What a busy few days it has been! I jumped back in to the work world pretty much the second I landed, and haven't really come up for air since. I am now just about caught up. It's a busy time at work, end of the year, end of the month. Lot's to do. I have an honest desire to get out and have some fun. So where can I go to have the same fun that I was having last week on the Friendly Island? Hmmm, that is indeed the dilemma. I'm on a mission to enjoy everyday life more. Okay, I am missing an opportunity tonight, but truth is...I'm tired! And the weekend weather is supposed to be beautiful, so I don't want to miss some out door fun for indoor fun tonight. I am also in the midst of planning some more travel, only through May. And some thoughts about an adventure in the fall, as well as a River cruise in 2018. I leave for my next adventure in just over a week. Counting down again! What do people do when they are home for fun? I mean really fun? Not sitting at a bar staring at TV. Live music is what I am thinking will be fun. And so the quest begins...
So this trip turned out not to be as it was originally planned. My true confession: I was seeing an Island guy. Just so it's clear, I'm not anymore. I believe in my heart of hearts he cared or maybe even cares about me. But by mid day on day 2, I knew he was not going to show up. That for whatever reason he would be a no show for the entire trip. This was not something I went into lightly or uninformed about. I did my homework on him, the funny part is I know so much more about him then he has a clue that I know. When you boast about being the only person on a small island with the name that you have, well for a detective like me...I will get the information. I didn't want to know anything to harm him with, just to protect my self. He didn't own a boat or work at a resort, he works for the government. Friends of my friends that have been coming to the island for 20+ years knew him and verified his employment and the reality that he had only one child. Not the typical family situation for an island guy. I'm sure, no I know...it all started as hitting on the american woman a very common occurrence, but it was more than that after he took 2 trips to visit me in the states. It wasn't "real" but it was more. Part of me even wonders if he no showed to set me free. It could have been handled much better. Honest communication would have been the way to go, since that is what I told him from the beginning over a year ago! Just tell me when it's over. Guess he couldn't bring himself to truly say goodbye. So I spent the first 4 days with my dear friend digesting the reality that I would be flying solo with no safety net in a foreign country for 4 days (my mom is going to freak!) My friend helped me through, gave me all the info I needed to survive in the cold cruel world and actually have the time of my life! Last July I had visited the island to spend time with him, this trip was 10 times better. Who knew the island would be even better with out you! I did what I wanted, when I wanted. There were no concerns of who was watching, island guys don't like their island friends to know they are "seeing" any one. Perpetually attempting to appear single is the way they generally like to be. It's a culture or an attitude. I'm not judging, I'm describing. Having been to the island now 3 times, I had gotten familiar with a lot of general areas so I was good to go more or less. Just had to settle in and get my bearings. So what does a self respecting SINGLE woman do on the Island of St. Maarten/St. Martin for a week? Here's what I did. And I had a ball! I met people from all over the world. Folks with interesting stories to share. Lifestyles so different from my own. It was wonderful. I will do my best to recount what I learned from these great experiences.
Day 1 Arrived on the beautiful island. Got the chance to watch the Sunset at Simpson Bay. Afterward we went to SkipJack for dinner. They are known for their seafood. Mmmm, really fresh seafood. Then we went to Toppers, and ended the evening at Soggy Dollar for Latin Dance Night.
Day 2 What a lovely day in Grand Case, on the French side of the island, at Rainbow Cafe. The beach here is very narrow. But it's calm and quiet. Basically if you eat lunch at the restaurant you do not have to pay to rent the beach chairs. Lunch at a French restaurant? Only if I have to! I had a salad, La Crispy Chevre: Mesclun Salad, Goat Cheese crusted to corn flakes, honey and crispy bacon. We had dinner at Jimbo's. Fresh grilled shrimp fajita's. This island does not lack quality cooking anywhere!
Day 3 My Friend I was visiting SXM with had rented a car, so we did the French Beaches while she was still there. Today Palm Beach SXM Bar, Orient Beach, no not the nude beach. No one wants that to happen. It did involve a French restaurant again. Today what a true treat, La Salade Exotique de Langouste et Gambas: Exotic Lobster and shrimp salad, Caribbean and citrus fruit with basil. When I say Tres Bien! I truly mean it. What a wonderful salad. Orient Beach is well known. Many people go here from cruise ships when they visit St. Maarten. For some it's the nude beach, for others it's just the location, and what a fine location it is. The seas were a bit rough this day. It wasn't very crowded where we were. I walked down to the north end of the beach and passed by some abandoned property. When I returned I asked my friend what it was. She told me the little shacks and building were the ruins from Boo Boo Jam. It used to be one of the hottest night spots around. It was never repaired after a fire many years ago. Tonight we had Italian at a new restaurant Sale & Pepe located on Welfare Road in Simpson Bay. A very nice meal, with amazing ambiance and lovely presentation.
Day 4 Today was the day I had to prepare to be on my own. Phew! Okay I can do this! My friend and I had breakfast at Bon Appetit, just up the hill from the resort. A cute outdoor cafe, with a nice menu. Just after lunch, I was truly flying solo. Tonight I stayed in my comfort zone and went to Toppers. Having been to the Island for so many years, my friend, and now me, by association, is well known, especially here! So this seemed like the right place to start. I had dinner and stayed for the evening. Hung out in my corner seat looking at the street where the music and karaoke are preformed. It was a fun night. Of course the usual suspects passed through, and a few new ones. It was fun! I danced, sang and had a BLAST!
Day 5 Today was a busy day. Well okay how busy can you be on vacation. I had to move to a different room, as I was now in my own unit. The resort was very accommodating about giving me access to the new room so I could enjoy the day by the beach or the many pools. Thank you Simpson Bay Resort for treating your guests so well. I decided to have dinner at Skipjack's again. Best seafood on the Island! Then it was time for Toppers again. My corner chair at the bar was taken so I set up at a table in the corner by the DJ. After about 20 minutes a guy came in looking for a spot I invited hi to share my table. He was a yacht engineer who lived on the Island. Shortly a friend of his arrived, a woman who hired people to work on yachts all over the world. She had also been a stewardess on private planes. They were fun people. More "yachtis" showed up later. A term I had never heard before. Another evening of dancing and singing and learning about other ways of living. Walking back to my room a security guard and island guy from Jamaica struck up a conversation. He tried all the usual lines, but...well I've learned my lesson, that wasn't going to happen again. He was actually interesting to talk to.
Day 6 Today was the main event: Super Bowl! I don't know why, but ever since last year when my island friend had sent me pictures of watching super bowl on the beach, I wanted to be there. So this year, I WAS THERE. And what a great atmosphere it is indeed. I had chosen to view the game at Buccaneer Beach Bar a long time ago. What a set up! Multiple big screen TV's with lounge chairs on the beach as well as covered seating and reserved tables throughout the open bar. I went to the bar shortly after arriving and ordered a Malibu Bay Breeze. The gentleman after me, ordered the same and a pizza. We discovered that we were both there alone with out reservations. We chatted for a while and his story was another amazing way to live. He was from Newport, Rhode Island. Every year he sales a Sail boat down to St. Maarten then lives on it and sales around the islands for 6 months, then sales it back north. His family flies in to visit with him. We snagged a reserved table that wasn't supposed to be ours, but when the people didn't show up it was given to us. He kindly shared the pizza and bought me a drink. What a game, what a fun night. New England...you can never count them out.
Day 7 Today I hung out at the pool in the morning then went to Phillipsburg on the bus trip to look for an ankle bracelet. St. Maarten is a Duty Free location. You can get really good deals on jewelry, alcohol, cigars...you get the idea. I found exactly what I was looking for, white gold with diamonds. They " threw in" a second one with semi-precious stones. The diamond one belongs to my oldest daughter one day. She told me the following not to long before I left on this trip: I AM A DIAMOND, NO ONE SHOULD TREAT ME LIKE CUBIC ZIRCONIA! I wear it every day just incase I start to forget. I went to Isola for dinner, a cute Italian restaurant also just by the resort. After dinner it was time for live music. I went to the Red Piano to listen to Church on Monday. What a great rock and roll cover band. I met man who is from Canada, Toronto area, that is a teacher at the "CIA" on the island. (Caribbean International Academy) He has a 2 year contract with the school. So he lives on the island for the school year, then goes home for the summer. He plays guitar and is a huge classic rock fan. I ran into my security guard friend again, at the security gate that was just up the hill from the Red Piano. There was a big to do at Red Piano after the show, some one , (an American from New Jersey that had no papers for his vehicle or drivers license) hit 3 parked cars and tried to leave the scene. The road up the hill had to be closed while the police investigated.
Day 8 My last full day and night on the island. I had done something I hadn't done in a very long time, I RELAXED! I read 3 books. Tonight I went to the Greenhouse for dinner and had a Bang Bang Shrimp Wrap, It was delicious. I spent the next 6 hours in my corner chair at the bar at Toppers. I know what you must be thinking...How drunk did I get? Well, not at all. I don't really drink that much. More bottles of water than alcohol were consumed I assure you. Shortly after I arrived a man who had traveled 36 hours from Malta sat down. He was actually British and was there to work on a short term contract installing IT/Communications networking. After he left one of the regular local guys sat down and started his usual routine. I told him it would get him no where with me. Always with a laugh and a smile. He kept prodding so finally, without naming names I let him know what had happened this week: The Great disappearing act of 2017. He backed off his usual hit on woman routine and turned in to a decent guy, even bought me a red rose from the flower vendor and said, you are beautiful, it will all be okay. Of course I knew that already, but it was nice. All of the folks: Horse (The bartender extraordinaire who can mix a drink, take your order AND sing reggae all at the same time, Big John the strong silent yet kind security guy, and the owner Topper were really on their game tonight. After the local left, an Italian gentleman sat down. He had just arrived today with 3 friends. His friends were sleeping off the travel, but he wanted to have fun. So we shared some laughs and danced for quite a while. It was an amazing night. Just what I needed! I walked back to the resort about 1:15 and ran in to my security guard again. I stayed out talking to him until 3 am. He tried his usual routine. It got him no where. In the end...he was really a fun guy to talk with about life. He drives a Taxi during the day as a second job. Most of the men on the island have 2 jobs just to pay their bills. He shared about his life. It's just not easy to make a living on an island with so many competing for the same jobs.
Day 9 It was time to go home. I snuck in an hour by the pool before finishing the packing and leaving my room. I had a couple hours to kill so I did the dreaded catch up on email. Something I hadn't really thought much about in 8 DAYS! I caught a quick ride to the airport and hoped a snow storm would cancel my flight. No such luck! While riding the airport bus from the terminal to the plane I noticed a man with a Chelsea Soccer Club shirt. I asked him if he liked the team. He said he had been to a game in England. So I said, look I know it's random, but I have a Chelsea Mug that was for some one I didn't get to see. Would you like to have it? I gave him the tea mug. It has a good home. If I had the shirt with me and not in my checked luggage, I would have given him that too. Yes, the island guy loves soccer. These were his Christmas gifts. Good things from bad.
I had noticed a couple in the airport with 3 large dogs and they were seated in the row behind me. When a third person was seated there, they complained...so wait you can bring 3 large dogs on a flight and not pay for them but children over 2 have to have a seat??? How is that correct? The dogs were well behaved, but umm... I don't understand this at all. They ended up in the prime bulkhead seats at no additional cost. Oh and the best part of the people with the dogs...after we de-planed, walking through the carpeted halls of the airport...the poor dog had to go to the bathroom. I'm talking #2! This woman actually yelled at the dog? Umm, your yelling at the dog? Some how I think this is a different type of animal cruelty. That poor doggie had no desire to be on that plane. Selfish humans! Sorry brief digression to the absurdity of airline travel these days.
So my 9 day, 8 night trip to the Fabulous Friendly Island of St. Maarten/St. Martin didn't go exactly as planned, in the end it went better!!!! "Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright." I believe you Bob Marley, I really do.
This place truly is a little slice of heaven. Just stepping off the plane and feeling the warm caribbean breeze is enough to get you relaxing. The Island of St. Maarten/St Martin. This is my 3rd visit here. It won't be my last. This little island packs two worlds into such a compact accessible space. You want French dining? European beaches? Go to the french side. Want laid back bar hoping fun also with beautiful beaches go to the dutch side. DON'T stay at an all inclusive. Get out and try the local restaurants. French side... so many to chose from. So far this trip Rainbow Beach Bar and La Palms D'or at Orient Beach. Dutch side? Jimbo's, Sol and Pape, Skipjack's and for Yacht viewing pleasure breakfast or happy hour at the St. Maarten Yacht Club. The bridge goes up 5 times a day to allow ships to pass through some of them can barely fit through the narrow passage way truly a sight to see. Another don't miss, watching planes take off and land at the Princess Juliana Airport. The best up close spot for that, the Sunset Beach Bar. But be careful, the sand blast will do more than exfoliate your skin if you get too close. Want to hang out for the evening, sit back and relax? I like the Dutch side. Toppers on Welfare Rd has Karaoke most nights. The Red Piano up the hill has a band on Monday nights. Both fun filled and great places to people watch. I personally prefer staying in the SImpson Bay area on the Dutch side. You can walk to a lot of things and the resorts do have shuttles that will take you to other places or trusted taxis. I have to be honest and admit I haven't been to any other islands, but from what I have learned from friends that have...unless you want snobby and over charged...this is the place to be.
Ok, so I'm not a computer engineer or what have you. I can usually load up a new computer with the programs I need, transfer data, you know the basics. Well...today I made a faux pas...what could have been a really bad one...I needed to download a program, I've done this hundreds of times before, for years...and I go to the website and it doesn't work, I get an error message. Please call... So I called the provided number...well...it was very frustrating...this guy keeps trying to tell me about the issue I have and how complex it is...the whole time, I'm saying this does not make sense...this is a new computer, this could not be accurate...he keeps getting more technical...then finally the magic words are dropped it will cost you additional fees to get this corrected. I asked to speak to his manager. And I said, look something about this seems fishy, I need you to verify to me you are from the company I contacted. The guy starts getting belligerent with me...and I will admit, I was not being a kind sweet little old lady either. I knew at this point it was not good. Next thing I see is them attempting to create a password to lock me out of my own computer!!! I'm sure that dishonest fellow is laughing it up someplace thinking he stole my computer. He didn't! I restored the operating system to prior to their access, I am good to go, and have subsequently successfully updated the initial software I was trying to do. Beware on the interwebs: Just cause it looks like a rose, it might smell like shit.
Every year in January I print out a 12 month calendar and start plotting my travel plans for the upcoming year. I am trying to figure out what my BIG trip this year will be. I have lots of travel plans already, things I will talk about as they happen this year. I am going through a list of places from Northern Arizona to Europe. I have to elicit the help of my potential travel buddies and see what they are up for. I'm booked up until end of summer, so I guess it's a fall adventure and maybe something for winter. For the first time I am considering going away over the Christmas Holidays. My children are all over the country, we were all together in 2016, so that won't happen again for 2017; too many miles between us. One year we were all together in Germany for Christmas! What an amazing time and place to be for Christmas. I won't ever forget it. Many countries actually still observe the Holiday the way it was meant to be. Businesses are closed Christmas eve, Christmas Day and many even the day after. I remember walking around the town where my daughter lived in a new fallen snow, and it being so peaceful and quiet. Serenity, I like to find that when I travel. Hmm so many things to think about.
I guess it started with the spice rack...and I'm still on a kick to clean up and clean out. I'm getting down to things I hadn't touched in years. I do have a habit of gathering and saving things because I know I'll need them later. I assure you, it's not a mess in my house. I'm not walking through trails of paper and stuff stacked to eye level. I tend to organize things in a shoe box or basket and I actually know what's in there. I have decided it's time to part with the unnecessary things that hold no value be it monetary or sentimental. Those printed out directions really just aren't necessary anymore; GPS will indeed get me there. The recycling crew may not be too happy with me this week. I've started various boxes to donate to those in need of what I can give: Books I've read (I still like to hold a book in my hands, e-reading is too much like work!) Kitchen utensils and dishes, Clothes, Christmas ornaments (I could have 2 trees and still not use what I have some how acquired) and even a few pet items. Even when I finish this "project" I think there will be more to do.
Well on this eve of change I find myself wanting to miss every thing about it. I just don't like politics. A friend of mine once described politics as "Many (poli) Bloodsuckers (tics). Hmmm, can't say that is wrong. No matter what side of the aisle you may be on, or even if you aren't on a side at all the reality is that most of the folks who are representing the people haven't got a clue about the life of the people at large. I think that statement is true in most countries around the world. I do believe that some "politicians" have better intentions than others. I won't lie, I am concerned about where things could be headed, but remain hopeful that all will be okay. Only time will tell. Only time will show the true heart of the matter and the people involved. My hope is that this change remains peaceful in all aspects.
Hmm, a volunteer what? That's where the issue begins. When I was a kid I was a candy stripper. I went around the hospital and delivered mail and flowers to patients. Some times inter office mail from one area of the hospital to the other. It was enjoyable, but I don't think that's what I'm interested in now. A friend of mine reads to children in school. That's pretty cool, but that job thing makes that complicated for me. Dogs - I love dogs. There are a lot of places that need volunteers with animals. That's a possibility. Before I dive in, I will have to do diligent research on the organizations. The truth is I don't have a lot of time to give, but maybe I can do something to give back. One weekend day a month? Yes, I could do that. I realized part of my personality is that I need to have something to care about. Over this past year I adopted the squirrels in my yard. Well, okay maybe they really just love the black walnut tree in the back yard, but they are my "pets". I toss about a pound of shell on peanuts out for them every morning. It's gotten to the point where they are waiting for me in the morning, at least on most days. It's kinda cute really. They sit on the front porch and wait for the treats to come. When it's really cold, I cheat and throw them from the window instead of actually going outside. There are also Blue Jays and Cardinals that like the peanuts. I have had quite a gathering of small animals in the yard:6 Squirrels, 5 Blue Jays, 3 Cardinals and a chipmunk. Something about having them there, knowing I'm helping them survive makes me feel good about life. I've actually shopped around and found the most economical place to buy the peanuts. I've also hung a few bird feeders. They are "squirrel proof" so to speak. That's where feeding the squirrels came from. It hardly seemed fair to dangle seeds that the squirrels aren't allowed to have with out offering them something of their own. Maybe volunteering has already started in my yard...might be time to expand on that.
I think I have come up with a term for a very common aliment that I know I suffer from. And I know I'm not alone. Pickmeitus: the condition of wanting to be picked for who you are, as you are all the scars, baggage, bumps and bruises. I think this condition begins at a very young age maybe even before the school years. It is definitely advanced by playground games and gym class. You know, 2 people are team captains they go through the class and pick team members one at a time until the few kids are left that no one really wanted in the first place. And it just continues through life: making friends, dating all these scenarios we want to be picked. I want to be picked, I won't lie about that. And I have some criteria...I want to be picked by some one who is right for me. And I don't just mean for a relationship. I mean friends and jobs and life. We are in circles of interaction all the time. Wouldn't it be lovely to be in the circles where you really belong? Where you fit in? Where you can be comfortable to be all of who you are? Don't pick me because of what I can do for you. Pick me because you want me to be there. Yes, Yes please, please PICK Me for the ME I am and the ME I will be!
Had to take a breather for a few days. Was just getting overly caught up in 2017 feeling like 2016 all over again. It will be different as I will approach it differently. Perspective makes a lot of things in life easier to handle. Care about the things I can change and try not to care as much about the ones I can't. Hmm sounds a lot like the serenity prayer. Maybe I need to think about that just a little more. Some how I know or think I know that this year will be the same if I don't keep this in mind all year long. Glad to say the germs have gone away for the most part Yeah for that. Got a chance to unpack, and start some serious clean up on my house, it's not really dirty, I just like to keep things neat and tidy. Last week ended with hopefully finding a new hire, only time will tell for sure, feeling pretty caught up on work, and oh.. getting hit at a stop light this am. And the guy who hit me...says oh I'm late can we hurry this up? Seriously? You hit me because you wanted to go straight on a green arrow... guess you will be a little later... BREATH...JUST BREATH! Some how I want to continue to take it all with a grain of salt, keep a sense of humor and find the change in me.