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Published: August 4th 2018
Friday August 3 - Today started with more clouds than usual and eventually progressed into off again, on again rain. It reminded me a little of where I stayed in Dominica, as it was cloudy in the forest most of the time. I've enjoyed my time and the weather here over the last few days, and it seemed fitting that I was leaving today, and heading to a museum to boot.
Murielle helped me work out a plan to meet the car rental guy at departures at the airport, which seemed a little sketchy to me. I mean, how many times would I have to drive around before we found each other if I was not parking? I drew a map of the general way to get to the museum and then to the airport, but I never really know if this will work or not until I am doing it. I have no other way to navigate, and no language skills here, so it was exciting (and a bit nerve-wracking).
I pulled away at 9:45am and headed to Pointe-a-Pitre. The road was much better and flatter, and I often drove comfortably at 70km/hr, a total shift from yesterday.
More shockingly, I even got up to 90 km/hr on the highway, and never felt nervous. I was hoping there would be a sign from the highway for the museum, but no luck. I did notice a sign for the university, and decided to take that exit, because I remembered the museum being near the hospital and the university. I had already passed the hospital exit, so this seemed like the last possibility. It was a good choice. I got there fairly easily from there.
Memorial ACT is a new(ish) museum dedicated to telling the story of slavery, and it won a prestigious award in 2017. I read that Pointe-a-Pitre did not have much to offer, but the museum was an exception. I'm so glad I went. The theme was depressing, but they told the story well. It was done by audioguide that was automatic, starting the new story when you entered a room. I had a few glitches to start, but overall it was really good. No photos were allowed, in fact nothing was allowed, and it would have been nice to have some photographic memories, but the presentation was really good. There was even a part at
the end about slavery in the states, segregation and the Jim Crow laws that followed, and how racism is alive and well still today. If only more Americans could see that.
I had to leave just a few minutes before I would have liked, in order to give myself enough time to get gas and lost on the way to the airport, if needed. I changed my clothes to my plane clothes in the bathroom, and then gave the driving a shot. I tried a slightly different way than I had arrived, but it didn't seem right, so I went back the way I had come. I was able to get gas at a station I had seen and th airport turn-off just the next turn, so that worked very well. It rained a little as I drove but nothing problematic. I made it to departures and stopped at the ens, but did not see the guy. Eventually one of the attendants came up to me, and I told him I was waiting for the car rental guy. He understood and told me just to pull up a little more. Amazing. The guy showed up a couple minutes later,
he inspected the car and removed the 750 euro hold from my credit card and sent me on my way.
I checked in with a machine and several problems later I had to do it again to print my luggage tag. I got into the Sky Priority line, since Air France is in a group with Delta and I'd seemed to have been able to use my status to board early on the way here. When I got up, the woman did not agree, but checked me through anyway. There was no line for immigration and security, and I had to dump my water into the garbage directly, since my bottle was not disposable. The airport waiting area is relatively large, but so is the plane. There are something like 57 rows of about 10 people, a much larger plane than I'd expect. I was originally assigned to a middle seat in the middle in a row you'd have to pay for because it is close to the front of the cabin. I ended up choosing a seat 15 rows back to get a window seat instead. It's a night flight, and I think I will sleep better there.
But it also means there are two sleeping people between me and the bathroom, which can be uncomfortable. On most flights it's just one person. I'm hoping it will all work out.
In the airport I threw away my hat. It's been with me for years of trips, but it's starting to wear out. I got a new one last year, but decided to take this one for the field season. It started to really give out and I decided I would not bring it home. It was sad to toss my most loyal travel companion, but it was time.
I tried to play around on the internet, but it didn't work that well. I wrote my journal and watched the penultimate episode of The Originals. I have been catching up with the summer episodes of the final season. Only one more to go!
The flight to Paris boarded on time and was ok. Two women sat next to me, flying with part of their family in the row behind. I watched Ferdinand and cried over the concept of bullfighting while having dinner. Eventually I settled into for a couple crappy hours of sleep, a couple bathroom
trips, and a terrible breakfast. There was an announcement before we landed of where to find the flights that would be tight, but this time the airport was much better organized than it felt coming through on my way to Martinique. I walked quickly and there were people with signs pointing you to a faster immigration lane, and the security line was not too bad. The flight boarded pretty much on time, and it all looked like I would get to Basel on time, but once on the place, there was a delay. All announcements were in French and English except for that one - I think it was due to do delayed luggage. So we sat on the runway for an extra 45 minutes, getting me home later than I'd hoped. There was even a delay getting the baggage out, which is unusual for Basel.
Jeroen was waiting for me with his mom and nephew, and it was nice to see them. I was jetlagged and exhausted, and a little cranky on the ride home, but it was good to see the rest of his family and my cats when I got home. Mars has been camped upstairs in our room for the week, since he is terrified of so many people in the house. It's especially bad timing since there is a heat wave and it was no less than 90F in there with no a/c. Venus and Elisa were very sweet. I was a little social, then unpacked my bag and slept for over four hours. After a shower, we made homemade pizza for dinner and had some Ben and Jerry's for dessert. I showed everyone a few photos from my trip and then bed was calling my name again. It was a good trip, but it's nice to be home.
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