Fort de France Martinique
After saying goodbye to people we know in St Lucia, our sail to Martinique was uneventful and a very pleasant 6 hour passage, we had great winds and averaged around 5 knots. We arrived at four in the afternoon – too late to clear customs that day. Its Carnival week and we have been told that this is the place to be. We dropped the hook in a busy, very pleasant anchorage beneath the Fort St Louis. Forte de France is the capital of Martinique, it is the largest of the cities in the windward islands. I’ve heard great things about Forte de France and am looking forward to visiting. We secured the boat and went ashore to explore. There is an noticeable difference between this town and some of the other carribean towns we have visited. You can immediately see the difference in the infrastructure, the roads, the cleanliness of the streets, the landscaping, the way the locals dress and behave – It is a French city, it has that European feel to it and clearly enjoys a thriving economy compared to its neighbouring islands. The streets are small, very clean and the streets are bustling with people. There is a new waterfront with a huge dinghy dock across from a park and a great playground. The streets are full of vendors selling snack foods and drinks and at this time – brightly coloured clothing, glittery, sequinned glitzy costumes and hats and accessories for carnival.
We strolled through the tiny crowded streets and found a great grocery store selling fresh meats, fresh produce and some amazing cheeses and a large bakery. And the wine selection – great French wine for just a few euros.
Forte de France is the perfect place to “people watch”. We found a small outdoor cafe and spent a very pleasant hour or so just watching. A large percentage of the people were dressed for carnival, sporting skimpy glittery tops and short skirts, heavy make-up and heels – and the women too! No kidding there are so many guys who dressed in womens’ clothing. We discovered that each day of carnival has a theme, and “Burlesque” is one of those themes.
The following day after spending a lazy morning reading, sunning and swimming off the boat, we went into town because the music coming from shore was getting louder, the throb of drums was loud and insistent and we could see crowds getting bigger and bigger. The parade began around 4PM – we found a spot along the way not really knowing what to expect – there were thousands of people lining the streets to see the spectacle. All around was the pulsating carribean music blaring from enormous loud speakers. The parade was amazing. It was colourful, original, creative , and imaginative. There were literally dozens of participants belonging to different groups and organisations. There were numerous bands that had up to 100 musicians playing along. Dancers of all kinds were there, theatrical groups, schools, churches, women in traditional madras costumes, futuristic, red devils, flower girls, the themes were endless. We had actually seen enough after two hours, there did not appear to be any sign of it slowing down. We went back to the boat and could see the crowds, and hear the music until the early hours of the morning. These people are inexhaustible! The carnival will continue until Wednesday, with a different themef every day! Its great to be able to witness this event and very impressive to see the amount of work that goes in to making the carnival a success. There are literally thousands of people taking part – can’t imagine having to coordinate something like this.
We are leaving on Thursday morning and making our way towards Antigua.
pictures of the carnival to follow
Posted by Amoeba Sailing Tours on Wed, March 09, 2011 at 09:58 AM