Tuesday, November 30, 2004

In the Loupe, Chapter 10

Hello, hello.

On my way to the internet place I thought I had a bajillion things to talk about, but now all I can remember is that there's this one crazy street in the middle of town, a connecting street between two one-way streets, that is suddenly traffic-on-the-left. You're walking along, hurrying to school and distracted by the cookie jar song running incessantly through your head, and you suddenly step in front of a moving car because you forgot you were momentarily in England and looked the wrong way. What the hell is going on? I guess they want easier left-hand turns from the one-ways, but let's not lose our heads here. It's like this one round-about where priority is suddenly to the people coming in, rather than heading out. So if you don't know and you've been driving successfully around town for hours, you suddenly get t-boned because you didn't know to stop. You know? It's crazy.

Meanwhile, I'm moving tonight to my very own apartment. I'm really excited. Packing last night was hard, though, because I suddenly could imagine very clearly how I'll feel in July when it's time to pack up for good - I have to stop acting out my fantasies, because I was pretty devastated. I should tell you that I decided not to spend the 18 euros to get the post office to forward all my mail, so I'm counting on you to stop sending to Cité la Diotte, because I don't want to have to spend a lot of time hanging out with Cinette (koo-koo!) while I collect my mail. The new place is walking distance to two of my schools and the supermarket, and downtown if I'm feeling hearty. And there's a futon for any visitors, and it's even further up a hill than the last place, so I'm going to get fit for real this time around. For real, guys.

Onward and upward! See you later, Stinktown!

My favourite activity these days is hanging out at the river. There's hardly anyone there, and the clean, cool water - it's amazing. I'm getting used to hopping up the rocks while I look for a sunny spot, so I like to think of myself as some kind of jungle baby. But then I met these friends of Karine's who were over for dinner: first came Kristel, a cute and little woman who seemed sporty enough but nothing excessive. Then came Fabrice, about 5'6" and four feet in width - built a bit like Spongebob Squarepants without the sponge. Or the squarepants. He's huge, so huge, and his number one hobby is "combat libre," which I guess is freestyle fighting. Wrestling, boxing, that kind of thing, but there are no rules - THERE ARE NO RULES!! You can grab where you want, hit, kick, bite, pull hair - chances are you can pull out a machete and nobody complains. You go in this ring and the whistle blows, then you tear the other guy to shreds. Like "Fight Club" without the interesting story line.
And you know what he did for three years? Commando. Not commando like no underwear, but rather secret mission for the army, crawling through the jungle with a knife between your teeth and killing people. I don't think he actually killed anyone but you know what? He could. He's trained to. He showed us all some wicked good self-defense moves, and now Guadeloupe is at my mercy. The pinky finger under the nose - sounds dorky, works like a charm. A killing charm.

I was with Karine and the kids in the forest, walking along the rapids - here's where I connect back to the jungle baby paragraph I started, in case you were losing track - when we bumped into Kristel and Fabrice again, dripping wet and covered in scrapes. Do you want to know why? I'll tell you. It's because they were canyoning, which is this: you drop one car off at the bottom of the river, as in the sea, and you drive the other car to the top of the mountain. You put on running shoes and knee pads and you leave your sense of self-preservation behind, and you start down the rapids. On foot. You jump into water holes when you have to, you slide down on your bum when you have to, you do whatever it takes to get down to the car. Are these people crazy? And they had asked me if I wanted to join them. Before describing really what it was, their first question was if I had good insurance coverage - that was my cue that canyoning and I weren't meant to be. Hopping along rocks and trailing my feet in the water: that's plenty enough adventure for me.

Let it be known, however, that even my wussy river existence impresses some people. I was heading to the beach and took the short-cut that goes over the river, except the bridge gave out during the rainy season and the earthquakes made it worse. So people along the road tell me the bridge is out and I say that's okay, I'll just cross through the river. I'm halfway to the other side when my foot slips a tiny bit and I hear a crowd of gasps. Looking up, I realize that the roadside people have followed me to see what will happen, the guys fixing the bridge have stopped working to watch and the children playing on the other side have put their bikes aside to see if I drown. Worst-case scenario, I slip and my dress gets wet. Really, worst-case - what are they all worked up about? But I get to the other side and climb up and the crowd breaks into applause! For me! Kathryn! Jungle baby!

Other than hopping, dancer-like, along the rocks, and of course the full-body massage from sitting in the rapids, my favourite thing is putting my hand in the water to block the flow and watching the Moses-and-the-red-sea effect it makes. It's like I'm Moses, and that's pretty cool.

On the school front, we're doing conversations and greetings, and I taught the kids things like "what's up" and "hey - what's going on?" as well as the more standard (read: boring) "hello" and "hi." So I love watching their dialogues, as they butcher their way through these expressions, putting in attitude arms and head nods and so on. (I told them they had to up-nod - like heading a soccer ball - when they say "hey," and they thought I was really cool. If they only knew what it's actually supposed to look like...) And with "what's up" came the beer campaign "wazzzzzzap" that's in a song they all know, so then it was like I was answering their dreams. Not only does she speak English, but she can explain where our weird slang comes from too!

Kathryn: 1. Guadeloupe: 0.

I guess that's it. The strike's still going, and now we're out of fish because the earthquakes freaked them out and they all left. Fishermen are coming home with nothing, and I don't understand exactly where the fish went. Will they come back? Does this happen a lot? How far can they go? So we're down to bananas and avocadoes, and the three bags of cous-cous I very smartly bought when I found out what was going down. I'm nothing if not prudent.

Think of me tonight, sleeping in my apartment without anyone prying into my room, without anyone chanting yoga mantras ouside my door and, most importantly, without the tv blasting Psychic Friends' Network and the French Sally Jesse Raphael for hours. I am so psyched.


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