>Road watching, a Guadeloupean pastime

17 Mar

I can’t help but notice how the Guadeloupeans love more than anything (except champagne, did I mention the champagne consumption? More than in France mainland combined, our fair island)…to be by the side of the road and watch life pass by. Cars, people, animals…
A friend of mine and I discussed this not too long ago. She was intrigued like me. She had spoken with a local woman about this street-side phenomenon, and it seems, according to the woman, that back in the days of twenty or fewer cars on the island, people socialized mainly by saying hello to those who passed by the house via the road. With fewer cars, there was less moving around, so where you were situated dictated your level of social interaction. Logic would dictate that you build your house close to the road in order to not miss any of the action.

My friend also said she talked with an acquaintance who is currently involved in the purchase of some land with her family. The land has enough room for three houses. Her family offered her the land closest to the road – first choice – this was extremely nice from their point of view. She didn’t go for it and of course they all called her crazy. Imagine? Being able to be essentially on the road and turning it down? How will she keep up with things? How will her friends remember to pick her up on the way downtown? Indeed.

Yeah, well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m drifting. Drifting between my American ways, involving and not limited to bringing my coffee cup (full) in my car with me in the morning on the way to work – and – being perfectly happy with the option of sitting on the porch watching the goats in the yard which overlooks the neighbors houses so I can watch what’s going on. I know. It probably sounds like the equivalent to watching mosquitoes on bug lights in the deep south, but trust me….there’s plenty to see.

The longer I’m here, the more I drift. The more I drift, the more I understand the enjoyment in things I flat out laughed at upon arrival. Seriously, when my friend asked me if I wanted to ‘sit on the porch while you eat that banana and watch the goats?’ I was shocked at my own rapid and genuinely enthusiastic response: ‘Totally!‘ Hey, perhaps I’ll soon be like the guys in their cars and trucks who I always seem to be behind on the road. You know, the ones who slow from 80k/hr to 0, stick their arm out the window in a seemingly pointless spot on the road, honk the horn, and wave and yell enthusiastically to their friend in the window or on the porch juuuust on the side of the road while they hold up thirty or so cars……


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