When we arrived at Fort de France yesterday we were greeted by loud, rhythmic music coming from the shore as the final day of carnival was being celebrated. It went on non stop, and we did wonder how we would sleep with that monotonous, thumping music. Later, when we went ashore, we realised the carnival was in its final hours of celebration and the music would therefore thankfully be ceasing. The streets were crowded with throngs of people all dressed up in carnival outfits - Ash Wednesday is the day when they wear black and white, to celebrate the death of Vaval, a satirical mannequin representing a politician or public figure - who is then burnt on a bonfire to symbolise the end of the carnival. The outfits were amazing, and everyone from children to grandmothers were dressed up. The carnival is also the opportunity to show off the masks of the island, for example the red clay men wear masks of clay, and the nègs wear gwo-sirop, a mixture of sugar syrup and charcoal which they cover their near naked bodies with from head to toe. I was trying to avoid these people as I did not fancy that sticky concoction rubbing off on my clothes as they brushed past! Today, being the start of Lent, a period of abstinence sets in after all these celebrations.
We had a very interesting meal last night - Gavin unknowingly chose a smart restaurant that was more expensive than we expected, and as we were not that hungry we only ordered one course. The menu was in French and no staff spoke English so we were not sure what we were ordering! We subsequently got some surprises in our meal! Despite only having one course they kept bringing little amuse-bouches (bite sized hors d’oeuvre) before our one and only course and then after that they brought us more little puddings, so it turned out to be good value for money after all. The funniest moment was when they brought us what looked like a XX mint on a plate, and then with great flourish poured water from a tiny jug on it and it grew into what I thought was a large marshmallow - I was about to pop it in my mouth when we realised it was a rolled up wet cloth with which to wipe our hands!
We left very early this morning to sail back to St Lucia. This time the wind direction was more favourable so theoretically I should not have been as seasick as that first day. However, the winds were ridiculously strong, gusting up to 30 knots per hour and there was also quite a swell. Gavin says in the UK they would not take boats out in such a wind. Despite Gavin reefing the sail so that it was more comfortable, poor Pete (Gavin’s brother) soon lost his breakfast and I was seasick most of the way. When we arrived at St Lucia there was a strong wind of about 20 knots in the marina which is unheard of, so it took 3 attempts to moor the boat as the wind kept blowing it back - added to this the bow thruster (the thing that makes the boat move sideways) stopped working so it was almost impossible to moor. We had marina staff on the quay trying to help us get in but unfortunately the one corner of the boat crashed in to the quay wall due to the wind. Luckily the damage is minor but it was a rather dramatic experience.
This image if of the sky as we left Martinique at 7am this morning. There are two extras, one of a heron and another of the marina at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
The weather continues its ridiculous pattern of 30 minutes of sunshine and then a squall gusting in with lashing rain followed by sunshine - this is repeated throughout the day!
Tonight is our last night on the boat and we fly home tomorrow.