Vacation Log: St. Maarten
Friday: We drove to Milwaukee, spent the night. Watched Point Break. It wasn’t as good as I remembered.
Saturday: We drove to Chicago and got to the airport about 2.5 hours early. The plane we were to take to San Juan was late getting in so we left late and missed our connection in San Juan and American Airlines put us into the Courtyard by Marriott. It was a pretty nice hotel with a club, restaurant, casino, and ice cream bar. There was a full on salsa band playing in the club. But we just got some ice cream, went to bed, and got up early to catch our flight to St. Maarten.
Sunday: We got to St. Maarten at about 11 am and rented our car — a nice little Corolla that made it to the top of most hills if you put it in low gear — and found our resort on Mullet Bay. The room was very nice although the resort didn’t have much going on compared to the other resorts. But it did have the only golf course on the island and it was located pretty well away from everything else. We ate lunch outdoors at Cheri’s Cafe and then went back to make up some sleep. After a good nap, we took a walk on the beach and then circumnavigated the island in our car to get our bearings. Because of the road and city situation, it was a bit difficult to find certain places at first but one gets used to it. And the churches were pretty busy on Sunday night. We ate supper at Lee’s. They serve the fish they caught the same day on their fishing trips.
Interesting: The island is divided between The Netherlands and France. The Dutch side is very American in nature. All the road signs are in English and I only met one man from the Netherlands. And the Dutchiest thing about the Dutch side is the ubiquity of Heineken, which is also fairly cheap there. On the other hand, you have the French side which seems quite French. The road signs are all in French and I met quite a few different people from France.
Monday: There was a big storm at about 3 am, with winds at 50-70 mph by my estimate. And then the boys called in the morning and it was snowing in WI and 200. Good time for a vacation. So we spent the morning and ate lunch at the beach, did some snorkeling and got a bit of sunburn, and went shopping in the afternoon. We ate supper at Bamboo Bernie’s, right on the ocean. We tried to watch the NCAA championship game but fell asleep early instead.
Tuesday: We slept late but then shopped all day long and ended up at the pool later in the afternoon. We ate lunch at Subway where I got a free 6″ sub with my sub club card and. But most of the places you want to go are pretty well hidden. We ate supper at a great place called Tutta Pasta but the only way we found it was that we were wandering around a plaza and saw a faded sign on the top of a building and walked around back to find the entrance. While we were strolling around that same plaza we met up with a man who wanted to guess where we were from based on our accents. He guessed Indiana which I guess is close enough. It turned out he was a DJ for Island92 radio and moved to St. Maarten about 7 years ago to remove himself from the rat race. So we started listening to Island92 and the station was pretty sweet. The music mix is more about the DJ’s taste and his perception of his listeners’ tastes. Like what they tell us radio stations used to be like. So one could tune in and hear anything from the Beatles to Billy Joel to the Beastie Boys and all the songs were good.
Interesting: It seems that the local fad is to have a decorative windshield tint visor with fancy trim lines and possibly a pithy phrase like “I love u darling.”
Interesting: The resort we at which we’re staying has the only golf course on the island and scattered throughout the golf course are probably 50 abandoned villas that were destroyed in a hurricane in 1995. Apparently the man who insured them skinned out the day before the hurricane.
Interesting: That all of the jewelers are Indian (since they’re Indian and living in the West Indies, does that make them West Indian?) . Apparently an Indian came about 30 years ago and got the whole thing and now they come and make some money for a few years and then go home.
Wednesday: The boys called again in the morning and then we were off to snorkel again. We took the ferry to Pinel Island and explored the bit of coral and enjoyed the beach before heading back for lunch at Cheri’s again. We made our own pasta supper and ate it on the balcony.
Interesting: It appears that the local custom is to tap on the horn as a friendly wave if your know someone or if you’re given the right of way while driving. Today we let a couple of cars take a left in front of us (about the only way you can make left turns sometimes is if the oncoming driver will let you through) and we got 2 friendly beeps.
Thursday: We went to Grand Case to ride the Sea World Explorer half-submarine where we saw quite a few fish but mostly the same varieties that we saw while snorkeling (except the stingray) and the bonus of sea-sickness so I’ll have to give snorkeling the better grade. But on the pier we met 2 gents who perfectly reminded us of C’s grandpa and his friend Ron. 2 cronies off to hang out whilst their wives lounge on the beach. We had some great pizza at the Good Fellas cafi and then sat on the beach for a while longer before heading over to Chesterfield’s for a great seafood supper in Phillipsburg. We went to supper with a couple (June and Bob) who were about our parents’ age. We met them on the flight into St. Maarten.
Friday: On the way home we stopped for a breakfast pastry in Simpson Bay and one last shop-around in Philipsburg. We cooled off with some iced beverages at the Kangaroo Court and then headed back to drop off the car, check in for our flight and take off on time!
It occurred to me that flying is an exercise in putting one’s faith into the proper object. Most people are at least somewhat timid about flying and some are terrified about it because of the kind of news we generally hear about flying. We forget about the millions who fly long, safe distances every day. But flying is quite safe when you compare deaths per person per mile traveled. Whether you’re scared or not, the pilot will get you there safely but notice how the flight attendants are perfectly comfortable. They know the object of their faith more intimately and so have greater trust.
We got back to Chicago 30 minutes early and made up a little bit for the outbound flight. When we got home it was easy to tell by the looks on their faces that the boys missed us and we missed them too, but they had a good time and so did we.
We’re Back! Vacation was great. St. Martin is quite the interesting place. I’ll be posting my vacation log within the next few days (as soon as I get the photos scanned) so stay tuned…
Hey! B took his first few real steps last night. He was taking 3 or 4 at a time.