Porcelain Flowers and Farewells

Tuesday morning – my final hours in Martinique. I packed up my one bag and said goodbye to the little flat and cat. I drove north a bit to the Jardin de Balata, the national botanical gardens. I figured it was an easy visit for my last morning. I made it there after some harrowing suburban driving at the top of a mountain – I’ll never understand why Google thought it was a good idea to take me down single lane rows where the brick walls on either side could scrape my mirrors. At one point I immediately lost the suggestion of a face off with another driver down one of these roads. I quickly acquiesced and let her through by backing up several hundred feet.

These flowers looked too perfect – like they were made of porcelain

In any case, I made it to the gardens. Perched on the side of a piton, there were views of the rainforests in the distance and the most beautiful flowers right in front of you. I knew that there were beautiful flowers in the world, but it’s one thing to see pictures, another to see them growing right in front of you.These bizarre and beautiful things are real. Roses that looked like porcelain, snaking leaves that were covered in “fur”, little shrubs that looked like they grew their own pots to sit in. I’d never even looked that closely at the base of a palm tree – the 

thick trunk looks like it’s hiding hundreds of tiny “feelers” that peek out at the bottom. Sort of like the end of a shaving brush. There was a tree top walkway that make me really feel on top of the world – rickety wooden bridges and rope railings, people walking far below.

After the gardens, I went to the little gift shop next store. I bought a dress of traditional Martinique fabric (madras) and sat at a table to drink an Orangina. The older French couple who owned the store sat with me a bit. They expressed their love of Martinique and the gardens and were (surprisingly) impressed by my quite basic French, which was a confidence booster.

View from the hillside of Le Jardin de Balata

And just like that, my trip was over. I drove to the airport, returned the car, and flew away. Needless to say, Martinique has a special place in my heart, and I plan on returning. I learned so much on that trip. A love of hiking, a real (foolhardy) sense of adventure. My next goal? Hike Mont Pelee, the famous volcano of Martinique. Ever onwards, ever upwards.

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