It’s OK to Travel with a Bathrobe #22: Way Too Tropicalized – Martinique
Way Too Tropicalized
This winter here in Martinique has been a mix of a lot of work and a lot of pleasure. I have come to know everybody that came down to the cafï¿½ for over six months and at the same time sailed around the islands. I must say there are good things and bad things about living in Martinique. As it is a French island with lots of possibilities for work, I think many travellers would choose it as the perfect Caribbean spot to move to. It’s true, most islands are beautiful with gorgeous beaches and jungles, but in the majority of them you wouldn’t get a job, and, if you did, it’d be paid very, very low.
Not in Martinique, it’s Europe here, we count Euros and drink pastis for appetizer, salaries are those of France and working conditions are at our level of development. This economic situation means also a better social situation, and therefore a nicer quality of life. (Ahhh….those logical thinking classes at college) You can really settle in Martinique and live well. There are lots of green forests, rivers and beaches of all kinds, the diving is good, food is better than most other islands and there’s an enormous mix of races and cultures. The education is also good as well as the opportunities of studying and travelling abroad for everyone. This makes relationships with locals easier and longer lasting.
In some other places I’ve visited, you have the slight impression of being completely out of place, the locals lack our opportunities, most of the people haven’t even left their tiny island to go to the one next door and, for them, you are just a rich person from far away, your living experience and expectations are so different. You have very limited chances of meeting a real friend, not because you or them don’t want to, but just because friendships are hard if you have nothing to share, no common points. It’s a bit like the difficulty of finding a real friend but a thousand times harder, given the conditions…
The atmosphere in Martinique is more cosmopolitan and more equal, but still saving the unmistakable Antillian style you can’t miss (even when you wish you could, like when you approach a curve just to see two mates, side by side their cars, stopped and talking happily)
On the downside. You can find parties here and there occasionally, but not on a regular basis. You won’t find huge bar/club districts with thousands of people cramming the streets at night, as you would in Sto. Domingo or Cancun, even if you would logically think so, being a tourist destination and all. There are a few clubs in Fort de France, the capital, and a couple of dancing hangouts at the main resort town, Trois Islets and the adjoining Pointe du Bout. But apart from that, you wouldn’t jump into a party by accident, you have to look for it closely.
So, to rank it, I would say it’s a great base to explore the islands around, but only if you have access to a boat, that means, if you have friends with boats or if you work occassionally for them. Because, if you have to take a plane to go elsewhere in the Caribbean, you will have to spend a fortune for the ticket. Actually, most of the time, it’s cheaper to fly back to France and get a ticket to, say, Costa Rica, than to fly directly from here. But, since we are in a world of islands we are also in a world of water, everything is done by boat and revolves about the sea. You will know more people with boats than with cars.
It’s handy for us Europeans especially because we can work legally and it’s also useful to learn French, and eat French, mmmmm…. So, you take all the advantages of living on a European island and then you find a way to have as much free time as possible to check out the rest of the places. Make some money reserves to keep on travelling elsewhere, where you might not get a chance to work.
As a piece of advice, if you’d like to find a job and stay for a while, try the south. It may be the most touristy but, then again, it’s not too touristy anyway, and you can live next door to a tiny beautiful beach all for you and your neigbours, the closest thing to Paradise (that is, if we had to work in Paradise).