Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Martinique, Feb 2010 - North Island
We bust out for a little excursion to the north portion of the island - home to the notorious Mt Pelée and rainforests. As Martinique is only about 50 x 25 miles at its largest points, making the area about the same as 1/3 of Rhode Island, the trip is not a big one, but we decide to make an overnight of it. (This maybe would be island-style, as 2 hours is considered a long ride - oh la la - and there are still children attending grammar school in the tiny village around the point who've never left town. This, according to their teacher, whom we met, who concedes they are the loveliest, most polite students ever.)
The ever-precarious roads are even more roller-coaster-esque in the switchbacks of the pietons. And there are lots of fabulous views to distract: dramatic, vineladen & lush valleys, enormous ferns, leaves and tropical flowers.... The scale is so grand and ancient, it's quite easy to imagine being some tiny critter occupying an inconsequentially minor link of the prehistoric food chain.
Martinique has been wise enough to dedicate large portions of their precious, yet varied land to parkspace: rainforest, more arid regions hosting beachfront cactii, mangroves, and reef-protected peninsulas. Throughout the island are beautifully cultivated farms over rolling hills, endless fields of sugarcane and banana plantations. And goats and chickens. And cows. Cows seem to be everywhere - very often chained right next to the roads and highways. Moo.
In the middle of the pietons, we stop at an arboretum that hosts a delightfully cool fresh waterfall and swimming holes. There is a short path through mahogany wood and other loveliness before we climb down for a pool-side picnic....
at 3:55 AM