One down, five to go
Examine the two photos below. The first is us leaving St Pierre et Miquelon in the freezing, wet and thick fog. The second is taken some 40 hours later (after a stop over in Halifax, Nova Scotia) and shows us arriving in Martinique, also a French overseas territory (actually a Department) in the sweltering heat.After precisely 20 minutes, the children start demanding to go straight back to freezing cold St-Pierre. When will they be satisfied? When they are served with intravenous Cokes, chewing gum on tap and x no of gifts from Hudson News, a violently expensive outlet at seemingly every airport in the Western World where a small array of toys in shrink wrapped plastic will set you back £35. It goes without saying therefore that our small entourage is facing 12 weeks of continual disappointment when it is denied the above list of exotica. Actually, only 10 weeks left. We are already onto Destination No 2. Am I counting the days? Well, sort of. I’m enjoying it but washing all our clothes every single day is trying, and attempting to LIVE without breaking the bank is also a quotidian challenge. Stealing all the food from the breakfast buffet and then slowly dividing it up during the day is our latest ruse. It’s OK but eating Danone yogurts at 9pm is somewhat grim.
Anyway, after precisely 21 minutes at Aime Cesaire Airport, it was clear my trolley containing all my clothes was not going to materialise, even though it has a pink Baby Boden belt jauntily wrapped around it. For easy identification, naturally. Ah, well. Life with one pair of knickers is not all that bad. Especially in the Caribbean heat. Wash ‘em, hang them out on the balcony – you’re laughing. A bit better than the situation in SPM where wet clothes take about 2 weeks to dry. And there are shop windows here! And jaunty market places, and Mr Bricolage, and Credit Agricole and all the rest of the French paraphernalia we all know and love…Century 21 estate agents, Renault cars, crap music, gorgeous men. Yes, SPM was terribly French, what with its beret-toting citizens and refusal to show anything other than French cinema, but in many ways it was a foggy and expensive museum piece living off subsidies. Here in the sweltering Caribbean things are a bit more – well, real.
“Why are we ALWAYS speaking French, Mummy?” whined Lucien when it was clear to him that yes, we were in another outlying part of the French Empire. Yet when the groundstaff at Aime Cesaire bade me a friendly “Bon soir” it felt so good to be back where the Tricolour continues to fly, that I almost cried. Or was that because of the trolley, which eventually arrived on the next day’s plane?