), to share with anyone who wanted to cook a hot meal.  The rest of us brought something to grill and another dish to share.  Some of the cruisers brought their musical instruments to play, which made the event quite festive!  As you can see, these were quite the gatherings each Friday.

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I doubt there was ever a more entertaining musical duo than these two with their accordion and little horn.  Is that a cornet? I love accordion music! So French, so Italian, so Polish…..so many cultures have terrific accordion music!

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Here’s a view of the anchorage at St. Anne from the beach where the cookouts took place.

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A couple of times we enjoyed a sundowner from this perch overlooking the harbor in St. Anne.  Pandora is one of the dark hulled boats near the center of the photo.

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This is the sight that greeted us each time we came ashore in St. Anne.  It is literally right at the end of the dock.  There was a service everyday at 6pm–Catholic, since this is a French island– and the service always drew a large crowd.  During the service you could hear the music from anywhere along the main street. (Sorry the photo is crooked!–it’s the photographer, not the church!)

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A few weeks later, we drove further up the road in a rental car, past Ballata Gardens to a nature preserve that has well paved paths through the rainforest.  That day was the highlight of our stay on Martinique.  It was a long day, walking on trails in the rainforest, visiting the highest road on the island, partway up the volcano Mt. Pelee that erupted in 1902, and destroyed the town of St. Pierre right below. I wrote about this day a few weeks back,  but to recap I’m including a few more photos.

Here is the beautiful trail into the rainforest.  The entire walk was paved, and all the cement was brought in by men only–no pack animals, and no modern equipment.

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In the rainforest.

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Tiny pink bananas.

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After our morning walk, we decided to drive up Mt. Pelee as far as the road would take us.  You can hike up the rest of the way, but I bet it would be challenging!  And on the day we visited the top of the mountain was well shrouded in cloud.  While just a bit lower, in the rainforest, we had glorious sunshine, this is what we found as we drove to higher elevations.

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After a short stop here, we drove back into the sunlight and stopped at the Depaz rum distillery, which is one of several historic sites on Martinique.  I’ve already mentioned how memorable a visit that was!

It began to feel like we might never leave Martinique, and there were still plenty of things do there.  But, after a month, we pulled anchor and sailed to St. Lucia.  I was openly nervous about this since we hear of dinghy thefts there almost weekly, and also some occasional crime  involving bodily harm.  Hmmm… We had been assured that we’d be safe enough in Rodney Bay, but it is a crowded harbor with dirty water.  We often like to swim in the late afternoon and we usually make water every couple of days. This would not be possible in Rodney Bay, so we chose to take our chances anchoring just outside the harbor.  I never felt threatened there, so it was a good experience.  We pulled our dinghy up into the davits every night, and when we went ashore, Bob always locked the dinghy to the dock with a heavy cable.

Outside Rodney Bay, we were anchored just off a couple of popular resorts.  One of them was Sandals, where my sister stayed with her husband back before she had her first daughter who is now almost 13.  It was fun to reminisce with her about her vacation there. I sent her photos.

For Bob and me, the highlight of St. Lucia was Marigot Bay.  It is a tiny teacup of a harbor, with a wonderful resort on one side of the harbor.  By taking a mooring in this little pond, we had access to all the resort facilities.  Boy, did we have fun with that!  We spent several relaxing, lazy days under an awning at the pool, writing blogs posts and reading books, and spent evenings in the beautiful open air restaurants.  One night we had a compressed melon salad topped with feta cheese and mint and a lemony vinaigrette, followed by tuna tartare which has been my favorite dish to order throughout these islands.

Here is Pandora, framed in the entrance to the resort. She’s the dark hulled boat to the right.

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Each morning ‘boat boys’ row or paddle out in the skiffs or on paddle boards, laden with fruits and vegetables.  We can buy fresh fruit every morning, along with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions….  Today we were visited by a basket man, who weaves baskets from coconut palm fronds.  His baskets are beautiful, and while I was looking at a couple of them, he made me a little ‘fish on a stick’ as a present.  While I realize this is a great ploy to get me to buy a basket, I still think it is a generous thing to do.  It only took him a minute, but it just reinforces my belief that weavers are often such generous people.  I still have the little snake and bird that the Cuban basket weaver made for me a couple of years ago. It was so nice to start the day talking to a weaver! His name is Tom.

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This was our most colorful visitor!

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And look what we got!  I’ve never seen a lemon that big– and it was full of juice!

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It was hard to tear myself away from Marigot Bay.  It is so well protected that much of our time there the water was mirror calm, and I haven’t seen water that calm since we left the sheltered waters of New England!  But off we went, as we had planned to get further south this winter.  We spent so much time in Martinique and then Marigot Bay on St. Lucia, that we are short on time to get as far south as Bob had planned.

So, here we sit in Admiralty Bay on Bequia (prounced “BEH quay, for those who are not familiar with this tiny spot in the Grenadines).  The harbor is called Port Elizabeth (for Elizabeth II), and the nearby beach is Princess Margaret Beach.  Long live the Queen.  This is a lovely spot.

Bob has found quite a cache of talented boat workers here in Bequia.  There is a canvas maker whom everyone raves about for his well made dinghy chaps.  I didn’t even know we needed such a thing until  just a couple of islands ago. Bob is ashore now, waiting for the template to be made.  The chaps will be ready sometime tomorrow.  There are good woodworkers here who do refinishing and varnishing.  The island is known for scrimshaw carvers, potters who make contemporary items in the style of the Arawaks, and even a couple of painters who do enticing work.  Bob and I each bought a bit of scrimshaw made from the teeth of pilot whales.  It is legal here to hunt whales, and they do it from traditional row boats, no motors.  And they have to use hand-thrown harpoons.

This is something you don’t see too often.  A colorful building with its own little dock, and a sign announcing you have arrived at the medical office of the local doctor who is also a well known artist with a gallery adjacent to the examing rooms.  We stopped in yesterday–to the gallery, not the medical office.  The doctor was in, the gallery that is, and he was as colorful to talk to as his building is.  What a life!

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This is something you don’t see too often.  A colorful building with its own little dock, and a sign announcing you have arrived at the medical office of the local doctor who is also a well known artist with a gallery adjacent to the examing rooms.  We stopped in yesterday–to the gallery, not the medical office.  The doctor was in, the gallery that is, and he was as colorful to talk to as his building is.  What a life!

 

 

 

 

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One Response to Colorful Martinique, St. Lucia, Bequia

  1. Lane says:

    A most enjoyable account of your travels as always. Be safe.

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