Tag Archives: caribbean

A strange phase…

2 Sep

So I’m all adjusted now, no more need to write this silly blog. Just kidding. The narcissist in me likes to hear myself write. Thing is, I’m feeling a bit different now here in Guadeloupe. Since I tied Pirate to a very uncomfortable chair and made him sign a marriage contract married Pirate in a lovely city hall ceremony where a kind man called us by the wrong family name numerous times throughout the ceremony, things have taken a turn for me…

Here’s what’s happening:

1. I’ll have my spousal visa in two weeks time, normalement. Kudos to the French consulate in Boston, MA for being more up to date on the French laws than the officials in Guadeloupe, otherwise I might still be in my plastic chair in the crowded, not air-conditioned sous-prefecture with my little paper ticket waiting….

2. I’ll be able to work again. Yeah, I’m going to regret it but I’ll go ahead and say it – not working is totally overrated. I will go ahead and be all judgy and say that ‘those women’ who say (and yes this is a direct quote from someone I will never identify) “All I want is for someone to take care of me, I just want to have my baby and stay at home” – those women- they are freaking nutso crazy. But that’s just me. Ask me again when I’m working and whining about it and ‘those women’ have it all.

3. I’ve made it over some sort of mountain in terms of culture shock and management.  There are still a few good things that get my panties all in a bunch but you know, for the most part, I’ve become accustomed to a number of things that I really didn’t get/care for in the beginning. It’s a long list, and a good idea for a post now that I think about it…But let’s just say I can kill mutant cockroaches all by myself now (of course I leave them under the shoe with which they were killed for Pirate to throw away..) and scolos have been known to crawl across my foot, not sting me, and I just let them walk away. meme pas peur.

4. The locals accept me as a local. AHHAAHHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH …..not exactly. That’s an entirely different post.

5. I use less stuff. It’s true. Just…less. Less water in the shower, less a/c, less clothes dryer(read:sun),less ice. I’ve definitely learned that we don’t really need all the stuff we have to live and be happy. Thanks for that valuable lesson Guadeloupe, sincerely one of the best I’ve learned.

So here’s a bunch of random shots from life in Gwada up until now…just because.

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Two MONTHS…and a housewife.

22 Jul

Wow two months have gone by since my last post. That means that for two months I’ve been saying, “tomorrow I’ll write”.  Clearly, not a great approach. So here’s the excuse: I married the Pirate, we moved into a home we built, and we’ve been pretty much busy with happy yet exhausting stuff like that for a few months now. I’m typing this looking out at a huge muddy pit we call our garden. The birds are eating the grass seeds. The dog is tracking mud into the house constantly, laughing in my face as she tears by me at 100km/hour, paws packed with mud and poop, from mud-pit-yard to deck through living room to deck and back  to replenish her mud and poop supply in the mud-pit-yard. Grrrrrrrr

So now I’m officialement a housewife. Yep. That’s me. I’m in a house. Most of the time. And, I’m a wife.  We’ve planted some things in an attempt to produce some morsels of food for ourselves – banana trees, coconut trees, avocado tree, and on a smaller scale, tomatoes, basil, zucchini, lime tree. I’d love to eat from the garden but I’m fairly certain we won’t see anything from the fruit trees because we might not be here that long. It seems Mamman, les Monstres’s mom, is feeling like moving back to mainland France in a year or so. In a nutshell we’ll follow them. Pirate isn’t too keen on being a vacation dad. I get it, and I’m down with that.

So I guess I’ll have to take advantage of this rough around the edges place until I can’t any more!  Suddenly a teeny tiny bit of the bitterness I feel here slides away. Bitter? Yeah. Notice I have a category named ‘Bitter is better’. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a beautiful difficult learning experience here in Gwada. It’s not really an easy place to adapt to, at least that’s what I’ve found. It’s not so much the language, but the culture. I find it…..tough. Closed.  Many people I’ve spoken with have decided what it’s like in the states and have zero desire to go there. And their decision seems to be based on what they learn of the states in the news, movies, and from their friends. They’re afraid of racism. Fair enough. But is racism really limited to the states? And what does that have to do with me? Well, I come from there. So I’m included in this idea of something they really don’t care for. It doesn’t really matter, I mean, I’m ok if everyone doesn’t become my friend, or I can’t convince them that the states has a lot to offer. Still….
I have been blessed to have met really nice people here. I’ve learned that when I find a kind shop owner that I should stick with that shop. Closes my world perhaps even more but hey, the negative experiences I’ve had with certain people, I just don’t need to repeat them. It ruins my day. I’ve realized that I can accept a culture as it is but I don’t have to like it. And I don’t always like it. I’ve learned to tell the difference between a difference in culture where (from the other person’s view) it’s not rude, , and when there really is rudeness. That helps a lot.

I must admit, the quality of daily life is nice. The sea all year, the sun, the plants, the calm pace. But I miss more culture. I miss changing art exhibits. I miss a nice movie theater. I miss nightlife. I miss feeling like the people around me are interested in things outside of their personal bubble. So, while sticking to my self promise to take advantage of the limited time I’ll have here, I’m also happily looking forward to the future.

gazing out on the mudpit

Sure, make like you didn’t do anything.

>Happiness Quotient in Guadeloupe

8 Aug

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Months back, I received a message from someone who was reading my blog (!) and was also in the process of moving to Guadeloupe. Who knew anyone was reading this besides you? Furthermore, who knew anyone was choosing to move to Guadeloupe if they weren’t being taken by a Pirate? At that time, we began exchanging emails and one half of Couple Moving To Gwada asked me a fantastic question:
What would you say is the happiness quotient of the people of Guadeloupe?

Here were my choices:

happy?
miserable?
welcoming?
stand-offish?

Now as I said this was months ago, and I thought about this for weeks. I wanted to give a fair answer, so I could not write about this on a day when the internet needed resetting three times and there was no wind at all and it was a million degrees and I had mosquito bites in places I couldn’t believe they could get to. Not a good idea. I also didn’t want to write while I was having my best moment here, after a fantastic day full of friends, because although that’s positive, it’s still not like that all the time. (It is more and more, but it’s still quite lonely.) I wrote a bit. I saved the draft. Now I go back and look and it’s interesting to see what I thought. Here it is, two months old view of the happiness quotient of the people in Guadeloupe:

“…happy, not miserable, and stand-offish, not welcoming. It’s a blanket statement. I know…But at the moment it’s my experience. I want to be clear though. To say that I find a culture not welcoming is not the same thing as saying I don’t like it, or that I find the entire culture to be not nice. This is not the case at all.
The thing with living Someplace Else is that to a certain extent I think we expect that being from Someplace Else will aid us in making friends. Yeah, I’ve pretty much realized that this is princessy of me, because frankly, who cares? Does it make me a better or cool person because I’m from Someplace Else? No. BUT, It’s a talking point, the similarity in that we’re both here, but the interesting differences in our paths to get here. Right? As I’m finding, not so much. Or at least, not enough to break down the wall I find in the culture here. That is why I arrived at not welcoming.”

So there it is. I wrote it. Each person I met didn’t throw a parade for me to say “Congratulations American suburbanite for coming to reside on our island. Have a coconut!” Apparently this was disappointing a few months ago. Well, even a little time can change things I guess. I don’t really think people are unwelcoming anymore. Why? I guess I realized that I don’t organize a parade for every person I meet who is from somewhere else. Sure, I may be more interested in their story than the next guy, but that’s my style. I’ve always been nosy. It’s a gift until it ruins your own surprise party. This is a good example of growth in the first few years of living Someplace Else. Never get too set in your head about something because it – your view of things – may very well change.

>When it doesn’t translate…

27 Jul

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..Or does it?

>Tweetage Wasteland : Say Hello to My Little Friend

9 Jun

>A re-blog of another blog. Because it’s relevant. Although my French is (according to some friends) much better than it was a few months ago, I still don’t really pick up on conversations going on around me if I’m not trying to participate. What I’m saying is, I don’t overhear things. I tune it out. It’s too much work. Do I tune it out conversations going on around me at the mall back home? Probably. That being said, I could overhear with greater ease something being said in English.
Since I’m not snooping on my neighbors conversations, I choose to spend my waiting time – have I mentioned that there is A LOT of that here – looking at stuff on my iphone. In the doctors office, at the post office, the bank, the supermarket, the school parking lot, in traffic, walking in the mall, at the restaurant. With the Pirate. Sad but true folks. Much like the writer in my re-blog, I have used the excuse that my iphone keeps me in touch. With who? With my family and friends back home. It provides an opportunity to communicate with ease, to understand jokes, to make snarky comments on peoples facebook posts. Ahhh, the simple things in life.
But what of real conversation? I miss it. I know as I post and read completely gratuitous things that I’m not truly participating in a conversation. I know that with every hour spent looking at a screen I am keeping myself from practicing French, and from meeting people where I am RIGHT NOW.
And you know what? I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. I’m not ready. Perhaps I have not hit my rock bottom and I’m happy dwelling in my semi-reality; iphone in hand, laptop within reach, English language jokes a plenty to keep me laughing. Ahhh. Yes. No celebrity rehab for internet over-users here. Not yet. Hey….what’s that? Is that a new app? Where ya goin’?

Tweetage Wasteland : Say Hello to My Little Friend

>Why do the French call it that?! Confusion with candy and movies

5 Jun

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I credit my love for candy to my father. He always had -and still does – a healthy stash of candy somewhere in the house. Since I know my mom reads these things, I won’t disclose said location, although I wish I could because it’s super funny. He’s like Stan Smith with that candy: top governmental secret that nobody cares about except my mom. When I lived on the west coast, my father would use this crazy thing called the post office to mail me a roll of Necco Wafers just to let me know he loved me. Cute huh? What’s even cuter is how here in Guadeloupe they have ‘post offices’ yet I’ve unveiled the fact that such locations are only fronts for people who need a place to hang out and say things like, “this line is closed”, or “that’s not possible”. Hey, everybody needs a place to be.

All men candies are not all created equal. I’m still not sure if that quote is grammatically correct but whatever. Let’s say that it is, and let’s agree that it’s true. All candies are not the same the world over either, even if we do share some of the same name treats. There are however some universal truths about candy:
[[
1. Off the shelf chocolate bars such as KitKat are better in Europe. Why? The chocolate. It’s different. It. Just. Is.
2. Treats from your childhood were awesome. Really they were. But they’re kind of like old high school friendships – when you try them again years later, more often than not it’s a case of some things are better left in the past. Those dried up little pellets sold in cheap sandwich bags that you looked forward to so much as a kid? Skip ’em. Trust me. They suck now, and your friends won’t invite you to fancy parties anymore if you tout them as excellent.
3. If the same candy that exists in Boston, USA exists in Guadeloupe, FWI, it surely does not have the same name. As they do with movies, the French love to give things that already exist with perfectly good names new names.

Cotton candy would be a good example. it looks like cotton. In French, this is even almost exactly the same word: coton. And it’s candy. So we call it cotton candy. Easy.
It’s called Barbe a Papa here. Yeah, like the cartoon Barba Papa, except the literal translation is papa’s beard. Now, normally I will admit to getting hysterically agitated over the changing of movie names because they don’t make any sense at all. But this renaming of a treat I happen to like…Barba Papa. It works. Nice one, France!

>French women don’t get fat? Not sure.

23 May

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Random thought:
French women do get fat. That is, they can. And if I’m to make blanket statements similar to the title of the famous book French Women Don’t Get Fat, from my perspective here in Guadeloupe:

French women do get fat. They smoke. All of them. They eat McDonalds sometimes. They DO shave under their arms.

More blanket statements:
I see that French women here don’t seem to get hung up on a non Kate Moss-like body. They rock that bikini at any age, often sans top, actively moving around the beach. They go to anti-cellulite massage, and make bread at home in a bread machine. They drink wine and beer. They bring the entire kitchen to the beach, table, chairs, pot right off the stove with real food in it. Okay so that last bit is typically Creole family style, but we’re talking French Creole, et voila.

What stands out to me here is a lack of over-doing anything. Working, for example? Never too much. Eating? Enough to satiate, maybe some snacks with the apero, perhaps a dessert at dinner. No Doritos bags being carried around. No Big Gulps. No extra large triple shot half caf one third skim two thirds whole chocolate sprinkled on top chocka mocha hava nagila lattes. McDonalds, yes, but I tell you, I swear the Big Mac is smaller here.

Now that I’ve adjusted to expresso insead of iced lattes, I have to say, I’m enjoying (most of the time) my gastronomical journey in the land of good yet not so plenty.

Interesting article on French women and fat on subversify.com. Like it!
Playmobil Wine Bar – get yours today !

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