I was fortunate enough to be able to take a quick (very quick!) business trip during the first few days of Ramadan. Travelers are exempt from fasting and are expected to make up the days they miss, but I decided to fast anyway. I would be too busy during the day to bother with eating and the hotels I was going to be staying in had excellent restaurants.
I did have a dilemma though - who would take care of my mother while I was away? I managed to arrange for a dear friend to take my mother to a doctor's appointment and she also took her out for lunch and dinner one evening. Ibrahim was finished with school, so he was home with his grandmother. My oldest son was there for her when he wasn't at work. It worked out for the few days I was away.
Another problem was a tropical storm that was brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening to turn into a hurricane! Before I left I stocked up on hurricane supplies; bottled water and food, and I made sure there was cooking gas and flashlights.
Off I went. The first day of Ramadan found me flying above the beautiful Caribbean Sea. What a lovely sight to behold!
I arrived in Martinique in the late afternoon. The sky was overcast as they too were being affected by the tropical storm. I found out later on that a "yellow" tropical storm warning had been issued which indicates potentially dangerous weather. I asked the person who told me this what was next and they said "orange which means things are worse than yellow and you better be really careful, followed by red which means you better not even think about going outside"
I went for a walk around. The blue and white of the pool in stark contrast with the clouds and storm in the distance makes for an interesting photo.
Martinique is a mountainous volcano island. The earth is black and the tropical green rain forests reach down to the beaches. There are butterflies and hummingbirds everywhere and you can hear parrots squawking high up in the trees.
In the Caribbean the sun sets early, at about 6:30pm. I walked to a nearby shopping centre and super market. Martinique is an overseas region of France so the supermarket was fully stocked with French products - and Tunisian dates! I picked up a few things to break my fast with and snack on during the night.
The sun set quickly. This was the view from my room.
I broke fast and then went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. In what seemed like minutes the sky was pitch black. The restaurant didn't open until 7 o'clock. I got there a little early and found one of the waitresses using a broom to push away frogs that had found their way into the open dining area. The air was full of the sound of the croaking of frogs.
The next day I took a short afternoon flight to the island of Guadeloupe, which is another island in France's overseas territories. I arrived at my hotel very near Maghreb (sunset) and within minutes of my arrival it was time to find my way to the hotel's restaurant for what was to be my breakfast.
This restaurant was also open to the sea and served a huge buffet filled with Caribbean cuisine. Many Creole specialties and a strong French influence - I wanted to taste everything but there was only so much I could eat. Everything tasted delicious. I will definitely try my hand at a few Guadeloupean recipes this Ramadan.
Guadeloupe, like Martinique was full of tropical birds and the night was full of the croaking of frogs which you can hear in the video I made while eating my fast breaking meal.
This was an amazing way to spend the first few days of Ramadan. I arrived home to find that in the end the storm never developed into a hurricane, and the area where my mother lives just had a lot of rain and some flooding, but my mother's house was not affected. I hope one day I get the chance to return to Martinique and Guadeloupe. My visit was way too short.