Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 42, Martinique in the Caribbean..

South America has been an awesome...
Now its time for us to board our cruise ship ....yay!! we are going to sail around the Caribbean...Marti is thrilled because our first stop is Martinique.....located between the Caribbean and the Atlantic, Martinique is 425 square mi (1,101 square km) in size.

Christopher Columbus first sighted this gorgeous island in 1502, when it was inhabited by the fierce
Caraïbes, who had terrorized the peace-loving Arawaks. The Arawaks called their home Madinina (the Isle of Flowers), and for good reason. Exotic wild orchids, frangipani, anthurium, jade vines, flamingo flowers, and hundreds of vivid varieties of hibiscus still thrive here.

Though the actual number of French residents does not exceed 15% of the total population, Martinique is still a part of France, an overseas département to be exact, and French is the official language, though the vast majority of the residents also speak Creole......Hmmm, feels a little like Mauritius;-)

In colonial days, Martinique was the administrative, social, and cultural center of the French Antilles, a rich, aristocratic island famous for its beautiful women.

The island even gave birth to an empress, Napoléon's Joséphine. It saw the full flowering of a plantocracy, with servants and soirees, wine cellars and snobbery!!

Look Marti, there is Martinique's own version of the Sacred Heart Church, just like in Paris!

Numerous scattered ruins and other historical monuments reflect the richness of Martinique's sugarcane plantocracy, of rum and the legacy of slavery. The aristocratic planters are gone, but some things haven't changed so much. The island's economy depends on les bananes (bananas), l'ananas (pineapples), cane sugar, rum, fishing, and even-voilà-tourism, though it is not the lifeblood of the island.

Feroz and Amit are starving as usual.......I think that that have heard about Martinique's hybrid cuisine, mixing elements of African, French, and Asian traditions!! One of its most famous dishes is the Colombo, a unique curry of chicken (curry chicken), meat or fish with vegetables, spiced with a distinctive masala of Tamil origins acidulated with tamarind and often containing wine, coconut milk, and rum.

There is also a strong tradition of créole desserts and cakes, often employing pineapple, rum, and a wide range of local ingredients. Yummy, Nopi, Sita and I will definitely be indulging in that.

Martinique is the largest stronghold of the békés-the descendants of the original French planters-and they are still the privileged class on any of the French-Caribbean islands. Many control Martinique's most profitable businesses from banana plantations and rum distilleries to car dealerships. The island's elite dress in designer outfits straight off the Paris runways....but we were more interested in seeing them in traditional costumes....and luckily we were able to see these lovely ladies in all their finery:-)....pretty stylish huh?

Feroz is singing "Caribbean Queen" by Billy Ocean as we set sail for our next destination .......hmm, Feroz is always happier when his belly is full....and the Martinique cuisine sure was divine.....

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