Wednesday, September 12, 2012

All Alone in St. Pierre

We went out for dinner on the first evening here on St. Pierre. The restaurant was right around the corner, one of many in the town within walking distance of our hotel. There was no one in the restaurant, except the server and us, but we were early so I didn't think anything of it, especially since the chef walked in dressing his street clothes a few minutes later. I could almost imagine the server slipping into the back room after seating us and calling his home . . . "Some crazy English tourists are here for dinner; come quick!". It did get a little better later, with a young couple dropping in for drinks and another English couple for dinner, but that was it. On the upside, we did chat with everyone there - you can't do that when the restaurant is full.

Leaving the restaurant at about 8:00 pm we exited to empty streets. Not a person anywhere; not a car on the streets; complete silence. It was like aliens had beamed up the entire population. We walked back to the hotel in complete and utter silence. We met no one, and heard nothing but the wind. It was odd, and a very little bit eerie, but we figured that there was a hurricane bearing down on this little French colony, so perhaps everyone was hunkering down indoors. We were told the next day that it was the day before school started, so everyone was home early getting ready for an early evening. WOW, in the cities I'm used to, the teenagers would be out for one final night of freedom before a year of school. Talk about culture shock! I should have been teaching here.

Overnight the hurricane came and went, leaving the island relatively unscathed, so when the sun came out at 10:00 we set out for a walk. Eventually we found a paved road leading out of town into the hills and decided to explore. We were gone for over three hours and saw one car and met no one on the road or the trails through the hills. That evening we tried another restaurant, this one with lots of people, but again when we left to walk back to the hotel we were presented with a dead empty town. Not one person on the streets and we walked through a silent town.

The next day we decided to explore the town and discovered that indeed there were people who lived here and the streets were busy and full of people. There were cars, buses, tractors, construction crews, and lots of people on the streets and boats moving in and out of the harbour. The town was actually alive! BUT . . . . . 12:00 noon arrived and everything stopped. Really;  everything completely stopped. The town went silent. No people on the streets, traffic stopped. the streets were dead! We walked back to the hotel past closed shops and empty streets. We were once again alone in St. Pierre. Looking at the signs in the shops we realized that everything shuts down from 12:00 to 2:00, and they really do shut down. It is very weird to suddenly have an entire town go so completely silent. It seems that the same thing happens in the evenings. No "Night Life" here, they roll up the sidewalks and go in for the evening.

I have learned to adapt, and I'm quietly writing this inside at the hotel at 1:57 pm, oh wait a minute I can hear the whole town waking up and coming back outside. Time to finish this blog entry.