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Roseau, Dominica to Castries, St. Lucia (via Martinique)

Written on: Friday January 24th, 2014

A journal entry from: Caribbean 2014

We would have loved to spend a bit more time on Dominica, but the ferry from there to St. Lucia only runs once a week and we didn't have quite enough time left on our trip to delay our next island-hop by a full week. So, we stopped at the Patty Shack for one last Jamaican Patty lunch and a couple of ginger shandies, and then headed to the ferry terminal to board our boat.

Since we were boating to another country (two, actually, considering the ferry would stop briefly in Martinique to let off/take on other passengers) we had to go through the whole immigration song and dance at the ferry terminal. First, we stood in a line to show our passports. There were 4 guys behind 3 counters; 3 of the guys were allowed to take your bag and tag it and put it on the conveyor belt; 1 of them was allowed to check your passport and ticket. Take a moment to picture that particular setup. Can you see it? How do you feel in that lineup?

EVENTUALLY, the passport guy checked our ID and tickets, the 3 bag boys played rock-paper-scissors to see which one would tag our bags (no, not really). The ticket guy pointed at another booth with an "Immigration" sign and told us to go over there. Shockingly, no lineup! We showed our passports again, and proof that we had paid our "exit tax" and the officer looked up at us and said, "you overstayed by 1 day"; he was referring to our entry declarations on which we stated that we would be in Dominica for 8 days; it had been 9. Oops! "We meant to leave yesterday, but this ferry only goes once a week" I said, a little concerned about his stern expression. He looked at us, shrugged, and gave our passports back. We had the go-ahead to leave the country!

Now, the departure time of the ferry came and went. The very small departure terminal got fuller, and fuller, and fuller. Mosquitoes buzzed, the smell of rotisserie meats from the snack bar permeated the stale, un-air-conditioned room, and still--the boat did not come. Nary an announcement was made, so all the tourists looked bewildered while the locals looked entirely unsurprised.

Eventually, the ferry did come. Again, no announcement! Just... "people seem to be gathering their things! Let's follow them?" It was the right move. The ferry was here, and we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the boat. It had airline-style reclining seats, and TVs which promised to show a movie during the 2- or 3-hour trip. Things were looking up!

Kevin popped a couple of Gravol (which, in retrospect, I really should have done) and fell asleep. I stayed awake to watch the movie, which turned out to be the Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones film, Entrapment. Except, it was dubbed in French and then subtitled in English. So, that was a bit odd. But more irksome was the fact that the constant act of reading made the very swell-y ferry ride to Martinique even more nausea-inducing. People lurched by us en route to the bathrooms. One man even fell on Kevin as he tried to keep a foothold. Not the smoothest ride!

We pulled into the harbour in Martinique an hour behind schedule, and the vast majority of the existing passengers disembarked there. After they had left, a very motley crew of Martinicans joined our ranks! Lots of loud and drunk 20-somethings, and everyone with an absolutely flamboyant fashion sense. Twas a bit of a ferry circus! I had no choice but to lurch over to the concession and purchase a beer.

The second half of the boat ride, from Martinique to St. Lucia, was uneventful. Kevin went back to sleep and I watched no fewer than 3 soap operas: an Indian show dubbed in French, a Spanish show dubbed in French, and The Young and the Restless dubbed in French. I barely understood a word, but I can tell you there were definitely shocked, ashamed, and scandalized individuals experiencing shocking, shameful, and scandalous things on each show.

We arrived at the port and capital city of Castries almost two hours later than expected. We hadn't eaten anything in 8 hours, but we had an hour long car ride ahead of us to get to our hotel, so we didn't stop to find dinner. After clearing customs, we fixed a taxi price with a driver outside the terminal and headed South to the former capital of Soufriere. As I've said before on this blog (on previous trips) I always find it very strange to arrive in a new place in the dark. You move about, get where you need to go, and get yourself settled, without ever having any idea what this place you've been planning to visit actually LOOKS LIKE in person.

Was I ever in for an excellent surprise in the morning!