I finally moved the fan to the end of the bed last night, facing the other way, so I slept pretty well. It's always a process to figure out how to sleep best at these new spots, and I usually figure it out about the time I leave. ;)
Anyways, woke up around 7:30 and took my time on the internet. I'm trying to stay up with the rest of the world on news and all that...
Veggies and eggs for breakfast (and blueberries for dessert). Packed up, uploaded some pictures to get them off my phone (it gets full fast!), and the taxi driver showed up right on time at 10:30.
I debated last night about saving $20 and walking down the steep hill, hoping a bus would pick me up, then walking through Castries with all my luggage to switch buses...it was all just too much. Call me a taxi and save my a couple hours.
It was totally worth the $20, for the record. The bus would have dropped me off at a round-about a half mile away from the airport. I am over my suitcase and would have paid even more then $20 to get that door to door service.
Castries airport is definitely the nicest one I've been in in the Caribbean. Although incredibly small, it's clean, has hi-speed free wifi, and a great coffee shop with all kind of foods and drinks.
It took no time at all to check in, and then it was off to the coffee shop for more computer time. I never really know how early I need to get to the airport for these "international" flights. The websites all say the same thing - you have to be there two hours early. But let me tell you, I've never needed to be there more than 30 minutes early at these tiny airports! Better safe than sorry I guess.
Right at noon, they made an announcement asking all passengers on the 12:30 flight to Martinique to go through security. So easy. And the plane actually took off on time. (LIAT is the worst, but apparently not all of the Caribbean airlines operate like they do!)
Landing in Martinique:
The flight took all of 20 minutes (max). Touched down in cloudy Martinique. Martinique is not like the other Caribbean islands. It is part of the EU - run by France. So they didn't even really care to look at my passport at Immigration.
The airport was empty, which I thought was odd for a Friday afternoon, but whatever. Also, found out Carnival starts on Sunday afternoon here, so the place was all decorate dup with masks and signs!
This is when the day started getting good. (And by good, I mean bad.)
I never heard back from my host for the apartment I rented on Airbnb. I mean, I did initially, but not when I messed her again yesterday and this morning about how to get to her place. The addresses in these places are ridiculous. So after getting on Burger King's free wifi at the airport and not hearing back from her, I decided to just take a taxi to her place. I have no idea why I thought this was a good idea. I knew all along she wasn't going to be there... But none the less, I hopped in, and the fare started rising.
Thank goodness my taxi driver was nice and spoke like five words of English -- because no one else seems to here! We got to where her place was supposed to be, according to airbnb directions, and it was blocks and blocks of apartment buildings. All I had was a street name and D22. Awesome.
I called her, I messaged her...nothing. Then my taxi driver - who wouldn't turn off the meter yet - decided to call her. She didn't pick up, but she DID call him right back. And they talked for at least 5 minutes, while he walked around outside pointing and trying to figure out where we needed to go. Aaaaand the fare was still rising...quickly.
Finally, he got back in and told me to stay here -- a local restaurant a block away. I did get to talk to the host, and she was nice, through very broken English, apologized for not realizing I was coming today. Odd, because we messaged yesterday and I said "tomorrow." Pretty frustrating.
Oh, and everything I read said taxis were really expensive here, but 30 Euros for a 10-15 minute ride was nuts!
So anyways, she says she is a long ways away, traffic is bad (which I saw on the drive here) and that she would be there in two hours. It was 1pm then. So, awesome first day in Martinique. Looked like I would be spending the afternoon at a crappy restaurant with even more crappy food. (I couldn't even eat that fish.)
Walking around with all my luggage didn't sound fun, but it did sound better than sitting there with no wifi for two hours, so down the street I went, dragging my suitcase, in search of a pizza place with better food and wifi.
Hasta La Pizza was several blocks away, but really not a bad walk. Cool(wish) and breezy in Martinique. They had food that looked more edible than raw fish, and they had free wifi. Score.
I finally got an iMessage from my host once I had wifi - and it was pretty comical. I guess she really had no idea today was the booking. I said we were at Hasta La Pizza now, and she said she would be there at 4:15. Which would have been fine, but they closed at 4. UGH.
Sitting outside on the curb in front of a pizza place was not my idea of a great first day, but oh well. You win some, you lose some while traveling!
Clemence showed up on time and drove us to her apartment. Which I never would have found.
The place is fine, I mean for $25 a night, it's somewhere to sleep. But her sheets weren't clean, the apartment was a mess, dirty dishes and cigarette butts, a pile of her dirty laundy in the corner of the room. Yeah, I would say she wasn't ready for anyone to come today.
I tried to communicate to her that we needed a car or a scooter. She tried to help -- kind of. Eventually, after many phone calls and many "we are out of cars - it's Carnival" conversations, Hertz had a car. Back at the airport. Ugh. WHY didn't I just get a car when I was there? Would have made the day so much easier.
Clemence (host) said she would take us back to the airport to get the car later in the evening, when traffic wasn't so bad. I needed food - and groceries - so she showed me on the map where a big supermarket was. She said it wasn't walking distance -- I could see it clearly was. So off I went...
It wasn't a bad walk at all, maybe 10 minutes. And if you start a trip with directions on Google Maps when you are over wifi, it will continue working even when you leave and aren't on wifi anymore. Very helpful tip when you are travelling!
The supermarket was Carrefour, and it was HUGE. Like bigger than a Wal-Mart or Target. It had everything from bikinis and electronics to fresh fish and candy.
It was just all in French. Thank goodness for pictures. I guess this is almond milk?
Absolutely NO idea what this thing is. Some kid of fruit? It had such a weird texture...
You had to weigh your own fruits and veggies here and get a sticker, which saved a lot of time at the checkout. Why doesn't the US do this?
$30 or $40 for all the food! Not bad, really!
Unfortunately, I walked around looking at stuff for far too long at Carrefour. So now it was dark, and I wasn't too pumped about walking back.
It turned out to be fine. Lots of apartment complexes around so I think it's a pretty safe area.
More quoin and veggies for dinner. I'm going to turn IN to quonia if I keep eating it. Honestly, pretty over it. This might be the last batch of it for me. (Leftovers for days, I'm sure.)
Clemence was starting to get ready for her Carnival party tonight (Carnival starts Sunday but there are parties tonight and tomorrow night), but she still drove us back to the airport - face painted and all - and got dropped off right in front of Hertz. Thank goodness it wasn't another 30 Euro taxi ride!
There was quite a line at Hertz. I guess a big flight from France just got in or something. None of them spoke any English! Well, they probably do but just wouldn't. French people can be so rude!
Anyways, after 15 minutes and $180, we had a car for two days. (Yeah, not cheap.)
Made it back to the apartment just fine - it's really not far away from the airport and not hard to find. It was getting late by that point, so I just went to bed. In dirty sheets in a stuffy, smelly room. With the balcony open (to breathe) and loud parties. Should be an interesting night...