On the upside, American Airlines will be treating me to a night in Miami and some food vouchers. When I get back home that very well could be expanded to some flight vouchers as well. And I met some fun people along the way.
Amy, who is traveling with friends who made it to SXM today and happens to be staying at SBR. I am hoping to run in to them along the way. We cheered, sitting in the bar when it was finally past noon, just because the day had been so long already!
The fun guy I call 411, because he works for AA but was a passenger, and was giving us inside info about sticking with the flight we were on or baling for a different flight. He was on point, and funny.
The gamer who sat next to me on the flight and told me I can find Commander Keen at GOG.Com (gold old games) That was a cool tip. He is headed to St. Thomas, but will also be stuck in Miami for the night.
We have plans to meet up at the hotel bar and enjoy the evening. Hoping that pans out. Rough start. But, Bob Marley sing it to me...Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright.
Well, you won’t believe this! We were diverted to Fort Myers to refuel...because we didn’t have enough to circle Miami because of weather! What??? Can you say free flight voucher! I will be working on that when I get home. I knew there was bad weather in Miami, why didn’t the airlines??? Sigh, what a long disappointing day!
The fun night in Miami?? Ha, got to hotel about 9 something...got some food, had a drink and called it a night. 8am I will start over again and be on the way to St. Maarten.
Travel today was smooth. Yeah for that. Had some anxiety about all of that , yesterday was just so bad. But...it was smooth and simple! Phew!!! Landing in SXM, hmm, first glimpse of the island through the window, just the color of the water... I teared up a bit. Yes, it’s still here. My heart and head, were wondering, how will it be? Am I going to lose my composure and sob? What right do I have? Seriously...get a grip woman! The process was smooth. Walk from the plane to a tent and line up for immigration. Got a little teary eyed when I was standing waiting to enter the tent and saw into what was the beautiful Princess Juliana Airport Terminal. It was just devastated. Of course I knew that...but now I saw that, here with my eyes. I touched a pillar, and just said I am here, St. Maarten, I am here. It had been over a year, all because that bitch IRMA, interrupted life with her fury. I hope no island is ever faced with that horror again.
Immigration was smooth and efficient. The luggage process. Oh my!!! Try and ever get an american airport to work this hard to get you your luggage! They load it from the plane on to the carts by hand. Then they drive it to the “arrivals tent” and unload it by hand. Then Luggage handlers roll it out, hoping the owner is right there. Some people are impatient and cross over the “boundary” to retrieve their own bags. Most wait until it’s their turn. It was about 6 people deep when we arrived, so I opted to wait until the crowd thinned. As it turned out, Air France had arrived just before us, and it was quite a large group.
Once my bags were in hand we proceeded outside to attempt to find Porsche, our pre-arranged Taxi driver. As we exited the terminal a gentleman asked, do you need a taxi. I said, “Yes, but it is pre-arranged.”, He replied, “Oh, are you looking for Porsche?” I was stunned, he pointed, “She is right there.” I hugged her, I don’t even know this woman. But she took the time to make it easy for us, and there it was. An uneventful ride to the hotel, got checked in, and it was time to prepare to meet Laura some friends who live on the island for Dinner at Snoopy’s.
Snoopy’s Ahh...what a great spot! So happy for Horse’s success so far. May he be given more as time goes on. His integrity and good character have won my support for many years. Met up with the Simply SXM folks. It was nice to put real people with the names and such. Jeff and Becky are among my favs so far. The food was great. One of my friends was surprised to get the whole fish, Snapper. But it was very good. I had the Garlic Shrimp with fresh veggies and rice and beans. Wonderful! Horse said he grows his own spinach and his family makes sugar cane rum on Dominica. Now see, that’s the kind of man I need. Motivated and hard working, but I digress. What a fun time! There was a Reggae band there. They were wonderful. The plan is to return for Cinco de Mayo. It will be my last night, I have to spend it there!
Today was the History Tour with David of Seagrape Tours. What a great experience! Did I retain even ⅓ of what he told me? No, of course not. But he was a fabulous guide. And showed me so many sights I had wanted to see. Due to the damage from Hurricane Irma, we were unable to go in to Fort Amsterdam, but we stopped at Belair Beach, and I did get a great photo of it. This is also the site where the Chinese resort is supposed to go. I hear that is now a thing of the past. I sure hope so. Sadly, it was also the beginning of seeing just how much damage was done, all over the island. He explained about the salt ponds, and how the island was formed. We stopped off at the Emilio Wilson Park which was oddly locked with a padlock. We found a back way to get in anyway. David explained about Emilio and what he had done for the island, including preserving the land from his plantation from over building. I saw the zip line for the first time, it’s not as bad as I thought it was. If the dutch locals are okay with it, then hopefully it is good for the Island. After that, it was on to the French side. Oh MY!!! The damage is still quite evident. There are signs of recovery everywhere, but one side to the other, the french side is still struggling. Fort Louis was open for visitation. It was quite a few steps up, but I am glad to say, not as many as it used to be. Yeah for shortcuts and tour guides!
After the tour there was time to relax on the beach at SBR before dinner at Avantika. This restaurant had been recommended many times but I had never gotten there. Finally, I made it!!! What a menu. It was hard to decide what to order, but I persevered and decided on Asparagus and Shrimp stir fry. You can pick the level of spice from none to level 6. I went with my safe mild, cause that’s how I roll. I will make this one of my regular stops in the future. Delicious and fun staff!
Today was hmm, one of the main events I guess. Check off the box, I have been to Carnival in St. Maarten. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The day started by taking my reliable Taxi to Carnival Village. I was supposed to meet a local friend there. When I called they said, oh, I thought you would be late. No, they weren’t there yet. My wonderful cabbie, “I’m not leaving you here alone.” I laughed, and appreciated her company and guidance around the relatively empty carnival village. Porsche left me in the care of her friend the owner of Flemings and was on her way. JJ arrived, and we were off to watch the parade. Now, I had no idea at the time, or maybe it was some time in the middle of the day, that I was basically at the judges stand all day! JJ didn’t introduce me to any one that way. What a great day! They had an elevated viewing area that was covered. That was a great bonus, as standing in the sun all day would probably not have ended well for me. The costumes were beautiful. The music was fun. The people were happy! They danced and smiled for miles and miles. There had been a lot of debate before Carnival this year, that due to the difficult circumstances caused by Irma, the festivities should be cancelled. But I was of the opinion, that after 8 months, these people needed their normal happiness, they needed the fun, the music, the socialization, THEY NEEDED CARNIVAL MORE THAN EVER BEFORE!!!!! I can not explain how happy it made me to be there, to watch this event and to share in the joy. We didn’t watch the parade end once, we watched it 3 times. Once at the viewing stand, then we walked over and watched it pass on front street by the Holland House, then we watched as it made it’s way in to Carnival Village. JJ got some soup, then we went on to our next adventure…
A moonlight walk from Le Galion to Orient and back. Well, after 7 hours of carnival, this was an ambitious undertaking. Hindsight said, duh you should have gone to Church on Monday...but this was fun, in a different way. About ½ way down Orient Beach, a group of us, said...go on...we will wait here. The people running the walk were not to keen on the idea. But we had stopped at a well lite area near Orient Village, and as growns up said, we will wait here. What a fun time, sitting on the beach laughing and enjoying good company. When the group returned, we dragged ourselves up and walked back to Le Galion. The moonlit sky was beautiful. The surf was calm. I am glad that we did it, but my poor feet! I ended up with a bad blister, and rubs on the back of both heels. When the day was over, 18,000 steps!
After a day like yesterday, there was only one thing to do today...lay low and chill at the resort!!! I have roamed all over this island with my friends, but right here, Simpson Bay Resort. Yep, that is my comfort zone. I know where I am. I know what to do, how to get a round, and the staff, accommodations and food are wonderful. Someday’s that’s all you need.
There was a bit of excitement at the pool. Seems that some NE Patriot fans, can’t lose with grace. This guy started calling Philadelphia, Filthy Philly. When he got called on it, he tried to back down...it was rather comical, since he was put in his place buy several die hard FEMALE Eagles fans! Fly, Eagles, Fly!!!
After a day of luxury poolside, I decided dinner at Pineapple Pete’s was a good idea. All the times I had visited, I’d never gone there. Well, now I know why. The food was okay, but not as good as so many of the places that exist on St. Maarten. The vegetables that were served on the side of my Garlic Shrimp were bland, most likely frozen at some point. The friend I went out with had the Lobster Thermidor. It is what Pineapple Pete’s is know for, she said it was delicious, so maybe that is their deal, go with the signature...most expensive...dish.
Today’s adventure on St. Maarten...An awesome round the island Snorkeling excursion with Billy Bones Tours. What a BLAST!!! Simpson Bay Lagoon, Creole Rock, Tintamarre, Pinel, Grand Case, Maho, but it was raining so hard, no photos at Maho. But so much fun! Crazy Chris takes it to a whole new level! Captain Allen was amazing, dealing with all the weather, swells, and a few frightened passengers (no not me, I was loving it from start to finish, even in the rain) with great skill. What a spectacular fun filled day! After a ride over from Philipsburg, we went through Simpsons Bay Lagoon. It was sad to see so many sunken, and half sunken boats. Some pushed up against the bridges and shores with people living in them. Different stages of recovered, recovering, abandoned and waiting for Insurance. It will take time. Luckily, the Lagoon is healing, and there doesn’t seem to be any more fuel leaking. Next up, Creole Rock and Tintamarre. I had never been snorkeling, but today was the day to try it. Oh my goodness!!! I saw fish, up close and personal, fish of different sizes and shapes and colors. Fish I have only seen in movies or books. Spiky sea urchins, I could go on and on. Next time, a water camera will go along for this adventure. And there will be a next time. The reefs are starting to grow back. I will also wear a shirt over my swimsuit, got a bit of a burn on my back. We left Tintamarre and headed to Pinel where the Iguanas rule the roost. They were pretty tame, and would even let you pet them if you wanted to. On my next visit, I think a full day on Pinel is in order. There are 2 lovely restaurants, chairs and I could definitely walk around and enjoy the environment. After our brief visit on Pinel it was off to Grand Case. Okay, that was a rough one to pull up to, even though the folks on the boat were happy and the music was playing, I was holding back tears. The only thing up and running, Rainbow Cafe. The food they served us, wasn’t what I would expect from Rainbow, but it was boat trip fare. It was good, just not french faire like I had hoped. After that we headed toward Maho Beach. As we traveled along it became clear that it was going to rain, not a passing shower, but a major downpour! And it did, with a vengeance! I figured, I have been in water all day, so I enjoyed! I had hoped to see my friends plane that was arriving land, but we missed it by about 10 minutes. Oh well! It was raining too hard for pictures anyway. We dropped the cruise passengers off in Philipsburg and then headed back to Simpson Bay. I would highly recommend Billy Bones Boat Charters to any one!
As I said my friend, I call her Mama, arrived today. So now the days will be different because she is an island expert! Tonight we went to Jimbo’s for dinner.. I had shrimp fajitas. Always delicious. The margarita was wonderful too! I could really go for one of those about now. And then off to Snoopy’s because, that is where it’s fun to be.
Today we finally made it out for breakfast. It had been such a busy week so far, it was easier to just eat in the room. We were heading to the french side beaches today, so we stopped at Simpson Bay Yacht Club. As remembered, breakfast was delicious. We left SBYC and headed out. Having been on the tours earlier this week, I had seen a lot, but this was the first real view for Mama. Yeah, it’s hard to see. But you look real close, you remember the photos you saw right after that Bitch Irma tore through, and you realize how much progress has been made. Even though driving through Maho, you see shells of buildings, the reality is that it had to get torn down, to be rebuilt. Yes, my sweet St. Maarten, you are in the next phase. We drove through Maho, Cupecoy, stopped at Baie Rouge, Belmond La Sammon as we came around the curve, there they were...the cows that wander around unfenced these days, in the road. Once the cows and bulls by the way, wandered out of the road we went on to Friars Bay Beach Club. Now this is what I am talking about, so very french. We rented chairs right by the surf and settled in for a lovely day. There were a few passing rain showers, but nothing to ruin our day. I found some sea glass, yeah!!! another goal for this trip. Who am I kidding, that will be a goal for every trip. Also found a tiny little conch shell that I snuck home, shhh! Today was indeed a true french meal. For lunch I had Coconut Shrimp with Mango Salsa and Mint. It was magnifique!!! I also managed to get a Carnival Coke Can. I know strange goals. But it’s the little things that I want to hold on to. On the way back to Simpson’s Bay we drove through Grand Case. Oh wow! As bad as it looked from the water side, it was 10 times worse from the street side. We drove on around through Philipsburg and back to the resort.
After a couple hours of rest and showers, it was off to Isola for dinner. Wow, what great renovations. The building is now enclosed, with a much nicer decor than it had before. We split a Ceasar Salad and Pizza. The salad was amazing. I could have just eaten that. The pizza was good, but could have been a crispier crust. After eating we popped in to Red Piano. No one we knew was there or working so we went on to our favorite spot, Snoopys for Rock and Roll night. Some more good live music and good times!!!
It was time for another resort day. I stayed at SBR in the am by the marina pool. Life is tough when you have to decide which pool or which beach to spend the day at! I had a Shrimp Ceviche poolside before heading out. It was huge! If there was 1 shrimp, there were 30. And it was only $15. Mama drove me to Philipsburg to meet with my friend JJ at his store.I bought a new ring, to support JJ. He has worked so hard helping the people of St. Maarten, it only seems right to support his business, too. The ring, is gorgeous! A lovely blue and white diamond ring. Another reminder, I am a diamond, and should be treated as such. When JJ finished work, we went to the hardware store to pick out the new toilet for ML. Then it was on to the grocery store to buy groceries for MW who is caring for 19 children and 5 adults. JJ said what we purchased would cover about a month of food for them. We then stop off and delivered the food to MW’s. She was not there, so I didn’t get to meet her. But I did get to meet the children. They were so adorable, and helped us unload the car of all the items. Then we stopped by the house that had the fire in French Quarter. JJ instructed them to get a quote for the necessary materials to repair the burned out house. If they follow through on getting the quotes, we will donate the remaining funds that I had to help them rebuild. After that we stopped at ML’s to drop off the suitcase of construction materials that I had brought. She was very happy to receive the help, and the suitcase. I will say, it was not easy to just go back to a fancy resort after seeing how people are living. Sure, their circumstances may not have been great before Irma, but the storm sure didn’t help them. Many families that lived in separate houses are now packed in to one house, or one area of a house that has a roof. I will continue to do what I can to help the people of St. Maarten. We all have our passions. I have found mine. I was back to SBR around 6:30. We went to dinner at Sale & Pepe. It was amazing. I had the Snapper with veggies and rice. They had an Osco Boco that looked fabulous, but I opted for the fish. Trying to stay healthy. Hahahaha... It poured rain, I mean poured rain while we were at dinner. But nothing like our island friends had endured. Once the rain subsided, we found our way to Red Piano for Caribbean Night. Soca and Reggae music. Yes, I like this very much. And so much fun.
5/5 The last full day on the island. Yes, I am starting to feel that I will be heading home soon. The suitcase is just about packed before we headed out for the day. Breakfast today at Zee Best, Mmmm. I had a crepe omelet and an Almond Croissant that I made Mama take a piece of. I promise I didn’t have to twist her arm very much. Then it was off to Mullet Bay. That is one of the most beautiful beaches on St. Maarten. The left side is usually pretty calm, but the right side, the surf was breaking and rough...yes I walked the entire beach just to get photos of the different aspects of the beach. Bought a magnet bracelet from a local. The colors were pretty, blue of course, and yes, just giving back in another way. I know, I’ve said it before, those funny gut feelings, well I had one that day. He was here, I could feel it. The jerk...There were a lot of locals there, so it wouldn’t be surprising. I didn’t see him, but I felt it. Sure enough, when we got back to SBR I had a message from him. Yes, ignored it. He didn’t deserve me when he had me, after the events of the last year and however any months, he surely didn’t deserve me now. This being my last night, I wanted to spend it at Snoopy’s and it was Reggae night there, so YEAH!!! We had dinner there and I had the Garlic Shrimp again, because it is just that good. What a fun night. I danced, I was on the bar’s facebook live, I had a ball. I gotta learn more about Soca Music. I have a specific stool there now, the owner promised to take good care of it for me, until I return.
Well my 10 days, that became 9, have come to an end. It was amazing, it was fabulous, I am already planning and plotting my return. Forever in my heart you are my sweet St. Maarten Land.
Snoopy's Bar & Grill https://snoopysbar.com/
Seagrape Tours https://seagrapetours.com/
Simpson Bay Resort http://simpsonbayresortmarina.com/
Billy Bones Boat Charters http://boatchartersxm.com/
Sale & Pepe https://www.facebook.com/SALE-PEPE-SXM-536833439816354/
Friar's Bay Beach Club https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friars-Bay-Beach-Café-Ici-Tes-
Zee Best http://www.zeebestrestaurant.com/
Red Piano https://www.theredpianosxm.com/