Me, Only Better

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It has never been hard to fit in with people on St. Martin. Sometimes I think it’s the people on the island. Other times I think it’s the island’s influence on me. Maybe we are all different when we are there. We’ve been disarmed by all the beauty and seduced with the expectation of it being “the friendly island”. Then there’s all the alcohol and party atmosphere. There’s no need to prove our worth with so little clothing on. Vacation puts everyone in a good mood. People are open to making connections and friendships. It is so much fun.
Have I described you? Maybe I’ve described me. To live with an open and welcoming heart is so light and free. We are only looking for the best in each other. There’s no competition. The only problem I now have is being able to remember everyone’s name! What I have also learned is that I like who I am while on the island. I feel free to be me.

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My Heart is on the Island

One week ago, we spent the morning packing and cleaning up in preparation for an afternoon flight. How fitting that today is Valentine’s Day. As we hold each other close, sharing our love, we remember being together on St. Martin. We walked down the beach with the wind caressing our bodies and tangling our hair. After swimming in the ocean our skin was sticky with salt. There was sand everywhere. The humidity kept our brown skin plump with moisture. We giggled, cried, conversed, and bantered. It was more fun doing all of it there in the warm sunshine and clear moonlight. 
One week later, in the afterglow, the brown skin fades along with the warmth. Our happy memories fill us with anticipation as we look forward to another sensual experience. It is all foreplay, heightening the pleasure of our next encounter.
Maybe you feel the same way. Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m Leaving

I’m on the plane listening to elevator music of contemporary pop hits. As I look out the window, my thoughts start to wander. Clouds are casting shadows on the mountain range. Blue grays, dark greens, and olives appear as they pass above. Soon I will also be passing over them as we depart our beloved island. Couldn’t behave in the airport as though I was on island time anymore. Part of me is already making the necessary arrangements for the week to come. That’s what we do. We need to do it — plan and make arrangements.

As I packed our dirty clothes this morning, I could already see the mess on the laundry room floor back in the US. I will be washing away dust and sand from St. Martin. The memories will always remain. Somehow, though, I never quite remember just how saturated the blues and greens are — not even in pictures. No, I need to be along side these colors, for they bring me joy and life. What will I miss the most? Yes, the colors, for they are part of the islands essence. It is beautiful. However the special people who live here create an interplay that is unmistakeable and unique. They make leaving so much more difficult.

Till we meet again….Bon voyage! (Through my tears)

Lamenting the Undone

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Seventy-seven days and we still missed old and new haunts! Granted, a longer stay equals a slower pace. This we are most thankful for — it’s a good life.

Can’t believe we didn’t….
• go to Pinel
• go to the Butterfly Farm or the Bird Farm
• get to hang out with the Lemon Droppers at Cupecoy or Buccaneer Beach Bar
• once again, see any monkeys or sea turtles
• make the full moon parties or do yoga as the moon rose from the sea
• get to the tide pools near Guana Bay
• see the Bob Marley tribute at Karakter
• eat at some of our favorite places or try some new ones on our list

Exhausted yet?

The truth is we had another amazing adventure. Staring at the ocean was and will always be the best free thing we get to do. We were able to spend time with so many friends and met some new ones too. There were sunrises and sunsets that we can never seem to get enough of. We did sun salutations on the beach, a first. The Dock had a 70s-80s dance party and my picture made the local paper for winning the “Dancing Queen” prize.

There were parties, dinners, boat trips, happy hours, after hours, and lots of toes in the sand. It was hard to stop smiling. We come alive here. The people and places have altered us. We can just BE ourselves, no judgement. This island is magical. Good things happen here for us. Time spent here is time well spent. We’ve been challenged to grow as a couple and individuals. For being a “small town” type of island there is “space” for everyone.

Once back home, we try to live within that space but it always seems to be more of a fight. Our American culture does not cultivate these kinds of spaces. I’m always trying to fit in and be accepted. On St. Martin, I don’t have to try, I already am.

Reality Bites


• Not being able to afford to purchase a home and stay forever

• The best food is on the island

• Living inland

• The ocean is not the same color as in the Caribbean

…The list is endless!
Being an artist, I need to photograph things I find inspiring and/or beautiful. I do not have the luxury of having all the needed supplies to paint here on SXM, on site….Plein air. I suppose that makes me more of an illustrator instead of a purist. In the end, artists strive to capture beauty/tell story. Light and shadow define the forms we want to share. Everyone likes something different for a variety of reasons. Maybe a painting reminds you of a special time in your life — a happy memory.
Each visit I collect photos, my memories and impressions. Once back in my studio, these form ideas and inspiration for the next expression. I love it all. I love the process. I love the different subject matter. Whether people, places or things, each has somehow gotten under my skin and I am compelled to paint again.
When I am away from my favorite and most inspiring place in the world, I find peace in reliving the memories — in my studio. It is so fun sharing all the different experiences through art!
Of all the subjects to paint, the most unreliable and least cooperative are people. Many islanders do not want their photo taken. Local artists have an advantage here. They can make some sort of arrangement for a model to sit for them. This is great for portraits. I too like portraits, but I’m desiring to capture everyday life here on St. Martin. It isn’t very often that artists are seen in the streets, sketching, so sharing everyday life on canvas these days is challenging.
Years ago I snapped a photo. Time passed. I was inspired to paint it, so I did. The subject now knows I’ve painted them and wants monetary compensation. I’m at a loss. Does this person think they’ve made me rich? Maybe I’ve made them more noticeable and popular? What will happen with the next person I paint? This has never happened before. Will every “figure” I paint as part of a scene start asking for money? This isn’t very inspiring.
I’m always thankful when someone feels a connection with my work. It is humbling. Whether I sell a painting or print, I’m still compelled to put paint on canvas….and so, I will continue to do. I am an artist.

My View

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I have a view of Tintamarre In the foreground, waves crash against the coral reef. My favorite colors of teal and blue so saturated. Sigh, this is what peace and rest feel like. I’m breathing deep and taking it in.

From my vantage point, the windward side of Tintamarre is on the right. I wonder just how high those waves are? They look as tall as the island! Is it a rocky coast? It must be, with such high sea spray.

I’ve been there three times now and only once in the sunshine. The boats anchor on the leeward side by a beautiful beach. This last visit, the sand was greatly eroded exposing sharp rocks to the left. What was once a gentle incline is now a steep shelf. Such are the shifting sands.

We’ve been on a tour of this island. Hiking inland, we saw an abandoned runway, derelict plane parts, a single engine that had crashed –— complete with bullet holes, stone fences, remnants of buildings, cisterns, and some goats. The south side has another beach where the surf makes it too rough to swim. There you’ll find a great view of St. Barths.

Tintamarre has always held a mystique. No one is supposed to be living on it, since it is a nature preserve. Yet evidence of camps and parties exist. Our friends from the boat have hiked to higher points and taken some great photos. St. Martin looks massive from over there. Too bad we only get to hang out for a few short hours and I still haven’t seen any sea turtles.

Stories of drug running and Nazis hiding out during the war are sketchy. This is the Caribbean, after all. Natives, Pirates, explorers, colonists, slavery, and battles all have shaped this area’s history. So it continues today, no matter how civilized and legal it may seem. It is so much more simple to not be involved in any conflict. Sometimes that’s not possible. Still, I am blessed to be enjoying this view, no matter how short the amount of time. No, I will never tire of it.

Cycles in Time

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Upon arriving on SXM, we had a long list of people we wanted to see, restaurants to eat at, and beaches to hang out on. Add to this, extra events that need to be experienced and it becomes very clear that time is the most limiting factor. Staying awake long enough to do it all and cost follow.

What do you want to do today? Isn’t that the best question ever? Let’s go to the beach, swim, eat fabulous food, and see awesome people!

We try to take advantage of all our opportunities but then still fall short. There was the one day when the sky was absolutely clear. Bill made it to the beach but I couldn’t wake up enough for the sunrise. Of course this was the one special day that the sun rose out of the ocean. There will be more sunrises or sunsets, right? Maybe, maybe not. Using time wisely can be a trade off at times. When to go for it, when to rest, and when is it a one-time chance? That’s what life is all about. Making the most of the time we have, the opportunities that present themselves, and enjoying the people who cross our paths along the way.

We are at the end of our SXM adventure, for now. There are some regrets for things we still wanted to do. At the same time, we realize we did the best we could and will have to let go of those regrets. Our memories are rich and will sustain us until we get to come back.

The beginning and end of a trip is a transitional space. It is when I mentally prepare to have my soul and my body meet. Often the body arrives first and my soul has to catch up.

Passing Shower

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Even in the gray, the sea is still blue. Parts have lost the deep teal and are more of a dark navy blue. The hills are still green. Even the places that haven’t gotten much rain lately.

Here comes the rain. A misty gray curtain that successfully covers them from view. Only a ghostly shape remains. Is it passing? Is it lingering?

The beach is empty. The bars are full. Everyone has run for cover. A drink and an early lunch, there’s now an instant rush.

The horizon line is muted. The clouds hang down into the hills. Is it getting brighter by the water? Look, a patch of blue!

Oh the moodiness of the island.

Lunches served and eaten, drinks drunk. Bustle resumes on the beach. It is still gray but also bright with hope of sunshine. Sun bathers are optimistic.

I will never grow tired of all the shades of blue and teal of the ocean here. Nor will I ever tire of the green hills or sand between my toes. The only thing I will always miss, is being here.

Roving Ruckus

Our reputation precedes us. Loud and sometimes obnoxious Americans. We love to have fun. Here on St. Martin we are all on vacation kicking up our heels. Other countries don’t do loud, especially in restaurants. So maybe it isn’t a good thing when the whole place applauds as you get up to leave. The French side is much more reserved than the Dutch in this area. I’ve watched the ruckus and other times been part of the ruckus, although never as of yet received any applause, thankfully. It’s understandable that with the animation of alcohol, the volume goes up. Such a party was seated next to us in a dining area of smaller, quiet ones. The men were all one-upping each other with their knowledge of the cuisine and other subjects. Then they were demanding special attention from the staff and owner, who were quite gracious. It was a spectacle. They pushed the chairs away from the table, leaving them askew as they departed.

Laughter and noise are actually the good part of the ruckus. Some people think outdoor beach bars are a free-for-all and anything goes. Unfortunately families with smaller children fall under this category. We were next to such a party and it wasn’t fun for us. We couldn’t even have a conversation. They were loud, unruly, and very messy. Kids running around and climbing on the picnic table. The adults didn’t bother to pick up the garbage flying around or even try to make cleanup any easier for the staff. In fact, the next couple that sat at the end of that table, cleared and stacked plates so they would have an open space. I’m happy to report that the other night a large party with children stayed seated for their meal and the noise was to a minimum. It made it so much more pleasant for all the other diners.

On the French side, we love the after dinner complementary infused Rhums. Over the years we’ve sampled so many different, creative combinations. They’ve cut back in many venues to one shot. They used to leave the whole bottle and often times took it back empty. (Some places where they know their guests will still leave the whole bottle.) We recently witnessed a customer at one of our favorite hangouts ask to purchase a particular infusion. They offered to have it ready the next day. He then wanted to make his own. They told him how, which is generous, most do not share their recipes. The simple syrup is available in most grocery stores. He then actually asked for the simple syrup for no cost, because he’s such a good customer and the owner usually gives him everything. Isn’t that special?

If you’re part of a roving ruckus, be sure to choose the most entertaining version. The rest of us want to enjoy our vacation as well.