We are back in France. We had a fantastic 5 hour sail from St. Lucia to Martinique. It was one of those very rare days when everything was in our favor. The wind was coming from the right direction. The seas were moderate. We managed to not break anything along the way. It didn’t rain. We had full sails up and blew the cobwebs out of Cream Puff’s rigging.
Our destination was Sainte Anne’s beach. We anchored in the bay and decided to not go ashore until the next day. We arrived on a Sunday. Most island everything is closed on Sundays. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon lazing in the cockpit of the Puffster and quickly lost the sunlight to evening. We watched a couple of DVDs and called it a day. The following morning, what better way to start off our stay on this French island than with a French toast hardy breakfast? Cindy jokingly wonders if the French call it French toast or just toast. This strange topic of conversation went next just about where you’d expect. What about French onion soup? Is it just onion soup? And of course, what do you call French Fries?
As with any new country, our first order of business is Customs and Immigration. Checking in on the French islands is a breeze. They have made it ultra-easy for cruisers. Rather than have to deal with Government Officials, pay fees and go to multiple buildings, we just simply need to find an official clearance computer. The computers are not scarce and are linked to the Customs and Immigration network. Our cruising guidebook and noonsite agreed a computer was located in the BouBou Café not far from the free town dinghy dock.
We followed the directions of, go to the church and turn left. The dinghy dock is located across from the town square. After securing the dinghy we made our way down the dock. Our first glimpse of Martinique was a wonderfully delightful village square complete with an old church. This vista was a warm welcome to the picturesque small town. We had no problem finding Boubou’s. With my terrible French we managed to communicate the need to check in and asked if we could use the terminal. The owner helped us get the right screen up and all we needed to do was input our vessel and passport information. Our biggest challenge was the keyboard isn’t QWERTY format, it was AZERTY and punctuation is all different and on the wrong keys. We both kept misspelling words. The boxes to input information are bilingual however, pull down menus are in French. Much to the dismay of the people standing behind us waiting to log on, it takes us a little bit to figure out Etas Unis is French for United States and Iles Vierges Les Anglais means British Virgin Islands (our home port). We pay the owner a whopping 4 Euros, a little under US$5.00. This fee is set by the government and he keeps it for having a host computer on premises. How clever is this? Every visiting sailor in this port now knows where Boubou Café is located and might just have lunch whilst there. The owner verifies our printout and stamps the paperwork. Boom! We’re done.
We buy some cold bottled water. It’s still pretty warm here even though it is now December. The sun is brutally hot and we are off to walk about the town. It doesn’t take us long to find the local bakery. We buy some pastries and a baguette. I’m amazed the baguette is only one euro. Our total bill at the bakery is five euros. At this point I am already convinced I am going to love it here.
We felt very French walking about town with a baguette. We fit right in there with the locals. The pastries barely made it back to the boat. By 3pm all were consumed. How did the French become so damn good at baking bread?
As luck would have it, we found an ATM. We had some Euros left over from our stay at Guadeloupe earlier this year and saved them knowing we would need French cash again. But, finding this ATM gave us a chance to replenish our walkabout money. I often wonder if some poor American sole working at VISA sitting in a cube looks at our withdrawal transaction locations occasionally and thinks, “Lucky bastards”. Then having creepy thoughts of the corporate world and cube farms makes me shudder. I need to get that image out of my head right now. I make myself busy taking some pictures of the town. Life is much better in flip-flops.