Understanding Charlie Hebdo

On 7 January 2015, two men stormed the offices of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. They murdered 12 people, including the five most famous and beloved cartoonists (one of whom was the editor) and two police officers, and injured 11 others, 5 seriously. Those are the basic facts of the tragedy, which you undoubtedly already know. But what you may not understand is why – beyond the horror of murder and mayhem – this event has touched every French person so deeply. As one internet meme says: “12 dead. 66 million wounded.” Why is Charlie Hebdo so important and iconic? Continue reading

Why Guadeloupe?

Waterfall near Souffrière volcano

Waterfall near Souffrière volcano

People often ask why my husband and I decided to move permanently to Guadeloupe – and by permanently, I mean we are actually buying a piece of property to build a home and a small business. Up until now, we have always rented. Though we’ve lived two years or more in a few places – Morocco, France, Pennsylvania – we always knew that they were temporary homes. This time, we plan to stay. So, why Guadeloupe?

There are several reasons, and perhaps the most important is also the most banal: we like the weather. I am très frileuse, as the French put it: very intolerant of cold. We would have liked to stay in France, but after 5 years, I realized it was just too cold. Hyères has the Mistral, which can make even warm days chilly, so after a lot of research we moved to the warmest place dans l’Hexagone: Menton, whose microclimate and protective mountains result in moderate winters. Even so, I was still cold and unhappy for several months of the year, so we had to look further afield. Continue reading

Landlords from hell, part 3

Two days later, our neighbor told us that what we needed was a huissier de justice, which is sort of a cross between a lawyer and a judge. A huissier performs a variety of functions, but in the case of an état des lieux, he goes through the apartment and files an impartial report about the damages, which can then be used in court if, for example, the owners lie about broken windows or missing fixtures. That was exactly what we needed, Continue reading

Landlords from hell

I decided I needed to write about our recent rental experience in detail even though I am sure no one will believe it – why would you, when I lived through it and don’t believe it myself? But it feels like this ordeal has taken up residence in my thoughts, and I hope that writing about it will be cathartic enough to clear out this valuable real estate (ha ha) in my head. So here goes. Continue reading