Tuesday, 15 April 2014

13/2014 Martinique

Hi from Clare,                  Sunday 13th April 2014
 
 
THE BIG BANG
Our first stop on the French island of Martinique was at Saint Pierre which is at the northern end of the west coast. The most notable thing about St Pierre is that it was completely destroyed by a volcano in 1902. Of the 30,000 residence only one man survived. He was a prisoner in a small stone cell and was miraculously found alive four days later, see photos. This is an amazing story but I was sad to read that he spent the rest of his life travelling with an American circus displaying his scars.

 
The lone survivor and his prison cell
 
The town of Saint Pierre has been rebuilt around the ruins. The Cathedral seen in the photos shows the original ground floor and the rest of the building is post 1902. There is a very interesting museum showing photos pre and post 1902 and has exhibits of every day items dug from the ruins. There are musical instruments all warped and melted, dinner sets fused together by hot volcanic dust and a box of nails in one solid block, it's a miracle one man survived.

 
St. Pierre Cathedral & the Theatre (1902)
LET'S HAVE A DRINK
So after that rather sobering experience we next walked uphill to the Depaz Distillery a couple of kilometres out of town. This is open to the public and we were allowed to stroll about by following the red path through the plant. We stopped for a refreshing tropical juice cocktail before sampling the different rums produced at the plant. The local girl behind the bar was quite taken aback when Andrew asked for a sample of the Cocoa Rum. Apparently, said with an Aussie accent, it sounds like their word for diarrhoea! We all had a good laugh.

 

 
The Depaz Distillery with Ellen, Martin and Andrew

THE BIG SMOKE
Our next stop was the city of Fort de France. This is a busy city and not very appealing. We stopped here so Ellen and Martin from Acapella could purchase coffee for their espresso machine and we wanted more CO2 cylinders for our Soda Stream. Because it was the weekend and the Soda Stream agent was closed, it took two trips before we had success. But hurray, we now have enough CO2 gas to last for twelve months of nightly happy hours.

ESCAPE
We were glad to leave the city and headed south to Grand Anse D'Arlets. This is a lovely large bay with a small holiday village. The four of us hiked up over the hill to the neighbouring village. It took about 45 minutes of scrambling over rocks and ducking under trees, but it was a good walk with a wonderful view and we felt well exercised by the time we returned to the boat. We spent a few days in the bay enjoying the water and sharing happy hours with Ellen and Martin.

 

 
The walk and views around Grand Anse D'Arlets
A PERFECT SPOT
We are now at Saint Anne which is a lovely small village a few miles south of the main town of Le Marin. It is a picture perfect anchorage with aqua water, sandy beaches, blue skies and a large Club Med resort ideally located on the sandy point. We went into busy Le Marin yesterday for some provisions and on Friday night the boys took Ellen and me out to dinner in Saint Anne's to celebrate our April birthdays soon to come. We had a wonderful night with a spectacular view of the harbour from our front row dinner table.
This morning the four of us climbed the stairs to the top of the hill over looking the bay and then strolled along the beach for morning coffee at a beach side restaurant.

 
Martinique and the Birthday Girls
SO WHAT'S NEXT
Tonight we will have farewell drinks on Eye Candy before we leave Acapella here and sail tomorrow to the island of St Lucia. We hope to be in Trinidad by mid week so we can get a few jobs done on Eye Candy. I am hoping to get the lounge suite replaced and Andrew wants some work done on the rig. We're hoping that the workforce there is not too busy to fit us in.
We plan to catch up with our friends Ellen and Martin after we leave Trinidad. My guess is that by then we will be looking forward to some happy company.
love Candy xx

At 10:59 AM6/04/2014 (utc) our position was 14°36.04'N 061°04.16'W

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Monday, 7 April 2014

12/2014 Roseau, Dominica

Hi from Clare,                                                       Sunday 6th April 2014

We left Prince Rupert Bay in the north of Dominica and sailed down the west coast to the capital city of Roseau. One of our cruising friends said that the city was shabby however I rather enjoyed seeing the wonderful assortment of authentic Caribbean buildings with balconies, overhangs and intricate gingerbread trim. Some of the older buildings have been beautifully renovated and some of the simpler wooden buildings are beautiful just because of their weathered and aged appearance.
We anchored a mile south of the town near the Anchorage Hotel. We spent a few nights in the very comfortable bar using Wifi to Skype family and friends. The signal was strong and it was wonderful to catch up with our love ones.

AN ISLAND TOUR
The biggest adventure during our stay in Roseau was a guided day trip around the south and east of the island which included a one hour hike to Victoria Falls. I will come back to this shortly but before I do I have an apology.

LOST IN TRANSLATION

In my last newsletter I mentioned how much we were enjoying the company of our Dutch friends Martin and 'Anna' on Acapella. However after reading our Blog they mentioned that Anna's name is actually Ellen; sorry about that it must be my hearing of the Dutch accent. So with no improvement to my Dutch ear we arrived in Roseau and whilst visiting Acapella we met a young Dutch family from the sailing yacht Sirena. They introduced themselves and we decided that we would do the island trip together. The following morning we gathered together and I remembered Jeanette's name but I said to her husband "you didn't tell me your name yesterday, you just said - hello." He said, "No I said my name - Hayo." So this was also lost in translation; I guess I just failed basic Dutch lessons. I felt an immediate connection with their little daughter Vera as she was born on 10.11.11 which is the same day as my grandson Sammy. So now with the names sorted we can go:-

 
Some Dominica terrain shots
 

BACK TO THE ISLAND TOUR
We set off early morning with our very energetic and entertaining local guide Octavius known as Sea Cat. He drove us around stopping regularly to either shake or climb a tree to gather fruit. He would rip up lemon grass, cut off bay leaves or slice the bark from a cinnamon tree. We saw bananas, mangoes, apricots, pears, pineapples, coconuts, pawpaw, star fruit, cashew nuts, cocoa beans, cod liver oil seeds and various berries. I can't hope to instantly remember all that he showed us but the island is like a tropical fruit bowl. A lot of fruits and spices are growing in the wild.

We noticed local people filling water containers from water outlets coming down from the mountains. We discovered later that the water is crystal clear and icy cold. We also stopped for what Octavius claimed is "the best bread on the island" which was fresh from the oven. At this same establishment the local family was smoking meat in the back shed and had a basic distillery producing moonshine; this seems to be pretty normal practice.

 
The Bakery and colour co-ordination!

We had a soup lunch at a "Rastarant" in Zion Valley. All the vegetables were grown on the property and Octavius cooked us cashew nuts and then for dessert he presented us with a banana leaf with cooked cocoa beans rolled in raw sugar; really yummy.

 
Sea Cat up a fruit tree & one of the many fruit stops along the way
 

OUR RIVER HIKE
We hiked to Victoria Falls crossing the knee deep river five times. We scrambled over rocks and walked along narrow paths through the tropical forest. Hayo had the job of carrying his daughter which was no mean feat considering that Vera weighs 15 kilos. Octavius was a very attentive guide and helped us with the difficult spots; he also carried Vera whenever he was free. By the time we arrived at the falls we were all ready for a swim. Octavius was the first to jump under the waterfall and then he took us one by one under the waterfall with him. Being a very vocal fellow we were encouraged in joining him with some warlike cries from behind the waterfall; it was good fun. The guys then jumped from the rocks next to the waterfall; see photo for Andrew's jump.
 
Andrew jumping and the tribe returns to base
 

On the way home we called into the Emerald Pool set amid tall forest trees with a dense canopy. This is a popular tourist destination and therefore is very civilized with made paths and stairs to the pool. Octavius said the destination was for young children and old people. I couldn't help but smile to myself. After our hike to Victoria Falls little Vera fell asleep in the car and my poor old legs felt like jelly, so? On our final run down from the mountain to the bay we enjoyed a glorious sunset which seemed an appropriate ending to our day with nature.

 
Sea Cat breaking a coconut and a mango tree
 

SO WHAT'S NEXT
We are now on the French island of Martinique where we will stay for a few more days. Our Martinique adventure will be covered in our next newsletter.
 

Love Candy xx

At 10:59 AM6/04/2014 (utc) our position was 14°36.04'N 061°04.16'W

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