Conducting business in Guadeloupe takes time and patience, and ends up being quite pleasurable . . . assuming that you have time and patience. A simple telephone call will not get your utilities set up and you can forget about typing your new address into a website while eating a doughnut in your PJs. Instead, you must have a face-to-face conversation with an actual human being to establish a utility account. When was the last time you did that? Just for an electricity account, it took us a day trip to the capital of Basse-Terre an hour away, a long wait in the lobby, and an hour and a half sitting across a representative of EDF, the national electric utility company. Never mind that while en route to EDF’s office, we passed a large billboard that advertised how easy it was to set up a new account with EDF by making a simple telephone call. It even had a photograph of a woman with a headset on.
So, like a journey to the past, before telephonic voice recognition prompts and online subscriptions, people still rely on people for things on this island that have long been automated elsewhere. Skilled artisans and experts of all kinds provide high quality, hand crafted goods and specialized services. Our menuisier (carpenter) is now in the process of making a new window frame, a barn door, kitchen cabinets and a desk out of redwood for the house. Our maçon (mason) has been breaking walls for new windows and will be installing a grillage (metal wire fence) along the northern boundary soon. Max, the local lobster diver, delivers live langoustes (clawless lobsters) chez nous upon request when Bob doesn’t grab a kilo or two of fresh thon (tuna) or dorade coryphène (mahi mahi) at the nearby daily fish market.
And, as expected, we are settling in. The container arrived safely and in tact. In retrospect, there are many things we wished we had packed but didn’t…for example, a case of toilet paper from Costco or perhaps a transformer for my espresso maker which blew out the electricity when I plugged it in. In between the painting, unpacking, shopping and cleaning, we have also fit in some nearby touristy things.
Brynn loves her school, especially the fact there are no classes on Wednesdays, half days on Fridays and other miscellaneous short days when the teachers don’t show up…oh, and they walk to the beach for physical education. She has made friends and other than the rabbit stew, her school lunches are reportedly quite tasty. Rex is enjoying his freedom, but has been trying to deal with the various ego bruising incidents that occur almost daily…like when our resident chicken chased him 100 yards after he approached her chicks too closely or when the neighbor’s lovely Chihuahua visits the house to eat Rex’s food rather than play with him. Bob is working very hard to put his great design touch on the house and, more importantly, to keep his body in tip top form. He rarely wears clothes. As for me, other than crashing the brand new car into a drainage ditch last week and suffering without internet after the electric workers accidentally cut the cable line on our street, life could not be more perfect. They even have zumba classes here.