Friday, June 3, 2005

In the Loupe, Chapter 26

Needless to say, the big recording day never happened. It turned out there was nothing wrong with the microphone, but rather the lady had forgotten the recording cds (and lied to me.) When she didn't turn up after lunch (she was photocopying things for the meeting - WHILE the meeting was going on - doesn't one do these things ahead of time?), some guy took me up to the recording room and said we'd just use their cds and then replace them later. Except that the room wasn't available; she hadn't even booked the recording space!

She showed up at 3:30, as Karine and I were leaving, and tried to claim that I had some duty to stay and do the thing. The fact that I'd been there since 8:15 that morning to do her a favour and she didn't even have the material ready to go, showing a complete lack of respect for my time and the time of all her colleagues who were sitting in the meeting, nothing to do, waiting for her to come back after lunch, swiftly erased any sense of obligation I might otherwise have had, and Karine and I got out of there and bitched about her the whole way home. I’d probably be really mad about a big wasted day, except that it kept me out of my awful school for the afternoon, so I have nothing to complain about. Let’s hear it for nothing-functions-properly-in-Guadeloupe!

I then had a week-end that made me realize why I’m anti-social and absolutely right to be. A couple of Irish assistants live on the other side of Guadeloupe and wanted to hang out in Basse-Terre for a bit with their visiting friend. They camped for a few days near Deshaies and then the plan was for me, the only one of the four with a driver’s license, to rent a car for the long week-end at my cheap place, drive out to meet them and do some of the mountain/jungle things around Basse-Terre. They would stay at my place on Friday and then we would take advantage of having the car to drive us all to Le Moule, where they live, to see a concert on the beach on Saturday night. Lovely.

Heading into town on Friday morning I realized that things might not go so smoothly, as there was not a car or person or dog in sight. It was the Abolition of Slavery holiday and Guadeloupans take it very seriously, so obviously no one goes to work. My car place was closed – the whole city was shut down – and I wandered around wondering what I was going to do about the Irish three being stranded out in the middle of nowhere on a day with no buses and nobody on the roads. One car rental place was open, if unofficially, as the woman had gone in to wash the cars on her day off, so I rented from her and paid double what my little white twingos cost.

I found the Irish on the side of the road with huge back-packs and frustrated faces; nobody would pick up three tall tourists with huge bags at the best of times – the cars just aren’t big enough – not to mention when the roads are blocked because of YET ANOTHER bike race, and so there isn’t a single person driving by. Things were fine for a while, driving through jungles and swimming in freshwater basins, me understanding most of what they said but not all (whether due to pronunciation or Irish lingo, I’m not sure), and we were all in fine spirits when we pulled into my driveway. Little did I know how much my anal retentiveness would be tested by these sandy, dirty, muddy, smelly campers, as they swept into my home in a whirlwind of wet towels and general mess and I had to stay outside as much as possible to calm my heart palpitations.

When it’s rainy and muddy and your shoes are filthy, TAKE THEM OFF! When you have a shower and flood the bathroom because you can’t keep the spray to yourself, MOP IT UP! Fascinating, the amount of dirt three people can generate in the time it takes to make some pasta-and-tuna salad. Fascinating, and very difficult for me to handle.

We had a fun evening wandering around town and watching the badly-organized and not-much-really-happening Abolition of Slavery presentations, ate some crepes from seaside food trucks and headed home for a late night. I couldn’t sleep, though, exhausted as I was, and was up by 5:15; am I that uptight? Is it because of the mess, haunting my dreams as I went over and over various mopping fantasies? I think I may need help.

Saturday we rented from the cheap place, hung out with Franck and ate delicious lentils, went to my favourite bathing spot and then headed out towards St Fran├žois, the Easternmost point of the island, for the concert. About half an hour from our destination, I looked at the gas and discovered that the four lines full I had seen five minutes ago had all disappeared. Completely empty. What could this mean? Obviously a mistake, as four bars are not to be scoffed at and can not drain so quickly – was the mistake in saying there were four bars when there weren’t, or in saying that we’d run out? What to do? All the gas stations were closed (after 6 p.m. you’re pretty much on your own, especially in the countryside like St. Fran├žois) and the panic was rising, and Victoria really wanted to try and make it to the concert. So are we going to be stranded by the sea in the pitch black? Is that really the best plan? There was also a party going on somewhere and the boys thought that was a better idea – no one agreed with my Safety First plan to get the hell home, since we were only minutes away from their place, and at least have somewhere to sleep.

Victoria gave up her fight when she had to admit that she didn’t really know exactly where the concert was – and I refused to go hunting around when the gas could run out at any time – and we ended up going to the party, which was not far from their house. Maybe a nice idea, to have blankets and little cushions spread out on the lawn with lanterns, all very dreamy and chic, but I’ve never been to a more pretentious gathering in my life! People lolling around on each other and air-kissing, calling out to each other over people’s heads – am I in high school? I wondered as I looked around at all these thirty-to-fifty-year-olds acting like it was their first time at an adult party and they couldn’t stop posing and looking at themselves in the pose. What a lame bunch. I wandered around the road, watched a huge pig pace back and forth and grunt, and then fell asleep in the car.

When we finally went back to their place and they had trouble clearing a space for me on the floor among the dirty underwear and crusty dishes – on the living room floor, you understand – I at least realized that their slobbiness was not disrespecting my home so much as just their way of life. A bike parked in front of the fridge, every table overflowing with junk… and my heart palpitations were back. I was awake again by 5:30 and after finishing my book and cleaning out the car, I headed out to get gas. It finally ran out en route and I had to hitchhike to a station, but it was such a relief to do the deed and be able to get out of there that I wasn’t fussed.

I thought this year had made me laid-back and ready for anything, but apparently this is not the case: I mopped like a crazy woman when I got home, scrubbed down the bathroom and table and stove and microwave and fridge and mirrors and anything else I could get my hands on, and THEN I was able to sleep.

Please. I need help.

Kathryn

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