Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Get Visa
Buy Ticket

Things are finally starting to come together.

I received my visa already.  It got here within 6 days.  Gotta say, I'm pretty shocked.  I thought the whole visa experience would have been more stressful than it actually was.

Last Tuesday night I decided to finally buy my ticket.  Just FYI, Martinique is very expensive to fly in and out of.  Initially, I was planning on buying a ticket to St. Lucia and taking the ferry over to Martinique.  Overall, it would cost about $550 total, in comparison to $750 to fly straight to Martinique (from Traverse City, one-way).  Then I found out that the ferries (all of them) shut down between the middle of September and the middle of October.  Exactly when I am going.

On to Plan B.  I decided I would fly to a different Caribbean island, stay for a few days, then fly into Martinique.  After doing some research, Trinidad seemed to be the cheapest.  But before I bought my ticket, I changed my mind and decided to spend the extra money to fly straight into Martinique.... until I saw that I would have a 22 hour layover in San Juan.  Really??  22 hours?  I might as well stay there a couple days then....

Okay, Plan C.  Fly to San Juan from Traverse City, stay a couple nights at a cheap hostel, then fly to FDF.  And so, at about 2 am last Tuesday, that is what I finally decided to book.

The next day I heard from my aunt (who heard from a friend) that Trinidad is not a great place to visit, especially for a woman traveling alone.  Guess I dodged a bullet there.  I ended up paying a lot more than I had initially expected, but I'm happy with my itinerary so... it is what it is.

For weeks, I had been so overwhelmed with things to do that I could barely even feel excited to go to Martinique.  Now that things are coming together and I can finally cross things off my checklist, I am feeling much more relaxed.  I even got to do some research today (which, by the way, led to the decision that I am going to buy a car when I get there).

One month + 3 days until I leave  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chicago Love

Chicago.  Chi-town.  The Windy City.  Also, one of my favorite cities in the world.  Top 2 in the U.S.

I don't know what it is about Chicago that I love so much.  But every time I go, I discover something new that I love.  

My mom and I took the train to Chicago last Tuesday.  I've been to Chicago about 5 or 6 times, but the only two times I've taken the train have been to get my visas (the first to study in France and now the second for Martinique).  My sense of direction and comfort with traveling has changed quite a bit between those two trips... 

My mom and I on the train

This trip to Chicago was absolutely amazing.  We ate fabulous food, played tourist on a boat ride down the Chicago River, did a little shopping, and went to a dueling piano bar.  

Oh, and I had my appointment to apply for my visa.

My visa appointment went very smoothly.  I was a little nervous because I still didn't have the official stamped document that I needed, and I was just going there with the hopes that the consulate had received it already.  I only slightly panicked when the woman at the consulate asked, "Is this all you have?"

Luckily, after a little searching, she found all of the documents I had needed.  Whew.  I am even supposed to receive my visa faster than I anticipated... within 7-10 days instead of 2-3 weeks!  Can't wait to get it and check that off my list.

My list is still longer than I would like, but I'm feeling better about things.  I am starting to feel like I'm actually getting things in order.  My goal for tomorrow (night) is to finally purchase my ticket.  Stay tuned...

And enjoy these pics from Chicago!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life... Back in Order

Well, in case you were wondering, I did not, in fact, fall off the face of the earth, but it was pretty close.  July was an incredibly hectic month, between work and family, but now I am starting to get my life back in order.

My sister and my niece came up from Houston to spend almost the entire month at home.  It was amazing to spend so much time with them, but it did make for an exhausting month.  But I love and adore my family so much that I really can't complain!

Playing in the Princess Tent with LG

Shortly after I received the email about le Morne Rouge, I received my arrêté de nomination!  I was so excited, but once I started taking a closer look, I noticed that I hadn't received any official stamp on my documents that I was supposed to.  Without allowing myself to panic, I immediately emailed the contact person in D.C.  She told me that in the past, l'Académie de la Martinique has sent the stamped forms directly to the appropriate consulate, so I should either have forms there waiting for me, or they will arrive soon.  My fingers are crossed.

So... I went ahead and scheduled an appointment to get my visa, so I am now going down to Chicago on my days off next week!  My mom is going down with me, and I am so excited to get some mother-daughter bonding time.  Plus, Chicago is one of my favorite cities, and I can't wait to go back.

Although getting my arrêté and applying for my visa are the most crucial steps before going to Martinique, my list of things to do is still a lot longer than I'd like it to be.  Let's see... I still need to:

  • Purchase my TICKET (yes, I know I probably should do that soon)
  • Translate my birth certificate
  • Get translated birth certificate certified/stamped/something to please the French officials
  • Find housing
  • Renew my driver's license
Hmm, that list seems short.  I'm sure I'm forgetting about 40 things.  Not to mention that I still have not spent any decent amount of time researching Martinique or le Morne Rouge.  Plus I want to look into what I need to get an international driver's license since rumor has it Martinique's public transportation is...less than desirable.  Which of course adds yet another expense when I get there... a CAR (or moped or scooter preferably).

Right now, it's hard to get really excited to leave because there are still so many things I need to do.  I feel more overwhelmed than anything else.  It still feels far away, even though I will leave in less than 2 months!!  Okay, that means I really need to search for flights...