The View
from Here:
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barts film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.
    Anyone who wandered by the plaza in front of City Hall on December 13 might have thought they stepped back in time at least 100 years if they caught sight of some of the clothes people were wearing.
    The occasion was a day-long arts festival, Art en Fete. And as often happens, the day had a special accent on the traditional culture of the island. In spite of the heat at the peak of the afternoon, there were women and girls in beautiful, flowered cotton dresses, white aprons and pleated white bonnets (called “caleche” or “quichenotte”) or straw hats decorated with flowers and ribbons. One of the most interesting was a dress worn with long cotton arm and leg wrappings as protection when working on the salt flats, as men and women both did in days of yore. The men and boys wore everything from shirts made of flour sacks to pants held up with rope, or their best Sunday shirts and dapper straw hats. Young girls dressed in the same fashion danced on stage, first to a traditional song then to “Sexy Lady,” giving the grandma look a new meaning. The evening ended with three bands playing Caribbean music as hundreds of people partied the night away, after a few lucky ones had a light supper of traditional soup (chicken or pea) served with roasted or fried galettes (those tasty little island breads) or galettes with Christmas ham as sandwiches. And those who were lucky enough to get there before the lunch menu ran out were served curried goat, blood sausage, and black-eyed peas, all local treats as well.
    The week before hundreds of people were also dancing out in front of City Hall, but for a different reason. On December 7, the islanders voted yes in a historic vote that separates the island legally from Guadeloupe, creating an Overseas Community that reports directly to France (see the News and Comment section and its archive for details). Once again the music and champagne were flowing freely.
    Another great party was held this week at Nikki Beach in celebration of the Rubson Raid Turquoise, a week-long nautical adventure aboard small semi-rigid Sillinger speedboats, whose finish line was in Saint-Barth this year. Of the fifteen teams of four that competed, four were from Saint-Barth, including the winning AGF team, and many of their friends and family turned out for the closing night party, complete with a short film of the trials and tribulations the teams had been through in the past week. Seas with waves up to 16 feet. Crossing a river on a wire. Lobster fishing with their bare hands. Motorcycle rallies. I was out of breath just watching the film. A physical demanding adventure, to be sure.
    But as we sat out on the beach, enjoying the fresh sea breezes on a beautiful moonlit night, I couldn’t help but thinking that this island certainly knows how to throw a party. And with the holidays upon us, there are certainly many more to come.
    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
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