Tag Archives: Pointe du Bout

Women Who Buy Shoes

I can’t believe I came to Martinique and bought shoes.

A daughter who lives in New York City was upset when her puppy chose to chew on – you guessed it – her designer heels. I’m now a senior citizen. Not only do I NOT care about designer heels, I don’t care for heels at all. I don’t know how those young women can walk around NYC in stilettos, and think they’re crazy. Especially with all the grates in the sidewalks. I gradually stopped wearing high heels as I got older, and gave them up completely in my 50s. Then, after breaking a bone at the bottom of my foot, I gave up even low heels. I now wear running shoes or other shoes that support my feet.

For my trip to Martinique, I brought an older pair of white running shoes and flip-flops. But, it turns out the older pair of running shoes are getting worn down and were hurting my feet after walking around all day. So I switched to the flip flops. Only I ended up with blisters where the stupid thong fits between the big toe and next toe, and also sores where the plastic rubbed the tops of my feet.

Old women have different priorities from younger ones. While my daughter cares about style, I just wanted shoes that didn’t hurt my feet! I decided I couldn’t last even the one remaining day of vacation, so hobbled over to the shopping district in search of comfortable shoes. Most of the shops had swim suits and more flip flops; I found one store that carried a few pairs of patterned canvas high tops that looked like they were meant for skateboarders. Finally I found a store that had Birkenstock sandals with 2 straps across the foot and nothing between the toes. They were 49 euros, but I probably would have paid even more to save my feet.

So, the souvenir I’m taking home from the French Caribbean is German shoes. LOL!

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Not Open Until Sept Heures

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I got back to my apartment on Rue de Flamboyants right before a downpour happened, so I took a nap, recharged my phone and worked on a blog entry. When it stopped raining, I sat in the back garden for a while – it was very private, and besides the pots of flowers and other plants, the chickens were out of their coop, with the roosters providing amusement by going after each other and crowing, although it was mid-afternoon, not dawn. Late afternoon I decided to stroll back to the restaurant and shopping area by the harbor, and decide where I wanted to eat. All the tourist boats had come back from their afternoon trips and were unloading or preparing for the next day. I looked at the possible boat trips but decided again I wanted to take it slow on my last day, Friday, and just hang around the beach and town here. I began checking out restaurants – a lovely one overlooked the harbor from its upstairs location – but none started serving dinner until 7:00 PM, and it wasn’t even 6:00 PM yet. It was then that I ended up talking to another couple from the states – we were used to US dinner times starting at 5:00 PM.

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While deciding what to do, another rainstorm began, so I sheltered temporarily in a bar. But I really didn’t want anything alcoholic to drink, and was told their restaurant also didn’t open until sept heures. I window shopped under shelter and gradually made my way back to the street when the rain let up. Then I got trapped for several minutes by a downpour, but made it to an art shop while I was waiting. The art shop was to benefit turtle sanctuaries and had lovely water colors, but I didn’t have funds or room in my suitcase to take anything home. Finally I dashed across the street to Creole Village and tried to decide which restaurant to try. I ended up at the top in a modernistic restaurant Infiniti. I was the first customer, arriving a little before 7. I wasn’t really hungry, but wanted something to tide me over through the night. There was some kind of daily special, and I tried to translate, recognizing camembert as a cheese and guessing at Truff as a mushroom. The waitress didn’t speak English but she called the bartender over, and he translated that it was an appetizer meant for companions, with baguette and cheese. I had him suggest a wine to go with it – I got vin rouge. And best of all, he offered the password for their internet! So, for the first time on Martinique I was able to get online, check email, and social media. My smart phone informed me it was freezing back in Upstate New York, while it was 73 in the evening there in Martinique.

I ended up in a WhatsApp long chat with my youngest daughter – she’d told me to download it because it can be used internationally even when phone texting isn’t available. We chatted about the challenges of my trying to remember French from back in my high school days – she told me “I want” is “je voudrais” – I’d been saying “je desire.” We both complained about the zika virus scare, and she wished she could have been with me. I definitely want to come back here – 3 days was not nearly long enough, and hope she’ll be able to come with me.

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When I checked my email, I had another message from a high school friend – we’re talking about a big trip together to celebrate our 65th birthdays. After I responded to her original message, I saw in another email that Norwegian Airlines was announcing another sale to the Caribbean – this one starting next November. Apparently they cease service May – October and only fly November – April. The cheapest flight from NYC was only $49 one way ($149 cheapest to return). Holy cr*p! I wrote her. We may have to consider this!

Although I made a valiant attempt, I couldn’t finish the whole camembert by myself, and asked for it to be wrapped to take back to my apartment. Although it wasn’t yet 9:00 PM, I was ready to relax and unwind in my temporary quarters.

 

Apres-midi et le soir dans Pointe du Bout

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Back in my air-conditioned apartment I took a brief nap, then wandered out to the garden in back to sit in the sun for a bit. There are gorgeous verdant plants and exquisite flowers all around. I sat under the shelter of an overhead canopy.

The chickens were back in their coop, but later were allowed to roam free. The hens clucked and the roosters gave an occasional crow. More enjoyable was the chatter of the birds in the trees. The garden is sheltered, ringed with tall hedges and trees. The vegetation helps block some of the noise from the nearby road.
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Late afternoon I went back to the Havana Café in Creole Village to order a crepe suzette Creole. Same very slow service, but when the crepe came out, it was humongous, had to be folded over to fit on the plate. It was delicious, incredibly sweet, thank goodness I don’t worry about blood sugar levels!
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I also ordered what I thought was going to be fresh lemonade – citron.
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The server brought me a glass with something at the very bottom that looked like maybe it was juice from a squeezed lemon, and 2 packets of sucre. I wondered what I was supposed to do, then he came back with a water pitcher. So I poured in the water, added the sugar, stirred and got my lemonade.
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For the evening I changed out of my gauzy pants into my casual pants, and changed from walking shoes to flip flops. I walked down to cut through to the beach, and stopped again at the Barracuda restaurant, where I could sit in a chair facing the beach. This time I tried a pina colada, a sweet drink I’ve ordered sometimes. Good grief, again the rhum was overpowering. All I can think is that American drinks are skimpy on the alcohol, because this was the 3rd drink I’d tried that I didn’t even like because it was so heavy on the booze. I decided I needed to swear off mixed drinks while in Martinique – I evidently don’t have the taste for them.
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It got gradually darker, and I loved looking across the water to the lights of Fort du France. After paying for my drink, I walked barefoot along the shore as far as I could, enjoying the feel of cool sand on my feet. Coming to the end, I walked back up to join the main road, passing a couple of classy restaurants. I hadn’t realized the road veered so far away from the beach at that point. I found the main drag and started back towards my apartment, stopping at a small grocery right before it closed. I bought 2 fruit juice drinks, a baguette and brie cheese. I thought about a bottle of wine, but have no way of opening it.

Exploring My Environs dans Pointe du Bout

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I slept well in my double bed – a full 7 hours before I woke up to use the restroom. I was a little chilled when I’d roll over, covered with just a sheet, and remember thinking I should figure out how to turn down the air conditioning, but was too tired. In the morning I found the control for the AC, which had been set to 25 C., and the next night, alternated between 26 (which tended to feel a little too warm and humid) and 25 (which tended to feel good originally but when I rested, my body would feel a little chilled).

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The bathroom in the 1 bedroom had a seamless shower – no door or lip, just what appeared to be a river of rocks in the midst of the tile floor toward the shower area. There was both an overhead rain shower and a hand held. To my delight, the hot water was hot – I love hot showers, unless it’s like 90F. Roosters were crowing in the morning to wake me up, but it was only about 7 AM, so I decided I’d go back to sleep for a while.

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When I finally got up and dressed mid-morning, I went back out to explore the neighborhood. Down the street past the Creole Village area it turned out I was at the harbor. There was a multitude of booths advertising excursions by water – sailing around Diamant, dolphin & whale watching, diving. You could also take a ferry over to Fort du France, and return on ferry – the last run of the day being at dusk. On this short 3 full day trip, I decided I’d just stay around Pointe du Bout, and one day drive the rental car south. I’ll have to come back again to try some of the other adventures, but this trip is to get rested, not exhausted. Having walked around a couple blocks and checked out available restaurants, I decided I’d try the Havana Cafe, which was the crepe place. Only it turns out crepes are not a breakfast food, that they didn’t serve food till 12 noon. I satisfied myself with a mango smoothie – which was not based on yogurt but more like a frozen fruit puree. Again I had the experience of waiting to be given a menu, waiting to have my order taken, waiting to have my glass removed, waiting for the bill – which, when it finally arrived was in a small bowl with a mint candy. One of my daughters has been working as wait staff in New York City restaurants, and the tempo there is quick, quick, quick. Ici in Martinique, time apparently moves more slowly. Since I had no specific plans for the day, I realized I wasn’t in a hurry anyway, so why not enjoy the outdoor restaurant, the people going by, and the other restaurant customers.

I walked back to my studio apartment, changed from my white slacks and top to very lightweight loose pants, short top with gossamer overshirt to protect my arms from the sun. I have a wonderful straw hat I got several years ago that travels with me and protects my face from the sun. I proceeded to walk down the street the other direction, towards the beach. A cut off to the Anse Mitan beach was just past and across from a casino, so I walked down.

The sand was littered with couples and families lying on beach towels, absorbing the bright rays. Children frolicked in the waves, sputtering when knocked over. Others built sand castles, or more accurately sand piles, trying to contain incoming waves. Some children and adults snorkeled through the turquoise water near shore, their backsides and air tubes the only visible parts. Some adults walked down the beach, bodies young and toned, or more often blubbery and sagging. The adult tourists I saw were predominately French and of retirement age.

I soon came to a couple of beachside restaurants, and decided that one which had tables and chairs covered by shade but right in front of the beach, was perfect. Since I hadn’t yet eaten and it was 11:30 AM, I wanted to sit and look out at the water, listen to the waves rolling in, and be amused by the families and couples who were playing in the water or lying on towels catching rays. The Barracuda — gave me the same lack of attention I’d experienced at the 2 other restaurants. Waiting nearly 30 minutes to be given a menu, 20 minutes to have my drink & food order taken, etc.
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I ordered their buccaneer chicken with rice and decided to try a Mojito, which I’d heard about. After waiting another 15 minutes I got my drink, then the food right after. I must have been crazy to have ordered a Mojito – I’m not a mixed drink person, tend to like sweet or semi-sweet wine with dinner. The Mojito was very strong and had weird leaves floating in it, which looked like drowned spinach but was really soggy mint. The smoked buccaneer chicken was a little dry & over-cooked I thought. I had also ordered a water, which came in a giant bottle – which would have been a bargain in New York City! Although I was disappointed at the food and disgusted with my alcoholic drink, I stayed and enjoyed the beach from my chair in the shade. That’s what made it worth the money.

 

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.

Round and Round the Roundabout

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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.