Sounds of Freedom

Anse à l'Ane

Here it is, the carnival has begun, and the streets are now lively with celebration, music, sweets and dancing. Thanks to a little program I found online, I am savvy on what is happening and where during the week. On Friday, the carnival was revving up on the beach of  l’Anse à l’Ane, a 5 mins boat ride from Anse Mitan. When I got off the boat and explored the stunning beach area, a small party was already happening – a few speakers blaring reggae and dancehall, drinks, a big barbecue, and a lot of young locals. It was a perfect way to start the weekend.

I was offered a fresh beer and got speaking with a French métro expat (métro means from metropolitan France in Europe), who looked like he was in his late twenties. He later told me that he was 40 years old, and I couldn’t believe my ears. I wondered whether it was to do with this new lifestyle he found in the Caribbean, whether this made him feel and look younger. I couldn’t help myself but interview him asking him all sorts of questions, what brought him to Martinique, whether he misses the cold sometimes, how long it took him to integrate himself and earn respect from the locals, whether he learnt to speak Créole quickly, what is so different from France and what is the same, etc. It was really interesting to speak with someone who is totally integrated within a new culture.

coconut stand @ Anse Mitan market

The following day I got up early to have a browse round the Saturday morning market. The sun was shining and the market was lively and musical – some speakers were set up at the center of the place and were playing zouk. I love markets and looking at what each stand sells, what it specializes in, speaking with the vendors about where the various products are from and how they are made. There were all sorts on Saturday – organic jewelry, hats, spices, fruit, clothes, kitchen utensils, paintings, sculptures and of course lots of different bottles of rum. Markets like these really reveal the assets and heritage of a given country. Back home, I love going to the market, buying fresh bread, choosing cheese, stocking up on fresh fruits and veggies.

I spent the following hours at Hotel Kaboua, a 4* with infinity pool and all the works, sat on the private beach and swam in its clear warm waters. I spoke with various tourists who came over to chat with me. I was then invited for lunch at a beach bar on the ocean. I ate a tasty poulet boucané salad accompanied by a Lorraine beer (the local beer) – poulet boucané is smoked chicken topped with sauce chien, a sort of spicy créole sauce, delicious to say the least.

I then ventured out of the hotel and went to Copacabana restaurant where a make up stand was being set up for the afternoon. I was immediately sat down and face painted when I arrived. I was asked what colors I wanted, and what sort of a design. I told the make up artist to use purple paint and improvise. The result was beautiful, and so were all the other makeup designs which I could see in the making. Colors, sparkles and diamonds were painted on our faces and marked us as ‘ready to celebrate’.

my carnival make up

I then walked over to the nearest beach bar and began speaking with various locals all very excited and in festive moods. I had a drink and waited for the sounds of the parade to begin. Just as I finished my last sip of beer, I heard percussions from over the street, and met with the crowds to greet the first group of paraders.

The parade was smaller than the ones I had seen in Guadeloupe, but just as lively and fun, full of instruments, lots of percussion, dancing, colors, excellent costumes and make up. There were a few chariots transporting big speakers blaring out festive zouk style music. Everyone clapped and danced along, some following the groups, some standing by the pavements to watch the spectacle go by. The streets really come to life, and it is very easy to get carried away and just follow the rhythm of whichever band tickles your fancy.

Today I went to le Bourg which is another little village, part of the Trois Ilets area. It boasts a typically créole church called Eglise du Diamant, which stands proudly in the center on the village. It is a nice little town with lots of little back allies with restaurants, bakers, bars. It gives on to the famous golfing terrain, which is magnificent – I can understand the rumors which say that it has been voted one of the best in the world. I spoke with a young man who works as a golfing teacher, who seemed very proud and happy to work there.

carnival group 'Pom Pom'

There has been such a shift of atmosphere since the beginning of the carnival. Everyone is on holiday – the locals as well as the tourists. And so it is with an inevitable smile on my face that I walk the beaches everyday, exploring a little more, eating cod fritters, sipping ti-punch and listening to the sounds of freedom here in Martinique!

Trick or Treat?

Monday night was Halloween night, a pretty big deal in the USA. Children go knocking on neighborhood doors with bags, asking for treats, all houses are filled with candy, chocolate, goodies to give away.

We went out with Rose and got some vampire teeth that day, which were a great buy. We got the fangs with some granulated wax, melted the wax and molded it onto our teeth until it hardened, thus giving us custom vampire dentures. Excellent. I can reuse them again! They were a hit.

my vampire fangs

Paia was bustling, much like last Friday night, with less open shops. Absolutely everyone was dressed up though – Elvis Presleys, zombies, construction workers, fairies, Mexican farmers, knights, there was even a couple of brothers dressed as the Olsen twins. We had lilikoi margaritas at Café des Amis with quite a few people. Most of us and many other Paians then lined up in front of Charley’s trying to get in to join in on the only night time festivities in town, all tickets were sold out so there was more of a party going on outside than in.

The atmosphere was great – everyone was enjoying the costume chaos.

We ended up at a house party, belonging to a yoga instructing girl dressed as a frog, where 10 or 15 people showed up, drank beers, danced, played darts, chattered. I met a Moroccan and a Tahitian who both spoke French.

the Olsen twins!

It was a great night! The following day I took it easy and had an afternoon nap on the beach. I also went to Mana Foods to find a few things ‘yeast free’ – as I have been suggested by an esthetician to avoid yeast products as much as possible. This essentially means no bread, wine, cheese (yeah, right, as if that is going to happen), some fruit juices, tomato sauce, beer, mayonnaise, pasta, processed foods – pretty much all I ever eat. Anyway, I still thought I’d give it a go, and bought some avocados, sprouts, spinach salad leaves, almonds and cranberry juice.

I am now living with two boys – both Branden and Trish have moved out. Ryan, 27, is American, and Olivier, 23, is French; they are both kite surfing fanatics. As I am the remaining girl, I have been upgraded to Trish’s old room, which is the master bedroom of the house with walk-in wardrobe and an en suite bathroom. Sweet!

the new bedroom..

Ryan has a chihuahua called Heidi and a fluffy cat named Kip. Heidi is the smallest dog I have ever seen in my life, and I have warmed to her, as I am more of a cat person than a dog person. The kitty is awesome and likes to sit on top of the fridge a lot. Both Olivier and Ryan are very nice guys – we went out to Flatbread tonight all together along with Olivier’s Canadian friend Kyle. Flatbread is a very popular pizzeria in Paia, which makes tasty food with local ingredients. I had my first coconut beer there tonight, brewed in Maui.

The weather has been very strange these last days – one moment it will be pouring down with rain, the next it will be bright sunshine and very hot outside. Lots of rainbows during the day, and lightening at night.

today's rainbow on the way back from Kahului