All the colors of the rainbow

Anse Mitan

Walking up and down the streets of Trois-Ilets, the sweet smell of colombo and massala spices cooking away in small houses, the sound of waves gently crashing on Anse Mitan beach, the lively market stands selling punch and fruit, live zouk concerts here and there, … all these wonderful things have been part of my daily routine this past week.

Unfortunately I have been unable to rent a car due to having a young person’s driving license. To rent a car, one must have at least 3 years driving experience, and I only have a little over a year. On the upside, this will save me quite a few pennies! My main mode of transportation has been the ferry boat which goes from Anse Mitan to Anse à l’Ane (which I have yet to discover!), and then to Fort-de-France. Of course, I have also been walking around a lot, and have come to know the areas of Trois-Ilets and Pointe du Bout very well.

On board the ferry

What is particularly exciting is the fact that the official carnival festivities commence this week, and there are all sorts of events organized in many villages, including the one in which I currently live in. Make-up workshops, parades, stand up shows, a different dress code every day, live concerts, costume fashion shows, … All these events will be happening as of tomorrow, and I will make sure to be in the heart of things and imbibe as much as I can.

Fort de France

On Saturday I had ventured off again to Fort-de-France, and spent the morning roaming around the markets, boutiques selling carnival gear, cathedral, the famous fort and then lounged the beach. In the afternoon, like in Guadeloupe and Tahiti, all the shops close. What is really striking is the fact that in the morning the streets of the capital are heaving with people of all ages, cars, trucks, stands, pets, musicians.. It is almost exhausting just walking from one block to the next. However, once midday strikes, the shops almost immediately close their doors and the streets become completely deserted – only the pigeons shuffle around as the the cathedral bells announce the arrival of the afternoon.

There is so much color every where you go – young women will mix lots of different bright colors in their attire, men tend to wear loud checkered shirts, houses are painted in yellow, orange, pink, purple, green… And all this color adds a genuine touch of gaiety and charm to Martinique’s surroundings. Of course, so do the palm trees, bougainvilleas, hibiscus flowers, banana trees, royal palms, etc… Once again, it seems I have landed in yet another beautiful bountiful island.

Cathedral

I hear a lot of reggae, dancehall and zouk being played on beachfronts, in restaurants, bars, cars. These seem to the most popular genres. I am looking forward to all the live musical performances organized for the carnival, which will be entertaining without a doubt. Also, the weather has been much more inviting than it was at the start of my stay, so fingers crossed, sunshine and warmth will also be on the carnival’s menu.

Rainbow - view from my room

But I am realizing as days go by that I am on my ‘final’ island, and that this tropical adventure of mine is coming to an end… Thus, I am trying to soak in as much as I can before I get on that plane ride back to reality.

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Overwhelmed in Oahu

When the plane revved up its engine to depart from Maui, I noticed from my window seat that another beautiful rainbow had formed. I couldn’t believe it, but when we took off, we headed straight for it, and the rainbow became a big colorful circle which we flew into. I thought to myself that I couldn’t have left the Maui island in a more symbolic way!

The flight was ridiculously short (I was actually looking forward to a bit of airplane time – magazine reading, a little drink, a snooze), but before I could say ‘glass of white wine, please’, we had landed in Honolulu. A taxi came to pick me up, and was parked next to two white limos. I asked him why he wasn’t packing my luggage into one of the limos jokingly, I think he thought I was some weird European nut.

view on to Honolulu

It was strange being on a highway and stuck in traffic. It was slightly overwhelming seeing all the cars, the giant buildings, the many roads. It was slightly exciting but also a bit frightening, because I began to realize driving through the masses that I had gotten used to a certain tranquility and quiet lifestyle. And it actually began to stress me out to think that I was soon going to be confronted with very large crowds! I didn’t think anything of it before arriving slap bang in the middle of town.

Despite my stress, my curious eyes darted from scene to scene, and I began to get a feel for Honolulu – a very large city used to attracting and accommodating a lot of visitors from all over the world. The taxi began to exit the freeway, and we drove uphill into residential areas. Still, everything seemed so large, and reminded me a lot of California in terms of the grid style streets, houses with back and front yards.

view from the living room

When we arrived at the house I was destined to stay in, I was staggered by the view it had onto the city. I didn’t realize Honolulu was so full of skyscrapers. There are five girls who live here: Mac, Brit, Thawn, Sunny and Shani. The youngest is 18, the oldest 29. And it is very much a female house – there are about 50 pairs of shoes in the entrée and a fridge heaving with snacks. I haven’t got to know them very well yet, but it appears both Brit and Mac enjoy sacking out in front of the TV a lot, watching all sorts.

They had plans to prepare Thanksgiving dinner together, and were interested to know whether I celebrated it and if I would like to join in on the feast if so. I told them that I don’t celebrate it, but would be glad to be part of the festivities. I contributed with a gratin dauphinois and a bottle of champagne.

Thanksgiving dinner

It sort of felt like Christmas, Santa appeared on almost all the adverts on the TV, and there were Christmas themed movies on back to back. The girls made turkey, sweet potatoes, corn bread, broccoli, pumpkin pie, and other American style festive dishes. The food was nice, but I did not overindulge as one tends to at Christmas. The girls did though, and slept most of the afternoon after eating.

I ventured off into town, I had a walk that morning, but wasn’t satisfied with just that. Unfortunately, my adventure into Waikiki turned into a bit of a nightmare bus ride. I waited for the bus for about 1h. When it arrived, I just decided I would get off when I saw something worth getting off for: a large bustling area or a beach front, but none ever seemed to appear, and as time went by, it started to get very dark outside. It appeared I was really on the wrong bus, and should have got off maybe earlier along the way. The bus went through all the gritty, poor, run down parts of Honolulu.

I spent about 1h30 in the bus, and waited it for it to go back around. I eventually got off where most people on the bus got off. I walked around, took another bus, and got off as soon as I saw the Hilton hotel, thinking this would definitely lead me to some sort of tranquil, touristy (granted, but safe) area. I followed a group of Swedish tourists, and ended up, after such a long ordeal, in Waikiki where everything was beautiful and bustling.

Waikiki

Fire torches, christmas lights, shops, smiles, happy couples, calm waters of the beach, beautifully lit up buildings, palm trees a plenty, high end stores, clean taxi cabs, flowers and dressed up tourists. I walked around, in a slower pace, admired the scene, and listened for live music. I found one bar: ‘Five-O bar and lounge’, where a duo was playing called TTYM. I thought ‘Right, my first reporting material’, took a few photos, ordered a cocktail, got a feel for their music, and enjoyed the sounds and scenes.

After they finished their set, I have to admit to something that goes against what most hardy travelers believe in. I could not see myself fretting around trying to figure our my complicated bus route scenario, so I stopped at the Sheraton hotel, and asked for a taxi there to bring me to this address. Ahhh, much easier. But much more expensive, of course. But I think worth the price for not having to stress out.

a well-deserved Mai Tai

I am a little overwhelmed at the moment. But there is definitely a lot to discover. I just need to adapt to this busier lifestyle, and get moving!