Spurious Smile along Grande Terre Beach, Martinique

Spurious Smile In The Shade Along Grande Terre Beach, Martinique

Not every skin teeth ah laugh with you!

The old West Indian proverb is well-known throughout our islands. It may be written or said differently depending on the destination, but it always means the same thing. 

Definition: Everyone who smiles at you does not necessarily have your best interests at heart. 

Red smiles like this one, which we happened across in Martinique recently, bring the old saying to mind to me. We found it, and many others like it, adorning a few trees just back of the beach in Grande Terre. This is prime camping and shoreline hiking ground in southern Martinique. During our visit we noted several tents interspersed among the trees. Hammocks were tied between a number of trees as well. With the long stretch of Grande Terre just steps from the shade, it seemed an idyllic setting for a rustic escape.

Were the red smiles a sign of the bliss on offer here? A welcome invitation encouraging other campers to join in the seaside fun?

Answer: No… I think.

A friend in Martinique tells me that the red smiles are a warning. Their purpose: to help beachgoers avoid poisonous manchineel trees that proliferate in the area.

(Read this earlier post to learn all about the dangers of the malevolent manchineel tree.)

Now, I can’t say that she was 100% sure about this. I also can’t say that I looked closely enough at the trees to note whether or not they were, indeed, manchineels.

The beach at Grande Terre is so nice, though, that I’m sure to return one day to confirm this one way or another. 

When I do, at least I’ll know that I’ll be greeted with a few smiles…



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