“The secret of life isn’t what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you” (Positive Thinking Every Day by Norman Vincent Peale).
It is now almost 8 months since I moved from my lifelong home in London to Guadeloupe.
I am enjoying good weather, plenty of vitamin D to help boost my immunity, lots of fresh food, learning lots of patience in the process of setting up a business with my husband, getting to know new people and adapting to driving on the right! 🙂
You may never have heard about Guadeloupe until reading this blog or maybe you have seen the images of Guadeloupe in the programme ‘Death in Paradise’?
Guadeloupe is a nice blend of French, Indian and Caribbean cultures which make up a relatively harmonious, multicultural society. As my mum is from the island of Mauritius which also has French roots and a number of similarities to Guadeloupe and I studied in France during my student days, this has really helped my transition here.
Here are some facts about Guadeloupe that you may not already know and from my own experience living here.
1. Guadeloupe is an archipelago of seven inhabited islands. This includes the butterfly shaped islands of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, Iles des Saintes (2), Marie-Galante, La Desirade and Iles de la Petite Terre.
2. The Amerindian inhabitants called Guadeloupe “Karukera”. This means “Island of Beautiful Waters”. There are many beautiful beaches here as well as rivers and waterfalls. Guadeloupe is widely regarded as having some of the best dive sites in the world.
3. A narrow channel, the Riviere Salee, divides Guadeloupe into two sections: the larger, western Basse-Terre and the smaller, eastern Grande-Terre.
4. There were several British occupations of Guadeloupe in the 18th and early 19th centuries and a short period of Swedish rule before it was handed over to the French. It became an official overseas French department in 1946. It is therefore a part of the EU.
5. The really interesting thing about being here is that we live in a Caribbean island yet we live in a French context. From the road signs and infrastructure to French bakeries and Carrefour hypermarkets.
6. There is a national rainforest brimming with wildlife which comprises one of the seven national parks of France. Fortunately, there are NO SNAKES in Guadeloupe!
7. Something which is really, really important here is to greet people when you enter an establishment in the public domain. Coming from London where most people avoid all eye contact with strangers and rarely utter ‘Hello’ when out and about, I am slowly becoming used to saying ‘Bonjour’ to every female who enters the changing room at the gym or when I enter a shop or establishment. I have at times received some disapproving looks and an emphasised ‘Bonjour’ if I have forgotten to do so!! Still, it is nice to be in an environment where general courtesy is still deemed to be important.
8. If they do not agree with something, the people of Guadeloupe will strike for their rights! As I write, there are road blockades all over the main roads of Guadeloupe since early yesterday morning meaning that people can only circulate in their local areas. This is in protest of the fact that businesses are under threat due to the Covid restrictions imposed by the French government. The people are not willing for their livelihoods to be destroyed in this way. Good for them!
9. The best time of year in Guadeloupe is from December to May when the weather is warm and dry. The rest of the year is usually hot, humid and wet, especially between July and November.
Moving here has been a journey of self-discovery and I am very grateful for the opportunity.