Cruise, Part the Third

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 11:29 PM

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Our last port-of-call was St. Maarten, which is a 37-square-mile island half under Dutch governance and half under French. We landed in the Dutch capital of Philipsburg, where we had arranged to race an America's Cup sailing yacht. However, the day was hot and muggy in the extreme, without the slightest hint of a breeze, so that outing was abandoned as a sailboat doesn't race very efficiently without wind.

It didn't take very long to see that Philipsburg primarily offered a main shopping street eerily similar to that in St. Thomas, we ate breakfast at the oldest hotel on the island and then hopped in a taxi to investigate Marigot, the French capitol city.



We were surprised to find that while the Dutch side functioned entirely in English, the French side maintains French as the official language, although everyone speaks at least passable English because tourism is the main industry now. Both sides of the island accept dollars, and you can also pay in guilders on the Dutch side and Euros on the French. Our delightful taxi driver, Jacob, was a native of the French side but born to a Dutch mother, so he had a lot of insight into the island as a whole.



We did a little shopping in Marigot (having choices in between 2-for-$20 souvenir t-shirts and diamond jewelry seemed to do the trick nicely) and ate lunch at Enoch's Place at Jacob's recommendation. I think (our waitress was heavy on the French and not so much on the English) we ordered sirloin steak and curried chicken with "provisions", which basically means a huge heaping pile of rice, peas, and fried plantains. Yes, please.

They have chickens on this island too, as well as lots of goats ("them goats haaaappy goats", said Jacob of these specimens on the hill):



And cacti! Can you believe it? I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, to come all this way and find my prickly nemesis growing wild on the hills of St. Maarten:



From Marigot, we drove around the rest of the island's perimeter, where we saw Jacob's neighborhood called "French Quarter", as well as several other spiffier enclaves (he referred to them as "upgraded neighborhoods" and informed us that "if you live on de mountain, you gots money, that's one thing fo sho"):



We stopped on the way at quiet Dawn Beach, where I collected beach rocks and shells for my children:



And we also spent a few peaceful minutes at Orient Beach, which is known for its abundant water sport opportunities. In this photo, you will note the rock dividing line in the middle of the frame. Those rocks happen to divide the "traditional" beach, which you see in the picture, from the nude beach...on which I am standing.

(But I have clothes on. Just felt like I should clarify.)



Apparently this beach is attached to an entire "clothing optional" resort which has quite a dedicated following. I don't see how that's any sillier than traveling thousands of miles for the privilege of overpaying for diamonds and rum.

And here's Jacob, bless his humble heart:



After St. Maarten, we had 2 days on the boat traveling back to Port Canaveral, which we filled with books, fine dining (I tried escargot for the first time, and I will totally eat it again), and late-night karaoke (we brought the house down with our rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, if I may be so bold).

It was wonderful, a real vacation and not just a trip. I'm dying to wax romantical about the whole togetherness aspect, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow, because I've already been blogging for 4 hours and I don't get paid for this.

to be continued...

Comments (2)

Awesome, awesome, awesome! I love it, love it, love it!!

Happy Anni!