We finally arrived in Guadeloupe! For the first six nights of our adventure, we stayed at an Airbnb rental house up the hill on the very road where we will soon be residing: Chemin de Bornave. It had a huge deck with a rental house on either side and plenty of land for Rex to run about and chase chickens. Our host, Serge, couldn’t have been more gracious and kind. His family made a traditional Creole dinner for us one night while we all danced to Caribbean music under the disco lights, and we are certain to be off to a great start as future neighbors.
During our first week here, we hobnobbed with neighbors, took a trip south to see our American friends (Laura and Orin) who are building gîtes (vacation rentals) in Bouillante near the hot spring, enjoyed an amazing dinner with Odette and Louis at our future home during which I learned the proper way to serve oneself cheese from a communal cheese plate (after a faux pas or two), visited the local dive shop owned by friends to get our daughter situated for scuba certification, and checked out the local fish market a few minutes drive to the south.
As for our daughter’s school situation, we are reasonably optimistic that she is now enrolled and can start in January at Le Collège Félix Aladin Flemin (the local middle school in Deshaies). After meeting the principal in September, sending a packet full of documents an inch thick to the rectorat (regional school administration) in Guadeloupe, having it forwarded to the division that handles “allophone” students, and going back and forth with them as to what the next steps would be, we were told to register at the local mairie (town hall) upon arrival and arrange for testing. So, upon arrival, we went to the mairie and were told they don’t register new students but that we must pass by the local school administration called La Caisse des Écoles. We meandered over to La Caisse up the hill next to the cemetery overlooking the ocean only to find out that they don’t register new students either and we were told to go directly to the school. We complied and watched the wild chickens run about the schoolyard while waiting to see the principal. He had not yet been sent any paperwork to officially register our daughter so he made about four or five phone calls and voilà…we had an appointment for the “testing” two days later at another collège in St. Rose about 40 minutes to the north. We showed up in a timely manner at the school in St. Rose, waited around on a bench outside while listening to the school children sing a song in English and were then escorted into the office of the principal. He talked to our daughter in French, confirmed that she indeed had been going to an international school, chatted with the other principal by telephone (who not surprisingly was his good friend) and the testing was waived! Hallelujah!
But, most importantly, yesterday we went to the notaire’s office with Odette and Louis and closed on the house. We are now the official proprietors of Villa La Tramontane!