Saying Goodbye to a Fine French Woman

I didn’t pick Martinique, she picked me. Rather, we came to Martinique because that is where Aora was located, and Aora soon became Dragonfly.

Dragonfly’s home for two months
The sun sets on our time in Martinique

Once before I’d been to Martinique, though I really hadn’t. A week at Club Med in 1988 is really time at a French hotel, restaurant and beach bar, but there’s no way to learn just how vibrant and welcoming an island and its people are.

Club Med Buccaneers Creek

The history of all Caribbean islands is familiar: colonized by European powers to develop sugar, rum and coffee crops by exploiting the indigenous population as well as enslaved Africans. Post WW2 many of these islands achieved independence and self rule, whilst a few remain wholly part of their European country or as a commonwealth protectorate.

Post office in downtown Fort de France
From Mont Rouge looking westward to the Caribbean Sea
St Pierre, location of the catastrophic volcano in 1902 that took 28,000 lives. The local mayor encouraged his supporters to stay in the area as he did not want them to leave as they’d miss an upcoming election in which he was running.

Spending two months in Martinique was a good primer on the adage that governance matters. Martinique is simply a province of France, just as all the mainland provinces are. And so they benefit from the rule of law, quality education, decent infrastructure (roads, power, drinking water, etc.) and overall a quite good standard of living. The downside is that wages are universally low, the cost of living is quite high, and the global inflation that we’re seeing puts a real strain on the average resident.

Atlantic Ocean from the Caravelle peninsula
Communities that support the arts reflect a higher quality of life and openness to creativity.

But it’s the people that make it such a special place. A mix of black and white, young and old, workers, business owners and retirees. Universally friendly, every single time we walked down a sidewalk we were greeted with Bonjour and a smile. People get along here on this island and we never sensed tension and certainly never felt our safety was at risk. It was common to walk from Dragonfly to the marine store and greet 5-6 people by name.

The food was excellent and we only had good meals. A couple of our best meals were at a beachfront restaurant with sand on the floor and every guest wearing a swimsuit. Most memorable were the sauces, not spicy, just packed with flavor to enhance the locally caught seafood Being French, there were as many stylish, beautiful people here as we saw in Paris.

Sauces everywhere!

A friend observed that Martinique is more European than Caribbean – all the benefits of France right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

Botanical Gardens
Butterfly pavilion at the zoo

Au revoir mon ami, see you soon.

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