Banana fields
Sunny Martinique

…Plus c’est la meme chose – …The more they stay the same

Wow! So it’s been almost 2 months since I left Martinique. At this very moment I’m standing, (not)working, at my slightly above minimum wage job. I work 40 hours a week and I commute about 3 hours every day just to get here.

I’ve been thinking about this writing this blog for quite some time, but I didn’t think I had anything to say worth reading. I still don’t, but since when do bloggers with a readership of 10 say anything of value? I work at a gym in corporate towers and the only time I have to do anything is from 12-1 and 5-6. I mostly read. So I’ve decided to write.

Alyssa and Araba in Guadeloup
Me with Araba, in Guadeloupe

My last month in Martinique was busy, exciting, and slightly emotionally turbulent. I visited St Lucia and Guadeloupe. I really, really enjoyed Guadeloupe. I managed to rent a manual car and completely obliterate a tire driving in some Guadeloupean backroads. I went snorkelling, kayaking, surfing, hiking and won a dance battle at some bar there. Seriously. It was like You Got Served, but French. The assistants were also awesome and really accueillants.  In St Lucia, we visited the sulfur springs, waterfalls, went to the Friday night Jump Up (Wild. Enough said), and I also visited Pigeon Island. Both were trips I was really glad to have taken.

On Leaving Martinique

It was hard leaving some things (and someone) behind but there are also things that I have taken with me. My love of fresh produce and good food; my enjoyment of walking; a laid back demeanour (if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I was residually high); and a true appreciation of free time. I used to be really, really high strung. Tapping away at a Blackberry enjoying the contradicting stress and comfort of the flashing red light, waiting for emails, running from activity to work to class to work… I now highly value my downtime and I’ll never give that up for anything. I’m more just really high strung now.

On Going Back to Martinique

When I was actually in Martinique for that last month, I barely worked. I did a few hikes and visited some places I hadn’t been to before. I went surfing quite a bit and the waves were perfect for my beginner (lack of) skills! I also found out my contract had been renewed. I was asked why I wanted to come back to Martinique and in all honesty it’s because I don’t think I did Martinique. It was my first time spending a significant amount of time abroad and as I said in my last post, all I wanted to do was try to surf. I can’t change the past and in a way I know I should take what I’ve learned and apply it to another experience in a different country. But there are a few things that I would do differently given the chance to do it over. And I have that chance.

On Being Home

Even though I’ve left Martinique, many things have stayed with me. Yes, I miss surfing, but biking down to the waterfront in Barrie is the most pleasant part of my week. I have a greater appreciation for nature and going to the farmer’s market and then cooking something is a highlight of my weekend. I went to Montreal and they didn’t reject my French! I was really proud. Also, I guess my roommate stayed with me too! Eila is living in Toronto and we go to the movies almost every Tuesday. I’m taking a German class. Mostly because someone told me that the birth control pill is called eine Antibabypille. Made my life.

Toronto skyline
Big city, big love – Toronto

I did have a bit of that reverse culture shock thing. The first thing that struck me was just the sheer number of people. Holy hell, I walked down Bloor Street the day after I got back and felt slightly overwhelmed. I also felt really out of place for a couple weeks. People who didn’t know I’d been away would talk about popular culture topics and I imagine I looked confused. They would look at me like “Have you been living under a rock??” And well, yes, sort of. Physically, I had to readapt to the weather. It would be 22 degrees out and I’d be freezing. Granted, we had a heatwave last week and the temperature got up to about 40. Yes, in Celsius. Yes, my igloo melted.

As far as the reverse culture shock, it takes a couple of weeks but you’re back to normal. Everything is normal. It’s like you never left and your travels are a distant memory. My mom actually said to me today “I must have went to that wedding in Florida while you were in Martinique…” My mom went to that wedding two years ago. No one truly understands or really cares to. So, really, it feels like you never left home. Most people haven’t changed much. The city is still the same. You’re doing the same stuff you were doing before you left. And I’m pretty sure that exact banality is why I left in the first place. Bored to the point of depression, I skipped the country. Before it goes that far I’m planning my next escape! I’m working at a great place with people I like and a free gym membership. I’m living at home and my mom and I haven’t killed each other. I got repayment assistance on my $50,000 student loans. I’m in a good place right now, but I’m not staying in it for much longer.

Eila and I in Montreal
Eila and I in Montreal

I may have to change the title of my fine travel blog. That’s exciting!

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