BRIAN VISITS BEAUTIFUL MARTINIQUE
BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ
I first met Brian Notzon when he was my student in my 9th grade English class in 1957 at Christen Jr. High School in Laredo, Texas, where I started my public school teaching career. And now we keep in touch because of the magic of e-mail. Brian is a regular world traveler, and his latest escapade took him to beautiful Martinique, an experience he shares with us now:
Martinique was very enjoyable to visit. It’s a relatively safe place, and with very good food. I was surprised that many people there speak very little English. Considering that so many Americans visit the Caribbean, the tourism mainstays for the island appear to be France and Quebec. The island is fertile and green, and there’s many birds. Mt. Pelee’s (no connection with Hawaii’s Pelee — in Martinique the word comes from the French word for “peeled”) last big eruption was in 1902, when about 28,000 people were killed, and the island has earthquakes.
One sees evidence of the island’s violent past in the rocks and broken cliff faces. It’s still the dry season there, so showers were generally brief, although we did have one day with more rain than sunshine. The last two days were very hot and humid, although evenings were pleasant. People drink lots of rum (which they spell rhum), and it’s common to be served fruit punch lightly spiked with rhum. Another note on languages: A Creole dialect is commonly spoken, and locals seem equally fluent in French and Creole.
Pay and prices in Martinique are relatively high, and the locals maintain European standards of living. Martinique considers itself a part of France, rather than simply one of the French Overseas Territories. There’s a degree of competition with Guadaloupe. The Elderhostel (d.b.a. Road Scholar) programs did well this season, and next season Elderhostel will be doubling the number of offered trips to 14. I don’t know if airfare between the U.S. and Martiniques will be included in the price of these tours next year. Norwegian Air’s low airfares allowed Elderhostel to offer the tours this season at an attractive price, although participants still had to pay for transportation to New York (or Boston, or Newark, depending on program timing).
NEO NOTE: Now Brian tells us about his beginnings, when he lived in Laredo and after:
My first 8 years of schooling in Laredo, Texas, were at St. Peter’s Parochial School. I was at L.J. Christen from fall 1957 thru spring 1958, and then went on to Martin High School, graduating in 1961. I think that it was probably the fall 1957 semester that I was in Dr. Neo’s English class, but I can’t be certain that it wasn’t the spring 1958 semester. But it seems that it was only one semester, and I can’t remember who my English teacher was for the other semester. Dr. Neo was an excellent teacher, and he was one of the teachers who I considered myself fortunate to have had.
After graduating from MHS, I interspersed working and attending classes at Laredo Jr. College. I left Laredo just short of having two full years of college credits. I worked at Falcon Dam, in the power plant, for 7 1/2 months, and then because of the remoteness of Falcon Dam, left the area to work in Shreveport, Louisiana, to take a job with a company there, working first in their print shop, and then in an accounting department. After a little more than a year of working there, and taking college classes at night, I enlisted in the Marine Corps, with the intent of finishing college on the G.I. Bill.
In the USMC, after finishing boot camp in San Diego and infantry training in Camp Pendleton, I was sent to 43 weeks of electronics training in San Diego, and Twentynine Palms, CA. My first duty station was the Marine Air Station at Cherry Point, NC, but I was there for only a few months before the equipment I was working on was moved out. I was then sent back to Camp Pendleton for advanced infantry training, and from there to Vietnam, where I again worked on the equipment I had been trained on. In Vietnam, I was stationed on Monkey Mountain, near Da Nang. At the end of my 13 month tour in Vietnam, I had just a little over two months to go in my 3-year enlistment, and I accepted the option of an early discharge.
I finished work on a Bachelor’s Degree at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA, getting a B.S. in 1971, with a major in economics, with the stress on international economics. Using the G.I. Bill, I was able to obtain an M.S. in economics at Texas A&M in 1973.
I had the chance to take a job in the economics field in Boston, but the pay offered would have been difficult to live on. I was offered a better paying job in Long Beach and Torrance, CA doing quality assurance work for the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and accepted that one. Eventually, I moved into contracts and pricing work. I took some additional job tests, and was hired at NAVAIR HQ offices in Arlington, VA, where I was a management intern for one year, and then worked in government contracting for two years, in nonnmanagement jobs.
I left the government for a year, and did additional college work, before working again for the government at the Air Force Plant Representative Office at the Boeing Company in Seattle, where I did pricing and negotiation work. That office transitioned from the Air Force to the Defense Contract Management Agency.
I’m now retired from the civil service.
Living in the Pacific Northwest has provided opportunities for mountain climbing, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing, amongst other sports, including kayaking and canoeing.
In 1983, I survived crush injuries from a tree, which I found out later that I wasn’t expected to survive, and I’ve also survived cancer and a heart attack. So, by the grace of God, I’m still here, and was able to give you that Martinique travel report.
FROM WIKIPEDIA, RE: G MARTINIQUE:
Martinique (French pronunciation: [maʁ.tinik]) is an insular region of France located in theLesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 385,551 inhabitants as of January 2013. LikeGuadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, southeast ofPuerto Rico, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica.
As with the other overseas departments, Martinique is one of the eighteen regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the République française(French Republic). As part of France, Martinique iand virtually the entire population also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais).s part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro. The official language is French,
Part of the archipelago of the Antilles, Martinique is located in the Caribbean Seaabout 450 km (280 mi) northeast of the coast of South America and about 700 km (435 mi) southeast of the Dominican Republic. It is directly north of St. Lucia, northwest of Barbados, southeast of both are Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic and south of Dominica.
The total area of Martinique is 1,100 square kilometres (420 sq mi), of which 40 square kilometres (15 sq mi) is water and the rest land. Martinique is the 3rd largest island in The Lesser Antilles after Trinidad and Guadeloupe. It stretches 70 km (43 mi) in length and 30 km (19 mi) in width. The highest point is the volcano of Mont Pelée at 1,397 metres (4,583 ft) above sea level.
The island is volcanic in origin, lying along the subduction fault where the South American Plate slides beneath the Caribbean Plate.[ Martinique has eight different centers of volcanic activity. The oldest rocks are andesitic lavas dated to about 24 million years ago, mixed with tholeiitic magma containing iron andmagnesium. Mont Pelée, the island’s most dramatic feature, formed about 400,000 years ago.[ Pelée erupted in 1792, 1851, and twice in 1902. The eruption of 8 May 1902, destroyed Saint-Pierre and killed 28,000 people in 2 minutes; that of 30 August 1902 caused nearly 1,100 deaths, mostly in Morne-Red and Ajoupa-Bouillon.