Caribbean Day 7: Ferry

Today I half expected to be woken up by my alarm, feeling in a rush to frantically throw everything together. Instead I dozed in and out of sleep around 6:30am before giving up on additional hours and got up. I had lots of time to finish packing and get going. Gary was up not long after me and set as well, so we got to relax a little and take our time. I finished up my journal from the day before and posted it to my site, had a yogurt and finished packing.

My ferry to Martinique is at 4pm, but Gary flies out of UVF at the opposite end of the island at 2, so we left at 10. I’m told that sometimes it’s slow to get tickets so getting there early is a good thing if you’re leaving the same day. We caught a ride from Pierre and said goodbye to him and Josee promising to give a good review on Trip Advisor. They seemed really pleased with that and I intend to give them glowing reviews. Gary took a picture of them before we left and we hopped in Pierre’s SUV heading for “The Gap” to catch the bus into Castries. It was kind of a re-run of yesterday, but a bit less upbeat. Gary owed me some money for having paid the bills of the hotels on my card, and I was happy to get some cash from him since we’d used more than I expected so far on this trip, and it comes in handy sometimes.

The ride to Castries is a bit like a roller coaster. I don’t think there is hardly a flat road on the island other than the bit of old runway now used as the main drag out of Vieux Fort. The buses are these tiny vans from Toyota or Mitsubishi packed full of people. They speed up and down these winding roads, tires sometimes squealing around corners. It’s pretty exciting if not a little hair raising. Apparently we were supposed to tell the bus driver to let us off at the ferry wharf and the Vieux Fort bus area, so we went sailing by to the end of the line. A nice old lady said she would show Gary where his bus was, and walked us a long ways to get there until the line of buses were in sight. Gary and I shook hands and parted ways. I’m on my own now for real. The lack of travelers worries me a little, it really is the low season and I might be hurting for conversation before too long.

I myself had to now find my way to the wharf, which as it turns out wasn’t too far at all. I was pointed in the right direction and started hiking my way down. I got there so early there wasn’t a line for tickets. I was worried about the price a bit. A couple times a week there is a ferry from St. Lucia to Dominica, but it’s not for a few days, and I knew this so I was spending a night in Martinique. I wanted to not have to pay these in 2 parts (twice as expensive) but treat it as a ticket to Dominica with an overnight layover in Martinique. So when I asked for my ticket I asked for a ticket to Dominica, the lady selling the tickets told me that the ferry wasn’t until Tuesday and I asked if I could do it as a layover in Martinique and she agreed. Yay the ticket would cost just 90 euros and not 180. I was going to pay with my credit card, but she said there would be a 5% fee, so I instead paid with cash, the amount difference between that and the $5 ATM charge wasn’t much, but bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush so I used some of the cash Gary gave me to pay for my ticket. Now I had a good 3 hour wait until they opened up the line.

I took the opportunity to sit down with my physics book Theory of Almost Everything and made my way slowly through a few chapters on quantum mechanics. At some point a Rastafarian dude sat down next to me to preach at me about the end of days. It took him a while to see I wasn’t interested in talking to him about it before he left.

2pm rolled around and I got up to go through emigration. After standing in line for 20 minutes waiting for the doors to open I was told by the port police that I needed to check my bag and pointed me to a different line. I headed over and the guy there said I needed to check in to get a sticker for my bag. Ok but now this line was pretty long. Another 30 minutes were needed to check in and get my bag ticket, and pay my port exit tax of $13.50. Joy. Eventually I was able to drop off my bag and head on in, by now the emigration line was small at least. Passing on in though I was met with one of the most thorough searches I’ve ever been subjected to. They made me turn on my laptop, take the lens caps off every one of my lenses including taking the lens off my camera, open every compartment and empty it, as well as being wanded. I wonder what they were looking for. I’m patient though and just complied, no big deal. Though one of the ladies was so very miserable, she would just point at the table and look away, and when I looked back inquisitively she would just point again until I asked her what she wanted me to do, before she got frustrated and told me to put down my bag, and then said it again waiting on me to do so before starting to look for metal objects. There are much worse jobs in St. Lucia, at least you’re inside in the cool.

After sitting down I could see the big catamaran ferry making its slow approach into the docks. I haven’t been on a ferry this size since Greece, I wonder if it’s as awesomely fast! I realized in the waiting room that all of the travelers were from the Eastern Caribbean, it’s not boding so well for meeting lots of travelers. The ferry was indeed quick, it took little time to cross the straight between the two islands, and I got a nice view of Martinique’s southern coast as we cruised around to Fort-de-France.

Martinique is worlds different from St. Lucia, Fort-de-France is like a town transplanted from France, completely with Citroens and Renaults. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, and I wish I had time to explore. When I was planning the trip, the ferry was scheduled for noon, but now it’s been moved up to 8am so I’m just spending the night here. I have a small room in a small hotel generally everything is here, but it’s not the best place, I’m glad I have just one night. I watched a bit of French Survivor and wound down for the night.

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