Day 33 | The Ocean is vomiting!

I’ve only noticed the seaweed situation for the last two years. Huge amounts of the stuff washing up onto Orient Beach. There is no collaborative beach care effort. Each bar area is on a their own. Hired locals futilely rake, load wheel barrels full, move dump and repeat. This all in hopes of clearing a path for vacationers to make it from shore to sea without having to march through the piles of seaweed. Places where proprietors are not able to keep up with removal, start to stink! The seaweed smells so foul and attracts all kinds of bugs! Needless to say, they have less visitors who stay with them, let alone eat lunch! One guy is fortunate enough to have invested in a tractor by which he can plow away the mess in front of his establishment.

Some say the seaweed, once it gets worked onto the sand helps prevent further beach erosion. We’ve seen clumps of the “seaweed bricks” getting tossed around in the surf.

This isn’t the only mess on the beaches. Man made objects are every where as well! I almost was dragged into the water by a derelict fishing net! It was so heavy as it wrapped around my ankles!

We all want to enjoy the beauty of nature, the beaches, the oceans…..without any concern for keeping them clean. We need to start doing our part by recycling, not buying so much plastic, and even pick up the garbage!

The ocean is sick. It’s vomiting back what we humans have dumped in her!! In the new year let’s become aware and work more and more with nature so we can all keep on enjoying her!

Advertisements

Day 30 | Fish Kiss Guy

This local guy loves to feed the fish. He has made a ritual of wading all along Orient beach, a large bag of bread in hand. He feeds the fish. I think they are angel fish. Many have their opinions of this guy. “He’s not all there.”, “He puts the bread, you know, near his private parts!”, “He shouldn’t be doing this, it will attract larger more dangerous fish!”.

Say what you want. There he is, regularly feeding the fish. As part of this ritual, he will catch one of the fish with his hands and speak to it. He then gives the fish a kiss and releases it back into the water. They swarm him all the while. He even helps the occasional tourist catch one!

Who knows what this ritual is all about or if he’s just some crazy local! It seems to me a beautiful dance between man and fish, a mutual respect. Scientifically there may be a cause and negative affect. Seeing the joy on his face as he tries to become one with nature, is a hard thing to argue against. Anyway, the fish don’t seem to mind!

Day 28 | The Russian Woman

IMG_4849The weather was crazy today with multiple passing showers. We were at Happy Bay and had to duck for cover! We finally gave up after the fourth time and headed to Grand Case. It was time for a late lunch at Captain Frenchy’s and for Bill to get in a swim. The weather seemed to be holding and set up chairs on the beach.

As the sun began to set, an elderly woman was walking, unsteadily on the beach nearby. I asked if she was ok and the conversation started and she sat next to me on the lounge. I asked her where she was from and she said New York. But with that accent that’s not where she came from originally, she was Russian. Here in St. Martin for the holidays with her daughter’s family, a husband and son. I asked her how she came to live in the United States and so unfolded the story. In 1993 her husband, herself and daughter left mother Russia with hopes for a better life. Like refugees, they left with the two suitcases each, this was all they were allowed, and three hundred dollars. That was all the had after all their years of work, her husband, an engineer and she a chemical engineer. Because of their age they couldn’t find jobs in the US worthy of their degrees and education. She became a maid for thirty dollars a cleaning! Her husband passed away. She didn’t say much about that but she was very sad as a tear rolled down her cheek. She’s hoping Hillary will win the election and be strong toward Putin. When he came into power the people suffered currency devaluation making everything more expensive to live. The ruble to dollar went from 30 to $1, to 70 to $1. “Putin can not be trusted, he is ex-KGB and is not for anyone but himself. Crimea is by the sea. He wants it for a port. No one should trust anything he says!” and that was all she had to say about that!

Day 27 | Raclette

Because of social media groups, we’ve had the great pleasure of meeting wonderful people. We all have St. Martin in common and our love for her. We’ve even connected with some on the main land. One Friday we headed over to Bavaria restaurant in Simpson Bay for their sausage fest. There we met Tanja and Michael (of Captain Frenchy’s). She recognized Bill and introduced us to Michael and had a great evening. She then invited us over for Christmas Eve with other Germans, to celebrate with a tradition of Raclette. We had never heard of this and were excited to share this with them.

We drove over to Bai Rouge to join a gathering on the terrace where a table was set with two Raclette grills. Interesting people, such a fun group. One couple happened upon St. Martin three years earlier and decided to stay. Another woman came from what was East Germany and works on yachts. Another woman had a knack for languages, Italian being one of them, her family comes from a border town so is both Dutch and German.

Tanja prepared marinated meat slices, meat balls, beef, and chicken and everyone directed us to grill these on the top part of the raclette. Below the grill were small frying pans with handles. We were instructed to fill these with chopped items from on the table: onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and ham. Heat them, then add raclette cheese on top and place back beneath the grill till golden. They also recommended using a bit of paprika on top.

What a fun way to have a party! Everyone made what they liked and there was always great conversation. Next, we cleaned up and reused the grill for a super desert! In our little pans we added raspberries, mascarpone cheese and small flat marsh-mellows! Yum !

Tanja and Michael were wonderful hosts and we were so happy to have shared in their Christmas Eve tradition!

Day 25 | Complex Kitty

My name is Furry Face and I don’t care what you think! He owns the place! Apparently this cute guy, with pale blue-green eyes, was only a kitten last year. No one knows where he lives, but he lives here, in the complex. A bit cautious of people. Who can blame him. Some people are quite hateful to cats. We opened our patio door one day and in he came, making himself at home. He mostly likes to sleep on the bed and usually with us in it at nighttime. As with most creatures he loves some love and attention and will lean into us. We are cat people and hope he has the good sense to tell between who are and who are not.

Accepting of what is offered, so far we’ve only given him water and companionship. I recently met someone in the complex who feeds him regularly. We figured he had a home somewhere because he doesn’t look skinny.

Somewhat of a carefree existence, I wonder?

He doesn’t whine or beg, is playful, clean, good looking and just an all round good cat. Guess we’ve adopted each other until we leave and someone else comes along to take our place.

Day 26 | The Twenty Something Blur

IMG_2321IMG_2709Where did the last six days go? Day 21-26 we had a visit with our daughter.
I wanted the photo of her coming through the sliding doors at the airport. It took so long, I turned to ask what plane the people next to me were waiting for and there she was right in front of me!

We are nostalgic and brought here to places she might have remembered from going to as a child. Our old timeshare resort where the kids spent so much time exploring the tide pools. We stayed for the sunset, naturally, which was amazing! She’d never been to Cugini’s. Where better to get some Italian comfort food? So we went there!

We forewarned her of our accommodations, a small studio apartment and that a cot would be her bed. Bill ended up on the cot and I had to sleep with her in the king sized bed. Our cat who has adopted the studio, came to visit and we had a pet every night. Cats are funny that way. Very independent, self reliant, everyone needs a cat in their lives.

During her stay, we visited Karakter, Topper’s, Marty’s Gyros, hiked Pinel, Karabuni, saw Calvin, Poncho Villa, Happy Bay, Calmos, saw Tafari, Piazza Pascal, Barefoot Terrace in P’burg, Orient beach, Pedro’s, Dingy Dock, ZeeBest, Pelican, and the Harbor. What a whirlwind tour! Lucky for her, she was able to score a few extra hours from a two hour flight delay.

Wonder how the island has influenced her? Time will tell.

Day 24 | Yellow Birds

IMG_3696IMG_3691IMG_4394IMG_4292

I’m not sure of the actual name of these cute, little, yellow birds, some call them “Sugar Birds”. They love to eat sugar! The first time we saw and heard them was on Pinel. Brightly colored and can fit in the palm of your hand. They make a distinct chirp with a trill sound. On Pinel there is a restaurant and a little shop that have feeders and houses made from coconuts filled with sugar to encourage frequent visits. Eating lunch feels scary at times when they zoom so close to our heads! This last visit, there was a man near us who spread sugar all over the table and was even feeding the birds out of the palm of his hands. We took lots of pictures! It was very entertaining!

This morning while sitting on the terrace drinking my coffee, I noticed there was a nest in the bougainvillea next to me. I literally could reach up and grab it. I watched as the cute yellow bird flitted all around and ducked back into the nest. Such a beautiful morning! Blue skies, surrounded by life, not only birds. There were butterflies all around, lighting on flowers in search of nectar. One in particular caught my eye. It was so close, in the bougainvillea, when to my shock and horror, the bird swooped in and knocked the butterfly to the ground! I jumped in to see how the butterfly was. It climbed onto my fingers and didn’t move. Wings closed, it didn’t look good. After a long while he tried to move his wings, then stopped. He continued to rest on my fingers for what seemed like forever. To my relief, he finally flew off, away from the nest!

I had no idea that those little yellow birds ate anything other than sugar. They no longer seem so cute to me! Who knew I would be part of a life and death drama playing out right before my eyes??!

Day 29 | Christmas Winds

IMG_0274Every year this time, the relentless winds pound the Atlantic facing side of the island. Along with the winds come a bit of haze blocking the view of the neighboring islands of St. Bart, St. Eustatia (Statia), and Saba. The haze actually consists of tiny sand particles blown all the way from the Sahara. The sea too becomes quite rough with white caps all around. These are less favorable days to sail to St. Bart. Sailors will cancel their charters if it gets to bad.
On the eve of Christmas Eve, we decided to brave the wind and enjoy some beach time on Orient. I think the people on chairs faired far better than we did on our towels. Getting up for a swim, our towels looked like crime scene chalk outlines! There was sand all over us as well, up the nose, in the eyes and an annoying crunch in the mouth. I know, no one feels sorry for us, especially being able to rinse off in 50 shades of blue salt water! As I waded out, I was greeted by three different schools of fish. There were long ones with gold tails and clear bodies except for a zebra striping near the tail end. There were clear ones with black dorsal fins and tails. The others were larger with long bodies with some dark markings but I couldn’t make them out. They were riding waves and jumping out of the water, all as a massive travel group. It felt cold getting back out because of the wind which was now blowing a passing shower followed by an amazing rainbow!
As relentless as these winds are, I breathe deeply and allow them to watch away any negative thoughts and feelings I may have brought with me in my suitcase to St. Martin.