By Linda O’Keefe
It’s me, Linda, here to tell you about our trip to Botanical Gardens of Balta on Martinique.
It is a dark and stormy morning as we disembark the Maasdam to find our guides for our first ship-sponsored shore excursion. I come armed with two umbrellas and a rain jacket to hex away any threat of liquid sunshine.
After standing around waiting for what seemed to be much longer than it is we’re escorted to an awaiting tour bus. The bus seats are comfortable though they won’t recline and the AC works excellently. Everyone locates a seat and the journey began. And so did the rain.
Our guide quickly renames the tour to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” trying to dissuade any bad attitudes in our group–her “sweeties,” she calls us. All of us sweeties turn out to be real troopers.
The Balta gardens are located at the edge of the rain forest but it’s not raining when we arrive and make our way down the steep parking lot to the garden entrance. An old Creole stone house serves as an entryway. A comfortable entryway it is, too, with rattan furniture in the sitting area that opens to a veranda and the terraced gardens in the back.
Down the steps we go where a concrete path discretely wound through a tropical canopy of flowering plants and trees. The foliage is amazing. Elephant ear plants are almost as large as that of a small elephant. Unfortunately, it starts to rain almost immediately. Tim heads back to the porch, since he only has an umbrella but asks that I stick with the tour.
This happens to be my first day using our new video camera and I am determined to get some good footage even in these conditions. The term “come hell or high water “ comes to mind but after waiting about 15 minutes for those ahead of me to maneuver their way carefully down the steep, slippery slope, I change my mind.
The gentleman in front of me turns around and I can tell by the look in his eye he too is planning to escape from our guide, something of a control freak. I stare at him as water drips off the hood of my rain jacket, the camera bag tightly clutched beneath it.
I announce, “I’m bolting.” He simply nods and follows me back the porch where I locate Tim photographing almost a dozen hummingbirds eating from a feeder at the edge of the verandah, well out of the rain. I am able to get some amazing footage of those beautiful tiny birds.
Suddenly the rain seems like it has been a blessing in disguise. For as soon as the others began returning, the birds promptly leave. We never would have noticed them or the birdfeeders without the cloudburst.