The nights were drawing in, the days cold and dark, the green man had done battle with the winter queen and lost. Time to fly away.
Florida was fun with my Kubuntu community and friends, the mickey mouse burgers, the free alcohol, chlorinated waterfalls and specs written. I could go home to the cold and the dark or I could go on. I choose on. I fly south over blue seas and tropical islands. At Puerto Rico my body is met with a wall of warmth. A strange land this: half American, half Hispanic, half Carribean. The pace of life noticably slower, the queues longer. I take what food I can from the airport lounge and fly on. More islands pass, the clouds of cotton wool floating by.
Guadeloupe appears through the clouds, green and fertile. No wall of heat this time, the plane is already warm. At customs comes my first test of French, will I understand? Words fail, they wave me through. Outside nobody is waiting for me, worry sets in, a foreign land and nobody to help, maybe my colocatiere does not exist, maybe there is no house and my money is gone. She appears, smiling and friendly, speaking impenetrable French. “Plus lentement s’il te plait.” I understand. I can converse. Je suis un francophone.
The house exists, my studio flat has all I need. The dogs and cats are friendly. The swimming pool compact but pleasant. Carrefour is a drive away, a city to commercialism, I buy Guadaloupe sauces and fruits. Life here is expensive but various. We enjoy Guadeloupe food, the savoury fried bananas tasty, the chicken done to perfection. The beach is covered in palm trees, the sun strong but the shade welcoming. The sea is warm like I have never swum in before, a hot bath of blue.
Why Guadeloupe I am asked. No paticular reason but several inpaticular. It is French and they do not speak French here. I am jealous of people who speak a second language, I feel inferior. Here I have to speak French, I have no choice. It is France, and Europe. A little corner of the EU in the Carribean. A strange detour of a political border but one that works for my advantage, no need for visa or strange currency or work permit. It is a Carribean island, I have never been to this part of the world before, a new place. Time to explore.