During our friends' visit we were not affected by rain at all. However, not being able to sail every day dampened our spirits a bit, so we decied to rent another car, and do some inland exploration and a visit to the Rum factory. It was on the spur of the moment, but the same diesel Renaut was ready in an hour from Christian, so we went all the way to Trinity on the east coast. The trip was pleasent, since the roads are well maintained, but winding over the many hills. Views of the east coast was spectacular, but the coast seldom visible , since the road was built inland among the mountains.
First stop was at the Clement Rum factory, located near Francois. Apparently it was one of the best maintained factories, and a tourist attraction. When we got there, we saw that the vast parking lot was full of cars and several buses. Unfortunately the factory was not presently working, since their season was between June and September, but the grounds and buildings were open, with high tech personalized guide systems. It was a pity that we went there before lunch, and could not taste their multiple rums. I only had a sip of their best one (sold there for 52.- Euros a bottle), which was like brandy.
Right at the exit from the factory, we saw a sign about a restaurant, Cote d'est, and decided to try it. Simone was looking at the map (in French) while we started to travel in the opposite direction of where we were supposed to go. After some time on the winding inclines of 10 % and more, Simone warned us that we were headed into the heart of the mountains, and not the coast. Al was not happy either about getting so far away from the main highway, so he turned the car around, and climbed with difficulty, the steep hill we had just come down (Renaut is not very impressive, no power.)
On the way back, we saw at the last moment, that we had missed the turnout for the restaurant, but decided to try some other one on the main road. The east coast seems to be the tourist area, there should be some establishments to cater them.
We found an Italian place at the outskirts of Francoise, a town at the middle of the east coast, advertising pizzas etc. It had a high deck to eat outside, and a parking strip at its side, where Al just fitted the car next to a high wall, and came up. There were a group of students sitting at the deck, but nobody inside. When we tried to order something from the menu, we were told that only salads were available, since the oven had just stopped working. However, Al' s lasagna was promised. So we settled with some beers, and started to wait, and wait, and wait. We speculated that the propreitor must have sent somebody to the Carrefour accross the street to buy the greens. Even so, nothing can explain the incompetence in being so late to serve four clients. The group of children got one serving of chicken wings, and went their way.
After spending an hour, we ate our lousy salads and gladly went back to the car.
Christian had raved about our next stop, Trinity, which is a narrow peninsula, right before the second town, Robert, not far from Francois. We missed the turnout, but set back in the right direction by some school children, and went into the wilderness. I was hoping to see the both sides of the peninsula, but it was not as narrow as it seemed on the map. However, we were able to have some glimpses of the majestic mainland hills and the small bays in the sea. The south side seemed like a very calm and protected large bay, where some catamarans were anchored. (We would have to spend a lot of time cruising before we could venture out there, although it was inviting.)
While we were driving, I expressed my wish of stopping somewhere nice with a view to have coffee, and Oguz exclaimed that he was thinking the same thing at that moment (meeting of the minds!). We reached Tartan (in the middle of the peninsula, facing north) and saw that there were a number of restaurants and cafes along the beach. The weather was somewhat dark and cloudy, but it was not raining, so no matter. We sat at a table outside of a nice restaurant, where a crowd was served, but the function was winding down. We settled patiently to give the servers a breather, while enjoying the view. We ordered coffee and waited. After ten minutes, the server came back and apologized that the whole area had just lost power. What a day! We had no luck in food or drinks all day. Al bought some local chocolate from a small market next door as consolation. Is it me or these vendors are indifferent to serve their customers. I guess we have been spoilt in Turkey and Canada, with the ingenuity of the hospitality industry. In both of those countries, every customer is precious, and would be sent away satisfied; in Turkey because of the competition, in Canada because of the small size of the client pool.
It was getting late, we had a long way back, so we lost our wish of getting to the end of the peninsula, and returned to St Anne from the main highway to FDF, which we cut across from Robert. The most profitable part of the trip was stopping at the small produce market close to Riviere Salle. Nice local tomatoes, breadfruit (first and last time I saw it in Martinique), cucumbers, pineapples, watermelons, you name it. Unfortunately, one needs a car to get them, bummer.
Next morning, we went to Le Marin to do some more shopping, and Al drove up to St Anne, and set the grocery bags on the pavement at the pier, Simone and me in guard, and went to the Jumbocar office ten minutes away to give the car back. The guys were going to walk back, so the two of us settled at some benches in wait. I was a bit ticked off, that Al did not think of taking us to one of the establishments on the street, to have some coffee while waiting. We even thought of going somewhere ourselves, but laughed and decided against it. The guys would have a fit if they could not find us. The wait was not that long, Christian had the sense to drive them to St Anne. I guess after charging Oguz 54.- Euros for the car (booking through the web has its advantages), he felt a tinge of shame.
Thank God for Ruyam II! Every time we come back I feel releived, to be away from the hustle and bustle of the life on land. We had our coffees at last at home.