THE STORY OF AUGUSTE CYPARIS'S SURVIVAL TOLD BY LILI ROSE ST. MERIL
The story of La Montagne Pelee's eruption in May of 1902 is rich with many facets: how it transformed the economics of the Caribbean, ushered in a new science, Volcanology, but also its story includes the how nature selects who and what survives. Liliane Rose St. Meril, the proprietor of The Beach Palace, located in Bellefontaine, and someone who is quite knowledgeable of Martinique's culture, herbs, and history, recounts the story of Auguste Cyparis, who many say was the only survivor of the eruption. What is ironic about Cyparis's survival is that he was saved by the jail cell that he was in -see photo. He was incarcerated for being in a drunken brawl. What is also interesting is that there was an election at the time, with the Martinique candidates claiming that Pelee's pre-eruption steaming and the ashes falling on St. Pierre were a sign of change, while the French governor claiming that this was a ridiculous assumption, and he defiantly moved the legislature, the garrison, his wife and himself to St. Pierre. The consuls and ambassadors of England, Italy, the US and others followed in support; none of their bodies were found after the eruption.
Incidentally, Cyparis -pronounced See Par ees- is also known as the first locksman of Martinique, because he grew locks for his performances in Barnum and Bailey's Circus.
Camera by Super Saco
Translation by Virginie Vartel Desormeries