Friday, March 2, 2012

Fort Louis

The weather has been bad lately, so going around by the dinghy is the same as taking a shower by the dirty waters of the lagoon and the bay. Yesterday (Sunday, the 26th) we decided to check out the fort at the top of the hill, which is a short walking distance to the main street in the Marigot village. We climbed the way and some steps, and voila, we were inside the walls, overlooking the amazing view. It was possible to see up to the Simpson Bay, at the south of the lagoon. The colour of the bay was the characteristic turquoise as far as the eye could see.

Fort’s short history, which was given at the entrance, showed that St Martin’ s governor decided to build it around 1768, to stop the pillaging of the English pirates; and assured the French king about keeping the expenses as low as possible. It is obvious that they did not spend much, looking at the size of the place. But it’s location at the top of the volcanic hill, which drops to the sea in black boulders of lava renders it impassable. According to its history, a small group of French soldiers and some militia force from the villagers were able to fend off some English attacks, and St Martin prospered after its completion in 1789. It is ironic that the name of poor Louis XVI was given to the fort, at the time that his demise started, four years before his death.

Anyway, when we came down, we passed by the Le West Indies Mall, the most pretentious mall I had ever seen. There was a big sign on the door advertising that it was open on Sunday. So we went in. There was two round marble staircases going to the second floor, a big marble statue in the middle atrium etc. What are they selling? Some high-end clothing stores like Lacoste, Quick Silver etc., among the many that were empty, but all the stores were closed, except the one specialized in perfumes. I failed to see the point of keeping the mall open for one store, even the two coffee shop owners did not bother coming in on a Sunday. The clientele of these stores appear to be the wealthy Americans flock to the island in cruise ships, and are driven to Marigot in busses. The population of the village triples in certain days, by snow white, tired looking people, who stagger about aimlessly. When I look around, I get the impression that they see the visit as an ordeal, rather than enjoying it.

In fact we were not in the market for any shopping; I just wanted to see the inside of the mall building, which looks quite imposing from outside. It proved to be a complete waste of time for us, but what do we have more than time. We just looked and wondered.

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