writer + artist

Why It’s Important to Write About the Destinations You Didn’t Love

with 6 comments

A few years ago I taught English in the Caribbean… Guadeloupe to be exact. And although it’s a sunny island in the middle of the Caribbean, to be perfectly honest, my time spent living there wasn’t the most enjoyable. Actually living on an insular island and having a daily routine is much different than spending a lazy vacation sipping cocktails on the beach, and that everyday livelihood didn’t exactly meet my expectations.

So when I told my mother that I was going to write a story on what not to do while traveling in Guadeloupe she responded with, “What are you going to say? Don’t go there?!” I laughed and gave my usual answer:”even though I didn’t have a good time, doesn’t mean other people can’t.”

Which brings me to my main point: sometimes writing about a place that you don’t love is a fantastic exercise. You’re forced to choose a bit more objectivity over subjectivity, and soon you’re remembering a plethora of positive aspects, putting your negative memories aside and crafting a piece that allows others to be intrigued by your destination.

In the end, travel is about experience, and as travel writers, it’s important to inspire those experiences. It doesn’t matter if travel experiences are positive or negative, they are always going to be eye-opening, educational and shape who we are, and every individual has to discover that on his/her own, which is why it’s perfectly fine to write about those destinations you didn’t love.

So on that note, here’s an excerpt from What Not to Do in Guadeloupe, published over on Matador Trips — an article that made me just a tad bit nostalgic for a place that I never really liked living in to begin with.

Don’t… assume people speak English

As an overseas French department, Guadeloupe’s official language is French, but don’t think this makes visiting the island like traveling in Europe.

Although it’s a common stereotype that the French resist speaking English, getting by in Paris without too much of a grasp of French is definitely doable. On Guadeloupe, English is much harder to find.

Do… learn some key French phrases before you go

The locals will give you a genuine smile if you make an effort to speak French. With a simple “bonjour,” “merci,” some survival phrases like “how much does this cost?” and the obligatory traveler’s hand gestures, you’ll do just fine.

Don’t… go food shopping at major grocery stores

Although Guadeloupe is home to plentiful bananas, pineapples, melons, and other tropical delights, large grocery stores often carry imported goods, meaning your avocados just might be from Spain.

Do… browse the Pointe-à-Pitre market

The market in Guadeloupe’s largest city is where it’s at. You’ll find fresh-picked fruits and tons of seafood straight from the surrounding waters.

Expect a lot of market women trying to attract you towards their stalls with their warmhearted “Venez voir ici cheri!” — “Come look over here dear!”

You can read the whole article here.

Written by Anna Brones

December 16, 2009 at 09:21

6 Responses

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  1. Excellent points Anna. This is exactly why we (Matador) try our best to not publish marketing language and push our writers to be honest and transparent. So even if someone didn’t like a place, say that but say why and put the readers there so they can make the decision themselves.


    December 16, 2009 at 14:25

  2. Totally hear you. I wasn’t too fond of Bermuda but that didn’t stop me from writing a couple articles about the island.


    December 19, 2009 at 10:53

  3. Hello there…I found your guide about traveling via freighter. I am trying to plan a trip to India and am having a hard time finding any information on booking or planning an actual voyage or even any companies that offer such a trip. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. This seems like such a great option. My email is: matlockrocks@gmail.com if you can let me know any more.
    Thank you so much,


    February 6, 2010 at 21:07

  4. Hi! I just found this blog while researching the English teaching program in Martinique and Guadeloupe. I applied this past December for a position and will hear back in the next couple weeks. I’m currently trying to decide whether or not to commit to another job offer in Chicago – a totally different experience – so I’m weighing the benefits of teaching abroad! Since you had a less than ideal time, I’d love to hear more about your experience and what made it unpleasant. Thanks so much!


    March 31, 2011 at 17:28

  5. Hi Anna,

    I would never ever have guessed that you didn’t enjoy living in Guadeloupe from your Matador article. Way to go!

    And Abi- I also applied to the Teaching Assistant Program in France and got my first choice, in Guadeloupe! (I’m in Canada and we heard back on Monday)

    If you end up going, feel free to email me a.m1718 [at] gmail.com


    April 2, 2011 at 00:08

  6. […] posted this over on my personal blog, but since it’s a response to an article I wrote for Matador Trips, I figured I should post […]

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