We felt so lucky to have been on the island twice now for regatta. Our first time was last year. Each experience was completely different. We haven’t even attended all the surrounding events! Being on SXM was truly amazing. We were by the coast and then on the beach watching as all the white sails rounded the corner by Pinel and continued toward Philipsburg. Previous years we listened to Dr. Soch on Island 92 describe the various sail races, teams, and boat types. To be on the water chasing these boats, well, talk about exciting!

Last year we were too late to join our friends on a party catamaran with their cool matching T-shirts. Another good friend organized a party on a motor boat instead. Our captain had raced before and was able to explain what was going on in more detail. We tooled around Simpson Bay watching whites sails and later on the colorful spinnakers. Through the radio we heard catamarans getting in trouble for being to close to the racers! Some boats were extremely close to each other and nimbly maneuvered avoiding crashes. There were those who messed up and had to go back around. It was difficult to understand where starting and finishing points were. At the end of our trip we headed back into the lagoon docking near Cugini’s. Bill and I walked to the Yacht Club to watch as all the sailboats passed through the drawbridge. What a crazy sight! Each team was either dressed in costumes or mooned us! Yikes! Small motor boats sprayed ships and people with rooster tails of water. Horns blowing, crowds cheering and waving all while drinking, what a scene. The traffic was stopped on Welfare Road in both directions and people got out to watch or grab a beer.

The only sailing experience I’ve had was as a passenger. Bill took me sailing way back when we were about nineteen! Several years ago he went to Great Bay on a race sailboat with 12 Metre Challenge. The guests became the crew for a couple of hours and each learned a job. Together they became teams and were able to race against other boats! What an awesome time Bill had!

This year we sailed with our friends, team Ti Jon! Cindy and Jon were our gracious hosts, and thanks to Donna for getting us a spot! Part of the fun was getting not only a T-shirt but a goodie bag. I took pictures of what some of the ladies had done to make their own fashion statement out of the T. From Philipsburg we went to Simpson Bay, docking just before the bridge by the jail. There we picked up more guests before heading out for the chase. We had a full party boat complete with dance music, snacks, and drinks. Somehow we missed the spinnakers altogether and were left with only the white sails. It amazed me to see just how far those ships lean when making a turn. The teams all managed to stay on board. We watched sails collapse and fill with the wind. There was less commentary as to what was happening with the sailboats. On our way back to P’burg we anchored in Little Bay, another first for us. The clouds came and made it too cool for me to swim but, of course, Bill went in! Our catamaran was near a floating Tiki bar and family fun area. It had been a lovely day with food and friends with loads of pictures to prove it!


Side Effects


Who knew there would be side effects from traveling to the island of St. Martin? At first I didn’t see the signs. Although our world views started to change, I did not see this as anything more than influence. This past trip was the longest amount of time we’ve spent on SXM. Coming back to what so many refer to as “reality” hasn’t been easy, fun, or smooth. Coming back after this longer term trip was mixed. Happy to be back and yet…a new resolve?

What do I/we want? Bill knows better than I. He has a plan. I don’t know if I can go along with it though. This isn’t the point of this particular story though. I’ve talked about simplicity over and over. Yes, this is the key! How to get there for someone emotionally tied to memories that “things” represent, well… As much as I want to scale down and keep only what brings me joy, there is a gray area. Going through my closet picking out piles of stuff only makes a small dent. It’s like watching the waves and misjudging the one to ride and finding yourself tossed and bruised, hoping to find your legs and breath. Of course it’s a start as well. Woohoo for small victories! I no longer can deal with clutter!!! Where to begin? I started in the closet and laundry room and ended in the kitchen. Who is ever inspired to create anything at all in a kitchen with cluttered counters? Not me! I’ve been working on clearing the heart of the home. The counters, storage, supplies….all these affect my ability to create anything beautiful and edible! The living area also needed a good once over. Hmm, if I were living in SXM, what would this space have? Ahhh! Side effects! I need to be surrounded by simplicity, spaces that do not require much attention. Cleaning and pruning the design and cutting back on elements in the room brought me some peace. Hey, that is a side effect of being on the island! Wanting less, being more organized in order to be free to be creative….side effect!

It will be a struggle and work to continue in this direction. Family pulls on us. Friends, actually would miss us if we left altogether. All this is so important to us. What’s best for us? The side effects! We need to continue to clean up and out in order to enjoy where we are. So there’s a given. It’s a place to start. A smile crosses my face with the new hope that has presented itself. No matter what, this is the best route!

Just this week while I was driving, I thought the Gendarmes were behind me! It turned out to only look similar to their vehicles.
Bill forgot what kind of car we were in and tried to roll up the electric window!!
I’ve gone through my shoes and half are out!
We had dinner with a Saint Martin couple and once again couldn’t figure out how to greet them! The restaurant reminded me of the French side with their interesting color choices for their decor!
I’ve been laughing at myself a lot lately!

Full Moon

It’s another full moon! It never ceases to amaze me the power of reflective light! Bill went with our friends to the full moon party on Friar’s Bay years ago! I stayed behind needing sleep after drinking a cocktail not on the approved list! Seems I missed out on all the fun. They all had a great time without me. Friar’s Bay until the wee hours! Fire, dance…I wasn’t there! No memories to write about! We watch for the full moon. We hope that we can make another party. Alas, it must not be meant for me. Boo hoo ! A three month stay! You can’t mess with that, right?

Here we are ….back in the states….another full moon. It’s March! We so wanted to make the February party! It never happened! Why? Because we are visidents! Visitors, almost residents who take stuff for granted.

We lived most of our lives in NJ USA. NYC was, on a good day, forty-five minutes away. I emphasize good day! We did the Broadway shows in our late thirties, early forties. It was great! Meeting people on that island though? Ha, they had the fever! They could not bear to leave their rock! Oh the expense! Give me a break! Us mainlanders either took a train or car to a train or ferry over to the Rock! Parking, obscene! But those on the Rock didn’t feel the burden of “we should go see our friends”! No full moon party there anyway!

So Bill went to the full moon without me, all those years ago, with trusted friends. They came home well before it was all over. It was still going strong when they left! On our long term experiment, we fully planned on attending! We took a photo of the sign announcing the one in February and marked it in our calendar. It never happened though! I guess we are just getting old! Our hearts were in the right place but our bodies were just too darn tired.

One of our studios we stayed at had such an amazing view of the sky. We sprayed ourselves with mosquito repellent and covered ourselves with our light weight beach towels and just watched the sky. December. January, February ….in another spot. Here we are, back….another full moon….March! We wonder what’s happening on our favorite rock. The wind is blowing here, the wind chimes are sounding sad. I so want to celebrate a full moon on SXM! I don’t want to be tired,or lazy! I don’t want to miss out on such a primal celebration because I was too tired! Now I have to wait. I have to see what we are able to do to get there. Get there! And even be there for another full moon celebration!

In the meantime….I will not let the full moon go by without acknowledging its appearance. It’s primal. It is what our ancestors noted, celebrated. There is reason behind it all. Too bad modern culture doesn’t acknowledge or celebrate the ancient wisdom. Something has been lost, we need to get it back! For crying out loud, there is a whole way of farming and healing the soil based on the moon and the stars! We are a part of the cosmos, a part of the big picture. The ancients knew it! The marching orders of what a successful life looks like was not written by you! The moon will help you find your own story, written by you! It’s ok! Aren’t you trustworthy? Do we know what our own soul longs for? Maybe we are just hiding behind other things?

That bright night light, oh how it illuminates! ….but not the same way the sun does. The moon is a gentle reminder that there’s so much more! It also is a gentle light exposing our dark spots. How can I be the best me? The light of day may be too bright to help with that question. The moon however, mutes the full strength of the sun. We can dance and party with friends all while asking the same question. The moon however, knows its own place and waxes and wanes all the while giving just enough light. Most of us live by the moon. Sometimes we are so bright and can be so proud of our motives, thoughts, and deeds. Other times we shy away from others. We hide not wanting anyone to see who we really are. That’s a shame, the full moon party invites all to be themselves. It’s sad to think that in the darkness when all of eternity is exposed, we still hide. We are completely different in the day light. We are and have become so adept at showing others the version of ourselves that we think is acceptable. The nighttime is the only time we can all be ourselves.

Why is it that there are two lights? A bright, harsh, warming one and a reflective, cooler, mysterious one? I think most of us truly live in the light of the moon. However, our expectations of ourselves and each other are under the rays of the sunshine. I’m thinking that all of this is man made. The rest of nature seems to know its place. We impose the standards upon one another based on cultural ideas from within the times we are living in. Is it any wonder that we just want to let loose on an island vacation?

Another full moon. I’m so thankful that the clouds haven’t covered it. Of course I wish I were on SXM with my husband on a beach…..sharing the same moon I see tonight. Here we are, he’s asleep, and I’m philosophizing! The full moon doesn’t make us crazy, it’s a reminder that there’s more to life than just what we see in the day time. It is a beacon to infinity that can only be openly seen at night. We all love our blue skies, but seem to be afraid of those dark nights. It’s ok to look within, there are more answers there then what we’ve been taught! Again, nature has gifted all with something beyond ourselves. We only need to pay attention!

After Glow

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I try so hard to remember, but the memories morph into a composite that only become a carrot to entice me back for another visit! Fading, fading.

This is home. A place with amazing surroundings, friends, family…..Another home calls to us as well. There too is all sorts of beauty and friendship. It’s like what we all imagined church to be. Worshippers, likeminded, appreciating the same things. The island is the vehicle promising the sublime experience. We are inspired, leaving refreshed and longing for another mountaintop to get us all through another year.

The sounds surrounding me now are lovely and deserve recognition at the very least. Oh, I do so enjoy the spring. Everything is coming alive. The sun warming, kissing, caressing creatures and greenery alike. It’s fun to watch the awakening. Yesterday I saw a yellow swallowtail butterfly. What was she doing out so early? Did she find a host for the eggs? The bees are busy too. They’ve found the smallest of flowers and buds to nourish themselves and the queen. The sound of the breeze through the trees even without leaves is delicious. The birds all singing their own songs, filling the air with life and hope. The sun shimmers on the lake of in the distance. The sparkling is so inviting. I have wind chimes hung from various branches. The wind plays them for me. Life is very good! The colors here are beautiful. Nature is beautiful!

Yet the Caribbean still calls. The bustle, smells, noise and traffic. The breeze, sand, palms and waves crashing. What shall we do today? We have less to process and reflect on as partners. Ours is to enjoy the space together whether we speak or are silent. Nothing to argue or debate about. Nothing to decide except where or what we want to eat. That indeed is a true luxury!

We obey as the island bids us “come”. It is impossible to resist. How can I absorb its essence? The saturation of color? The meditation my mind is beckoned to? Do we take back what we’ve learned and apply that knowledge here? In between visits how do I not forget the lessons that simple living has taught me? Will I/we once again fall prey to the humiliating advertising that shouts “you are not enough!”? MORE, MORE, MORE! We’re falling out of line, out of synch with that message. What brings you joy? This is our new mantra….so we can just breathe, take it all in. Then there’s the mail. Oh how we hate the mail! Ninety percent offering more stuff to make our lives easier. Ah, but we’ve peeked behind the curtain. That all is a giant hamster wheel designed to distract from attainable dreams. The chains are heavy. The weight is great. The beauty of nature is all around us! To embrace it means the road less travelled. It is in actuality a rebellion. It is a form of resistance. Oh, but this ends up being a fight that makes one weary. Yes, but it is a war!

The sun sets. Another day is ending. Where are you? Who are you? How will we live this thing called life? A wise person once told us to live below your means. No competition. The breeze is equally available to all!! Listen, it’s calling your name, it’s calling mine. How will we answer?

Celine Too

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Tanja and Michael invited us to join them on a boat trip! Her brother and now fiancé were on the island visiting from Germany. We were so excited, said yes and met everyone by the Dinghy Dock in Simpson Bay. We got to meet Bill and Elaine of Travel Talk! The patch of blue sky seemed hopeful as we boarded with anticipation. This was yet another first! The route was to cross the lagoon via the new causeway bridge and head out to sea by Marigot. It started to rain as the bridge went up to release us to the island perimeter. Another lovely view of the multifaceted rock, St. Martin. Neil was already talking about how beautiful the play of the setting sun on the water would look like on the return trip. The sun was really trying to poke through the clouds but it was still hazy.

We followed the coast line passing Marigot, Lovers Beach, Friar’s Bay, Happy Bay, Grand Case, and Anse Marcel. As we approached Petite Caye the waves became rough. We swayed and rocked in the turbulent surf. Holding on was a really good idea! As we continued onward toward Tintemare one of the guests was feeling a bit green. Neil calmly gave him the ship’s wheel and instructed him to point toward our destination. Steady as she goes, all was well.

Celine laid anchor off of Tintamarre and we were all invited to swim to shore. Two of the girls from the crew dinghied supplies to the beach. Important stuff like rhum punch, champagne, umbrellas and chairs. We mixed the rhum punch with the champagne trying to come up with a name for our new drink mix. Should we call it Rhum-pain, or champ-punch….or a pain-punch???

Samantha (Sam) lead a group on an expedition inland. The wild Rosemary type bush all but dried up from drought conditions. A large flat area sprawled out before us, gray sky above and winter like bush below. This had been a runway. Along side there was a foundation of a house or building from a previous time long past. Engine parts from planes strewn about. The gray sky was a perfect canopy for this mysterious place that was so fraught with story. There were stone walls crumbling, more buildings that looked as though they’ed been recently visited. The imagination was free to run wild with tales of drug running after finding a plane obviously crashed, complete with bullet holes. A different kind of pirate roamed here.

From here we headed toward the shore around the corner from where we started. We passed a mama goat with two babies who all did not trust humans but ran away. The sky still gray as we stepped out of the brush onto the thick sandy beach. Off in the distance was St. Barths all steel blue and gray rising from the ocean. We walked along the water and cut off to the right to head back to the starting point. St. Martin too looked so mysterious with the clouds covering the mountain tops and the rain falling like a gray curtain. This was the perfect backdrop as we discovered more sorted history and misdeeds that had taken place before we ever set foot on any of these islands.

The mood changed as we got back onto the ship ready to eat lunch. The crew had done a lovely job preparing grilled fish, shrimp and other yummy dishes in this amazing spread. The food was a great compensation for us having to leave Tintamarre. I wish we could camp there overnight! Maybe some other time!

On our way back we stopped at Creole Rock off of Grand Case. Those who wanted to snorkeled. The sun never made it out that day but it also stopped raining. The island looked so small from this vantage point. Yet out there on the Boulevard it sure was a good walk!

Our next stop was Happy Bay, one of our favorite places! From out in the water it was difficult to discern if the beach was eroding or if the cows had left presents on the sand. Neil had clay that we promptly coated one another with. How native?! ….it felt that way none the less! The party was gathering momentum! The clay dried and forced us to rinse in the ocean water. What a silly sight we all were! The laughs alone were worth every moment.

Sigh! Now we were in the last leg of this journey! I was disappointed that the sun had not graced us with her presence, even for a brief sunset! We made up for it by dancing on the deck. The crew joined in, dance party complete. Neil is really fortunate to have such fun girls who love their job and don’t mind hanging out with us guests! I miss it all! I miss the crew, Neil, his amazing recipes for lunch, and his uber fun crew. Being on the water was an added bonus. Oh how Bill and I both love that!

That was one of the fastest days of our lives! So many memories and there we were docking back in Simpson Bay! The island has so many facets. It needs all of us to speak for her. She sits back and smiles knowingly as she takes it all in. Our firsts in this magical place are no where near finished. We need another 101 days… least!

Dirty Laundry

101 days, 2 carry-ons and 1 checked bag. One of the carry-ons was filled with matted prints of my artwork and “shut up & drink” tank tops for Aloha Beach Bar. I brought along a bar of Castile soap to wash our clothes by hand.

We discovered pollution dirt on the Simpson Bay side and dusty sand from Orient Beach. St. Martin is a desert island after all! It wasn’t only on or in our clothing either! Our use of coconut oil made us virtual dirt magnets! The stuff just stuck to our skin and hair, at least both were protected from drying out!

All our clothing was washed by hand and placed on drying racks in the sun. On the French, side all of our units had one. My whites were never quite so white. The sun is a natural bleaching agent. Laying things out on the rack, making sure the material was straight made ironing completely unnecessary! This soap is amazing!

It may of been a bit of a pain to wash our clothes by hand but our results were better than that of any machine! Some of the sinks we had to work with were rather small. Only a couple of pieces at a time fit without splashing the entire area surrounding it. I was so excited finding liquid Castile soap in the Fresh Market, less to pack the next go round!

We invested in and brought along four towels for the beach. They are thin like sheets and fold down to a very small package. We only ever needed two at a time. When one set was dirty we were able to switch. Washing them by hand wasn’t a big deal and they came out so clean and fresh!

All I want to do now is scale down my clothes and life at home. It was so freeing to live in small spaces with only a small amount of clothing. Taking care of so little freed our time for more island adventures! Hmmm?….how can I implement this lifestyle at home?? There’s so much stress managing stuff! How can I whittle things down? What do I keep? Ahh, more stress!

To think, all we needed to do was straighten up, wash the dishes, and sweep! Boom, space maintained! We also did our job in the morning and then off to the beach. How great is that!!!

Maybe a washing machine might have been more convenient. Driers are not even needed and we saved on energy costs! Nature did an amazing job. What a great lesson though! Life is really still very good with very little. Less is more and simple is freeing!

A Moment

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(Susi graciously allowed me to guest blog today. -Bill)

The sky was dark, the wind was soft, the lights of Orient were glowing.
Sitting around the table with new and old friends laughing, then this….

Our friends, Donna and Pascal, who own and operate Piazza Pascal in Grand Case, invited us to meet some of their good friends who were visiting from the states. Before we knew it, we were invited to a party at their new home. The night was magic. Meeting and getting to know a wide mix of adventurous, fun, beautiful inside and out, people. We would see some of this new group each day on the beach. Then, an invite to Kristy and TimTom’s villa they were renting up the hill in Orient.
We accepted.
The villa was stunning. Entering in the center, you could see all of Orient, beyond the large decks that surround an infinity pool. This new group of people had quickly won our affections. They were open, honest, fun and … well,…. crazy. In a good way. 🙂  Food was cooked by the coolest lady, Seffice, who works for Le String. She made Kristy’s favorite garlic shrimp pasta…. and a host of other dishes. YUM.
The night continued on the deck. Playing tunes from smartphones into the audio system, guessing the artists, laughing… sharing life, and bottles of wine.
As if all this wasn’t enough to make our night, we, the outsiders, … the couple latest to be added to this already tight-knit group… Carrie asks us … about us.
“How long were we married?”
“How did we meet?”
“What’s your song?”
What a question.
Just a year ago, on a Valentine’s Day… we were overwhelmed with pressures of family. Life was straining. (Been there?) A relationship can get lost and splinter under these strains. Ours was under attack. I won’t lie. It just felt like — everything around us — was stealing the joy and fun we were so used to having between us. We were OK. But we were in survival mode.  I gave Susi a gift that year. Made a webpage and offered her a song … that I thought just fit.
She loved it. We cried. And sang it through tears together.
It’s been our song ever since.
You may know it. (It IS a classic. :-))

We didn’t have a song or dance at our wedding….what would we have chosen?

So, there on the deck, that evening, overlooking Orient Bay’s beauty with all the new friends listening, we answered them. Our song?
Within minutes, it came on the system. They smiled and got us on our feet.
Susi and I got to dance… probably the first time ever, to that song, with these amazing people.
It was like having that first dance at our wedding. It was an amazing moment and they joined us.
As I write this, I can see it. So many of us, swaying and dancing to our song on a beautiful caribbean  night.
There are many memories of events, and places and weather, and conversations,…
But this one is deep, It moves us as we remember.
It was a simple thing…… you know? A Moment.
But the people weren’t just making small talk. Donna, and Carrie, and Kristy, and Wendy, and all these people really wanted to know. About us.
They celebrated life. They all danced to us that moment.
We will never, ever forget.

Zero, One, Two, Three…..Four

Island greetings! We thought we had this one down. The longer we stayed though the more confusing things got!

We began our journey on the Dutch side at our timeshare. We’ve watched other families’ kids grow up along with our own. We’ve become friends, so when we see each other, it’s mostly big hugs and sometimes a kiss on the cheek. That’s just how us North Americans do hellos and goodbyes. Acquaintances and just meeting someone new is a handshake or a nod. This pretty much works across the board.

Move to the French side the familiar greeting is two kisses, one on each cheek. On Le Galion we became such regulars that this became our custom with two of the female servers, who are awesome by the way….Julia and Emily! On Orient Beach we’ve gotten to know so many who have been working there for a long time. For the most part it is the two kiss. Nathalie of Aloha we’ve crossed over to bear hugs and kisses. The same with Donna and Pascal of Piazza Pascal in Grand Case, and their staff. Joey of Pancho Villa, worked with the Aloha crew and always took great care of us. So many special people. We miss you all!

Many of us North Americans enjoy the two kiss custom so when we meet on the beach we too are now French! Through Facebook we’ve gotten to meet so many great people….sorry if we can’t remember all your names! We enjoyed several meet and greets on both the French and Dutch side. We became regulars on Friday nights at Bavaria, in Simpson Bay, with their happy hour and grilled wurst specials. Here is where we met Tanja and Michael. The Dutch do a three kiss greeting! So now we have to remember where we are! Of course our new friends moved into hugging as well. We felt very welcome everywhere.

By the end of our adventure we were thoroughly confused as to where we where and how many kisses to give! We just laughed at ourselves! We told the woman we rented from and she agreed that it can be, and informed us that the Spanish give four … or more … kisses!

Back in the states, I have to say I really miss the French greeting the most. We just saw a bunch of our friends and almost went for the double kiss! They’re down for one and a hug!! All this has made me realize that something magical happens when we greet one another. Barriers break down and we look each other in the eye and see humanness, personhood. We may find that we not always agree, but to see and be seen and heard is a really good start! So greet each other heartily! Kiss away!



I am sleepy, but don’t want to sleep
Relaxation so pleasant
Take in the surroundings
Gratitude engulfing
The breeze dances on my skin
Breath is like the rhythm of the ocean waves

A Microcosm

We consider ourselves visi-dents of St. Maarten/Martin but the truth is we don’t live there, are not involved in any of the political decisions, and are only indirectly influenced by them. That being said, many of us care deeply about what happens on the island, even if only selfishly how it may impact our stay. The island is a small town, the rock only 36 square miles. It stands to reason that political decisions in such a small area impacts greatly not only the people living on the island but long the term health of the environment. It’s scary to think that that much power is in the hands of only a few whose interest may only lie in the pearls the oyster can produce. We were able for a brief moment see first hand how locals are forced to live. Tourists and the wealthy are blessed to enjoy the perimeters by the water and the view. Locals are more often squeezed to the interior. Many areas reek of raw sewage, crumbling roads and lack of police protection. The once beautiful salt pond hosts “the” dump for the Dutch side. It sometimes self-combusts into flames releasing who knows what kind of toxins. The lagoon and all those expensive yachts dump their sewage loads there regularly. One of the new resort/timeshares near Maho, knowingly released sewage killing an entire reef. We heard that an environmental group was paid to look the other way. Now, the powers that be on the Dutch side want to use the lagoon for a sewage processing plant, and have decided to rape the Emilio Wilson Estate (a historical site with burial grounds.) The area near the cruise ships in Philipsburg is slated to become a new Boardwalk-type space. The tourist monies often don’t reach or benefit the local population. Is it any wonder they get frustrated by their circumstances?

We always loved the wilderness of the French side.The corruption there has lead to stories of theft of land by falsifying documents, reselling for a profit, and evictions of locals. There too is disrepair, lack of services, and pollution including sewage. Locals try to eek out a living competing with high-end vendors on Orient Beach and Grand Case as they watch others benefit, making profits.

We can leave the island, this doesn’t affect our lives — or does it? It is easy to see the flaws in such a small area. It is or should be easy to see the environmental repercussions as well. Some of us would rather turn a blind eye to both of those. A vacation is, after all, a space we design for our well being in order to enjoy and regroup. We all want to escape the stress of the daily. Will the island always be there for us to visit? Good question! If not we have the choice to visit elsewhere. The trouble is, we all LIVE somewhere. On the island, the affects become visible quickly. Global warming, for instance, has affected diving and snorkeling. Tourists will look elsewhere.

Those of us from the United States have been spoiled by the spaciousness of our country. All the same things that are and have been happening on the island are and have been happening in our country. We need to take heed to all things SXM. This special place is a microcosm of the rest of the world. We have an opportunity to be the change! Our families can choose environmentally conscious ways to live. We can influence the powers that be to make better decisions so our children’s children will get to enjoy the beauty of nature we so love.

Some resources:
BE THE CHANGE Foundation
Nature Foundation of St. Maarten
(know others? Message us. We can add here.)