Thursday, May 7, 2015


A Caribbean island situated just a teeny bit west of Nice and Cannes on France’s extended Riviera, it is made up of an extensive range of ethnic groups, including Oberoi, Hilton, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Hyatt, Marriott and Couples. Civil war between these groups has raged for decades, mostly in the form of weekend discounts and competitive buffets. The other ethnic group, known as Martiniquans and comprised of 17th century French settlers and the descendants of the slaves they brought with them, are either employed by the aforementioned others, or unemployed, though a few drive taxis, and some run souvenir kiosks; the vast majority have sought economic asylum in France, where they are employed as football players or to man the unemployment benefit queues. While the aforementioneds generally keep their earnings on the Cayman Islands, France does provide economic aid, and does so sufficiently that barely half the country bothered to turn out for a referendum in 2010, which asked whether Martinique should seek greater autonomy, and they only turned out to make sure the answer was No. The real threat to the future of the island is not the tourists however, nor the warring global corporations, but Mount Pelle, its active volcano, which last erupted in 1902, and so is about due for another little explosion any time soon.

Joséphine de Beauharnais, who started out life as Marie-Josèphe-Rose Tascher de La Pagerie and ended it as the Emperor Napoleon's first wife, was born on the island, though no one there claims her as a Martiniquaise. In truth, the only thing the world has remotely heard of that ever came out of Martinique is the Beguine, a dance not unlike the rumba which takes its name from the Creole word for a white woman. You can listen to Artie Shaw playing Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine" if you click here.

Marks for: 1

Marks against: 2

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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