Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
It is a question that is unlikely to have caused you to lose any sleep, but would rum have been dreamt up without slavery? For rum is derived from sugar, and cane sugar plantations were viable thanks to the involuntary participation of African slaves. So much so that when this awful practice was eventually abolished, the plantations withered away. All the maritime nations of the time were involved, and so most of the islands had distilleries and their own particular brands.
Strangely the number of active distilleries remains high, which begs the question as to the present source of the cane? Never mind, time to investigate further! From a previous visit to Fort de France, we had been educated to appreciate that like whisky, there can be a huge variance in quality, and that fine aged rum is rare and expensive. So perhaps a visit to the St James distillery could be beneficial. Into the rented Clio with Rod and Michelle, we headed off around the island. One does not generally get to see the East Coasts of the islands by boat as there is limited shelter and it tends to be a bit rougher at sea. Beautiful bays and one peninsular looked to be worth looking at further. At least until we hit a huge traffic jam 😦 Having seen a Gendarmerie van go past with lights and sirens scattering the traffic, we assumed the delay was due to an accident. Actually it was due to minor roadworks. But on the way out to the point, we spotted the emergency that the men in blue had been hurrying to!
Looking as if all the plods had been summonsed, a full fleet were lined up by the side of the road……. opposite a bar in which much merriment was being had! Not much risk of being done for speeding today:)
We got to the distillery too late to get on a tour (mornings only), so contented ourselves with a wander round the museum and the shop. What may come as a surprise is the variety in both type and quality of the rums. It did not take a lot of tasting to convince me that we should have a couple of aged rums bottles on board 🙂
After a very pleasant Creole lunch at Le Bambou, a recommended restaurant up in the hills, a valiant attempt to climb the volcano was insisted on by Annemarie. The car was subjected to a savage attack by a couple of mentally retarded dogs on the way up, totally terrifying a couple of walkers on nearby who are probably either dogmeat or being helped by nice men in white coats and comfortable waistcoats 🙂 Despite the obvious limitations, we were urged to drive on up into the clouds by our backseat slavedriver. Reaching the end of the road, with 3km of path still to negotiate in minimal visibility, even she had to concede it was getting pretty pointless.
Driving through the spine of the island is a fantastic experience of the largely undisturbed rainforest. The trees and plants make one feel quite Lilliputian, with the road seeming like a footpath cut into a primeval landscape. The huge leaves defy description, all of this being on vertiginous slopes. No photo can do justice to the beauty or the scale.
It ended up as a very late night after a further deviation for a pizza in Trois Islets, before getting back to Le Marin. At this point (11 o’clock), we realised we had no torches, Rod’s deflating tender and an iffy outboard…..
A relief to get back on board!