Sadly the school holidays are now over. The general consensus among the assistants was that two weeks off was lovely, but it came soon into our contract – we only worked two weeks beforehand and it really isn’t enough to get into the swing of the job and find your feet. I’ve had two days back at school now and I’ve been doing refreshers with all my pupils because naturally they’ve forgotten everything we did two weeks ago.
Last Tuesday Caroline and I took a trip up to Jardin de Balata, the botanical gardens of Martinique. We were told by Marina that it wasn’t far, it wouldn’t take us long to drive there. However as usual, the roads and signposting here let us down in a major way and we ended up completely lost with very little petrol left. We drove up some winding and steep roads into the mountains for a good 20-30 minutes, feeling absolutely certain that we were on the right track as the scenery around us seemed to suit our destination; lush rainforest and mountain passes. We finally found a building at the end of this road, which turned out to be a dead-end, naturally. Dider is the naturally fizzy water that is produced here and Caroline and I accidentally stumbled across the factory and springs. As pretty as it was up there, it was not quite where we wanted to be so we had to turn around and drive all the way back down the mountain again to find the botanical gardens. We did find them eventually, and it was worth the wait. The gardens are so well-maintained and cared for, the views are green and rich and there’s a cool walkway in the trees that was definitely the main attraction.
Molly and Jacqueline arrived at ours on Thursday and the three of us went off to try and find a beach near Trois Ilets, but of course we got a bit lost on the way and ended up somewhere else called Anse Dufour. It’s our favourite beach so far; nestled in a small cove with crystal clear water, it’s a popular snorkelling spot and we vowed to find some masks and go back there. I’m kicking myself for throwing away my £2 snorkel mask that I bought in Thailand – they cost around £20 here at least. As usual there was one rude man who came up to Jacqueline and informed her she would need to wear suncream in Martinique (duh) and that she probably had chikengunya.
Friday meant one thing – our Halloween/Caroline’s delayed birthday party. Before that, Molly and I went with Jacqueline to Ducos to try and find the Digicel help centre. Normally Ducos is only about 20-30 minutes away, but the traffic was bad for some unknown reason and it took us much longer. We were already running late for her meeting time by the time we got to Ducos, which was not helped by the fact that we couldn’t find the help centre anywhere, and we drove around for an hour trying to find it. Molly tried ringing the centre on their phone number but they really couldn’t work out what we wanted or what we were trying to find. A couple on the street came to our aid and we eventually made it. On the way home we took a quick detour to buy supplies, then came home and refuelled on crepes. I burnt mine to a crisp, the less said about that the better.
We had a good crowd of people at our party, it’s always good to get everyone together as a lot of the time we’re spread out all over the island and it’s hard to get around. Admittedly a few of us did take a 3am trip to A&E after jumping off the pier into a load of sea urchins and then realising there was no way back onto the jetty because it was too high. No harm was done but we still haven’t got the sea urchin spines out of various parts of our bodies. Caroline’s finger does look dangerously blue but we think we’ll survive.
We drove Jacqueline and Molly back up north after the party with all of us feeling seriously rough (the heat and winding roads do nothing to help a hangover). After failing to find a good sandwich/crepe shop (Saturday was Toussaint, a national holiday), we gave up and went to McDonald’s.
The holidays ended with a trip to Madiana beach with Marina, a local black sand beach that’s fairly secluded and quiet and very relaxing on a Sunday.
French words of the week:
sea urchin – oursin
A&E – urgences
hangover – gueule de bois
to tie (laces) – nouer