Martinique and the volcano
15 February 2008
Our first sighting of Martinique was St. Pierre bay. This is the location of the 1902 eruption of Mt Pele.
History says that the settlers killed the last of the indigenous Caribe Indians. During the last battle the Indians prayed to their mountain Gods and cursed the settlers. True to West Indian fashion it took its sweet time in coming but vengeance was swift. On accession Sunday at 8:00 Mt Pele erupted with a glowing cloud of gas and steam. Family coming from nearby villages saw the eruption as it engulfed St Pierre describing the cloud as glowing with an eerie light. 29,800 people were killed buried by ash and rock. A convict survived in his heavily constructed cell. A cobbler lived hiding in his basement and a ships captain managed to get his burning boat away from the melee. The newer buildings are constructed in and surround the ruins of the city.
Being a French Island we initially felt we were at a complete loss for language. But with a lot of smiles and determination we managed quite well about town.
From St Pierre we sailed to Fort Du France the capitol city. It rained like we have not seen here in the islands before. On arriving at the fort we found no room in the anchorage so we sailed over to the tres islets. In desperate need of ice and food we arose early and went in to town. Fort Du France is a very modern city with many of the cosmopolitan shops and stores you might expect to find in any large city in Europe. We discovered the farmers market and learned just how far the US $ would go here. Scary! Still we had fun looking about the town and finding the bakery and change shop where we could exchange dollars for Euros.