After a heavenly sleep, I woke to soft knocking at my door. My butler Aditya wished me a cheerful good morning as he set up my breakfast table. I went out to my balcony to survey the port we had just pulled into. Martinique is somewhere I had been curious about for ages. The hot sun was already beaming and it was only 8am! I made a mental note to remember sunscreen and a big floppy hat.
Breakfast was delicious french toast, grilled fruit, real maple syrup, and a healthy green drink. I was impressed that they had delivered me the morning Canadian news. Just one of those extra touches that make one feel special.
After a slow breakfast, I made my way down to the gangway. Even though it was 9am, the area was quiet and void of any other guests. I am so used to lining up and being corralled like cattle to get off and on a cruise ship. In fact, that is one of the reasons I sometimes don’t get off! This cruise was completely different. Because there are so few passengers (300) there are never lines for anything. To be able to saunter off whenever without so much as a 10-second wait is luxurious. They even give a chilled water bottle as you walk off so you don’t forget to stay hydrated.
The air was warm and the humidity was thick. I wondered what it would be like at midday if it was already so hot. I promised myself I would be back on board by then to avoid any kind of heatstroke.
Fort-de-France is a delightful little town with stone shopping streets and lush tropical greenery. Most people here speak French and minimal broken English. In that respect, it reminded me of Quebec. There was beautiful and interesting graffiti art on many of the walls and in curious places. It was a nice decoration to what would otherwise be boring ugly dated architecture or alleyways.
The clothing styles and fabric patterns were quite French, loud, bold, and sometimes downright bizarre. I realized after a very short time, I wouldn’t be buying any clothes here. Not to mention everything was really very expensive. Even though they were all advertising Black Friday Sales, the pricing was way off. I mean, I understand it is an island but I couldn’t justify the cost for the glut of low-quality goods. I wondered what the minimum wage is here and how people could afford to live or if this was just a cost inflated tourist zone.
I came upon a lovely church so I went inside to take some shade. Only a few steps in and my whole self just relaxed. Churches have a way of doing that, especially when they are quiet. Apart from a few tourists and a couple of parishioners, it was empty. I sat down to take a rest and watched a man praying earnestly. I loved how he hung his yellow hat on the post and knelt down slowly. Whatever was on his mind, it seemed heavy. I wondered what he was praying for. I hoped that his prayer would be answered.
I walked a bit more and discovered a few statues. One, in particular, had lost her head! I wondered if that was on purpose. I started getting a little tired so I made the decision to head back to the ship. I decided to walk through the little maze of makeshift stalls just on the waterfront. As I had suspected there was just more of the same, overpriced tourist garbage made in china. Sarongs, tee-shirts, fans, little dolls, shells, bottles with sand in them. But then suddenly I was shocked to see something different that I have never seen before. To be honest her stall stuck out like a sore thumb. Her wares were nothing like I had seen anywhere else.
I learned her name was Fatie Madjour and she is an artist. She was sharing her unique and high-quality creations. I had never seen French art deco printed on shoes, sandals, bags, and scarves. It was strange and wonderful and classy and cool. THIS is real French style!! It was the stuff you would expect to see in a little boutique in Paris, not a wooden makeshift stall alongside cheap hawkers. She truly is a hidden gem! The more I talked to her the more charmed I was by her story. She had lost her job as an accountant in France and took the risk to live her dream as an artist creating what she loves in Martinique. She looked so damn happy. I had to hug her because I admire what a brave woman she is. Needless to say, I tried on the shoes and they fit like a glove. I had to have them. So stylish AND comfortable AND affordable AND well made. I was proud of myself for shopping local and supporting a woman of vision. I bought a bunch of her stuff…you can see some of it at Je Prends Mon Pieds Thank you Fatie!!
I headed back to the ship with my bag of goodies just in time for lunch. I decided on the perfectly cooked scallops over handmade gnocchi which was truly divine. I could eat that all day. A nice fresh salad rounded off my meal and I was ready for my spa appointment.
Today I am trying the body scrub and massage. I was delighted to hear that I could switch my original Ginger-Lime scrub to the Frangipani recipe. Aka Plumeria which we all know is my favoritest flower in the world. My therapist was a tall Italian named Stan. He had a very gentle and kind demeanor which is quite the opposite that I had experienced from most Italian men. Way to break the mold Stan! The scrub felt wonderful and the scent of the oil the salt was in was intoxicating. When it was time for me to rinse off, I was almost light-headed. After I had rinsed off in the shower which was conveniently right beside the table just two steps away, Stan went on to do a deeper massage really smoothing out those knots I had taken years to build. I was still a little sore from yesterday’s massage so I was grateful he was very attentive to the pressure. Stan is the man!
Feeling completely renewed I dressed for supper and went down to the Hot Rocks Grill. I was really excited to try this out it is so different than any other ship I have been on. It’s dining under the stars on the top deck in the open air. You order whatever meat or seafood you want off a long menu. They bring you your meat raw which you then cook on a hot hot stone. I love this type of dining and the fact that I had complete control over my doneness was awesome. I had steak and prawns and a few different sauces. It was so yummy. They give you a bib before you start cooking and I understood why by the end of it. It can be a little messy with that hot rock! But totally worth it and a must-try if you get the chance.
After supper, I decided to go check out the show. It was a world-class clarinet player called Pete Neighbour. I will confess, I was really skeptical because, well…clarinet. I really can’t think of it as anything other than the instrument nobody wanted to play in band class. I actually sat near the back in case I had to quietly escape. But imagine my surprise when I found myself actually bouncing my foot around to the very charismatic musician. He was a really good entertainer and I had no idea the clarinet could sound like that. Wow.
By the end of the night, I was absolutely knackered. I slipped into my cloud of a bed and fell asleep with a smile on my face.