It was a rough night of sleep. I feel like I say that a lot on this trip, haha. I guess you get what you pay for most of the time! It was so hot and smelly last night, and loud outside, that sleep just wasn't happening. I wasn't excited for the alarm this morning in the least. But I was excited to go canyoning! I found a few places while researching what to do online, and got booked with one spot for this morning. I mean hiking in the rainforest and repelling down waterfalls is pretty much the best day ever in my book.
So after some granola/muesli and fruit for breakfast, I was out the door by 8:15am. We were all supposed to meet in some parking lot past the Gardens of Balata at 8:45 to leave at 9.
The road on the drive to the meeting point ^^
The directions were easy enough, and the roads weren't so bad, and we got there right on time: 8:45. There were only like three other people there and I was thinking, awesome, a small group!
By 9:45, people were still showing up. LATE. We ended up with 13 in the group. That's a lot of people to hike and rappel with!
I was all suited up in a harness, helmet, and wetsuit, ready to roll for a loooong time.
I think we finally left around 10:30 or so, and it was pretty slow going. OH - the best part: everyone else spoke French, so he explained everything...in French...and I just stood there. And when we started walking, he was like, "You just stay close to me." Worked fine for me, I don't need to listen to all that boring safety stuff, and I don't like to follow people -- only the leader. So it was perfect!
Anyways, the hiked up and over a cliff, and then followed the river for awhile. Hiked up, up, up and then the real fun began!! I mean, the hike itself was just gorgeous. I love rainforests and am always amazed by just how green they are and how many different species and organisms grow together there. But man, when we got to start going down IN the waterfalls, it was just awesome.
The guide had a camera and took pictures on the way, which was fantastic because my GoPro somehow got turned on in my bag and was dead! I was SO bummed about that throughout the trip because it was just SO COOL and I REALLY wanted pictures of it all! Oh well, these will have to do...
We repelled 5 or 6 times down different waterfalls, and even did some waterfall jumps, which were also awesome. Oh I just loved it all. I wasn't expecting this kind of a fun adventure in Martinique at all -- I don't know what I was expecting -- but not one of my favorite days of the trip so far! (I mean, hiking in a rainforest AND jumping in waterfalls is tough to beat in my book.)
We were gone several hours, which included time to swim in the crystal clear river at the end. When we got back to the shelter, the guide poured everyone (all French nationals) a drink with some kind of fruit juice and some rum. I had about 2 drops of alcohol in mine and the rest just juice. Shocking, I know. ;)
The canyoning adventure took way longer than I anticipated. I mean, I thought it would start at 9 and maybe end by noon. But we didn't start until after 10 and didn't get out of there until almost 3!
The plan was originally to hike Mont Pelee afterwards, but the afternoon was going by quick. Either way, we made the drive up there to at least check it out -- not even sure how long it would take to get to.
As we got close to the town of Morne Rouge, the highway was blocked off -- barricaded. Detour after detour to take the back roads around the town. I figured something had to be going on for Carnival...but kept driving up to Mont Pelee.
The road I happened to pick on the map, just happened to be the right one! Lucky. And in the parking lot of the trail head, there was an older lady selling homemade breads. Warm banana bread? Yes, please. I crushed the whole piece in a matter of seconds.
The trail guide said it would take 2.5 hours to get up. If that was the case, I wouldn't make it, because the sun would be going down. It was already almost 4pm. But it never takes me as long as the guide books say, so I decided to at least head up and see how far I got.
Not far up the trail, I started hearing something... thunder maybe? No, it was drums. Drums from what I could only assume was a Carnival parade down in Morne Rouge!
I stopped and debated going down for the parade. I mean, how often are you in a foreign country for Carnival to see how they celebrate? And these people do it up right here in the Caribbean. I mean it's an all out three day fest!
But I was already on the mountain and had been hiking awhile, so I kept going...
I got to this point, probably an hour or so up, before I just couldn't take it any more. The sound of the drums was just too enticing. I had to hustle it back down and go see what was going on in town.
Cars were already lining the streets a half mile from town, so that's where the rental stayed and I race-walked towards the sound of the music.
Breezed through the all-French security check point, and wouldn't you know it...the music had pretty much died down. I couldn't hear it as much any more. It was just after 5pm, and there were lots of people just standing around...some leaving. UGH. I missed it!
But I kept walking in towards town -- towards where there was still some music...and there were more and more people, all dressed up. Carnival is kind of like Halloween I think, with lots more drinking involved.
And finally, I found either the parade, or what was left of the parade? I'm still not really sure what it was or how it all worked there. But there were like groups of people - dancers up front and live music behind - just walking down the street. With like a few minute break in between each one??
I'm of course too impatient for that, so I kept walking the opposite direction, right down the middle of the street. So I would stop and see one, then walk towards the next one. Cut down on my standing around time. You know I can't be idle for more than like two minutes without getting bored. ;)
They all played basically the same music, and none of the costumes were like the crazy fancy ones you see in Rio or New Orleans...but it was still fun to see! Some of the girls were a little scantily clad! (see below)
This group was my favorite: The dancers up front were cross-dressers and they were SO funny and entertaining to watch. And the band was all women!
Overall, it was a fun experience. I'm still not really sure what it was all about, but hearing the music and seeing all the costumes was pretty entertaining!
As soon as I had had my fill of loud Carnival drumming, it was time to start the long journey back to Fort de France.
More leftovers for dinner back at the apartment. Seriously, I might never eat quoina again. Well, except for tomorrow morning, because there is just enough left to eat with eggs. ;)
Tried to research some more stuff in Dominica and find a place to stay, but it's tough with Carnival starting. Still nothing nailed down, but the ferry leaves tomorrow! I'll either figure it out tomorrow morning sometime...or on the fly when I get there!
Went to bed around 9:15pm and was not expecting much sleep again... It was only $25 a night. I keep telling myself that... ;)