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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The "St. Martin Alphabet: Part I" Story

Foreword:  A week or so ago I finally decided to get rid of my years and years of Caribbean Life Magazines during one of my days of "downsizing."  I did look at them from time to time, but usually only when we had decided to travel to a place we had never been before.  Well, since we have hit just about every island in the Caribbean, I figured why keep moving the heavy boxes of magazines around my basement any longer.  But, before I threw them on the recycle pile, I did look through a few of them to bring back memories of places past visited.  One article titled "ABC's of the birds and the bees" did catch my attention.  The article traced the highlights of the Caribbean by using the letters of the alphabet.  After re-reading it I decided to make my own alphabet list and illustrate it with my own photographs based on our island of choice: Sint Maarten (Dutch)/St. Martin (French).  The following is what resulted after searching through 50 plus CDs filled with photographs from the dual nation island.  Hope you enjoy the multi-day travelogue based on the letters in the English alphabet.

It was an ordinary day.  Searching my CDs from trips to the island of Sint Maarten (Dutch)/St. Martin (French) that I could use to illustrate the letters of the alphabet.  St. Martin is known as "The Friendly Island" based on the people and the environment.  I have chosen words or phrases which can be found in the English language dictionary to take you on a journey through my favorite Caribbean location.  Follow with me for the next few days as I add a few letters every day.

  • A: The Allamanda plant which is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae.  
    The Allamanda plant.
    The allamanda can be found primarily from Mexico to Argentina.  It's beautiful yellow blooms can be found throughout the Caribbean.  There is a resort on Orient Beach known as the Alamanda Resort.  Carol and I have stayed there a few times.  It is filled with allamanda blooms throughout the year.  Anguilla, which is a quick ferry ride from St. Martin.  It has beaches that are pure white and soft as powder.  It is home to the world famous Shoal Bay East Beach.  Also on the island can be found the Cuisnart Resort and Bankie Bank's Dune Preserve.
  • B: Beach has to be on the top of the "B" list, since there are so many beaches on the island of St. Martin.  
    World famous Orient Beach can be seen here.
    Beaches for water sports, secret beaches, long beaches and even nude beaches can be found on the island.  All are free and public with many having chairs and umbrellas to rent as well as food vendors.  Bikini bathing suits can be found on every island in the Caribbean, but I just had to add it to my list for St. Martin.  
    A group of men playing Bocci Ball.
    Bocci Ball, also known as bocanje, balote, balinanje, bale or petanque, is a sport that uses metal or plastic balls which can be held in the hand.  A smaller ball, known as the "jack" is tossed a distance from the players and then all players try to throw their bocci balls as close to the "jack" as they can.  It may be played by competing players or teams.  Boardwalk which is found in the capital city of the Dutch side of the island known Philipsburg.  The boardwalk is actually concrete, but still referred to as the boardwalk.  It is along Great Bay beach and has restaurants, gift shops and hotels along its mile stretch.  
    Beach chairs line the beach.
    Beach Chairs just has to be on my alphabet list also, since I can no longer lay on the sand.  Just too hard to get up after a day of sunning.  Beef Stew makes my list since it is perhaps the favorite island meal of Carol and me on St. Martin.  Made in a restaurant known as Le Piment in the area known as Orient Village.  
    Beef Stew at Le Piment.
    Beef is marinaded a few days in a liquid that has plenty of wine in it, giving the beef stew a fantastic flavor.  Bougainvillea is a genus of thorny ornamental vines with primarily purple flowers with white blossoms on them.  A beautiful St. Martin, and Caribbean, flower.      
  • C: Chocolate Croissants have to lead the list, since they begin most every morning for us while visiting St. Martin.  
    French Creole House in Marigot.
    They are sinfully delicious and since they are a French pastry,  taste so much better when made by the French bakeries on the island.  Creole House which is a typical example of a French colonial style house constructed by erecting a palisade of logs on top of a stone foundation rather than using horizontal beams or studs like more modern construction.  
    Crepe for breakfast.
    We have found a few of these neat places in Marigot, the capital of the French side of St. Martin.  Crepes which is a breakfast treat for Carol and me, but is made throughout the day in St. Martin and can be eaten for any meal.  I enjoy my breakfast crepe with strawberry filling and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top.  Carousel is the name of a business on the Dutch side of the island which features a full-size carousel for all to ride as they are eating their tasty treat purchased at the business.  
    Carousel Gelatorium
    You see, the Carousel specializes in gelato which is an Italian ice-cream.  Pure heaven!     Club O which is perhaps the most famous nudist resort in the Caribbean.  It is located on the south end of Orient Beach.  Day visitors from the many cruise ships to the island can be seen making their journey to Club O to enjoy an overall tan for the day.
  • D: Drawbridge of which there are two of on the island.  Both are located on the west side of the island and give entrance and exit to what is marked on my map as Grand Etang de Simpsonbaai, or what Carol and I call Simpson Bay.  
    The drawbridge on the Dutch side.
    One bridge is located on the Dutch side of the island at Simpson Bay while the other is located on the French side at what is known as Sandy Ground.  Yachts and pleasure boats may enter and leave the bay area during designated times of the day.  The drawbridges cause traffic to back up for miles at times.  Diving of which there are many types as well as many excursions you can take to do snorkeling or scuba diving.  
  • E: Ebb Tide which is the period between high tide and low tide during which water flows away from the shore.  Eating which is the period between sunning and sleeping.  Seems while on vacation all we do is relax and eat.  Yeah, sometimes we shop, but I'm sure we will buy a snack while shopping to hold us over until our next eating excursion.  
    Escape to one of the many beaches.
    Escapism which carries us away from the daily grind of normal life.  Escaping to St. Martin gives us the chance to dream of leaving footprints in the soft sand, taking a leisurely stroll in one of the capital cities of the island or watching the sun set while having a frosty drink.
  • F: Flip Flops which I know you can wear just about anytime and anyplace, but they seem so well suited for walking around the island of St. Martin.  What reminds you more of going to the beach than flip flops.  
    Fort Louis in Marigot.
    Fort Louis is a real treasure in the city of Marigot.  We have made the journey to the top of the mountain above Marigot a few times during out trips to St. Martin.  Fort Louis was built by the French in 1789 to protect its harbor from marauding coutries.  You can't miss it; just look up.  Footprints in the sand just remind you of romance.  A quiet, deserted beach in the early morn or at twilight; two lovers walking hand in hand as they leave a lasting impression behind them; until the water laps at the shore and clears it for more ….. footprints.  
    A lone frigate patrolling the sky.
    Frigate is one of my favorite birds of the Caribbean.  It is also known as the man-o'-war and is a large seabird about the size of a chicken.  It is coal black and has a long, deeply forked tail.  I love to watch them soar high above the sea and attempt to steal other seabirds of their freshly caught fish.  
    Supper awaiting at the fish market.
    It is perhaps the most aerial of all birds and glides over the sea, at times held motionless by the wind currents.  Fish Market which can be found on market days in Marigot.  We have purchased some of the best fish and had them in the evening over the grill at our villa.  The fish are brought to the market daily by boat.  Can't be much fresher than that.
Well, I have just begun to work my way through the alphabet.  I will post another few letters in the near future, giving you an alphabetical glance at life on St. Martin.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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