Day 4: Tuesday the 29th of November
|Approaching St. Maarten 0745 am|
A beautiful day greeted us when we arose on Tuesday early to watch our arrival into the cruise line terminal in Philipsburg, the Dutch capital of St. Maarten. By 8:30 Marie and I were off the ship and catching a water taxi into town where we asked directions to the nearest car rental agency. As it turned out it wasn’t far away and by 9 we were on our way around the island in the only car available - a beat up Toyota Corolla. The island had had torrential rains the past few days and many of the roads were either washed out, filled with mud or debris, or just awash in a foot of water. It was a wonder we made it in that car as the transmission was slipping and grinding constantly and the back end emitting horrible noises each time I hit a bump. Nobody uses signals or passes safely here but we were able to wind our way up through the Dutch side to Orient Beach on the Partie Française without incident.
|At Orient Beach|
|Arriving at the Partie Francaise|
|Orient Beach bum|
|St. Maarten mermaid|
Marie and I spent the morning enjoying the warm water and sun, drinking a rum punch and wandering naked up and down the beach with all the other free spirits. At noon we dressed and continued
on to Grand Case and south to Marigot. Both these towns were rather dilapidated and the traffic was backed up everywhere due to detours from washed out roads. Perhaps in the 17th century, when the island was better known for the production of salt that was shipped back to Europe, it was prettier and less crowded. Some of the views we caught as we sped around the mountain tops were nice but I couldn’t take my eyes off the road for more than a few seconds as on every turn there was someone flying around it into my lane! Scooters were everywhere and took chances whenever they could on the very narrow roads. We went down into Cole Bay and headed west again to the Juliana Airport and Maho Bay where we had a great lunch on the beach, opposite the now famous spot where the jets land a few feet over your head on their final approach to the runway. If you haven’t seen this yet on YouTube check it out! There was a ton of people there and it was a really festive atmosphere, reminding me in a way of people waiting for a total eclipse or the countdown to the Space Shuttle launch!
|Marie in green dress waving arms, Maho Bay!|
We watched a few AA jets land but couldn’t wait for the Air France jumbo that was late as we had to get back to town, fuel the car and get back onboard for a 6pm sailing. Tomorrow we tie up in Basseterre, St. Kitts. gws