Living and more so working in an island is something I had never thought of and with it have come great eye openers with a mixture of culture shocks and great lessons too. I am happy to share them with you and have divided them into sub topics in order to be able to touch on most of the things if not all from my personal experience.
Accommodation (East or West home is best 🙂 )
This was one of the most hectic things to deal with because I did not know where exactly I was going since everything was new to me. Before we go further, allow me to mention that all non European Union members had to validate their visas within their first 3 months of arrival; this was then followed by 2 compulsory health checkups and later a medical certificate failure to which one might risk deployment. Back to where we were, accommodation is expensive and it took me long to settle, more so because also I did a lot of comparisons especially with people who got free accommodation. One of the difficult things especially with where I live, I find that everything is far from everything. However with time I accepted the situation, met very interesting characters along the way that have made me learn through experience, I have also gotten to celebrate my small wins like being able to pay rent on time 🙂
I had previously mentioned in my earlier post how public transport is by far the worst that I have ever seen. I thought Kenya was at a bad place until Guadeloupe happened and I started appreciating what was back at home. Most people own cars and also many tourists hire private cars to drive around but the common mwananchi cannot afford/hire a car now (I am the common mwananchi). There are no trains, ubers and the few available taxis are insanely expensive. The few available buses do not have a schedule with most not working on the weekends. My movement is limited and most of the times I am forced to organize my errands around the schedule of someone who has a car. Another way most people get around is by hitchhiking which can’t be me, I have too much phobia.
There have been a few times where random genuine strangers have found me walking or waiting for the bus and offered to carry me. I appreciate all of you. One time a bus driver was kind enough and offered to drop me home for free as there were no buses heading to where I live (this wasn’t his route) and it was already dark. I live in Bouillante but there are other places in the island where the bus schedule is a bit friendlier.
The most common religion is catholic. However unlike Kenya where religion is taught in school that is a forbidden topic and most of my students were shocked that we learn religion in school. I was shocked to learn that it is even forbidden for me to wear clothes/items that are religion-oriented in public unless in a religious place e.g. like a t-shirt with a Bible verse in public same applies to Muslims’ hijabs. Unlike in Kenya where I had the liberty of choosing the time I’d attend mass, here the mass is only one, miss it and miss out. Transport also now comes in meaning if no one around me is going to church I cannot go as I’d need someone to drop me. However I have found some comfort in ‘bedside Baptist’ (watching televised mass).
I have come to really appreciate the few times I have been able to go to church, although sometimes due to language barrier I don’t understand a lot, but happy even when I get one word. (Though I usually access the Sunday readings beforehand ndo nisiume nje saana) I more so enjoy singing along in Creole and French. With time I learnt that confessions are not a weekly thing as in many churches I have been to rather based on the demand from the people or before big celebrations like Easter.
Note : In France , secularism is a constitutional principle which separates political power from religious organizations.
….to be continued tomorrow.