to begin.


as wicked storms rolled into spring park bay tyler, mike and i would plop a 6 ft sunfish into the angry, angry waters. our knowledge of sailing was nonexistent, and our ignorance made us fearless. 3 high school kids were beyond capacity for this mighty boat. and when the gale force winds got the better of our overzealous heeling, we'd capsize.

stretch, stretch to save our fallen crewman, scramble on the belly of the boat, and then heave all our weight on the keel to flip the beast back over.

soaked and with furious gray clouds above, we sailed onward, only to repeat this joyful turmoil.

ooh the beginning.

the answer to a legit experience on the ocean sea comes from a 35 ft ketch named cappella. she's on her way home to sweden. as of 2.17.11 mats, the 45 yr. old captain, is awaiting my arrival in st. vincent & the grenadines.

the following gnarnia is an attempt to document the journey from the southern caribbean and beyond.

i am no writer, i've never sailed in salt water, i haven't journaled in years, i have no idea what to do when i return home…but…i just bought my first pair of shorts in like 10 years…so…

these entires are meant for myself and anyone remotely interested.

this is.

The Valinor Collective

Saturday, April 2, 2011

lazy martinique.


we anchored in the french caribbean town of Fort de France. the two looming pitons guard the small town on the water.

St. Lucia said her farewell through clouds and a breif rainfall as we cruised out of Rodney Bay at 6:45am. after clearing the lee of the island the trade winds gave us a steady, quick 6knots nearly the whole cruise to Marinique. monster swells were being whipped up from the atlantic as we pased between islands. the swells were some of the biggest waves i had seen yet.  blue perpetual walls. below was about 6000 feet until the ocean floor. it was clear skies and sun the entire 8 hr cruise. burnt thighs and arms radiated heat once we stopped moving and the wind ceased in the bay of Fort de France. thank you aloe.
finding the customs office to check into an island is never too difficult. but in france, through broken french, it takes 4 different contradicting french-caribs giving directions that send you to one edge of town, to the other, back again, to the other, then only to find it tucked away in a tiny sailing shop far from the docks.
and yes, as far as customs go, the french don't give an eff. no authorities, no stamps, no written forms, and no fees for stopping by. all info was filled out on a dusty computer in the corner of a hallway. we set our departure date upon arrival and never had to deal with it again. after all the confusion and wandering a local beer was well deserved.
we stopped into the nearest bar. owned by a frenchman named jean-pierre..of course it's jeanne-pierre. we sat on the balcony that looked out on the town and bay.

this became our go-to spot. through broken french and his patience he told about martinique, its wildlife, the rain forest, the unusual weather as of late, the town, france, his travels and a little bit about beer. he seemed super stoked about the hikes he routinely takes on sundays. the one day where the entire town shuts down. i asked if we could come along one day. and so, on our last day in martinique he was our rain forest guide. unforgettable.

that french laziness seemed to rub off on us. a combo of that, sporadic, mildly annoying rainfalls, unexpected overcast days and ATM issues, we didn't venture out the city until after a week of anchoring.
although within that week my french improved from asking so many damn questions, the tiny streets lined with decaying french-style-stone buildings became familiar, the fresh fruit and veggie market was routinely visited, ate fresh baguettes, got an irrepairable tear in the dinghy and of course through the euro conversion to american dollar, spent too much money. we were living in a french town with all its cliches and sterotypes situated in the caribbean.

traveling, seeing and arriving into a foreign city by boat has a unique psychological effect. compared to traveling a town and chillin in a hostel, you are living IN the city, IN the town. i always felt rushed and anxious this way. aboard a boat, with a slight breeze while anchored in the bay, the town looks and feels smaller. at ease and clear minded. like you can see the town from the outside looking in. interesting.

i had mats pull my finger while i was rowing us back to Capella. oblivious to the preceding event, he found it hilarious. apparently, the swedes don't have such tooting games. im bummed though. he won't play the game anymore. he sees it more of trickery than something we can both enjoy together. i'm hoping he'll come around.

once we finally ventured out of the village, we snagged a bus up into the mountains to this botanical garden. it was a little toursity, but the plants and trees and birds and insects inside were all completely new and totally jungle growthy bra. and they had this awesome suspended rope bridge that provided some wicked views of the pitons and the valley below. afterward, i was itching for more exploration into the wild, but when i asked this old, local lady, she said the nearest hike was like 3 miles away. far too far to walk. i don't know if it was my poor french or she was unaware of her surroundings, but the very next day when our plans for snokeling in the south fell through due to buses and ferrys shutting down in the afternoon, we got word of a trail literally 1000 feet from the botanical garden. effin lady. we bussed to the spot.
walking down this paved road, thick, thick vegetaion walls on either side followed us down toward the sound of a river. it was moist and smelled of rain. this was a jungle, a rain forest. we followed the road without certainty and came across this super old stone bridge that provided passage over the river. mossy stairs led to the waters edge. i hopped in to get closer and snap some pics of the waterfall upstream in a little cove. got some gnar pics and continued onward.
we came across this jungle path that deviated from the road we were on. a french sign attempted to tell us what the deal was here, but i couldn't make sense of it. with my sperrys and swimsuit on, so began the first rain forest hike up the sloppy, muddy stairs twisting up and up into the jungle.

the growth is insanely thick. there is no way you could deviate from the path to explore. unless you had a wicked machete and left bread crumbs. a wall of green, wild flowers, bamboo trees, mossy stumps, dead brown leaves and plants and thriving vines. unlike anything i've ever seen. incessant bird noises, wind blowing or gushing water. never silence, something always moving or living.
we sloshed on, up and up and twisting for another hour. it was realized this path led much much farther than we intended to go or had time for. so, a perfect natural bench, a fallen tree we came upon. enjoyed an orange, sat in silence and observed then headed back. the trek back always going quicker than the way in.

constipation is a crazy thing. an unpleasant one. and for some reason is a fact and lesson of travel. after like 5 days of no movement in this french caribbean town, it was time for some action. when squatting, stretching, rolling, massaging and pushing produce no results, 3 cups of coffee and bananas first thing in the morning gave the release i so desperately needed. pure elation and joy. (soph)

on our very last day in martinique, we met up with jeanne-pierre. he offered us beer before departing into his tiny peugeot along with his unnamed, skinny greyhound type dogs. we cruised to the rain forest. near the base of those two looming pitons we saw everyday.
he whipped out some hidden walking sticks from the brush and what started as a hike down a paved road, soon turned into sloppy muddy trekking. i was all about it. jeanne-pierre turned out to be a damned near expert on flowers, birds and vegeation. through mixed french and english he told of what this plant does, this flower, how to eat this, that, how this trail use to be back in the day and how it's different now. he was our guide.
he had us follow him off the main path onto his own path into the wall of green. we hopped a stream, thrashed through huge moist, green leaves to show us the massive, gorgeous pink flower that smelt sweet and fresh. he pulled out a bag of seeds and started poking holes in the wet soil with his index finger. "for ze bats and ze birds," he says.

then came the rain. of course. big 'ol fat rain as Forest would say. jeanne-pierre busted out his umbrella, and so did mats. i, ill-equipped, took it all.
we hiked and walked, in the mud and changing terrain. he'd stop to tell us of this plant, that plant, break off a leaf, and have us eat it. crossed a river and got soaked boots. more hidden paths to rows of big flowers and the sun barely shining through the heavy forest leaves. it's unbelievable how much growth there is. living things, upon living things. a tree saturated with moss, with other plants growing in the moss, with insects scurrying about, with drops of water dangling on the tips of leaves.
the day lives as a memory now. too rainy to snap any pics. but nonetheless, we enjoyed another beer back at his bar afterward as he showed us pictures of the birds we were hearing earlier that day.

we set sail the next day. a trip to gnarnia.


Sophia said...

It sounds like the entire experience thus far, not just your fateful BM, has been chock full of "pure elation and joy."

I love you dearly and miss you every day.

Please don't lose steam with these updates!

Salderos. said...

hahaha...the bm was heavenly...i shall update no doubt...thinking of jew

Post a Comment


  © Blogger template Shush by 2009

Back to TOP