Martinique - one of the French Isles. What a delight! The people of the island are friendly, helpful and courteous. We struggle with our limited French when on the island and they respond with their limited English - which is usually better than our French - with a smile. Even if they couldn't speak English, they would patiently try to understand what we said. And the "joie de vivre" was ever-present.
The beaches are incredible. We anchored off the small village of Ste. Anne in the south of Martinique. The water is clear and the sand beaches stretch for miles. There is quite a cruising community who make Ste. Anne a long-term stop-over. Of course there is dominos on Sunday at a local restaurant. And it is a short ride to an excellent dinghy dock to pick up freshly baked baguettes for lunch and, of course, some pain au chocolat to tide one over until lunch. The pastry is wonderful and definitely not low calorie. The village is clean (a treat from some of the other islands) and very cruiser friendly. We can see why people make long stops here!
We arrived in Martinique with Paramour. Paramour and their friends off Kokapelli introduced us to a hike to the far side (South end) of the island to a popular beach. Along the hilly trail, we passed numerous beautiful, almost deserted, clothing optional, sandy beaches and, after about two hours, we reached our destination - Saline Bay. We were ready for lunch at a beach front restaurant! There, relaxing with a cold beer and a sandwich, we could admire the bathing suit girls showing off their wares to prospective customers. These enterprising young ladies had a basket full of bikinis. When approached by prospective customers, they would strip and model whatever suit caught the customer's interest. I wanted desperately to buy Karen a new suit but all I got was an "I don't think so, Jim". Oh well. It made for an enjoyable lunch.
We stayed in Ste. Anne 11 days (2 domino games), wandering the village and visiting Marin, the nearby town. After that, the weather looked good so we sailed up to St. Pierre at the North end of Martinique. This town was destroyed in 1902 when Mt Pelee blew up. It literally did blow up, with 29000 people losing their lives in a giant fireball explosion. Ste. Pierre had been the center of commerce for Martinique and a thriving city, the "Paris of the Caribbean". Now only 5000 people live here. Many of the ruins are still visible. We anchored just off the main dock and could see and hear the street traffic in town. In the afternoon we went to a small museum and saw the recorded evidence of the destruction. It looked like the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. We stopped in St. Pierre for only one night as the weather was still good to head for Dominica - our next stop.