Tuesday, November 23, 2004

In the Loupe, Chapter 9

I'm not sure if I should even write about my delightful week-end in St. Martin, since I just read Clara's latest sub-continental adventure e-mail and I feel like exactly the kind of cushy Tourist who irritated the legitimate travelers on her mountain hike. But don't forget that last week-end I was climbing mountains with a heavy backpack while pale and sweaty tourists were bused directly up to the fort, and I didn't complain once - I even did arm curls with the water bottle to maximize my exercising potential - so I think I've earned a few days in paradise.

If you've been wondering where you should go on your next vacation, you need wonder no longer: St. Martin. My Fairy Godmother, cleverly disguised as a regular godmother, invited me to spend the week-end with her on this small and beautiful island, in her gorgeous house with a gorgeous view, near gorgeous beaches with gorgeous food to eat in-between. (Can food be gorgeous? I thought I was onto something.) I think I may have gained about eighteen pounds, not only because we ate like newlyweds at the all-night China Buffet King in Vegas, but because I wasn't sweating profusely at all times.

In the Caribbean and not sweating? How is this possible?

Well, my good people, it turns out that excessive heat and humidity, partnered with excessive mosquitoes and mold, are a purely Guadeloupan phenomenon. It's all the lush vegetation, it's all the mountains. Now, I love driving through the jungle and breathing in fruit trees everywhere I walk, but it sure was a nice break to have sun and a breeze and sit comfortably enjoying the palm trees and turquoise water. I shouldn't talk it up too much because then everybody will go and it won't be so small and lovely anymore - but it sure was hard to come back here, living among mere mortals in the sticky heat. Once you've gone posh...

As it happens, it was a whirlwind week-end: not only did Kay and Pascal's friends have a baby (the night before she went into labour, biggest belly ever hanging over her tiny dancer frame, Yordanka had us over for dinner - she started in on the gaspaccio at 9:00 that morning - and was in and out of her chair a lot more gracefully than I, not nine months pregnant, have ever been), but there were earthquakes in Guadeloupe. Earthquakes! I take off for one week-end and the whole country falls apart!

The most damage was actually in Basse-Terre, which happens to be where I live, so I couldn't go home Sunday night as planned because the roads were blocked from the airport - flooding and trees and so forth. We changed my flight for Monday morning, and after a lot of detours and a long, long ride, I made it back to Saint-Claude. There was no school yesterday or today, as they're making sure the damaged schools won't collapse, and the quakes haven't stopped yet. There were some more after I got home yesterday and again last night - it's very unsettling. And I'm not the nervous type, so I just feel unsettled and then get on with it, but some people are really freaked out, really scared to go in their houses... it's a bad scene.

In another fun coincidence, Les Saintes, the islands which Franck and I visited last week-end, were hit the hardest and are a total mess now. So how's that for somebody-up-there-loves-me? I go the week-end before the islands are devastated by earth quakes, and I miss the ones at home because I'm sitting on a beach enjoying the palm trees and the cool breeze. I mean, really now.

So for any of you who heard about the quakes and were worried about me, I'm fine. For those of you who weren't worried, this friendship is over.

I'm out of time and out of stories. Off to the beach. Suckers.


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