Caribbean Day 8: Travelers

Whoa, it’s already been over a week on the road! It’s hard to believe.

I got up at least 30 minutes too early since I managed to get down to the ferry 30 minutes before it opens for check-in. I could have used the sleep, and I just end up waiting. I guess I didn’t judge it right. I really should have just aimed to leave my room at 6, the walk was much shorter than I thought, yesterday I had walked the wrong way first because of the Lonely Planet guide (which has been going down hill) showing the ferries docked at a different place than they did.

It’s still striking how different Martinique is from St. Lucia, I kind of wish I could have had a day here just to fully soak in the juxtaposition of the two. It’s expensive and my hotel wasn’t awesome. I’ve been looking forward to Dominica for some time so I’m at least glad to have plenty of time there right now.

This time on the ferry there were lots of travelers. I guess I was wrong before. Most are French, but not all. A Swiss couple sat down behind me with a Chinese-American. I jumped in on their conversation and found that the Swiss couple had done an amazing amount of traveling and had traveled through China over several months in the 80s. I wish I could hear more about that. They also had been to the Marquesas Islands, which came up talking about bug bites. I immediately knew the story. Those damn No-Nos were so small and packed such a bad bite! The other guy is just as interesting, his name is Ben and he actually lives in Pasadena, and graduated from USC! What a small world. Ben has been backpacking for the last 20 years (he’s in his 50s now) and carries just 2 changes of clothes, washing them in the sink regularly. He’s done something I’ve dreamed about, backpacked around the world without using a single flight. We were headed to the same guesthouse recommended by Lonely Planet so decided to walk there together. He had some worry that with all the tourists he saw getting on the boat the day before and with some holiday in the region there would be tons of people and the hotels full. Well this guest house wasn’t full, by the end of the day maybe 6 guests?

Walking around town was difficult at times, there are no sidewalks and the streets can be confusing. We took a circuitous route, but made it to our guest house fine. Plenty of room. So we set out to find a travel agent for Ben, a bank for the both of us, a grocery store etc. We had all day to explore the town with such an early ferry. I was hoping this meant that we would get an extra day on the island in effect.

We stopped by some street vendor selling bbq chicken and grilled plantains. Wow did it taste good. So yummy. The owner had a chat with us, and it was interesting hearing his views on politics with China. China loaned the country money at a low rate to build a stadium, but then brought in everything themselves, the workers, the materials, even the food! And none of the Chinese works could be taxed. It sounded like a pretty bum deal.

The botanical garden was on the list of things to do, but it turned out to not be all that impressive, and the parrot aviary it’s known for was closed for mating season. We hiked up Jack’s Trail to the top of the hill and the view of the entire town. Roseau isn’t especially nice; it’s a bit run down like Soufriere. As we walked up the trail lots of lizards a foot in length scattered. The hike was hot hot hot, and we were drenched in sweat by the time we hit the top. The view was worth it though. We sat in the shade and watched a group of kids form a local kung-fu studio practicing.

We headed back into town and wondered around getting lost again looking for a restaurant to eat lunch at. It was 2 already so something like. Lonely planet had recommended this place called Pearl’s so after asking for directions several times we found it. The food though wasn’t very good. This latest lonely planet hasn’t been very good…

The rain that had started spitting down on and off had turned into pouring rain on and off. We took shelter once in a kitchy souvenir stall. One of the stalls had paintings though, I had hoped to pick something up along the way, my goal is to collect bits of random art that characterize a country (I couldn’t afford anything in Iceland) I haggled and got the price down to $65 US and was satisfied.

Now it was pouring consistently and we made a dash for the hotel. This is worrying me a whole lot for tomorrow. The island is small though so weather doesn’t stick too much thankfully, so you never know. Hopefully any weather just passes by.

We sat down with a few beers from the grocery store and chit chatted for a bit. The internet is poor, but works from time to time. Ben is trying hard to convince me to visit Burma, saying it’s spectacular, and though he hates the government, the people are the ones really being hurt and they get most of the traveler’s money as long as you stay away from government hotels. I’m curious, but it sounds like the only way in is to fly to Yangon directly which breaks some of the romance I had in my head of taking trains and buses around the neighboring countries.

We headed out to dinner to the Fort Young Hotel which is more upscale, and had Roti again with a Mango Chutney, and it was spectacularly good. Then it was bed time. I’m not especially liking my place, there are ants and nothing is all that clean. The rooms are cramped. The price is nice though. We might try to see if we can haggle the Fort Young Hotel down to the summer price which is for June 1st onward, not far off and they have 20 empty rooms, but we have 1 more night here at Ma Bass first. I’d like to see if I should stay in the national park in Laudat first, so tomorrow it would be good to talk to a tour guide. Hopefully we get good weather.

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