The next morning we picked up our rental car from A-1 Car Rental, a business tucked up a side street, one you might not find unless you knew where to look. We rented a compact car with amazing space for the four of us, overnight luggage, and Joy’s scooter. Departing from Le Marin we climbed quickly out of the city and into hill country where we first stopped to visit the Cathedral, but found it closed due to recent vandalism; disappointed, we drove on to visit a couple of small rum distilleries which lifted our spirits, then continued on, winding our way around the outskirts of Fort de France and on towards St. Pierrre, the ancient capital.
After spending a couple hours in St. Pierre visiting the Volcano Museum, wandering the streets and buildings, we were once again humbled by the destruction the volcano inflicted. We left the city in quiet thought and drove a couple klicks on to Depaz Distilleries. Though this year’s rums were not to our liking, we still thoroughly enjoyed wandering through the property, having lunch at Moulin a Cannes, and sampling, even though we did not buy.
On the advice of a kind lady at the Tourism Department in Marin, I’d made a reservation at L’Auberge de la Montagne Pelee, a hotel high on the side of Mt. Pelee, the volcano. We drove up a narrow mountain road for what seemed like hours to arrive at a cluster of buildings looking like Swiss chalets perched on the side of the mountain.
The proprietress walked Scott and I down the side of the mountain to this fairly large chalet where we assumed we’d be sharing the place with another visitor, but no, the entire place was ours! What a gorgeous location; simple, extraordinarily clean, and just like home. We had a full kitchen, two bedroom suites, and a bath with a towel warmer. How cool was that?
As evening came on and the skies darkened, we saw something neither of us had seen since we were children – fireflies darting across the yard causing the sky to glitter as stars burst upon the heavens. This special moment brought a peaceful aura to our tiny corner of the world.
If we’d had any idea how wonderful this hotel was, we’d have stayed a couple days, but we’d made plans and needed to move along. After a wonderful, home-made French breakfast of cheeses, yogurt, croissants, sweet rolls, and more,, we drove up the volcano as far as we were allowed and found a parking lot jam packed with cars left while their owners were off exploring the mountain. We drove back down the narrow road, stopping along the way to gaze at the beautiful scenery unfolding before us.