Discover Martinique

Early one morning in October 2016, I received a travel alert via email. I get a lot of them, as I am signed up with various travel sites, such as theflightdeal.com, travelzoo, secretflying.com and a few others. I saw one that grabbed my interest which was a flight deal from Baltimore, MD to Fort De France, Martinique for $137.00 round trip. I had to do a double take; I could not believe the flight was so low. I looked into this and found it was correct. Norwegian Airlines has this deal annually going to Guadeloupe and Martinique during the winter months starting in November. I quickly booked a flight for December while seats were still available, and I’m soon on my way to Fort De France.

Black sand

I arrived at the small French Caribbean Island; met my driver and we were off to my hotel. A rental car or hiring a driver is recommended to get around the island to see the beautiful black sand beaches, the volcano, the rain forest and the small fishing villages. You can drive the entire island in a day. I was in the van with others on the flight and we decided to hire the driver to take us around the island on the next day. This worked out well; we had a driver for the day and someone that spoke French and English.

My hotel( Le Panoramic) was located on a very steep hill with an amazing view of Fort De France. It is in South Martinique in an area called Trois Islet. From Trois Islet the ferry will take you to the capital city and other small beaches in south Martinique for 7 euros round trip. I rode the ferry when I arrived to the Fort De France to visit and have dinner. The capital city is crowded with tourist during the day as the port is a stop for cruises. When I go to other countries I try to avoid chain restaurants and eat locale cuisine. Well, I was extremely hungry and walked into a McDonalds to order a hamburger and I can say that was the best hamburger that I have ever had in a McDonalds. Taste a lot different from the ones prepared in the United States. There is a language barrier in Martinique so if you don’t speak French you may want to learn a few key words and have google translate nearby. I learned this quickly when attempting to catch the ferry back to Trois Islet.

Diamond

The next day the driver arrived with the others to pick me up for the tour of Martinique. The driver, Kalonji, was a great tour guide that showed us small details of the island. Our first stop was in a small town called Anse Anne, where I was able to purchase a fresh made baguette. Kalonji had provided lunch for our group at this stop. The smoked chicken was delicious. I found out that he sprinkled pure sugarcane over the coals once they were grey to provide a unique taste. The second stop was at Diamond Rock. This is an enormous rock the shape of a diamond that sits in the Caribbean Sea.

Kalonji and Leonard


The Anse Cafard Memorial

The third stop was at The Anse Cafard Memorial in Southern Martinique, a deeply moving monument to the losses imposed on African peoples through the slave trade. On a gently sloping field facing the sea, within view of Diamond Rock, Martinican sculptor Laurent Valére built a tribute to a horrific shipwreck.


As midnight approached on the night of April 7, 1830, a ship carrying a cargo of Africans destined for the illicit Caribbean slave market crashed into the rocky shore near the village of Diamant. The slave trade had been abolished and the ship was approaching Martinique. Forty-six bodies were recovered, all but four of them Africans who were buried in a mass grave near the post where the river meets the sea at Diamant. Tens of others were rescued and sheltered in local households. The colonial government of Martinique, unsure about the legal status of men, women, and children brought forcibly into the island where they could be neither freemen nor slaves, sent the survivors to Cayenne. Once there, they disappeared from official Martinique history.


Unveiled in 1998 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the French Caribbean colonies, the memorial is formed by 15 massive 8-feet statues made out of cast concrete and sand arranged in a triangle (an allusion to the triangular trade) turned 110º in the direction of the Gulf of Guinea. They stand facing the sea, shoulders hunched and brows clouded, a monument to pain and loss. I enjoyed the fact that there are no ropes, or objects that prevent you from touching or walking within the statues. We drove to North Martinique for rum tasting and then ending the day at the black sand beaches near Mt Pelee, which is a semi-active volcano on the island.



-Leonard Bean

I’m a native of Florence, Al. I spent most of my teenage years in Birmingham, Al where I attended Homewood High School. I attended University of North Alabama and I’m also a United States Air Force veteran. I have lived in all regions of the United States. I currently reside in Baltimore, MD. I work at the Army Research Laboratory testing small autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles. I am an avid traveler and live a nomadic lifestyle that consumes most of my free time. I love checking off bucket list items, learning other cultures, and meeting new people

 

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