Tag Archives: homes in Guadeloupe

Cathedral, no belly.

13 Dec

After a trip back to the states, Pirate and I are back in the swing of things here in Gwa-duh (that’s what I call it when I’m not loving it.) Upon our return, we discovered that the Mensa geniuses working on our future home had really outdone themselves. Ideally, a house has a roof. So the roof sits on top of a support system made out of enormous wooden beams, in our case. The too-high IQ club decided to create the support system in Gwa-duh style. What that means is, they didn’t look at the plans. Not even once. They may have even brought the wrong plans with them to the job site and then only used those to wrap their morue sandwiches. The roof support is over a meter too tall. We have a cathedral folks. An open air cathedral which cannot take the roof because the roof is now too small for the roof support.

Solution? Too-high IQ club to the rescue, to tear down their craftsmanship and rebuild. Months of delay.

Well, it’s not like we don’t have a home. We’re good. But it’s the principle of the thing, isn’t it? This feeling of are you people kidding me how do you get by day to day can be quite overwhelming at times. It comes on in waves. Sometimes it’s little things, like what I perceive to be rudeness from the locals:

Walking into the small store in my neighborhood for some groceries…

Me:”Bonjour”. (It is customary here still to say bonjour when walking into almost anyplace, a store, a waiting room, a restaurant even.


At the checkout stand…



After I’ve paid, upon leaving, to the same person as above…

Me:”Au revoir, bonne journee”.



It’s such a small thing, really, but repeated time and time again it can really get under your skin and begin to weigh on you. I guess on the upside I’m learning to appreciate just how spoiled I was in the states. Service is nice. Do people always do things right?  Absolutely not. Could we have had the same thing happen with the roof in the states? Sure. I would argue that it’s less likely to be handled in the same way though. A mistake like that is a mistake. People respond. Perhaps not how you would like them too, but probably not by sucking their teeth and responding to your awe with, “Ahhh, bon? Hmmm, beehhh, je ne sais pas….you have a roof, so….

(Sucking the teeth, or the lips in against the teeth is culturally accepted here as the equivalent to an American “tsk” or  a heavy sigh signifying confusion, frustration, or some level of unhappiness, it’s referred to as ‘the chip’ and is rather comical when you hear a symphony of ‘chips’ when there is a line of people at the supermarket who all realize at the same time that the granny checking out is writing a check.  The ‘chip’ comes in various lengths and volumes to signify the level of unhappiness)

How does it all come together, the little rude things and the huge incompetencies? Well, it makes for days or periods of time where you wonder, are these people miserable or do I just not understand?  Do they really dislike me for no apparent reason, and what a bummer that I begin to feel the same in return, disinterested in learning the culture and finding friends. Hate that. 

Then I go to another local store which frankly I like better and I remember why. It’s not the prices, they’re higher. It’s not the location, it’s totally out of my way. It’s the lady who owns it and works there. She’s great. We chat. About nothing. About whatever. She doesn’t push me. She remembers what I like and lets me know where the freshest things are. She tells me what they’ll be preparing for take out meals over the weekend and the price, if I’m interested. She smiles. She says she knew I didn’t have kids because I don’t have a belly like her, which makes me giggle because she says it with a huge smile and we both laugh. She says see you next time honey. If only those few people who give out that little bit of happiness knew how much it changed the day of the proud owner of an unintended open air cathedral.








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