An American in paradise, the photo essay

Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, 18° 4′ 0″ N, 63° 3′ 0″ W, West Indies, Lesser Antilles, Leeward Islands, half French, half Dutch, 100% island with diverse cultural roots. 1. As promised, my companion, Gizmo 2. Front Street in Phillipsburg, which runs parallel to Back Street.  This bustling stretch in the Dutch capital is filled with shopping, food and bars.  Parking is difficult here, but if you drive around long enough, something will open up.  Just be sure you practice parallel parking first. 3. Oyster Pond, quiet calm waters and Orient Bay, French side, clothing optional. 4. This scene happened more often than not, which one is mine... 5. The blue waters of Anguilla 6. Sunset cruise on the Lambada.  The little girl has a striking resemblance to the girl in Water World 7. The streets and cafes of Marigot, the French capital 8. My delicious Mahi 9. Back to Little Bay 10. The last sunset I really need to invest in a better camera to capture the colors of the Caribbean, but I also like the "pocketableness" of my little Canon Powershot.  These photographs give you a sense of what it was like, but nowhere near the experience.  Until next time!
filled with shopping, food and bars.  Parking is difficult here, but if you drive around long enough, something will open up.  Just be sure you practice parallel parking first.

An American in paradise, a mini series, the finale

It's a different sun, a different air, a different water.  It's a slow down to island time. Whether a day, a week, a month, you will feel different here. It's about sinking into crystal clear waters, it's about power under sail, it's about conch fritters and rum punch. It's about music and fun, good times and sun. It's a love affair. I spent the greater part of yesterday soaking in UV rays that I probably didn't need, I'm sure that payback will come in time. Afterwards, I made my way to Simpson Bay for a sunset cruise on the Lambada. She sets sail from the Pelican which is fairly easy to find if you take a left at Hollywood Casino, parking however, is a challenge. I scored after two times asking the resort parking attendant where to park and she ended up letting me park in the guest lot. Main sail hoisted and I sunk into not a care in the world. Perched topside on the forward port hull, my mind drifted. Two hours later, I really didn't want it to be over, my therapy session was done and I needed to return to my room. I've almost learned to navigate the island, at least the southern portions. This was my first time driving at night, though, and my regular landmarks were not quite as visible, but I managed to make it back. Today was a return trip to Marigot, and I'm glad I did, the street was bustling with vendors selling local everything. I had two things in mind, rum and some good food. Maaya is the place to go for duty free in Marigot. My only advice is (as with any duty free I've found here) if you are using American Express, tell them that is all you have and they will most likely accept it. I had read some forums before arrival that AMex was not widely accepted, this is true, unless you present as your only method of payment. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. Cash always talks! I found my rum, now for food. It must have been cooked on a million degree grill, because the outside of my mahi steak was crunchy and the inside was moist and tender. Bistro de la mer filled my taste buds with deliciousness and a side of rice. Good food, check, time to head back. I made the same wrong turn as the other day, mental note, when leaving Marigot, it's a left on the roundy, for next time! I experienced my first "I need gas" moment on the way back. First of all, everything is in liters, secondly, the pump attendant doesn't really pump your gas, just stands there to usher you expecting a tip. No worries, 22 liters (I think I read it right) and a three dollar tip later, my lawnmower tank is full. The remainder of my afternoon was spent soaking in Caribbean waters as the sun sank deeper and deeper into the horizon. I left the soothing waters in time to climb back up to Fort Amsterdam armed with a camera. The wind atop the peninsula is pretty strong, but I had the best seat in the house for my last St Martin sunset. I did some experimenting with my cameras (I think I've actually figured it out) exposure settings and I think I got some good sunset photographs (to be posted later). I'm hesitating right now to continue writing, or wrap it up, my mind is so at ease and relaxed that listing 10 things seems distant. Maybe I'll leave it with Just3Nights in Vegas and Just7Nights in St Martin and call out a vacation I have shared with you... As the calypso rhythms echo across the bay, I wonder. I watch the mother next door dance with her baby boy, I miss my kids. I watch the couple on the beach slow dance, maybe next time we can dance, if I can muster up enough to ask you out. Yeah, there's no 10 specifics tonight, just me, drinking a rum punch, listening to music, dreaming, and dancing.... Reflections my friends, cheers!

An American in paradise, a mini series, part three

image Wednesday and Thursday have been my lazy days.  Aside from a trip to La Grande Marche for mid-week groceries, I've been relaxing in a beach chair not really doing a whole lot of anything.  I had not planned on posting tonight, but after 8 failed attempts of uploading one picture to Facebook, I changed my mind.  So here it is, the best sunset so far.  I wish photographs could capture the feelings better as the sky burns red and orange with tints of pink.  It's one thing to see it, it's another to experience it. I forgot last night that, believe it or not, I'm fragile. In the process if climbing out onto a rock to photograph the sunset, my knee decided to fail and down I went. Initially, I escaped with only a small gash in my ankle, however when I woke this morning, I realized I had a pretty good sprain. I spent a good deal of time walking it off today when I was not soaking in the sun. Still a bit tender, but I'll live. There really is something about this island, maybe it's the people, as friendly as I've ever met, and I'm sure it has something to do with the constant breeze and temperatures in the eighties. Message to my ex: put the kids on a plane to SXM and let me know what time they land, I'll pick them up... Message to my parents: please Fed-Ex my laptop and the rest of my clothes, sell the house and whatever else is left... Message to HR: please email me a change of address form... Reflections. 1. Tomorrow I shall find a proper cat to sail on 2. Plenty of time to think 3. About where I am 4. And where I'm going 5. Do I really have to go to Indiana next week? 6. I have not touched email all week (with one slight exception) and it's been wonderful, but will probably be hell when vacation is over 7. No two sunsets are ever the same 8. I finally remembered to get bug spray, haha mosquitos, can't get me now 9. Next trip will need to be two weeks, I've only two days left and still lots to do 10. Cheers