Schoelcher Snapshot: A Beach-side lunch in Martinique

It’s all been a bit intense around here. I’ve got deadlines, and major headaches accompanying them, not least with a crazy cold.  Feeling stressed, tired and ill seems doubly miserable when the sky is bright blue, the horizon line is well-defined and the sunshine is gloriously skin-tickling warm.  Carnival feels like a long time ago.

I was in the library for hours this morning, trying to talk through an assignment with a colleague, and then complete it.  Nothing especially complicated, but a lot of preparation is required for a lengthy document which I have to produce in French.  So it’s just a little stressful.  Over-enthusiastic air-conditioning did not help matters.

Having anticipated a distractingly sour mood, I had one appointment at least to look forward to.  To clear my head a little, I did lunch with a sister-friend.  We had a lot to catch up on seeing how we hadn’t sat down together for 2 whole weeks!  And catch up we did: we just talked and talked and talked and talked for four straight hours.

As we went through the girly gossip, and the issues to be resolved, the practical, the immediate, the long-term, the family, news from friends, and of course matters of the heart, all the burdens seem to float away as we laughed, unloaded and were further entertained by the antics of the mini-me we’d brought along for the ride.  At 18 months he nonetheless is a heterosexual Caribbean man already, reserving his biggest smiles and most adorable baby-chuckles for the women in the vicinity who coo on cue.

While we ate our fabulous meal – plantain mash à la Martinique and grilled red snapper washed down with virgin cocktails – feet immersed in the white sand of the beach we were eating at, I paused oh-so-briefly to take in the clear turquoise waters cliché that was my surroundings.

The small beach was filled with French people of various hues in frolicking holiday mode.  Indeed, as we entered the beach bar and restaurant, we’d been greeted by the sight of a half-naked six-foot dark-skinned black man with a six pack soaking wet and looking for a towel.  I note it only because as two women about the same age with 20/20 vision, it was a good omen for our lunch.

Now I’m back in front of my laptop, thinking and typing away furiously in French (bar this second detour of course…).  A mere five minute drive from the beach bar where I experienced my convivial Thursday lunch.  I’m still able to see outside, even if life means I’m not taking full advantage of it.  To be fair, given that night has fallen and I have a landscape view, there’s not a lot going on to excite the eyes.

But with the giggling of the afternoon still ringing in my ears, and the moment still bringing a smile to my face, there’s less tension in me as I write my French magnum opus.  This is a healthy habit I’m developing; when stress levels get unbearable, take a break.  Walk to the beach, lie on the sand, go for a swim.  Change of environment + bain de mer = good vibes.  Living in Schoelcher is not all bad.

This small adventure gets a mention because I’m not very good at repping Martinique.  My initial hesitations came from fear of reproducing orientalist discourses of the exotic, but I suspect I may have gone so far in the other direction that I’m now somewhat unsure about what you’d learn about the everyday pleasures of living in the French Caribbean from reading this blog. Hopefully this post offers a small insight.  You know, just in case you were wondering.

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