Like a mini sweat parade, donning the signature 'yachtie uniform' of flip flops and backpacks, , I lead my captain through the bustling slightly urine scented streets of Fort de France from doctor’s office to doctor’s office.
Each time, we find a small inconspicuous door, painted black with a small sign. We open and climb sets and sets of stairs – dusty, dirty stairwells in ancient buildings. Each time we arrive to another disappointment. The office is closed or there are 30 sick people squished into the inadequate seats, the afternoon sun throwing dust over the coughing lot. We leave and trudge back down into the bright city streets.
The day began like many others of late, with my ailing captain on his daily dose of Voltaren, waiting for the drug to activate so he can get up and move.
He really needs a cortisone injection or weeks of physio for his aggravated sciatic nerve, or both, but as vagabonds on the sea, moving from port to port, he will likely receive neither.
Life on a boat is hard. Well it’s hard work at times – which is what caused the captain’s injury, but it’s also hard when it comes to the things we all take for granted on land. These are the days when living without a home, a community, a structured society as a catchment are more difficult than others.
We were out of water when the carnival was over the other day, so as the regular Martiniquans headed back to work and school and general café lounging, we had to get our tanks refilled or face not bathing… again.
And then there is the issue of finding medical treatment when you need it. We are actually in quite a modern, civilized port. Probably the most likely chance here of finding a rheumatologist or efficient medical care in general. Or so you’d think. But considering our limited time in each place, and the bogged down French medical system here, not to mention our language barrier… it has proved to be an insurmountable task.
So, drenched in sweat, hungry, grumpy and completely disheartened with the medical community in Martinique, we found ourselves once again in the cool fried world of McDonalds. Free wifi. Familiarity. Food (sort of).