‘Retour au pays natal’ episode 2

Finally we landed. We got out of the plane and went through the immigration control. As the officer looked at all of our IDs, he asked me: ‘I need proof that these children are yours. I suddenly remembered, I used my maiden name on the boarding pass and the boys had their dad’s name. I showed him my passport which had both my maiden and spouse name. I thought to myself, thank God, I went to London to renew my passport. He was satisfied and made a joke: How can you make the difference between P and M? They look exactly the same!! Double trouble you have there!! I smiled and left the airport impatiently with the boys. At last we were outside, breathing the Caribbean air. Guadeloupe, here I come, I shouted quietly. I looked at my phone, and the network had changed from sky to orange.

I found a cab, so the kids and I made our way. Nobody knew we were here; it was a surprise. As I sat in the cab, things were indeed different. The hospital was no longer there. I asked the driver:  ‘What happened to the hospital? oops exkisez mwen, kay pasé lopital la? I forgot I had to speak creole or French now. He answered in creole: ‘I pran difé!’ (it burned down, he replied).

The driver started a political conversation, complaining of the inadmissible state of what is left of the hospital, the water shortage in some of the cities but his voice quickly became distant as I looked at the state of my beautiful island through the car’s window. Buildings were in a dilapidated state and I barely recognised the area. I wondered if Port-Louis had changed as much. I am sure it had after so many years. We made it. We were in the Nord Grande-Terre. Some of the cities were the same. More buildings were erected. The boys woke up: ‘ Mum, we are hungry!’ I suddenly realised we had not eaten since we left the airport. We stopped and I bought KFC for the kids, as for me   I ate a nice ‘agoulou’, a delicacy I missed eating. The saltiness of the omelette was enrobed with the seasoning of the salad mixed with the sweet, thick and huge burger bread. It was delicious …

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