My First Night in Martinique

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Living room in T3

My 1 bedroom apartment (T2) was perfectly situated near shops and restaurants, and an easy 5 minute walk to the plage at Anse Mitan. It was 8:30 PM local time when I left the apartment to find dinner. I figured the French habit of late dinner, plus the fact that this was a tourist area, would work in my favor to find a restaurant still open. I walked across the street and then crossed again to explore the Creole Village. The first one I found had crepes – which I decided I should wait till the next day to try. Then there was one that offered food with their drinks, last I discovered a restaurant serving tables in the center courtyard, La Pause. “Seul?” I was asked, then shown a table on the outer rim of the circle. This turned out to be a repeated litany throughout my stay – disbelief that I was by myself. Either tourists are supposed to come in pairs, or, probably disappointment that instead of 2 paying customers they’d just have one old lady.

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La Pause Restaurant in Creole Village

I waited quite a while to have my order taken, then waited to be served, then waited to have plates cleared and asked if I wanted dessert, then waited to have the dessert plate cleared, then waited to be brought the bill. This was a pattern in every restaurant I ate at in Pointe du Bout. I had quicker service when I visited Diamant and Saint Lucie, but in Pointe du Bout, the universe seemed to be telling me to slow down, breathe deeply, that I was in no rush.

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Tapas - bruschetta & mini chicken skewers

Enjoying the night air, still warm enough that the breeze felt comfortable instead of cool, I waited for the server to take my order. Since it was late at night, and as I’ve gotten older, I don’t do well to eat a lot of food shortly before retiring, I decided to order 2 tapas instead of a main course. And to drink, I decided to try Daiquiri Hemingway. One tapas was a bruschetta on bread slices, the other was mini chicken (poulet) skewers. By the time I was finally served, I was starving, so I’m not totally sure if they tasted so great because they really were, or because I hadn’t really eaten all day! The liquor, however, was incredibly strong. Although I think I am adventurous, I disliked the daiquiri. I don’t generally like mixed drinks, but it had seemed fitting to order something exotic. The only reason I ended up drinking most of it was that it took so long to have my tapas brought, and then to have the plates cleared after I’d finished. Besides, I can’t stand to waste money, and if I’d paid for the drink, I was going to consume most of it, like it or not!

For dessert I ordered crème brulee. One reason I’d been excited about my trip to this island in the French Caribbean is the French cuisine. A year earlier, when I visited St. Martin and ate in Grand Case, I had the best meal of my entire life. Crème brulee is a favorite, but it is tricky to carmelize the sugar on top of the pudding without scorching it. Unfortunately, my serving that night had blackened instead of browned sugar. Ahhh well, I enjoyed the pudding part. When my dessert was cleared I was asked again if I wanted café, and I responded, “non.” Then I waited for the bill. And waited. And waited. I saw other patrons leaving who went up to the bar and finally figured out that since I hadn’t been brought the bill, I should go up, too.

I hadn’t yet gone to a bank to get euros, so intended to put the tip on my credit card. But there was no spot to do so, and when I tried to ask, the staff didn’t parle anglais and I was relying on my memory of la langue francais from junior high and high school half a century earlier! So I only paid for my food and drink. The next day, I tried asking 3 sets of guests at another restaurant if tips were included in the bills, or if tipping wasn’t done in Martinique. Turns out, tipping is if you’re pleased with service, but to put it on your credit card, you have to tell them in advance the amount. I felt terrible that I hadn’t left a tip, so, having been to a bank with an ATM, went back to that first restaurant with 5 euros, did my best to explain and left them the money.

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