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.
  June 2001
  Away from Home
  I have actually been away from Saint Barth for the past six weeks. Business trips have taken me to Berlin, London, Las Vegas, and New York, with a family get-together in Philadelphia along the way. Time away offers a chance to look at the island from afar, and a dose of appropriate therapy as the last few months have been difficult times in St Barths.
   No sooner was Bruno Magras elected for a second term as mayor last March, than the island was plunged into the tragedy of an airplane crash, several suicides, and a rash of road accidents. The most tragic of these is the case of a young mother who was killed walking home from a wedding with her two small children. She was killed by a drunken young man on a motorcycle and as far as I understand it, he did not have a driver's license, owner's card, or insurance. How can this be? Worse still he had a very high level of alcohol in his blood. Are we surprised? No, but we are certainly surprised that this drunken driver was sentenced to just 10 months in jail. Ten years would have seemed more appropriate. What is wrong with this picture?
   The water situation, or lack of H2O, is still a problem on the island as well. A second water plant has gone on line adding to the production of town water and hopefully filling cisterns in these dry days of little or no rain. I've been contemplating planting masses of desert succulents; when they bloom they are absolutely gorgeous. But no matter what, life in Saint Barth continues as usual. I'm sorry I missed the big party in tribute to Bob Marley (on the 20th anniversary of his death). I'm also sorry I missed being there to greet my friend Philippe Hochart when he returned from Dominica with Jean-Jacques Kraiff and Sabine Mialon after this hearty trio won the 9th annual "Objective Atlantide," a fabulous treasure hunt held both on land and at sea. Speaking of the sea, plans are already afoot for the 6th edition of the Ag2r Transat in which 9-meter Figaro Beneteau sailboats race from Lorient,France to the Port of Gustavia in St Barths. All eyes will be on two local teams next April 14 when the race begins. Seasoned sailor Luc Poupon has teamed up with Jeff Ledee, and our Finnish import Markku Harmela will race with Christian Deredec.
   Personally, I am already planning the 7th annual St Barth Film Festival, following a smashing success in April. And for those of you who may have wondered what happened to my "View From Here" column in May, please consider it a moment of silence for an island that has lived through a little tragedy, but has, as always, proved itself a wonderful and resilient place. I can't wait to get back!

  More to come,

  Ellen Lampert-Greaux

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