Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fun with the French

From Guadalupe we jumped down to Martinique, another French island.  In between we passed Dominica, which hurt to miss, but we were on a schedule now and had to make time.  Becca had a flight to catch.  It was an overnight sail and the biggest event was a rain squall that hit just after sunrise.  Becca said she saw a waterspout but didn't point it out to anyone until after it had dissipated.  Becca's observations are suspect.

Saint Pierre is no longer the main port on Martinique, nor is it the island's capital.  Both of these things changed when the nearby Mount Pelee volcano erupted in 1902.  The "Paris of the Caribbean" was totally destroyed with a loss of more than 30,000 lives.  The only survivor was a drunk who's stone jail cell protected him from the destruction.  He was badly burned over most of his body and still managed to survive in his cell for nearly a week before being rescued.  He was later picked up by the Barnum and Bailey Circus and toured the world as part of their side show.  Mark and I learned all this at the town's volcano museum, where we also got to see boxes of nails welded together and a church bell that had been crushed like soft clay. 

The island is also famous for its rum industry.  Apparently, Martinique is to rum what Scotland is to whiskey.  The closest distillery to Saint Pierre, and the only one in walking distance, is the Depaz distillery, just outside of town.  Off we went.  The day was brutally hot and it was long steep walk, but there was free rum at the end of it so we kept going.

The Depaz distillery was a beautiful property, up on a hill overlooking the town and harbor, nestled amongst the sugar cane fields, harvested to make its rum.  The tour was free, self guided, ending in the gift shop where samples were handed out freely and without limit.  We were behind a what appeared to be a French high school field trip on the tour.  Fun field trip.  And, were more than a little surprised to watch them file into the gift shop where each and every one of them partook freely of the samples before filling their arms with liquor bottles and staggering to the cashier counter.  I wish I was raised French.

1 comment:

  1. Pete,

    You were raised Dutch. Get over it.