Sometimes a split
personality isnt necessarily a bad thing. In the case of St.
Martin, the schizophrenia can be crazy, but hey, crazy can be good.
Sint Maarten/Saint Martin is the smallest island in the world that
is governed by dual sovereign states, divided nearly equally between
France and the Netherlands. While certainly Caribbean, the old world
character traits have remained uniquely preserved. The French side
is laid back, but intense about fine cuisine while the Dutch side
is fun-loving and focused on nightlife. Its like a miniature
tour of northern Europe. Add the numerous other little islands so
close that you can see everyday life on them and its an inspiring
place for a GyspyNester. We were literally itching with the exploration
bug. But exploring the neighboring isles would have to wait for
another time. This visit was a celebration of just 25 hours. One
for each year of our marriage.
into our hotel on the Dutch side, a huge complex of high-rise
rooms, swimming pools, eateries and a few too many love-handled
speedo guys. Not exactly our cup of tea, but very posh and a befitting
change of pace for our celebration. Usually we try to stay a bit
lower to the ground. After sundown, we hailed a cab and headed
out for Grand Case on the French sidewith our taxi driver
Matt at the helm.
Matts the mana veritable treasure trove of local information.
He answered all of our queries with humor and honesty. We found
out gas is cheaper on the French side, but is too light
(low octane) for his taxi. We were also heartened to learn that
we could ship one of our daughters to the French side, doll her
up and have her find a nice man. Once they are married, she can
hen-peck him until they move themselves and our beautiful grandchildren
to Paris and buy a villa with a guest room for us. Find Matt when
you visit, hes a true artist, a chuckhole dodging Botticelli,
a master. He knows stuff.
The border between the two countries of the island is in a fairly
remote areathe best way to tell that you’ve crossed over
is that the road immediately changes from a typical tropical island
pothole laden mess on the Dutch side to icy smooth on the French
side. No gates, no guards, no problem.
our back-roads tour of the island behind us, (Matt knows the
short cuts) we arrived at the little French village of Grand
Case. A goal of ours is to moor a boat off the shore of this
wonderful little area and proceed to gain 20 pounds. There
were so many wonderful
restaurants packed into the quaint, narrow streets it is a Herculean
effort to choose just one. But, alas, we had just the one
on L’Auberge Gourmande, a lovely gem among a glittering tiara
of deliciousness. Highlights were a epic scallop swimming in an
asparagus soup, monk fish with wasabi mashed potatoes, and an
amazing array of chocolate for dessertwhite mousse and hot
baked fondant. If you looked up hot baked fondant in the dictionary,
it would read “Molten chocolate cake with orgasmic properties.”
Each plate had those wonderful French touchesa flower of
caramelized shallots, dots and dashes of sauces and spices, and
pools of butter, butter, butter. A bottle of Pinot Gris, “Les
Maquisards” Domaines du Château de Riquewihr, created
a nice counterpoint to the nose-stinging wasabi.
Matt was waiting for us, as advertised, and we headed back to
the Dutch side to wander the pleasantly garish Maho Bay area of
neon, casinos and entertainment galore.
The next morning we took a stroll (note that we didn’t say romantic
stroll) along Tortuga Beach, and spent some time dodging aircraft.
Tortuga beach is directly under the flight path of landing aircraft.
It’s a constant barrage. The beach is literally the last thing
a pilot sees before the beginning of the runway. Before we are
judged too harshly, we are fully aware how cheesy this touristy
diversion is but the cheesiness is totally beaten down by the
sheer awesomeness of it. Here’s how it’s done: Lay on the warm,
white Caribbean sand, position yourself under a jumbo jet filled
with Canadian tourists and get doused with waves whipped up by
the jet wash. Try it sometime — then dare to judge us.
Here’s hoping that every one of our anniversaries will include
a rush like this. Next year, who knows? But no doubt well
find a way to fill those 26 hours no matter where we are.
David & Veronica,