Tag Archives: french culture

>Happiness Quotient in Guadeloupe

8 Aug

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:


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

..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


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

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 !

>Meltdowns, gambling, and why can’t shit just work?

10 May


Every few weeks or so I have what I refer to as an ‘I hate Gwada’ meltdown. I don’t hate Gwada. I don’t necessarily understand Gwada, but I don’t hate her. She tests me. Constantly. She tests me and she pushes me to use a lot of something I don’t have much of: Patience. No seriously, I missed the line for that. I managed to come into this life equipped with the minimum, but I do believe somewhere along the way I should have received a notice of some sort with a code or something, instructing me where to go and fill out forms and in return receive more patience. It never came. It was probably sent using La Poste in Guadeloupe…ba dum dum…I’ll be here all week.

The most recent meltdown arose as usual from a number of small things building up and resulting in meltown. Small annoying things in summary:

-bank card has not arrived and I was told I would have it in a week, twice. It’s been five weeks.
-Work still has not paid me. I have been working since March 1.
-I had to reset the internet twice today.
-I got a flat tire and had to go to four gas stations to find one with an air pump.

Things came to a boil and then exploded. The Gwada Fit led me to decide that our plans to build a home should not happen. No really, I’m frightened at the prospect of trusting my home to the evidently incapable hands available to us here in Guadeloupe. I mean, nothing gets done in time, if at all. Okay maybe nothing is a bit of an exaggeration, but what I lack in patience I make up for in dramatic effect.

Here’s the thing: we need to build a home. Who wants to throw money down the weird island toilet every month on rent? I’d like to make it interesting though. I’ll use that to cover up my intense fear of the house building ending up in unfinished, cinder block disaster. Let’s place bets. Vegas style, baby! Once our plans have been approved, I say we place bets on the day we are able to enter our home and begin living there. We’ll say the time-frame is from groundbreaking to key-using. I’ll present this to our circle of friends and we’ll see how many takers we get. Hey it’s something to pass the time. Me, I’m saying right now that from ground breaking to key using will be two full calendar years plus three months. Boom.

What say ye?

>I really should have spoken with that farmer….

18 Mar

>Remember that post about the farmer who lived behind the apartment complex we used to live in?
Here it is if you’re interested. In short, the farmer seemed to have magic fertilizer because his plants grew so fast it was incredible to me. He also had pigs. Loud loud pigs. At times it was scary. I am not sure if you’ve ever heard a pig screaming, but it is one of the more disturbing sounds I’ve ever heard. At first listen in fact, you’re not entirely sure that the sound isn’t coming from a small child. Blech.
I’ll get to the point: in an ironic turn of events, the pig killed and ate the farmer. True story. Sad story. Horrifying in fact. I’ve been wanting to post about it for ages but what with no net at the house and all….
Here’s the link to the article in the local paper.
In English, the 300 pound-ish pig charged the 77 year old farmer and knocked him down. She killed him. She ate part of his legs and head. The nephew of the farmer found him when it was too late and called the authorities.
How frickin’ horrifying is that??????
And to think I laughed when the farmer was in our complex looking for that pig one time, when she got loose. Eeek. My heart went out to the family. What an awful awful experience. Gawd.

%d bloggers like this: