Day 7 – Hiking, Hitch-Hiking, and Home

For our last day in Martinique (this time, I want to go back!) we decided to hike the hill-y terrain a little bit south of Les Trois-Îlets that also had spectacular views of le Rocher du Diament.  We could have gone the longer way around the coast as we hadn’t explored that area yet.

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This is where we wanted to get to

But we decided to take the more straightforward route along the D7 (which we had driven quite a bit as it is how we got to our hotel) and the N5.

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As we were driving we came across an older couple hitch-hiking.  Apparently hitch-hiking is a fairly acceptable way to get around the island.  We decided to pick them up as DMG is always looking for opportunities to practice French.  And little did we know that later that day, karma would come back to repay us 🙂

They weren’t going very far, so we didn’t get to talk with them for long.  Just about 4-5 minutes down the road.  But they were really nice people.  Originally from mainland France, and had been living in Martinique for quite a few years now.

After we dropped them off, we found the base of where we were going to start hiking and parked the car on the side of the road.

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Our goal for today!

The initial path just happened to walk right by somebody’s house!  And whoever lived there has the crankiest dog!!!

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This is seconds before he came and yelled at us for no reason. Well, maybe for waking him up… But we were definitely minding our own business!!!!

A preview of the view we were treated to at the top.  This is before we got into the trees:

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We only brought one way-too-serious-for-a-two-hour-hike backpack this time 🙂

It was a beautiful hike.  Across a couple of ridges, and then it got steep enough to be challenging, but not too crazy.

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And there were some reply nice little creatures along the way 🙂

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DMG’s snail friend

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M. le Gecko

There were lots of these vines everywhere.  Quite the jungle!

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There wasn’t a view directly from the top.  We had to descend a bit until we reached this open area.  and then the view was magnificent!!!

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If you look in the centre of this photo, slightly to the right Le Diament is just visible poking out of the trees just off the coast.  Really pretty and fairly clear day to take in the view 🙂

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After we took in the view at the top we had two options: 1) heading back the way we came so that we would end up at our car (BORING!), or 2) climbing down the other side of the mountain, and then walking back to our car along the coast (yeah, that sounds like more fun…).

So down the other side we went.

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Made it to the other side!

 

When we cleared the mountain we came across a really nice open area looking south west.

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And after walking along the the D37 a bit longer we stumbled upon the Memorial de l’Anse Caffard le Diament.  Is is a powerful display of many large statues looking out over the ocean in the direction of Le Diament with their heads bowed and shoulders hunched over.  When we first saw it we just looked at each other like, “wow… what’s that?”  It is unmistakably mournful.  I found a nice summary of what it memorializes on the Uncommon Caribbean (great website by the way for anyone who is visiting this area and wants a bit of a different experience.  I wish we had found it before our trip!

“The importation of new slaves to the Caribbean had been made illegal in 1815, but that didn’t stop the illicit trade from continuing many years later. Traders simply opted to port their ships at night to avoid getting caught. As you might imagine, this dangerous practice often had tragic results…

On the night of April 7, 1830, a ship carrying a cargo of Africans sank in the rocky waters off the coast of Le Diamant. More than 40 would-be slaves, shackled together in the ship’s hull, drowned.” (http://www.uncommoncaribbean.com/2010/11/03/uncommon-attraction-anse-cafard-slave-memorial-martinique/)

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Around this time we were also getting some great views of Le Diament as well.

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By this time, we started to realize that we had probably bitten off way more than we could chew.  We were out of water, it was a super hot day, and we left our wallets in the car.  We passed a little ice-cream and juice stand just off the road with nice music playing… Cry…  But we kept pressing on and found some other really cool hidden gems like this view of Le Diament:

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The road we were walking on (D37) started to narrow (uh-oh… We’ve been through this before…) and the shoulder where we were walking disappeared.  At the same time the road started to leave the coast, and it began to climb up a windy hill inland.  Things were starting to get hairy again, and we estimated that we were a solid 8 kilometres away from our car still!

As we were trudging up the windy road (hot, thirsty, cursing ourselves for not just going back down the way we came), we heard a car slow down behind us, and eventually pull up beside us.  We were not even hitch-hiking!  A young couple just saw us trudging along and thought it looked like we needed a ride!  Love this island, the people are top notch!

We drove with them for about 10 minutes.  During the trip we were looking at each other and our eyes kept getting larger as we realized that we were much farther from our car than we had guessed as the minutes and kilometres went by up a steep and windy road, and back down again.  We realized that we were much, much farther from our car that we had guessed.  Our initial guess didn’t take into account the change in elevation!

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Our driving/hiking/walking/hitch-hiking route for the day

The couple was really nice.  Again, originally from mainland France and DMG relished the chance to practice his French 🙂 I don’t remember much about the conversation (its tough for me to follow if I am not familiar with the accent or they speak quickly).  But for some reason I just remember them telling us to not go to Guadeloupe, because the people there are really racist against white people!!!  Lol.  I had to ask DMG when we got out if that was actually what they were saying.  I thought it seemed so bizarre that I must have lost something in translation.  But nope.  According to them, apparently Guadeloupe is definitely NOT the place to be 🙂  But we will still go on an adventure there one of these days.  I’ll take my chances  🙂

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We were so happy to get back to the car, and get a nice bottle of water!  We decided to drive back into Les Trois-Îlets.  And I am happy we did because we stumbled on the church were Joséphine de Beauharnais was baptized (who married Napoléon Bonaparte I, and became empress of France during France’s time as an empire).  Her family was from Les Trois-Îlets.  Crazy!

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We went out for a pretty tame dinner, and then packed our bags for home time in the morning.  Our flight back was a little more direct 🙂

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Au revoir Martinique!!!  We will miss you.  But there was still a lot of Adventure June to get through yet!!! 🙂

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