Day 4 – Fort-de-France, and Cruise to the Bat Caves around Le Diamant

The day after we did this:

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We decided to have a quiet morning.  We slept in, had a lingering brunch, then went for a walk.  We knew that we wanted to go to Fort-de-France to look around so we wandered down to where the water shuttle comes to dock in Les Trois-Îlets to see prices and departure times to go across the bay to the capital.

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I can’t remember exactly how much it was.  But it was definitely less than €10 each round trip.  If I lived here I would want to live in Les Trois Îlets, and maybe work in Fort-de-France.  And take the water shuttle to work each day.  See-ya traffic!!!! 😀

But on our way we ran into people selling little half day trips.  I love boats, and the water in general.  And one of the trips was an all inclusive “cruise” to Le Diamant (a very distinctive rock in the southern part of the island) and the surrounding bat caves.  We had intended to visit the area around Le Diamant while we were here, and thought looping it into a boat ride/snorkelling/bat caves sounded like a fun way to get a different perspective on it.  But the cruise left at 1:30pm, and it was just after 10:30am.  And this was the only day that we could fit it in.

Not being ones to miss out on an opportunity, we literally ran back to our hotel (stupid tourist, no decorum!) to grab what we would need to visit Fort-de-France, I don’t think we had our wallet/purse with us.  And then ran back just in time to catch the 11:00am water shuttle to the city.

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Ahhhh made it!

We got into Fort-de-France at 11:30am.  And that gave us approximately an hour and a half to run around Fort-de-France like crazy people before we had to catch the 1:00pm shuttle back to Les Trois-Îlets.

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View of the city as we were arriving

So we didn’t have much time.  But Fort-de-France is not the most beautiful city.  It’s a port city, and has a pretty gritty feel to it.  But while we were there we really took it all in.

The military base is quite a distinct structure as you enter the harbour.  So we went there first.

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I have always loved this French symbol.  I remember it from the French embassy when we were applying for our French visas.  So Davin went and did his best impersonation in front of the Maritime Affairs office 🙂

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Then we wandered around town.  Here are some of the sights:

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You will notice there are really dark clouds overhead.  At one point it began to absolutely pour!!!  We had an umbrella, but this was the type of rain that wraps underneath your shelter and grabs you!  But the people were really friendly as we took shelter in one of the local open air clothing shops and waited for the worst of it to pass.  The store keeper brought us a box of kleenex to dry ourselves off a bit!!!  Very thoughtful 🙂

There is a river that runs through the city and it is a pretty murky colour… I wouldn’t want to fall in…

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And there is a bridge that runs over it.  We crossed briefly to the other side, but ended up in a bit of a sketchy neighbourhood.  So we crossed back again and headed back towards the city.

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We ended up running through a little fruit market.  If we hadn’t been literally running, we might have stopped to buy a bit of fruit to munch on 🙂

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Then, a little nervous we would miss our boat back (even though this is the caribbean, the French influence is strong and stuff. runs. on. time! :D).  So we headed back in the direction of the ocean so we could keep an eye out for our shuttle.  McDonalds (or McDo as it’s called there) had pistachio milkshakes… So we got one of those to share while we waited the few minutes until the boat arrived to take us back.  I am so glad we don’t have them in Canada!

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Bye Fort-de-France! it was fun!! 🙂

We got back with just enough time to run BACK to our hotel, change into swimwear, and then run back with a few minutes to spare in time to make our mini-cruise trip (yeah, we ran a lot that day).

This is while we were waiting.  Not the nicest day, but it was still fairly warm, and we had fun 🙂

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Cool kids hang out at the back of the boat ;p

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On y va!!!!

Some shots we took while on the boat.  I just love it on the water, but then again I am a pisces 😀

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Les grottes des chauves-souris (or bat caves) were the first stop.  I love animals, but I am not so big on bats… I don’t understand something that would spend a large portion of its life upside-down in a dark place.  We just don’t have much in common.  So I am not sure if I need do bat caves again, they are pretty creepy.  BUT the sound of all of these bats talking to each other in their high frequency voices is really something that you want to experience at least once.  So I liked that.

This is us approaching the caves:

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A little closer…

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A little closer…

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TOO CLOSE, most definitely TOO CLOSE!!!!!!

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See them hanging out in the crevices? Okay, fine it was pretty neat 🙂

Leaving our little friends behind we headed for Le Diamant

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Rocker du Diamant, or Diamond Rock, is uninhabited (by people) and positioned about 3 km off the south west coast of the island.  It is strategically placed between Martinique, and its neighbouring island Saint Lucia to the south, leading to a battle between the French and British (who had control of it) for the well positioned real estate.  Spoiler: France won in 1805.  But Britain put up a pretty long fight.

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It is actually a volcanic plug, and a reminder of the heavy volcanic activity in the area when it was developing.  Le Rocher du Diamant got its name due to the way the sun reflects off of its very unique topography that is similar to its namesake.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Rock)

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Pretty, and very unique

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Now it is a bird sanctuary, and they have these little cameras set up on the rock to study the birds that live there.  Here are some more pictures:

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After that we were on our way to a little cove for some lunch, rum, and snorkelling.

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Snorkelling cove. No jelly fish thank goodness. I hate jellyfish!!!

In a lot of North American excursions, mixing alcohol (especially all inclusive alcohol) and snorkelling would not be a very good idea.  But this is France… And the vast majority of visitors were European, primarily from France.  And they have a very different relationship with alcohol than we do.  The cruise was all inclusive.  All the food and drinks you could eat/drink.  It was kind of interesting to see everyone take the first drink they were given.  Put on their snorkel gear, head out to the water.  And then come back to dive into some nice fresh pineapple, watermelon and other goodies they had prepared for us.  And then maybe have one more drink.  But that was all.  Davin and I shook our heads and giggled at the cultural differences.  An all inclusive package like this could easily turn into a party boat back home with open liquor bottles and mix sitting out for anyone to help themselves on the ride back.  But here everyone just nursed their one, maybe two drinks and chilled out and listened to music as the boat travelled back to Les Trois-Îlets.

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Boat ride back home after snorkelling selfie 🙂

We made friends with one of the crew members:

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And he let Davin captain the boat for a while.  Everyone was very chill, and really there to make sure you had a great time.  Overall it was a fantastic choice, and worth cutting our time in Fort-de-France a little short 🙂

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I wanted to go back to the same restaurant as the night before for dinner!!!!  Davin always gives me a hard time because I turn in to a creature of habit really easily and he likes to push me out of my zone…  I just find something that works and I like to stick with it 🙂  But he talked me out of my beloved Accras de Morue (see previous post), and we decided to try a new place 🙂

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Me looking not so convinced…

But it was actually really nice.  I had a yummy vegetable soup, and some more freshly grilled fish!!!

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After that we were pretty wiped!  We wondered around town for a bit and got some soft-serve ice-cream that they sell.  And then headed back to our hotel for a night-cap and bedtime 🙂

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