Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The other day we received a call from Simone and Oguz, who live and work partly in Geneve, Switzerland and Ansy, France. Simone advised having seen a short news bulletin on their local tv about some incident that killed two and injured about six people in St Anne, Martinique. They immediately thought of us, since they took it as an explosion of some sort and wanted to know if we had been affected. Of course we had no idea about the life on land, but we had one source in Le Marin, Levent of Elite Kebab, who is quite in touch with the locals, due to his occupation and personality.
We in turn called Levent. He and his wife Guylain had spent the afternoon and early evening of the day before (being Sunday) with us on the boat. He declared that the incident occured about three hours after they had left, at a restaurant very close to Club Med, locatd at Buccaneer Beach. It was a group of people killing each other during a private party, one of whom had just got out of prison. It seemed to me that a group of drug dealers or other criminal elements carrying guns, dealing with some dispute.

We are anchored just across the Bucanneer Beach, and our favorite restaurant La Ronde Des Yoles is five minutes away from the crime scene. It gave us a chill to learn that a seemingly serene and tame tourist destination could be rife with those people.

When we visited Fort De France in November this year, we visited all the places that we had seen the first time around in the year 2012. We went to the chandlery, to the promenade of shops and restaurants, and ate at the kebab place owned by Mohammed, from Lebanon. We were amazed that the everywhere showed some signs of deterioration and poverty. We were the only customers at the kebab place for instance, which had been thriving before. Al was intrigued and stuck a conversation with Mohammed, while I was sitting at the balcony, overlooking the street corner. There was an older islander, standing at the corner and appearing to sell something in his hand to the people walking past him. While I observed him for about an hour, he had not been successful in attracting any attention from the pedestrians, but he was sorrounded by some young bad guys, who can be picked out anywhere in the world, trousers sweeping the ground, gold around their necks and some ears, cap to the side and a mean gleam in their eyes. From my vantage point, the flash exchanges of small packages and money were completely visible, not that they were trying to hide anything. Some youngsters were rolling their hash cigarettes in their palms immediately after acquiring them, and lighting up. Even while the two police patrolmen were walking around them! I also saw some kind of negotiation going around a couple of pretty and young girls. Drugs, prostitution, you name it.

Al learned from Mohammed that Fort De France started to attract fewer sailors lately, and his business declined so much that he was thinking of getting out of there. With all those neighbours, it was little wonder that his customers were not venturing to that area any more.

We observe but do we learn? While we were going around with Oguz and Simone on their last day, before taking them to the airport, Al suggested taking a turn in Fort De France, and almost got mugged at the beginning of the promenade, which was completely taken over by the bad guys, since it was Sunday, all businesses being closed.

We had never encountered any other dangerous situations in St Anne or Le Marin, but we saw some idle youth in small groups spending the evening away, apparently doing nothing. As we do not go fon land often at night, we do not feel threatened. However, we try to take all the precautions necessary to save our boat and dinghy, like locking everything and taking the dinghy key along etc. The rest would be a matter of insurance, heaven forbid.

We had also heard about some minor incidents at the dinghy dock of Leader Price, one of the major grocery chains in Le Marin. For example, we heard about gasoline or some groceries left in one of the dinghies being stolen.  I suspect that those would be perpetrated by fellow sailors, since that dock is only used by sailors shopping in the town, and it is quite a secluded place, surrounded by mangroves, and only accessible by a short footpath from the grocery parking lot. Doesn't it make sense to reach over to another dinghy when in need of gasoline? Some of the dinghies around here have very small engines and tiny tanks, and it is difficult to reach a gas station on foot from there.

We do not leave groceries unattended any more (in Grenada we sometimes would leave our purchases of local produce in the dinghy, while shopping from the grocery stores. Not a single tomato went missing!)  Grenada we miss you.


  1. It seems time of weighing anchor is not so far from Martinique .
    Take care .


  2. I remember the first time I went on a Caribbean vacation. It was on Antigua in 1969. I was a university student, and my three roommates and I rented a car for the week. Everything was nice on the surface, but Antigua was just emerging from a rough few years when the tourists stayed away because one of them had reportedly been murdered. The young people seemed to view us with a lot of anger and resentment, despite the fact that we were of an age, One time we drove around the island, and when we passed through a small town late in the evening a few rocks were thrown at our car.

    Years later my wife and I vacationed on Venezuela's Margarita Island. The hotel warned us against moolight walks on neighbouring beaches, since tourists were at risk of being mugged out there after dark because the oil industry was faltering and many of the locals were out of work.

    It seems that when times get tough in Second and Third World vacation destinations, you have to be far more careful, since they don't usually have the social assistance that Canada is blessed with. If you are going to enjoy yourself, you can't go around assuming the worst, but sensible precaustions will always save you time and money.