Yes, we have been enjoying a general strike since Tuesday and it looks like it may carry on for a little while yet. This time, they are striking about the high price of food and living in general, but having attempted to read the literature they produced, it seems to be a bit more complex than that.
Bertie and I debated the issue yesterday. He thinks that the high price of living (40% or so) is unjustified and that it relates in part to the monopolisation of a few big companies here, usually owned by beke or blanc-pays - descendants of the colonialists who owned the slaves and plantations. Bertie pointed out that it is difficult for a local Guadeloupean to get very far in setting up his own business here, due to lack of capital and the ferocity of the competition, who have the advantage of inherited wealth which initially came from profiting from the slave trade...Interesting how many things relate back to slavery, time and time again. However, we didn't get very far in finding a solution. Hopefully the powers that be will be more successful, as in the meantime there are
1. few people working
2. few shops open
3. various roads blocked
4. sporadically no water (last night)
5. daily periods of no electricity (however I have noticed that it always comes back on in time for that Great Guadeloupean Institution Les Feux de L'Amour. Coincidence...or do the strikers not want to face their furious grandmothers deprived of their favourite soap fix...!)
6. various incidents of car burning etc
Of course, strikes aren't all bad things - we have LissaLou at home which is lovely, and no great loss to her education I am sure! We also have Bertie around a lot - lovely but more of a loss to our pocket... Hmm we have hardly any food in the fridge but at least we can always go and squat at Mamie's and now Bertie's tomatoes and lettuces are out in full, we are semi self-sustainable! (One day he will get the photos on his blog!) There is a very chilled feel to life all in all.
What is interesting is how unbothered the locals seem to be about the whole thing, whereas we outsiders get up on soap boxes and complain vociferously about yet another strike! Various people are trying to tempt us into outstaying our year, but I have to say this is one aspect of life that makes living here very unattractive. Unless, of course, you are employed by the state and sitting at home comfortably whilst the pay still drops into your account!