Tag Archives: expatriate

Life in (my garden in )Guadeloupe

9 May

Yeah, there are still some good things happening. Stuff grows really fast here. Choose the right plants with the help of a good pépiniériste and you can create an impressive garden with almost zero know-how. I have almost zero know-how. And almost zero garden, but that’s because I’m lazy, not because it’s impossible. Wait, could that be a theme to my life’s failures? Hmmm.

Some pretty cool things are blooming in our garden. We haven’t bought tomatoes in about three months thanks to the plants that just keep on giving us awesome red juicy grape tomatoes. It’s so satisfying to walk out to the garden and cut me some basil. (Ok I planted dwarf basil and it took me several weeks to realize that the plant wasn’t shitty, it was dwarf basil. Sigh) So let’s be positive (my new silent in my head mantra) and look at some pictures of life! Nature is clever, she is. From top to bottom: banana tree finally flowered! Awesome flowering bushes, awesome flowers from flowering bushes, hibiscus flower, tiny garden at the bottom of banana tree with tomatoes, chives, parsley, and some flowers. The big stick is holding up the banana tree. Who knew – they fall over due to the weight of the bananas.

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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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>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:
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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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