Day 65 | Silk Cotton

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This is a grand tree! She reaches up into the sky with outstretched branches. How can it be she holds up her arms at ninety degree angles all the way up? She is proud to be reaching so high. “The Tree of Ancestry” is her other name. Her feet are firmly planted deep into the earth. Each year adding thickness to her trunk. She is timeless and yet holds time within her very being. Her’s is a deep connection between the earth and the heavens.

She is playful and mysterious. She has many secrets! Some say at night is when her connection to the spirit world comes alive. They fear being alone with her at night. The fear that there may be spirits of ancestors lurking beneath her limbs. She has seen so many things take place near her feet. Those who are fearful know that she’s seen pirates bury their treasure nearby. The pirates made their servants dig the holes, only to be buried along with the treasure. The pirate wanted no one to know his hiding place. The spirits know. Silk cotton knows.

She has seen families enjoy picnics with food and frolicking. She sings along with the music as the breeze rustles through her leaves. Maybe some of those spirits still dance with her at night.

Silk cotton constantly is trying to help us remember that we like she, are both physical and spiritual beings.

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Day 64 | Baie Rouge

Today I got to see a fish jump across the water like a skimming stone over a pond.Wonder if something was chasing him?

Baie Rouge, we’ve never seen it so calm. It’s like a giant Happy Bay or like Saline Beach on St. Barth. The convenience of a beach bar complete with chairs and umbrellas. Gus also has barbecue and drinks! The to the left the beach opens up and is almost abandoned. Villa owners backing up to the beach denying any public access. Ha! How does that work? All St. Martin beaches are public but between resorts and villas there no longer is access! Such a joke!

That’s why on the weekend locals have taken over on Happy Bay, Mullet Bay and La Gallion. The dilemma for the tourist is whether or not to join them and is it safe? I suppose if you’d like a more local experience you would have to step outside your comfort zone! Oh…and bring a picnic with you, just never leave anything in your car!

Day 63 | Sunset Runaway!

Every year we try to get over to Sunset Beach Bar and that whole area. If you want the best rum punch on the island you’ll have to stop in at the Driftwood bar. It’s just past the circle heading in toward Sunset Beach. It’s in a pirate ship! During this past year on FB we saw conversations where the Beach bar was reserving tables for cruise ship people. Those others coming in for a drink were shushed away from tables they were seated at! The beach there was so badly eroded there was no place for chairs and loads of rock was exposed. We would’ve avoided that area altogether if didn’t need to make an airport run!

Wow! We’ve never seen this area so crowded. There were people everywhere! It was difficult getting through with the car and find parking. I made my way over to check the surf board for the flight schedule. Wow! No place anywhere at the bar or any table – standing room only! I wonder if topless women still drink for free? Taxi drivers there too, ready at a moments notice.

The beach wasn’t any better either. We had trouble walking to the other end, for that rum punch. People were lined up by the fence too, disregarding the warning signs! There was a guy with a megaphone announcing flights to his tour group. It was a circus! The police were there to, trying to find drivers of cars parked illegally! Now there’s even a boat tour that hangs out just off the shore! Really, St. Martin’s airport runway is that exciting?

The rum punch was a welcome way to chill out in such a claustrophobic situation. So many people are getting injured there now too. It is no longer fun, at least not for me. If you do go, be safe!!

 

Day 61 | Red Piano

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We know this is a popular stop for many. We’ve never actually been to “Church” on Monday nights. The bar faces the unit we stay in a Simpson Bay Resort (The Pelican). At night with the window open we can hear music wafting out. It never sounded particularly appealing to us, so we opted out.

Years ago we had a bad experience there, with the music, not the bar, so we never really bothered.

This past year while staying in our unit, friends of ours urged us to join them there. It was a Friday night and we reluctantly went along. It was dueling pianos with Susan Erwin. Jeff “Soc” always talks her up on island 92 and she’s been a guest on his show repeatedly. The two ladies put on a great show. The music was great. Susan couldn’t get anyone on the dance floor though. I like to dance and didn’t care what anyone thought. YUP! I was the only one dancing…at first. Suddenly, more folks joined in, making it feel like a real party.

We all had a great time that night! The next day, there was a picture of me on Facebook, kicking up my leg! Oh well, it was fun for Susan too…..it was her post! Bill and I went to take a walk on Orient Beach. We didn’t get a “are you Bill Sahlman?” No! Someone jumped out of their lounge yelling, “hey, red piano!” Busted! ….from the night before!

Music is a matter of taste. We will try and make it to “Church” sometime! As for the rest of you….get up and dance! It’s such great fun!

Day 60 | Raymond’s List

Every local will have their own list of favorite places to eat. No one list is ever truly complete. Talk to ten different people and you’ll get ten different lists!

Starting from the airport heading toward Simpson Bay…
1. past the causeway circle, on the lagoon side is a little stand, don’t know what it is called. I think they only serve smoothies.

2 & 3. continue on Welfare Rd. on the right side:
Hilma’s Windsor Castle, she is in a camper between a bank and Little Jerusalem – also on the list

4. Turn right at the Burger King and the Melting Pot will be on the left, in a large pink building, lower level, all the way on the right.

5 & 6. Back on Welfare Rd., continuing toward P’burg, in the mall by Izi, Ginger

7. Reggae Bar, also on the right

8. Keep going to P’burg, after the only light on the island. On the right hand side across from the Heineken Plane, Murmilies Quality Snacks.

9 & 10. In Marigot, the Lolos across from the parking and water taxi (the top side of the market) Enochs and Rosemary’s
Just for fun I’ll give you our list too!

In Simpson Bay:
Avantika, Bavaria, Bon Appetit, Byblos, Crave, Cugini, Hilma’s, Johnny B’s (formerly under the tree), Izi, Tutu Pasta, Vesna Taverna, Zee Best, Le Succrier – for croissants and pasteries

P’burg:
Freedom Fighters Ital Shack

Oyster Pond:
Dingy Dock, Quai Ouest, BZH

Quarter d’Orleans: Yvettes

Orient Beach: Aloha, Palm Beach, Pedro’s, La Table d’Antoine, Le Piment

Cul de Sac:
Poncho Villa

Grand Case:
Captain Frenchy, L’Auberge Gourmande, La Villa, Piazza Pascal, Spiga, Talk of the Town

Marigot:
Rosemary’s

By our list you can see where on the island we spend most of our time! Again, no list is ever really complete!

Day 59 | Vanilla Bean

On Orient beach while sitting and sunning yourself, they descend like vultures, selling their wares! They march up and down the beach all day long selling things like: beach wraps, bags, towels, stuffed animals, painted coconuts on a string, artwork, CDs, jewelry, soap, and for a few years – vanilla bean. He was a younger guy who walked around selling vanilla bean, even in Grand Case on the street. He asked me several times in a day and always forgot that he did, that’s when I started calling out to him “Hey! Vanilla Bean”. Needless to say he didn’t appreciate his new nick name! We decided this had to be a cover for selling something else! He’s disappeared in the last two years and we assume he’s either left the island or is in jail.

Have you seen Vanilla Bean?

Day 58 | The Winter-net

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“No phones, no lights, no motor cars, not a single luxury
like Robinson Caruso, as primitive as can be…”

“Do you have a signal?”
“Yes, but it’s slow”
“I don’t have one, let me go outside closer to the router.”
“Darn, I lost the signal.”
“The power is out again”
“Hey, guess what, there’s no water!”
“Op it’s back, but it’s brown!”

This is all part of the daily dealings here on the island! We now call the internet the “winternet” because it gets frozen so often! It’s also a good idea to have a flash light or candle on hand! Yes, making sure there’s extra drinking water in the fridge, is being prepared. Our unit has lots of extra water in the bathroom. It’s not for drinking though! Please don’t make me say what it’s for!

It doesn’t matter what kind of accommodations you have, this still is part of island quirks. Shopping for food it is best to follow the rhythm of shipments…from actual ships. It’s and island that doesn’t grow much for itself. Some of the stores are incredibly crowded. Others are only during certain times of the day.

Then there’s the traffic! More people, more cars…one road! The bridge goes up in Simpson Bay for all the yachts and catamarans and the pile up begins. Sometimes the traffic for the entire day never really recovers from it. There is a rush hour as well. The locals are chill, knowing this is just part of the day. Tourists complain and get over it, hopefully! It is what it is!

The flip-side is getting out doors to enjoy the incredible weather and breathtaking views. Our commute to the beach is partly next to the gorgeous teal blue sea. In the distance some days, St. Barts is so clear, you can almost make out the houses! It is all gray-blue and purplish hues rising out of the ocean.

The sand between our toes and the breeze kissing our bodies make all the other things a small nuisance, like a pesky mosquito. Yes! There are plenty of them as well. The day time with its sounds of the crashing waves and sugar birds shrill little chirping. The nighttime tree frogs making their sing song melody, the sound is haunting and comforting at the same time.

So it’s time to chill out! Enjoy the rhythms, sounds, sunshine and breezes. Take it all in! For us, it is still only temporary!

Day 57 | Piazza Pascal

 

Pascal and Donna work together! Pascal is the chef and Donna wears many hats in support of him. You can see Donna with her trusty side kick, Cleo, her small white dog, who wears sunglasses, walking the beach daily. Not only does she get a good workout, everyone knows her and she has many stops along the way!

In the evening she’s right by Pascal’s side making sure their customers are well taken care of. Pascal with his amazing culinary creations will please any palette! They make everyone always feel welcome, it’s homey there! They also really like each other and it’s nice to see them catch a little kiss as the evening winds down.

If you order the lasagna, get extra garlic, great Italian comfort food! Deciding what to eat is the hardest thing, between the specials and the regular menu you can’t go wrong! We love going there. Bill’s favorite dish is the spaghetti con saliccia. Sautéed sausage with peppers and onion in a pomodore sauce. I always sneak a couple of tastes!

Put this one on your list of must eats!

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PS: There are now very large signs on the beaches….NO DOGS ALLOWED! I guess the Gendarmes aren’t busy enough with domestic violence and open air drug dealing so they’re going after your little dog too! Everyone loves seeing Cleo with those sunglasses and wants to take her picture. Too bad the government has money for the signs and not enough to fix the roads!

Day 56 | Progress

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Our friends on Orient Beach are slowly making progress! Adam and Eve’s Annie told me she will be open this coming Monday, January 25. She has so much of her merchandise already displayed or hung up. They’ve already built and painted the dressing room! Aloha’s bar and new roof are coming along nicely, with the help of Nathalie’s dad and friend Jerome, who are working tirelessly! Sun Beach Clubber, next door, has finished painting the inside of their place. They’ve also built a deck floor inside their unit and several wooden planters to surround the outside deck area. We noticed one of the small stalls is open for business with beachwear and some jewelry.

Wondering – when they will all get their power and water though! The vendors need to also add fans for the kitchen. These were not included in the buildings and were pretty much just shells!

There was supposed to have been a demonstration this morning by the locals. They haven’t signed and aren’t able to pay the exorbitant rent, which works out to about five times what they had been paying. Not sure what happened, we swung by around 11 am and all was business as usual. I have to wonder what the Collectivé is trying to do here? OK, so I’ll try not to read into it, but let’s hope this eclectic part of Orient can continue to be a wonderful collection of great spots, with many peoples and traditions.

We are excited for the forward movement and continue to support our friends on the beach!