Alyssa Writes

Qui Ne Risque Rien, N’a Rien – My Misconceptions About Martinique

Got to the capital, Fort-de-France, without a car!

Qui ne risque rien, n’a rien – No risk, no reward.

I’ve officially been here for a month and I’d say that I’ve settled in, created a routineless routine, and all around have my shit together. Actually, I still need to send in that application for housing assistance…but it will come. Using quotes from my previous entries, I think it will be interesting to compare what I thought it would be like here to what it’s really like living on this island so far.

Preconceived Notion # 1: Considering that France is laid back, and I’m going to France in the Caribbean, I will presume that Martinican pace is going to be much, much slower. I may end up moving backward.

Reality
Everything happens in due time here. It takes three hours to open a bank account (oh, and then your bank card says “Mr. Alyssa James”), if you’re walking faster than a snail people ask you why you’re rushing, and this has got to be the country with the slowest McDonald’s in the world. Even though I’ve accepted this slow ass walking pace (which is best because walking faster than 1km hour induces profuse sweating), I don’t feel like I’m moving backwards here. I’ve really started to see that the only thing in this world I can control is myself, my habits, and my reactions to external situations. I just get my ass up out of bed, expect to wait 30 minutes in line at a bank only to find out I didn’t have to do so in order to deposit money, and then get on with my life. That’s freedom.

I got to the capital of Fort-de-France without a car!

Preconceived Notion # 2: I hope there’s a gym, a good hairdresser, and a shirtless martiniquais to teach me how to surf.

Reality
Yes, gym. Not what I’m used, but it does the trick. Hairdresser…I’m sure they’re great but I’ve essentially given up on that aspect of my life. Wearing make-up is futile because it melts off. Straightening my hair is pointless because I swim almost every day. Optimistically, I don’t really need make up because the sun and salt water has made my skin flawless. My hair is wash and wear, and we all know I love me some low maintenance. Ahhh, the shirtless martiniquais. Yes. There are tons. I wish they’d keep their shirts on and their awkward comments to themselves though. Surf buddies are pretty much métropole Frenchies. The point is that, what seemed important back home before I left isn’t important now that I’m here. Training is still important, but having a trap bar and foam rollers is not necessary. People still seem to want to talk to me no matter how wild my hair is. Hot Martinicans are kind of just icing (of which there is very little), but that’s superficial anyway…the people here are just insanely helpful and approachable. I did, however, hear from a lady that all the fine men reside in Tobago. I’m going to look into that…

On the way to Tartane, La Trinite

Preconceived Notion # 3: Technically I could take the bus [from Sainte Anne to Marin], but considering its schedule consists of “we leave when the bus is full”, I’m thinking I have to learn to drive standard.

Reality

I really should have learned to drive standard. Then I could just rent a car on weekends and not be a total loner/dependent upon the kindness (read: pity) of others to pick me up. But truthfully, I’ve been getting around fine without a vehicle. I really don’t mind the taxico. It’s not as unreliable as people made it seem. Yes, it stops running early…but it gets dark at 5:30pm, so you really want to be home by that point anyway. I have also become quite proficient at le stop (hitch hiking). Plus, I just walk everywhere. You know that cliche of old people saying “I’d walk uphill both ways “? That’s a real thing here. I’ve gotten used to it. Plus it gives me an excuse to eat baguettes all day! Win-win.

Preconceived Notion # 4: Since [Sainte-Anne] is a tourist town, it might be easier to find a second job.

Reality

The owner of the Italian restaurant next to my studio offered me a job for when they open. I only recently started looking and it was mostly in passing. He just approached me at the restaurant I frequent and asked me if I was looking for work. Considering the salacious offers I’ve received since being here (all of which were seriously considered), I was skeptical. But I’d seen him around and he’s friends with the owner of my favourite restaurant in town. Chili con carne, every time!

I’m having a blast here. I’ve met some awesome people–assistants, expats, locals, tourists–and I am definitely learning a lot. I can’t even believe I was so worried about coming! So far I have no regrets. Yesterday, I was standing on my balcony just looking at the vast greenery and it hit me that… I’m really in Martinique, I actually did it–I left home to live in foreign country for the longest I’ve ever left home. I feel really proud of myself. I’ve barely started this experience and I’m already looking for au pair jobs in South America! But, the island attitude and unending landscapes remind me that I have all the time in the world…

Bisoux.