Friday 20- Departure for our next destination: Martinique Official base of the GGC Caribbean Air Challenge
Martinique was only a 162 NM away, but the flight to get there was a real challenge. Facing very low ceilings and rain all the way in. We flew low altitude following the chain of islands staying close to the shore line.
Though this time of the year is not supposed to be rainy season, islanders said it has been like this on and off for 3 months. The formation flight so carefully prepared and expected by Martinique Air Show organizers was cancelled.
On approach to Martinique Aimé Césaire airport, the weather cleared. The sun was beating on the runway and the airport was very busy with more than 100 aircraft expected for the Air show. Sebastien Feliot, Airshow organizer Madinina and Martinique Aeroclub had reserved assigned spaces for our aircraft.
A tent was set to receive us all with music and dancers. Pilots finally relaxed enjoying Martinique great food and the traditional refreshment : TiPunch (fruit punch with a touch of rum)
All aboard the bus !!! No customs to worry about, this is Martinique’s way to say : Visitors are always very welcomed here !
Martinique is an exotic island with French flavor charm and sophistication. Its passion for food, its celebration of literature, art and architecture all point to its strong French heritage. Due to its tropical climate, Martinique is covered with a mantle of lush vegetation: sumptuous rainforests, bush, savannah, and innumerable species of trees, fruits, plants, flowers and mangroves. This unique diversity makes Martinique an extraordinary garden where ethical tourism is the norm. Tourists can freely explore the island on their own without any concern for safety and easily find comfortable lodging (small B&B “gîtes”) along the way.
Our hosts, Martinique Tourism Committee : Muriel Wiltor director CMT Americas, flew in from New York, her home base, Antoine Omere,Director CMT Quebec, arrived from Montrea. Both joined the lovely Georgie Vernes , CMT onsite coordinator..
Friday, 6 PM, we departed for the cocktail and dinner for the Air show celebration. Great atmosphere with an important group of people: aviation representatives from neighboring Caribbean islands, from Trinidad and Tobago to San Juan Porto Rico. Aircraft manufacturers and other aeronautic product reps and of course the Stars of the Air show: Melissa Pemberton, Fred Cabanas and Skip Steward.
Saturday, April 21 we woke up to a beautiful sunny day, perfect for the tour in town and mini rally competition. The Martinique Tourism office ferried us all across the bay of Trois islets to the Capital Fort de France.
We split into two groups to visit the market. A delight for those looking for souvenirs or different spices, liquor, fruits, and Martinique specialties We visited the famous library and learned all about Aimé Césaire, an anticolonialist poet and politician. Mr. Césaire was one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated cultural figures. He was especially revered in his native Martinique, which sent him to the French parliament for nearly half a century. He was repeatedly elected mayor of Fort-de-France, the capital city. Fort de France Airport was named after him.
Some of us took the ferry back to the hotel La Pagerie. Hotel La Pageriewww.hotel-lapagerie.com is ideally located in the center of a variety of quality shops: fashion, jewelry, etc.. we were fascinated by the quantity little “French” style cafes and restaurant bistros and “boulangeries” (bakeries). At walking distance from the Marina we could not far from the marina where FRESH seafood can be enjoyed. The hotel is comfortable, personnel very friendly and rates very reasonable considering its great location. Entertainment was offered in the main lobby starting 6 PM for everyone to enjoy.
An unexpected experience no one will ever forget !!!
The 56 of us were invited to spend the evening in a fabulous private house, in a beautiful setting surrounded by tropical vegetation. The dominance of wood, creole furniture and beautiful African/Asian art collection was the perfect setting for a cordial sophisticated and elegant “soiree”. Tables were set 0n the surrounding patio so we could enjoy the show of Martinique traditional dancers. A 5 course gourmet supper was served by waiters dressed in white uniforms. A group of International media joined us for this wonderful evening
We owed this great evening to Mrs. Glaudon owner of the famous Fort de France, Hotel L’Imperatrice www.limperatricehotel.fr and Dr. Jean-Baptiste also a pilot who was delighted to receive the participants of the Governor General’s Cup.
Sunday, April 22 – Another beautiful day, a little bit overcast but perfect for those going on the catamaran adventure for the day. What an experience it was for all ! Swimming, snorkeling, relaxing and dinning onboard. The group enjoyed the unexpected company of a group of dolphins.
Others, the down to earth type, chose the 4×4 tour of the island and tropical forest, accompanied by guides. One of the participants, owner of a large farm operation in Quebec made a point to visit the biological farm of Leon Tisgra in Morne des Cadets and found amazing recipes to grow healthy and bio produce.
Again we left Martinique with unforgettable memories!!Thank you Muriel, Antoine and Georgie and Thank you Mrs. Roy Camille president of Martinique Tourism Committee for accepting to receive us all again this year.