Continuing our driving tour of Martinique, I wanted to go to Josephine Bonaparte’s residence which is now a museum. Napoleon’s niece was 15 years old when she moved to Martinique. She had some influence in the outcome there, but I can’t tell you what it was. Dave decided we should stop by the Musee de Banane (Banana Museum). It took quite a while to drive there. We missed it the first time we passed by, as the sign was rather small and inconspicuous.
Josephine’s place was located at the opposite corner of the island and it was already 1:30 PM or so by the time we finished the Clement distillery. At least before taking the Banana Museum tour, we stopped for lunch at their restaurant. As it was, I had little patience for all the bananas and I can’t imagine trying to do it on an empty stomach.
So, yeah, bananas. There are more species of bananas than you would think. And, some are fruits and some are vegetables. Martinique is covered in banana trees. In fact, they export 27,000,000 bananas every week to France. There is a special fleet of four ships just for banana transport. It is a huge export for the country.
The U.S. no longer buys bananas from Martinique. We get most of ours from South America where Dole and Chiquita are fighting out the banana wars. People die over these banana wars and the U.S. condones it by continuing to buy those bananas. Okay, okay, that is as political as I will get. Dave learned more about bananas than I had an attention span for.
I could not stand there and read the hundreds of banana facts without getting bored. So I noticed the Brewer’s blackbirds taking baths in the creek. That was good for about 10 minutes’ entertainment. Then I went outside and sat on a bench to wait for Dave.
The second part of the tour is a stroll through the grounds where they have examples of different banana species from all around the world.
Thai cooking bananas are not sweet and may be one of the vegetable species. These are very different because the bananas grow attached to each other. Just like plantains, they are cooked to make them more edible.
After looking at so many bananas, they all start to look the same and I found myself distracted by the bananaquits and hummingbirds visiting the banana trees. This Emerald hummingbird rested under a banana leaf.
This tree caught my eye because the banana stalk just seemed to go on forever. The bananas just keep coming out. But when the top ones are ripe, can they just cut them off and let the little ones continue to grow? I don’t know, maybe Dave does; he read every fact posted. Normally, they just cut off the entire stalk, but these look all different ages.
Oh, look a pineapple plant. Thank goodness there was something to mix it up a bit.
One last one, in case you aren’t tired of bananas yet. This tree was deformed. Normally only a single stalk grows on a tree with around 100 bananas on it. Once those bananas are harvested, the tree will no longer fruit and it is cut down. However, the parent tree sends out shoots that will grow into new trees that will fruit. Had enough? Me too… Moving on…
This rock sits at the entrance of the bay where Le Marin and Sainte Anne are located. The bay is huge! The English wanted to protect the bay from the invading French and decided to outfit Diamond Rock as a war ship (around Napoleon Bonaparte’s time). As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Navy had to scale the rock carrying the weaponry, they had to do it through snakes. The rock, and potentially Martinique, was infested with snakes! Now that I’ve said this, my mother-in-law will never visit Martinique. So let me add that we never saw a snake on the island nor swimming to our boat in the water.
Next we visited the Diamond Beach area at the opposite end of the bay. There we saw this paraglider. We couldn’t hear him, the parachute was absolutely silent and looked lovely.
I mean, look at the view he would have from up there. It must be gorgeous. If I wasn’t so afraid of heights, I would give it a try. I’d love the tranquility of it, but for me the adrenaline would ruin it.
Anyway, we came to see the slave memorial on the beach. These figures looked so hunched and browbeaten and looked to me to represent a people without hope. Sad!
But viewed from this angle, it appeared that they looked longingly at the sea, wishing to go home back to the families they were torn from. I thought it a powerful memorial.
As we prepared to leave and return to the boat, the paraglider came in for a landing right on the beach. He made it look so easy! Just gently touched down without having to take a single step to counter any force of the wind on his parachute. Then he gently brought down the chute. He lived in one of the houses overlooking the bay and made the area into a playground. He showed us his launch site halfway up the hillside, where he steps off and then catches a thermal to rise even higher. He said it was very easy on a light wind day such as we were having and was more complicated in bigger winds. Dave has found the opposite with kiteboarding. It is more difficult in lighter winds. Which brings us to the end of our stay in Martinique. Dave wants to go kiteboarding in St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. So, next stop… Rodney Bay, St Lucia.