The View
from Here:
  Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barthelemy film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her sharp eye upon local happenings.
  March 2001
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  Past, present and future
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  March 8th is International Women's Day, and this year it falls at a very interesting time for St Barth. Here's the scenario: Sunday, March 11 will witness the first round of voting in the island's election of its next mayor. What does this have to do with women? Well, quite a bit as it turns out. For a rather male-chauvinist country, France has decided that the time has come to extend its national slogan of "Liberty, Fraternity, Equality" to include the female half of the population as well (I'm not sure who made this decision as many of the French men I know think it is total nonsense!). In any event, this has led to a parity law in politics: one woman for every man. In the case of St Barth, this means that the next city council will be made up of 14 men and 14 women. The mayor will still be male as there are only three men running for the position, but there have never been so many women on the city council in the past. And there are some pretty strong women on the incumbent mayor's list (As a full-blooded Yankee I don't vote here but I'd bet the incumbent is a shoe-in for the next six years). And these women are strong-willed and strong-minded, a combination guaranteed to raise the decibel level at town hall a few notches I'm sure. May the best man win the election, but when he does, 14 women are guaranteed to go along for the ride.
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   I met a guy at a dinner party in New York a few weeks ago. A guy who remembers St Barth in the 1960s when he started coming here as a tourist. He remembers the days before well-stocked supermarkets, when he used to bring coolers full of food for his family as well as friends on the island. He was friendly with Marius and his family at Le Select and brought goodies for them in exchange for inside information about getting fresh fish from the fisherman. He also remembers a market near the chapel in Colombier where the local women in their white bonnets and straw hats would set out home-made items for sale, with at least 27 varieties of blood sausages. Our friend Alan also has old-time memories of the island. My favorite is a story he tells about driving home through Lorient one night and seeing something parked in the middle of the road. When he got close enough, he saw that it was a very large pig with no intention of moving aside. So Alan got out of his car and walked up to a nearby house, and with his limited French, pointed to the road and muttered pig. The owner didn't look the slightest bit surprised and simply put on his hat and went out to encourage the pig out of the road. I love all these days of yore stories, even if some of my friends remember a St Barth that maybe never existed. But it is great that people have such fond memories for this place, and the way it used to be, while its politicians are busy fighting over the best prospects for the future.

  More to come,

  Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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