I am an enthusiastic motorcyclist and have traveled tens of thousands of kilometers on French roads. I always noticed the buses that I overtook at high speed. They were always sparkling clean, the paint flawless. The air conditioner buzzed audibly on the roof. Traveling by bus in France has to be a great, comfortable affair. Martinique is France.
Traveling by bus in France also has disadvantages. In the country, the timetables are very thin, only a few connections a day reach the remote villages. It is often difficult to get route plans, timetables and fare information. That's how I experienced it in France.
After persistent research on the Internet, we find a bus schedule for the BKJ bus line, which is to take us to Vauclin. There are local bus routes in Martinique that are numbered. 31, 32, 33, 54 and so on. Then there are national bus lines that have letters. F, G, H or just BKJ. To make it even more complicated, there are lines BKJ1 and BKJ2. The bus runs about every four hours, it feels very French. Our bus arrives on time, the air conditioning works. In contrast to the buses on the previous islands, this bus also has seat belts for the passengers - EU standard. The fare is not excessive at € 2.10 for the single trip.
After half an hour we reach Vauclin. The bus station, which lies at the gates of the city. Since the connecting bus left 10 minutes ago, we run into town. It would have been just two stops anyway and connections or clocking are a matter of luck in France. In Martinique too.
While walking along the waterfront, a bus comes towards us on the line with which we wanted to go to a certain point. That's how we came up with this at the bus station while studying the route map. The bus driver stops in the middle of the street, picks us up and tells us that she only goes to the train station. It also doesn't let us out anymore, at least not in front of the bus station.
So we're back. We decide to do another round of surprises with any bus line. While we wait for three quarters of an hour, we admire the pit stop of the regular buses. A mobile workshop trolley has pulled up.
Our bus is refueled, while more buses pull up and gather around the workshop trolley.
The bus drivers sit under the tree in the shade, while the workshop staff even changes the tires on one bus - all four tires in a good quarter of an hour. The boys should knock on Formula One. If they are already so fast on regular buses ...
The bus we chose drives us into the mountains. It goes higher and higher on narrow and narrow streets. Okay, the destination is also called “La Haut”, which could be translated as “The height”. The view of the sea is beautiful. Unfortunately, it is quite hazy.
Again and again we drive past individual houses that either have a small garden or an entire banana plantation in front of the door.
We see a small shop, there we decide to get out. Otherwise we saw no shops or street life on our tour. This is a big difference to islands like St. Lucia or Barbados. There is always life on the street. Here is France.
But also in Martinique everyone seems to have their chickens. They walk and cackle in the streets on every island in every place.
A cat speaks to us and explains where the shop is. It strokes our legs and can even be picked up. Then we see that it is not a cat at all, but a young cat. The engine is running at full speed.
Finally it is enough for the cat. We can quench our thirst in the stifling heat in the shop. Funny that they call the local beer in Martinique "Lorraine". Lorraine. It also tastes a little like Kronenbourg.
When we have just finished the beer, the bus comes over again. We only had 70 minutes in this sleepy nest. The 70 minutes have upgraded the whole day.
For the return trip we take the BKJ bus line again. This time it is a BKJ1, we had the BKJ2 on the way there. I buy three tickets to Le Marin from the bus driver and pay the expected amount. Half an hour later the bus driver throws us out just before Fort de France, it has its final destination. I ask him about Le Marin, he claps his hands over his head. After another half an hour of waiting, this bus takes us all the way back to Le Marin. It is the last bus of the day (at 5:00 p.m.). Driving in Martinique is like driving in France. We leave the air-conditioned bus well-cooled and walk into the marina.