November 11 – December 08 2021; 7319 nm and 993 days after departure from La Rochelle.
All our concerns regarding entering Martinique were fortunately unnecessary. In fact it was so easy that we almost couldn’t believe it. With all our boat papers and vaccination passes send in in advance to Cross-AG, the whole check in took less than 15 min. No test or anything else required! Awesome!!! And then the food adventure began. What a luxury to go to a proper supermarket with millions of products. A variety just felt like the Food Paradies. Imagine! Different types of yammi French cheese like Compté, Brie, Camembert, Roche fort to name only a few. Paté in delicious varieties, wonderful tasty real butter (not the strange like margarine tasting butter which keeps for almost a year???) and and and. I could go on for ages. Oh and of course we went to the bakery. What a treat. Just the smell of the promising french bakery products lifted us up high in food heaven. Our first croissants were indescribably delicious and every little bite was so very much savoured. J’adore la cuisine française! What a great start in a new country.
As nice as the groceries supply was in Martinique as chastening was the traffic. With a rented car we grabbed our broken macbook and took off to Le Lamentin to get it hopefully repaired. On our way there we discovered very well maintained roads with road signs, markers, crash barriers, fast lanes and traffic jams. Yeah! Welcome back to Europe. We actually couldn’t believe it, but so it happened. Instead of about an hour drive to the apple shop it took us 3 hours. And that was in the morning after the usual rush hour. Later we figured out that the general strike had started and we got caught in the first day. Anyhow, we made it to the shop and with me begging and looking like a battered dog in need we even had the chance to talk to the guys. Usually without an appointment there’s no service. They checked the mac and figured that the motherboard was broken. “Oh shit” were my thoughts even though it was expected. Long story short, in the end we were very lucky as apple took care of all the costs and since last Friday we could again happily use our macbook.
The following days we took advantage of the rental car and went to lots of chandlers to get parts for Altimate but of course we also went shopping for ourselves. Compared to Grenada and the Grenadines Martinique is also a shopping paradise. Whatever we needed, it was easy to find and of course plentiful. A mall with lots of clothing shops, electrical shops, jewellery … well the usual stuff you’d expect in a mall. Fort de France, the capital, had lots of boutiques and we even found a huge decathlon. It was great to stroll in shops and had the possible to choose sizes, material, colour and more. We actually had to get used to the fact of choosing. Ok, that did not take long and was so much fun.
After almost a week of driving around, shopping and exploring the island we needed a break. Only two miles away around the corner we moved Altimate to the bay of Saint Anne. A pretty little village with a calmer environment and much nicer water than in Le Marin. Sitting in the car had made us stiff and lazy so we were desperate for some exercise. To stretch our legs and get some movement in our bodies we found a beautiful trail along the coastline up the east coast. That was a wonderful easy to walk path with changing landscapes and quite pristine beaches. “Plage des Salines” we liked the most and decided to sail over there to have some quiet and relaxing days before getting to the marina Le Marin. A great decision! We shared the bay with only a few boats and we were again lucky to be able to squeeze Altimate in the very north corner in the shallow water behind the reef. The bay was described as a perfect day anchorage but due to a lot of rolling not recommended for staying overnight. Still we gave it a try and it was perfect. Squeezed in the corner we had almost no movement at all. It was so nice to jump in the water, have a swim, relax, have a walk at the beach, -snorkeling was unfortunately not so nice- and just enjoy being, most of the time, alone. The anchorage in Le Marin was packed with boats. It felt like you could almost walk ashore just jumping over the boats. It was a beautiful change of scenery and nice to have a chance to see the beauty of Martinique before we would leave.
Meanwhile the general strike was at its peak. The supermarkets, chandlers etc run out of supplies, cars were stopped because the strikers had built up street barriers, garbage could not get collected, fuel stations run out of petrol and and and. The strike was about compulsory vaccination, poor wages and not trusting the French policy. What we understood. Usually I would say, ok, fair enough if the people fight for their opinion, buuuuuttttttt WHY does it have to be now? We were so relieved that entering Martinique was easy and that it seemed to be no problem to fly to Paris. We even managed to get our “Pass Sanitaire” to be allowed to go to restaurants and more important to be allowed to fly. We thought we’d done all, to make sure we could fly home. Here we were again, dependent on other people decisions. So frustrating and annoying. What is wrong nowadays??? Boy, was I in a bad mood, sad and furious. Not a nice picture for sure! Fortunately El Capitano can cope with me in a mood like that. Well, what the hell! We couldn’t do anything about it and had to cope with it. At least we tried to get some up-to-date information about the strike to make us feel at least a little informed. El Capitano had to dig deep into the French news to find out some news. Didn’t help much, but with the news, the radio net and talking to some locals we finally understood that the strikers let taxis go everywhere. That meant if the taxi still got petrol we’d be able to reach the airport, yeah. Next question, do the planes leave? Nothing seemed to be certain anymore…
Almost a week ago, the first of December we docked to the marina in Le Marin. A whole week of cleaning fun. No worries about using to much water or energy AND en plus hot water. Who would have thought that such things would bring so much joy to our cleaning life. That was not even all. No. Here in Martinique the washing machines actually clean the laundry. They provide different programs and again hot water- a laundry paradise. Ok, after a couple of days cleaning was getting a little less exciting, but we still kept doing a great job. Yesterday we finished cleaning. There is not a single corner left which didn’t get cleaned, Altimate looks very pretty and almost like new.
The last couple of days there was some movement regarding the strike matter. Some of the street barriers were opened and grocery, petrol and other supplies could get delivered. A good sign. The strike is not yet over but it looks as we can get to the airport tomorrow. Yesssss. Yippppeeeeee. We are so excited and happy!!!
Bye, bye everybody splendid holidays until next year