Thursday, November 27, 2014

Caribbean Blues

blue through the stateroom window
I've been away from Canada for about 4 weeks and have been experiencing a lot of blue(s). My last year's cruising companion won another cruise!!! She invited me to accompany her as it was for two people. Since we were paying for airfare (points), we decided to extend the cruise to visit Martinique and the Netherland Antilles.
Saint Lucia
The islands that we visited were colourful and every day the temperatures reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Rain only fell during my sleeping hours. Whenever I spoke to Maman or Monsieur, it seemed to be cold or raining at home.
I met the captain and received a medal.
Although I appreciate the beauty of these islands, there is a sadness that I feel. Probably because I am a First World woman who thinks too much. The indigenous people (Arawaks and Caribs) died out after a few years of European contact. Slaves were brought from Africa to work the plantations under conditions of heat and humidity that would have been difficult to endure.  Most agriculture on the islands is no longer economically feasible. Today's inhabitants (except for the very rich) are descendants of those slaves. Most are employed in the tourist industry which caters to wealthy Americans and Europeans. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

a home in Bonair
Fortunately, in the Dutch islands, there is a social safety net and there are no homeless people. This is a typical house in the countryside. Smaller state provided rentals are available and the payments can be applied to ownership.


I loved the colours of Curaçao.
The city of Curaçao was very European with waterways, a swing bridge and colourful buildings. As in many European cities, the shops were closed on Sunday.
I visited some old friends in the library in Fort-de-France. Can you read their names?
I felt at home when I reached Martinique which is a department of France, not a colony. I bought some Caudalie toner, visited the library, church and Galéries Lafayette. I was happy to stroll about and to speak French.
Hôtel de Ville
My version of cruise ship life is quite different from that of many other people. I am an early riser who values solitude. You can find me on a chaise longue at 6:30 am with my fresh fruit and yogurt. I leave to read in the ship's library at about 9:30am when the poolside starts to be crowded. I don't travel with my own books and always enjoy reading the nonfiction onboard ship. At home, I am a fiction reader but on ships, I like to learn about history and culture.

There are many food choices onboard cruise ships but I tried to eat fresh fruits and salads during the day so that I could enjoy a dining room meal in the evening. Although my friend didn't come to the dining room, I mustered up the courage to go alone. To my good fortune, I met 3 ladies from Québec whose travelling companion was ill and I found dining friends with whom I could speak French. Quelle chance!
end of day on St. Lucia

There is a part of me that is uncomfortable with cruising. I need a lot of quiet and personal space and I would prefer to spend longer in a port so that I could understand the culture a little better. But there are so many places and so little time, I guess that sometimes I just have to be a tourist.



4 comments:

  1. I love the peace and quiet on our boat and early in the morning as the sun rises and the light illuminates the sea it is so beautiful. I understand why you would like to be on deck looking out toward the sea.
    Your friend was lucky winning the cruise and how wonderful that she asked you to join her!
    Looks like you have had a glorious month seeing the sights...what adventures are next on your agenda?

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    1. There are so many shades of blue and it is so peaceful! I finished reading Under a Bright and Starry Sky last night and I could relate to RLS and Fanny's wanderlust. Right now I am in a sunny Tucson casita with Monsieur. Monarch butterflies, bougainvillea and saguaro cacti! This is M's favourite spot so we are enjoying our "together holiday".

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  2. Madame I understand what you are saying, you have expressed my feelings about wealthy countries' tourism. Enjoy the pleasurable moments.

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  3. Travel makes us more aware of the disparities in the world. Although we can not change history, it is really important to show respect for all people especially those who serve us. I met many tour guides who spoke Dutch, Spanish, French, Creole and English. The Indonesian dining staff on the ship work in a competent and gracious manner. It is through the efforts of these workers that we First World travellers are able to enjoy our visits to the islands.

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