Karl

Karl the Great

Meet Karl. Karl was responsible for getting us around Martinique for seven days. You have no idea how happy I am to call an inanimate object a “Him” instead of a “Her” for a change. Referring to a boat, plane or any lifeless object as female or male has always annoyed me. My Father was raised by two English teachers as parents. To this day he continues to correct my grammar—and has good reason. I guess some things did take hold on my tiny brain.

We like Karl. He is not your typical guy though. He lacks a great deal of internal strength. Mark commented that he has had lawnmowers with more powerful engines than Karl. We are on a volcanic island. That means a lot of up tiddly up up and down tiddly down down (from Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines Lyrics). Lucky for us, the Martinique drivers simply pass around us without too much fuss.

Ready to go!

Speaking of not much fuss, Martinique drivers abide by polite rules of the road. We are very pleased to report that drivers on Martinique actually use the car’s turn signals to let other drivers know their intentions. They only enter the left lane to pass other vehicles or if they are driving faster than the right lane. Slower traffic—keep right. How wonderful! And, they merge politely. Everyone gets a turn. They might drive fast but there are very few accidents and we have yet to see any road rage.

Another of Karl’s faults is his size. Karl would be equivalent to half the size of a Ringling Brothers Circus clown car. Even the Clowns would say, “No way am I getting into THAT!” But, the price was right and if you know Mark, that is a good thing. Since Karl is small there is very little wiggle room inside the car. Whenever Mark shifts into fifth gear he bangs my knee. When he shifts into reverse he hits my thigh. This happens a lot on an island with a lot of variance in terrain. After over 14 days of rentals (our previous car was tiny Opal who was even smaller than Karl) I gave up moving my leg every time. I just got used to it. On hairpin turns Karl tosses us  this way and then that way. To people passing we probably look like toy Webbles wobbling back and forth inside Karl’s small interior.

A Wrong Turn Could End up in the Water

On the plus side, Karl has that new car smell and very few kilometers under his chassis. Everything is new and in good working order. A big step up from some of the rentals we have encountered on other islands.

I imagine a Christmas Party last year. There was a requisition on the desk of a purchasing agent at Avis for new cars for Martinique. After a few toasts of cheer to the holidays, someone thought it would be funny to fill the request. They purchased tiny cars that even if down shifted and floored to the extreme could not outrun a bicyclist on one of the steep inclines in Martinique. That is OK Karl. We know you gave it your all.

A fun surprise! A bike race turned onto the highway and into traffic. We were surprised traffic was not halted for the race. To our enjoyment we were now part of the race.

Karl fit perfectly into the tiny parallel parking spaces around the island. With all the U-Turns we had to make for missed turns or going back for that scenic view, Karl was perfect. Karl took us to some fun places and beautiful sights over our seven days together. Yes, a short friendship but a really great one to be cherished.  So, maybe going at a snail’s pace was a good thing after all. Thanks for the memories Karl. We will have a lot to share in blog posts to come.

A Stop in Downtown St. Marie on the East Coast of Martinique

Categories: Caribbean, Martinique, Sailing Blog

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