Great (or not so great) time spent in St. Lucia

After arriving in Marigot Bay, we were able to spend some great times with friends, Louis and Natalia from the catamaran Katarina, and Al from the sailboat Furling Around. We utilized the perk of the Capella Resort swim up bar each afternoon for happy hour, which comes with our paid mooring.

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Capella Resort swim up bar (on the left of the photo-can just see the roof)

We spent many evenings sharing good times with a sunset and good dinner with our friends. A lot of eating out, but with our lifestyle we never know when we will see our friends again, so we take every opportunity to meet up and share time together.

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Sunset in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

After about a week at Marigot, we said good bye to our friends and sailed north to Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. It was another beautiful sail!

In Rodney Bay we anchored on the north side of the bay near Pigeon Island. It’s good holding there and a short 30 second dinghy ride to the dock and to one of our favorite restaurants, Jambe de Bois. During our first few days, we saw quite a few weddings taking place on the beach of the National Trust. The first wedding we saw the bride and groom, and their parents. It was a small wedding! The next evening, we saw the bride and groom and a little bigger group, maybe 15-20 people. That evening they had the reception on the beach with music, until about 10pm. The NEXT evening, we saw the bride and groom and about 40 people! We were at Jambe de Bois that evening, we noted that they boarded a “party catamaran” for the reception. St. Lucia is THE place for a destination wedding!

The day after we anchored in Rodney Bay, we saw an English flagged sailboat anchor next to us. We looked…and looked…and sure enough! It was our friends Rowena and Richard on Galene! What a sweet surprise! We spent the next few days getting together with them, played bocce ball on the beach and enjoying beers together.

Music on the beach is a favorite thing to do among the native Caribbeans. The wedding music wasn’t so bad. The beach is about 200 yards from where we typically anchor. But over the past 3 years, the obnoxious, loud, booming, siren sounds has gotten to be the “rule” rather than the exception. And this year was the worse! Almost every night, starting by 8pm-LOUD LOUD music, going until 3am or even 7am the next morning! When it went until 7am, we asked the National Trust office the next day about it, and they just explained “it was a breakfast party”, like this was normal. Perhaps it was a fund raiser for the National Trust? Not sure…but we saw people leaving and they were pretty dressed up, so it was a very organized formal party!

The other thing we noticed in Rodney Bay are the number of jet skis from the resorts. It seems they like to use the sailboats anchored in the bay as an obstacle course, making any kind of swimming or snorkeling highly dangerous!

We are reconsidering going to Rodney Bay for any amount of time in the future. There are plenty of quieter bays to anchor.

The last evening that we were at Rodney Bay (planned to sail back to Martinique the next day), it began at 2pm in the afternoon. We saw the tents being set up on the National Trust beach. So, Greg proceeds to dinghy ashore to ask what their plans were. In talking to the organizer on the beach, he was really rude and wouldn’t give him any idea on how late (9pm? 3am?) the party would go. So he went to the National Trust office and asked them, and was told that the organizer had it “for the day”, not being sure what that meant!

Upon returning to our boat, Greg went over and talked to Richard and Rowena, and the music was already SO LOUD, so we all agreed that it was early in the afternoon and it was best to pull anchor, go to the south of the bay (1 mile across) so we could get a good night sleep. GOOD DECISION!

That evening we had a wonderful “sundowners” time on our Aquataurus with Richard and Rowena and Al (who arrived in Rodney Bay that afternoon on Furling Around) sharing snacks and libations-beer, wine or gin and tonics. It was a wonderful time visiting with friends.

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Last sunset in St. Lucia

So, even though most of the time we live in tranquil anchorages, it isn’t always that way. In the future we will seek out more tranquil places to stay (it won’t be Rodney Bay).

Next time, we sail back to Martinique and get ready for haul-out of Aquataurus.

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It’s a NIGHT SAIL!

So, I have to be honest, I was VERY apprehensive about sailing at night. For Pete’s sake, IT”S DARK OUT THERE! But everybody I’ve talked to has loved it and encouraged me to just do it! They said it’s amazing, seeing the stars and riding the waves. And there are so many people that do!

So on Easter Sunday, at 10am We pulled up the anchor in the Saints in Guadeloupe and started our overnight sail. The day turned out to be a beautiful one for sailing. Greg had watched the weather and waves for wind speed and direction, and sea swell size and direction. It was the right combination of wind and waves for sailing south.

When doing a night sail, you need to prepare. We had life jackets out and tether/harness. We both put them on and off and fit them exactly, hoping we wouldn’t need them. Also when night sailing, we agreed that the sides canvas of the wheelhouse would be buttoned down to keep us even safer in the wheelhouse, and prevent any ocean spray from entering the wheelhouse.

So the day was an amazing sail, then sunset came. It, also, was an amazing sunset while under sail.

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Sunset during the sail

We had 20-25 knots of wind all day, out of the east, giving us a speed of about 6-7 knots all day long. We sailed in to the channel between Guadeloupe and Dominica. About 5pm off the west coast of Dominica, I see some spray ahead of us that didn’t look like waves, and sure enough! It was a sperm whale! SO COOL!!!! Greg said there were 2 of them, and I just watched as he took my iPhone to video them. They were about 20 feet long, and right next to the boat about 20 feet off the port side. I ran down to start the engine as they were along side us, so they would know we weren’t a threat or another whale. She slowly turned left and started slowly swimming toward Dominica. A beautiful sight of nature!

Later that night, we looked at the video, and NO VIDEO! The setting sun was really bright on the screen and Greg wasn’t able to see the button to start recording clearly. Bummer! But we have the memory forever in our minds. It was amazing.

After the sun set about 6pm, and before the moon rose (it was an almost full moon) about 9pm, it was REALLY DARK! But, nothing bad happened and the motion of the boat sailing through the waves was an amazing feeling. It wasn’t scary, it was quite comfortable. We both agreed that neither of us would leave the wheelhouse during the night, unless we had our lifejackets and harnesses on: safety precautions.

When night sailing, the crew take watches while the other sleeps. Do you think I could sleep? Nope! So I started the watch while Greg went below to try to get some sleep, until about 11pm. We sail with the auto helm, so there is no steering for us. It was beautiful with the bright stars above and the city lights from the islands. We were about 8 miles out to sea, so we could still see the island lights. I just wish I could include a photo of this, but it wouldn’t have been very good.

About 11pm, Greg comes up and we have a snack to eat, then I head down below to try to get some sleep. By this time we are on the west of Martinique. A few minutes later Greg is starting the engine and wondering out loud about a freighters heading that he sees behind us. The freighter has lights on the bow that show us which direction it’s going. We have an instrument called AIS that detects all boats around us, their course and heading. But this time, we couldn’t see it on our AIS device. for some reason (since then, Greg discovered a switch that wasn’t “on”, so now we see ALL the boats around us!). So Greg is pretty much freaking out as it appears (from it’s bow lights) that it is bearing down on us, but still about 3 miles away from us. But freighters can move faster than us. So with the engine on, we head further out to sea. To Greg, it still appears that it is following us on a collision course from the lights we see. Then, against the island lights, he sees the silhouette of the freighter, and realizes that it’s lights on the bow AND stern, so it is following the island to Fort de France in Martinique and is NOT on a collision course with us! Thank goodness! By this time it is a bit closer to us so we DO see it now on AIS, and see that it IS heading to Fort de France. So we go back to our course on the auto helm towards St. Lucia, which is our destination.

Enough excitement for the night! So I go back below to TRY to get some sleep. Didn’t sleep all that much, as I hear Greg tweaking the sails, letting them out, pulling them in, and starting the engine intermittently. He was trying to get as much speed as possible with the winds that we had. Or I should say, no wind that we had! In the middle of both Dominica and Martinique, the winds pretty much died and we had to use the engine for a bit. We wanted to maintain at least 5 knots of speed.

About 3am, I got up so he could go below and try to get some sleep. It was so amazing, seeing all those stars, the almost full moon, feeling the boat sailing through the waves. It was mind-boggling. Sure wish I could share those sites in this blog.

I woke Greg about 5:30am for the sunrise.

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Sailing sunrise-Martinique on the left in the distance

It too, was spectacular. But unlike Greg, during those early hours I did NOT tweak the sails nor did I start the engine. So there were time we were only sailing about 3 knots, so as I kept watching out track on our Navionics app (see a snapshot of the Navionics app below, showing our course) and we were moving VERY SLOWLY past the southern tip of Martinique.

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It appeared that we were hardly moving! Well, we weren’t! When Greg got up he wondered why I didn’t start the engine to have more speed, and I was like, well, it was so beautiful out, I was just enjoying the ride!

It was another amazing day sail toward Martigot Bay in St. Lucia. We arrived about 10am, just short of 24 hours from the time we left our anchorage in Guadeloupe. We sailed about 130 nautical miles!

Would I do it again!? IN A HEARTBEAT!!! Every night when we sit out on deck and I look out west toward the darkness and the sea, I tell Greg “Let’s do that again!”

Spending time in Guadeloupe

After spending time in Portsmouth, Dominica, we sailed north to Guadeloupe to the island of Marie Galante.

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Guadeloupe is a French overseas region (like Martinique), and the largest Islands, Basse-Terre and Grand-Terre, is shaped like a butterfly. The country of Guadeloupe consists of over 12 islands, both inhabited and uninhabited. The inhabited islands are Basse-Terre, Grand-Terre, Marie Galante, La Desirade and Iles des Saintes. Its history consists of numerous fights for control between the French and British. In 1946, the colony of Guadeloupe became an overseas department of France.

During our time in Marie-Galante, we spent time renting a scooter, exploring the island, which included a nice beach-side restaurant for lunch.

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Lunch spot at Le Touloulou
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Selfie riding the scooter!

After spending a few days anchored at Marie-Galante, we sailed the short 18 miles north to the islands of Basse-Terre and Grand-Terre (the bay is located in the middle of the “butterfly” shape), to Pointe-a-Pitre. It’s a huge bay and when we wanted to go to town, we had to cross the bay in our dinghy! Probably about a 15 minute ride, but had to watch for the ferries coming and going, had to get our timing right.

We rented a car there, and spent 2 days, first driving to the Basse-Terre side, then the next day to the Grand-Terre side. Basse-Terre is much more mountainous and Grand-Terre is more flat. Basse-Terre has some amazing hikes. The forests are lush and green, like a rainforest. We tried to do some hikes, but at each trailhead, the parking lots were FULL! So, we opted to continue on for some snorkeling with turtles at Pigeon Island. This, too, was a very busy spot, but we found a parking spot and walked about 20 minutes to the beach.

Greg and I snorkeled near the rocks, saw some great fish and reefs. We were thinking where are the turtles? So once we were out a ways, we decided to come back through the anchorage and not over by the rocks and reefs. VOILA! We saw turtles, and turtles and MORE turtles! They were beautiful.

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Snorkeling with turtles at Pigeon Island, Guadeloupe

During our time with Matt and Anna, we experienced some fantastic french food! They made some amazing dinners, using cream (I need to use that more!) and one of the last nights with us, they made crepes, which were to DIE FOR! I’ve never tasted such amazing crepes, and all others will be measured up to the ones Matt and Anna made. We had ham and cheese crepes for dinner, with nutella and banana crepes for dessert, and there were enough left that we had peanut butter and banana crepes the next morning for breakfast.

They left us on April 18, and it was a very sad day for all of us. We made some great friends over the 18 days, and wish them the best on their adventures. Hoping to meet up with them again some day, but have found new friends who will always be in our hearts. Thank goodness for technology, making it easier for us to stay in touch. They planned to hitch another ride on a sailboat, to Columbia, then Chile, where they plan to ride bicycles through the country. I can’t wait to read their blog-it’s in French but they also have an English translation! Matt and Anna’s blog

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Greg, me, Anna and Matt

After leaving Matt and Anna, we sailed the short 22 miles south to Iles des Saintes. We’ve heard that they have lots of mooring there, and not much space for anchoring. Well, it’s true, many moorings, all were full. They have four locations where one can pick up a mooring. Well, we went to all of them, they were ALL full! No space. Now we had to find a place to anchor! The depth in the area was mostly 22 -24 meters, and we usually anchor in 4-8 meters. So we had to find a spot! Not easy! But luckily we did, and got well set.

It was comical to watch other boats come in to the anchorage, go to each mooring field, trying to find a mooring then ending up coming to where we were anchored. It was Easter weekend, so perhaps this is why the moorings were so full? Not sure.

So then we had to make the decision: do we sail overnight to St. Lucia? I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really keen on the idea. We’ve had a full moon, so it probably was the best time to go. Greg checked the wind forecast, the wave-height forecast, and it looked like a good time to go, if we were. Well, I was darn sure that I wouldn’t sleep at all that night! Do we do an overnight sail? Well, I guess you will have to wait for the next blog to find out…

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Sailing to the island of Dominica

While we were in Martinique, we met a couple who had sailed across the Atlantic with another sailboat, and were working waiting tables at a beach bar on the beaches of Les Saline to make some extra money. They are “hitch-hiking” around the world, hopefully for the next 5 years! You can read about their adventures here-but beware, most of it is in French currently, but they are providing English as well: Matt and Anna’s blog

Matt and Anna are a sweet, respectful, young French couple, who only met while doing the Atlantic crossing. They are now traveling together. They had asked if they could hitch hike with us north to Guadeloupe, which was in our plans to sail to anyway. From there they hope to hitch hike south to South America/Columbia/Panama where they will continue their adventures.

So at the end of March, they moved aboard and we sailed from St. Anne to Anse Mitan, in Martinique, getting ready to head to the next island north, of Dominica.

The cruising guide we rely on when moving from island to island is called “Doyle Guides” Doyle Guide online . And Chris Doyle describes Dominica like this: “If Christopher Columbus came back today, Dominica would be the only island he would recognize. This is because Dominica is the region’s most unspoiled country and its most exciting destination for spectacular natural beauty. When Columbus was before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, trying to describe the awe-inspiring mountains of Dominica, he had to resort to crumpling up a sheet of paper to illustrate the dramatic form of the land, with its valleys, gorges and pinnacles.” Dominica has lush vegetation, covering the entire island with trees, vines, shrubs and ferns, with birds, butterflies, brightly colored flowers. It has a boiling lake and hot waterfalls, sulfur springs and crater lakes. The high mountains create clouds, which produces rain creating the rainforests. Dominica has some lovely beaches, but not as many as some of the other islands to the north and south of it, so this makes tourism low-key here. Dominica’s population is 73,000 who have a curiosity about outsiders and they enjoy meeting the visitors. We found this to be the case.

So, that said, we had a beautiful sail to the town of Roseau, in the south of Dominica. Hurricane Maria devastated this small island in September 2017. The devastation still shows as they try to rebuild and recover. Looking at the skyline of the mountains, you can see how Maria just stripped the trees bare, but they currently have new growth, so recovering slowly.

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Anchorage in Roseau, Dominica

There are quite a few homes that were destroyed by Maria, that have been slow to rebuild, and in places it still looks like a war zone. But the people are resilient, kind and warm-hearted. I don’t think we have been to any island where the people are so kind and the island, despite Maria, is so beautiful.

Roseau is the capital of Dominica, and as we walked in toward town, we walked past the White House where the President of Dominica resides.

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The White House in Roseau

 

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Streets of Dominica, still under repair

When we are in another country we like to support the local economy. As we were walking in Roseau, we met “Mr. Gregs”, an artist selling his art. We bought this painting to brighten Aquataurus:

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Greg and Mr. Gregs

Matt and Anna are very independent, so the day after we arrived in Roseau, we dropped them ashore with backpacks and didn’t see them again for 3 days. They hitch hiked, backpacked and camped around Dominica. They were pretty tired when we picked them up again.

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While in Dominica, we had 2 days of a guided tour of the island. We hiked to Middleham Falls, a 45-60 minute hike one way, to an amazing waterfalls, about 245 feet.

We also went to a place called Titou Gorge. This was where one scene in Pirates of the Caribbean, Part 2 was filmed. It was an amazing tall canyon, about 10 feet wide, with cool fresh water falling from a waterfalls at the far end. We had to swim in that canyon to get to the waterfalls. Truly amazing! Too bad I couldn’t bring my iPhone to take photos, but we should have brought the GoPro instead. But here are photos from the internet that capture Titou Gorge.

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Entrance, Titou Gorge, Dominica
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Titou Gorge, Dominica

We snorkeled at Scotts Head (southern tip of Dominica) and Champagne Bay. This was amazing! Champagne Bay is an active underwater volcano and you can see little bubbles coming up from the sandy bottom from the volcano. It had some great reefs, and there was a great variety of fish here. This was the best place to snorkel of the 2 sites.

We also hiked up to Trafalgar Falls, a huge waterfall that we climbed with the help of a guide. Another site where scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed. Here there is also some hot springs, falling into the falls. I can’t imagine scrambling these rocks without the help of a guide. Some photos from the internet:

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Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

From Roseau in the south of Dominica, we sailed up to the northern port of Portsmouth. As you can tell from the names, Roseau is french, and Portsmouth is english, and in the 1700’s the French settled the island, but in the years following, the English wanted this island as well. Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south were settled by the French, and they wanted this island as well, then they would have all 3 islands. But the British wouldn’t hear of it. They fought for 7 years, and finally the British were victorious. Hence, it is an English island between 2 French islands.

While in the north in Portsmouth we heard that we shouldn’t miss the guided tour on Indian River. So we hired Anthony to take us. What a gem! This river was in a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean Part 2 as well, it is where Calypso’s home is. Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria destroyed the canopy of trees over the river seen in the movie, and a large palm tree fell on top of Calypso’s home, but it can still be seen. The Dominican government has plans to rebuild Calypso’s home, sometime in the future. Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria stripped the canopy over the river, so the scenes from the movie are different than they are today.

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Indian River, scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean filmed here
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Photo from Pirates of the Caribbean, Indian River, Calypso’s home, damaged by Maria and to be rebuilt by the Dominican government

At the end of the Indian River tour at the farthest point that the tour can go, is a “river/forest” bar, set in off the river. Here we could hike in to the forest about 15 minutes.

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On the trail, we encountered small iguana type lizards. They were beautiful!

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On this island is also a native people, who have been given a territory by the Dominican government, which is theirs to govern and thrive. We didn’t get to see this area during this trip, but hope to in another season.

From Dominica we sail to the Guadeloupe island of Marie-Gallant. Stay tuned!

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Busy 2 weeks!

The past 2 weeks have been REALLY busy! On March 12, Gregs sister and her friend arrived in Martinique. We stayed in Le Marin the next day and showed them around Le Marin. The next day we did a day sail around the bay and ended up anchored in St. Anne. We wanted to see how Janets friend tolerated the seas and seasickness.

Well… it wasn’t good. She was sick the entire 2 hour sail, despite taking meds for it! Felt so bad for her! We let her decide if she wanted to make the 4-5 hour sail down to St. Lucia. She had a different med with her, and decided to use that and try it.

So we had a beautiful sail do St. Lucia! But 2 hours in, she started getting nauseated again, with 2-3 hours yet to go! Poor thing. She toughed it out holding onto a bucket .

We had a glorious time in St. Lucia. We took them to Jambe de Bois for 2 nights of good jazz, and they had an all-day island tour before leaving  the island. And we introduced them to a local fruit called Soursop. Then we needed to return to Martinique. We found a pharmacy while in St. Lucia and she got yet a different medication that makes her sleepy. So she got that, and she took the maximum dose before we headed sailing north. She slept the entire way! She was a very happy camper! Better than holding a bucket!

So we headed back to St. Anne in Martinique for a few days, to explore the St. Anne beaches, both Basilic and Les Saline.

 

On our way to Les Saline (a 2-3 mile hike, one way) we encountered these “red crabs” in the forest. There must have been thousands! You could hear the leaves rustling as they were scurrying out of our way. It was just crazy. We had never seen this before on our previous hikes to Les Saline, so I’m not sure if it was a migration or mating behavior!

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Then one more sail was needed to get to the bay in Anse Mitan where we would rent a car and get them to the airport. She took her meds and slept most of the way there. So it was a good sail.

We explored the town of Anse Mitan and the island via rental car. We went to the Pottery Village as well as our favorite rum distillary LaMauny.

I think they had a good time. Now to put our “home” back together: stripping sheets and getting laundry done, cleaning, sweeping, dusting, getting water, getting groceries, etc.

Anse Mitan sunrise:

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Cooking on a boat-and a pasta, pesto, marinara vegetable lasagna recipe

When living on a boat, there is no way to just “run to the store” if you are missing something! So I try to stay well stocked on the basics, olive oil, spices, canned goods and staples. But when you can get fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, those are priority to use first as they don’t last as long as the others. And our refrigerator isn’t all that big, maybe 2 feet deep by 2 feet long and wide. There is a cold plate on one side which freezes food nicely when placed against it, but you want to be careful to NOT place something near/against it that you don’t want to freeze! Like lettuce!

So while I am master of the galley, Greg is master of everything else technical. So I try to keep him out of my galley! It’s frustrating when he puts something somewhere else where it doesn’t belong or rearranges the refrigerator where something that doesn’t belong on the cold plate gets put there! I also have baskets at the very bottom of the refrigerator for items for long term storage like cheeses, butter and lunch meats. I know where these are, so it’s best that I make the meals.

That brings me to my next point, I love creating new dishes! And I would like to start sharing my creations. I know these blogs aren’t for everyone, so if you are interested in some of my creations, read on! I’ll share only 1 creation in each blog.

So here is my most recent creation.

In a skillet, sauté olive oil and diced onion. Add pressed garlic, stirring constantly.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to instructions. Any kind will do, I used linguini as that is what I had on hand.

To the skillet add any vegetables that you have. Add salt and pepper. The first time I made it I added a whole bag of spinach and cooked it down. The last time I had fresh green beans that needed to be used. Once the vegetables and sautéed to your liking, add a few spoonfuls of pesto sauce (I can get a small jar at the stores here), and a small jar of marinara sauce. The marinara sauce here comes in 4-6 ounces but any size would do. Add a handful of shredded mozzarella or any soft meltable cheese, stir well until it’s well mixed and cheese melted.

Put a small amount of olive oil in a casserole dish, spread all over, add the pasta, top with the marinara mixture, the add slices of mozzarella over the top. Place under the broiler until the cheese is golden brown. Remove and cut into squares.

Now it may come out a bit messy (hard to cut that linguini, or anything not a lasagna noodle!), but it tastes amazing!!

Bon appetite!

Carnival in Martinique-Mar 3-6

Carnival in Martinique is an annual holiday that begins 4 days before Ash Wednesday. Its origins are from the Christian faith brought over by the Europeans when they settled here in the 17th century. It is one of the most unique festivals of its kind anywhere in the world and is inspired by French, African and Latin American cultures.

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Originally, it was celebrated in the former capital city of St. Pierre in the 17th century by the French Catholics, and was originally only for the rich members of the French colonies. They were highlighted by extravagant balls for the rich in St. Pierre, while there were separate celebrations by the slaves of the island. This separation of festivities continued even after the abolition of slavery in 1848, but a disaster 54 years later in 1902 changed all that.

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In 1902, the capital city of St. Pierre was completely destroyed when the volcano Mount Pelee erupted. Two years later, Carnival resumed in the new capital of Fort-de-France, and the 2 cultures (the rich elite and the common people of the island) were brought together and their unique traditions were incorporated into the events of Carnival.

During Carnival, the daily life of Martinique comes to a stand still and the island comes alive with “Carnival Fever”. Preparations start months in advance. During the 5 days of official celebrations many of the younger generation don’t sleep, parading at day and partying at night.

Martiniques most famous musical groups spread out across the island between the parades ensuring the villages are filled with music 24 hours a day and drawing crowds in their wake.

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Carnival is also an opportunity to show off the traditional masks of the island: The red clay men wear masks covered entirely in red clay, the negs gwo-sirop, men coated from head to toe in sugar syrup and charcoal, are caricatures of the rebel slaves from Africa in contrast to the native Creole islanders. Also are the mariann lapofig dressed entirely in banana leaves, the mokozombis are dancers on African inspired trampolines, and the guiablesses in glitzy costumes by both the beautiful girls of the island as well as the young men cross-dressing.

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Saturday and Sunday of Carnival mark the true beginning of Carnival with bands, parties and parades filling the streets of villages across Martinique. Most of it is centered in the capital, Fort-de-France. Revelers partake in a number of activities including carrying around homemade puppets known as bwa bwa, and others playfully scare children with bodies covered in coal tar and sugar-cane syrup. Each village elects a Queen (usually over 60 yo) and a Junior Queen (usually 10-12 yo) to be carried at the grand parade, wearing their finest traditional costumes. A full day of celebration gives way to a night of music and the beguine dance, a dance which originated in Martinique.

There is even a street parade in pajamas that starts at 5am filling the streets with the shuffling of slippered feet!

On Monday, Carnival transforms into a burlesque day full of weddings, and men dressing in drag and women dressing as bridegrooms. This day of celebration is strongly linked to religious beliefs as the end of Carnival marks the start of Lent, when the inhabitants of Martinique practice fasting and abstinence. During this time, weddings are not to be held, making Monday an important day of celebration.

Tuesday is know as the day of the devil. All day long the inhabitants of Martinique celebrate by dressing all in red and wear devil masks in parades and celebrations across the island. This leads to the final day of Carnival, on Ash Wednesday.

On Ash Wednesday the she devils and devils mourn the death of the King of Carnival known as Vaval. Vaval is a satirical mannequin representing a politician, a public figure or an institution and is carried through the streets leading the festival parade. The Carnival Queen is seated beside the Vaval during the parades. The Carnival Kings death and ceremonial burning of the king (a large homemade puppet) in the square in Fort-de-France brings the celebration of Carnival to an end. Thousands of mourners dress in black and white and parade to mourn the passing of Vaval.

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At the end of the celebrations, the island enters the period of Lent which leads up to Easter. Lent, the period of fasting and abstinence coincides with the dry season on Martinique. Tradition requires that one does not dance, listen to music and all wedding and other celebrations are postponed until after Lent.

We haven’t observed Carnival yet here in this anchorage in Le Marin (it has been pretty quiet here) but last year we were anchored in Fort-de-France and heard the parades, music, etc. Loud cars are also very popular during Carnival and we heard many driving the streets in Fort-de-France. I guess it’s a celebration of “loudness”, the louder the better!

Here is a link of some more photos of Carnival in Martinique! Enjoy! Carnival photos in Martinique