The View
from Here:
  Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the local film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her sharp eye upon local happenings.
  January 2000
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  In spite of rumors which were flying around here faster than fur in a cat fight, the new year seems to have arrived in Saint Barth without too much fuss.
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   If you could believe everything you heard, we'd have seen US aircraft carriers decked out as floating hospitals in the harbor ready to treat visiting Americans in case of terrorist attacks on New Year's Eve, and there were as many as 50 agents from the CIA or FBI, depending on which island telegraph you were getting your news from.
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  Former US president Gerald Ford was indeed here (not just a rumor) but his casual barefoot attire on the dock in Gustavia certainly did not indicate any official fears of terrorists hiding out under the glamorous Ultima III yacht where he was a guest. In fact things were downright calm as midnight approached, and except for one poor pilot who missed the runway, and whose plane is still sitting in the bushes at the airport, things were pretty quiet. To ring in the year 2000, Gustavia had been blocked off to cars and the crowds seemed a little smaller than usual. The traffic wasn't too bad either considering that the high road out of town is still out of commission. More than 30 of the fabulous sailboats in the harbor had been on an outing earlier in the day with high winds ripping apart their spinakers as they competed in the annual New Year's Eve Regatta. Some of the larger yachts, such as Jamacia Bay and Golden Cell, hosted parties for hundreds of people, giving the local economy a good shot in the arm as loads of food and flowers were loaded aboard for the occasion.
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  Oddly enough, the local firefighters staged a 24-hour strike (although they never abandoned their post at the firehouse and all emergencies were properly dealt with). Their complaints include under-staffing and a shortage of uniforms. Maybe some of the local businessmen who are busy raising money to shovel the sand back on to the hurricane-ravaged beaches (most of which look pretty good already thanks to the tenaciousness of Mother Nature) will have a few dollars left over to buy our poor firefighters some extra socks and underwear. Seriously, they are in need of additional equipment and personnel in order to ensure the security of the island's growing population. In the same vein, plans for an addition to the island's small hospital include a Franco-American-St Barth committee to help in selecting new equipment and improving the emergency treatment at the facility.
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  For most of us on the island, its just back to business-as-usual with final plans underway for the annual St. Barth Music Festival (the biggest one to date) with 15 concerts in three weeks, from mid-month through early February, and the Rotary Club busy lining up donations for its fund-raising auction on February 19th. In any case, Y2K is officially here without anybody being bitten too badly by that mysterious bug.

  More to come,

  Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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