Latitude 17N

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Well, we just got back from St. Maarten. Home sweet home??? I don’t think so. St. Maarten is such a nice island. They have huge grocery stores with reasonable prices and a place called Cost U Less that is like a Sam’s Club kind of place. We spent a couple of hours and a couple of hundred dollars there. It was funny because that is usually what we would spend when we went to Sam’s Club in the U.S. Janet joked that her mother calls Sam’s Club the Hundred Dollar Store because you always spend at least a hundred dollars there. So our trip was fun. We went over with Janet and Brian and left ALL the kids at home with Brian’s parents. How nice are they?!!! They offered to take Julian and we gave him the choice and he was more than eager to stay home. So off we went on Monday morning to the airport. Emily dropped off her parents and picked up Julian and his things. Our flight departed “on time Caribbean style” which is late of course. But this time only about 30 minutes late so it wasn’t too bad. But every second counts when you only have a couple of days away. As soon as it was time to board a downpour came through and we had to run with umbrellas out to the plane. After that the flight was uneventful. We got to the airport in St. Maarten where Brian decided to pick a fight with the immigration people because they are not organized. Janet was so embarrassed and we pretended not to be with them. Haha. It’s typical Caribbean for them to not care at all about what you think. On to baggage claim where we got all of our bags…well…except one…Janet and Brian’s suitcase with their clothes. They had two suitcases with nothing in them and the one not there was the one with their stuff. Go figure. How can a piece of luggage disappear from a non-stop 30 minute flight? Well, our flight must have been overweight and they had to pull a piece of luggage (better than pulling a passenger I guess) so their piece came about 30 minutes later on the next flight. Our next destination was sort of unknown due to the fact that we were still not sure where we were going to stay. We had a couple of ideas but needed to see the places first. Long story short we ended up at the Tamarind which is a nice place that must be a time share of some sort that rents out units to people. We got a two bedroom and two bath little apartment place for like $180.00 per night so we split that cost. It was a cute little place but the beds were not real comfortable. It was fine for a couple of nights. If I went back I would go back to the Maho where we stayed last year. But we were in a good area over by Philipsburg. We did some shopping the first day and had a very lovely dinner of Taco Bell for dinner. Not our first choice but there were time constraints due to our movie schedule. The first night we saw Sahara which was really good I thought. But I have not read any of the Dirk Pitt stories so I had nothing to compare it to. Matthew McConaughey was looking just fine to me and isn’t that all that really matters? Haha. On Tuesday we did some more shopping and bought quite a little. A few souvenirs and we had a tour around the whole island. A self propelled tour into the French side which is quite beautiful. The architecture is quite different on the two sides of the island which are governed separately and the differences are great. The U.S. dollar and the Antillean Guilder are used on the Dutch side and on the French side everything is based on the Euro. We saw some beautiful views and beautiful houses. It looks like it would be a great place to stay on a future trip (if we ever go back). We decided that since we were going to be having an early dinner that we would for-go lunch for a snack. We checked out a huge grocery store and were quite jealous of what we were missing by living in Nevis. We decided to stuff a couple of bags full of pastries from the bakery. They were YUMMY. After that we stopped at a dive shop for Jaime to look at a dive shirt and gloves for lobstering. The guy running the place was sort of hard to take seriously as he cleaned a bunch of scuba gear in his Speedo. He was a little French man (if you can believe that) and he could wear a Speedo unlike the old man at Winward beach the other day. Before we left we asked him where a good place to buy a steak would be. He told us to go onto the French side. Brian said “Yeah, I guess it would probably be better over there.” And the guy said “No not probably, it IS better over there.” But we had just come from over there so we decided to go back to the Simpson Bay area where the LaPray’s had a coupon for 10% off at The Wharf. We figured we would go check it out. It was a cute little place boasting Live Fresh Lobster so we stayed. The restaurant is on the bay overlooking a couple of ENORMOUS yachts. They were huge! The biggest one is called Utopia and it was waving a British flag so we decided that it was Mick Jagger on board. That night, wanting to squeeze in as many movies as possible on our trip, we watched Beauty Shop with Queen Latifa which was funny and The Interpreter which got mixed reviews from our group. I liked it but I am pretty easy to please in the movie department these days. And we got to sit in the stadium seating theater. It was really nice and very comfortable. After our movies we went back to the Tamarind and organized all of our purchases to get ready for the next day. We are only allowed 44lbs a piece in checked luggage. We were way over that with canned goods and some grid like shelving units and lots of other exciting household things. We were just hoping that there wouldn’t be a problem checking in the next morning. We got to bed around 1:00 a.m. which is the latest I have been up in a loooong time. The next morning we got to the airport and checked our baggage without incident and only got charged $28.00. We were, however, sadly surprised with a $30.00 per person departure tax. I guess they don’t like people to leave their island. I would have gladly stayed!!! So after we checked in we still had a few hours to kill so we drove around and got Julian some souvenirs and then made our journey back to the airport where we got on our somewhat private plane once again “On time Caribbean style”. We were joined by one other girl traveling on to St. Kitts and a new student professor just arriving in Nevis. That was it on the flight. But it was a small plane, like a 20 seater maybe. And we thought our luggage would over weigh the plane. Ha! So that is it in a nutshell. Well, a very large nutshell. Julian was there waiting for us at the airport when we landed. He had a great time on his little vacation away from us. He got to sleep by himself in Janet and Brian’s bed. He played each day with his friend Harrison from downstairs and he got to have breakfast for dinner! And that’s it. Look below for pictures.

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