Our Norwegian Airlines flight landed early at Lamentin Airport. Which makes sense since flights to or from JFK are so often delayed an extra 30 minutes are built into flight times, and we didn’t wait at all before taking off. We landed as daylight was waning. We had to wait to disembark the plane till stairs were brought. That’s good, I prefer not to start jumping out of planes at my age, I quipped. Then we had to wait to be escorted as a group across the tarmac. Then wait to go through customs. Then wait at the car rental booth. “Ah-vee” not “A-vis”. Then wait for the shuttle to where the rental cars are. I finally was in my rental car – different auto maker but almost exactly like my Hyundai Accent to drive, including that Reverse — pull up the stick and pull toward you, then forward towards the dash. So I was fine driving. Martinique was like the US in terms of which side of the road to be on. The issue became that it was very dark when I was finally driving towards Tres Ilets, and signage leaves something to be desired and roads aren’t lit up.
My father hates roundabouts. I don’t mind them but it was pretty comical having me circle around more than once trying to figure out where I wanted to go. When I originally left the car rental, I took a wrong turn at a roundabout and ended back at the airport. When I exited the airport I tried a couple roundabouts before I was sure I was really heading south. Although I had a map of the island, and pulled over 3 times to consult it, it’s hard to drive at night in a strange place. I tried to exit the main highway too early, determined that I wasn’t far enough yet, got back on and finally followed a sign that indicated Tres Ilets to the west. Even then I was unsure and pulled off again. Then I followed several cars – helpful when the roads weren’t lit and there was no shoulder. From Tres Ilets I tried to follow signage to Pointe du Bout, then find the Rue du Flamboyants that my studio apartment was on. I tried pulling over again, but to my disgust, GPS on Google maps wasn’t working on my phone. I tried phoning across from a Copacabana Night Club, no answer. Asked someone on the street about La Pagerie Hotel, because my apartment was supposed to be across the street. Back to a roundabout, gauche, gauche et droit I think I understood. I pulled over again in a bit, this time got an answer, and talked until I saw a man in the street who said, I see you, you’re on the phone, non? Turned out I’d called the landline the first time, and the mother of the woman who advertises the flat was out with her cell phone, which I called the second time. One of her sons was the one who flagged me down and showed me where to turn in to a gated driveway.
I was so happy to arrive – I’d been traveling nearly 24 hours, had very little sleep on the bus or plane, and my head was going roundabout! But we got my suitcase inside, I was given keys and shown the light switches, etc., and I got to unwind at last.