Diving into Martinique

“Tu es costeau?” Willie asked. Costeau means strong or robust in French. I nodded a little dubiously and he strapped an oxygen tank to my back. When I tried to stand, I nearly toppled over. Costeau? Maybe not. We were at Papa D’lo in Saint Pierre, a scuba diving club that offers “baptèmes” or initiations…

The Memorial of Anse Caffard

On April 8th, 1830, a ship approached the coast of Diamant. François Dizac, who managed a plantation in the area, was watching the ship approach and realized that it was too close to the shore line but strong waves prevented him from sending a boat out to warn the captain. Instead, he tried to send…

Trois Ilets: The Village de la Poterie

Down a very red, clay road in Trois-Ilets is the Village de la Poterie. It is primarily a tourist attraction at this point but if you are going to see a tourist attraction, this is one I would recommend. The pottery is beautiful and each artist has his or her own style. If you’re looking…

Manman! The End of the World at Carnaval

Manman. This deceivingly simple word means mother in Creole but is often used to express surprise—the Martinican equivalent of “wow!” Indeed, there is no better time to explore the complexities of this word than during Carnaval. Songs have been written to this word. Oaths have been taken with this word. This word is shouted from…

Hana Banana Goes to the Banana Museum

Bananas are nothing if not complex, as I have learned since arriving in Martinique. This is a country that has built its economy around sugar cane and bananas, so it makes sense that they would have an intricate understanding of the fruit. If you want to learn more about this fruit, the place to visit…

Carnaval: When The World Turns Upside Down

A cacophony of brass and percussion blasted through the city of Trinité this past Sunday as Martinique prepares for Carnaval. Carnaval is the festival that leads up to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is a time for people to let loose before they have to settle down and be good Catholics during Lent.…