Morning Showers. Watching the dawning as nature blessed the greenery with nourishments for the day. The ocean across the street sending waves crashing up against the rocks and watching the hills come alive with activity. This first morning on the island starts out with a beautiful melody of birds singing merrily. A stray dog on the side of the road keeping my company, seeming to do his sun salutations along with mine as the sun rises.
I stepped onto the wet grass, felt the wet grass under my feet, the rain on my face… touched the earth. I picked a few of the drenched flowers and took them inside, realizing there are no vases I reached for a wine glass out of the cupboard and filled it with water, the beautiful fragrances filling the apartment.
It’s Friday morning and as I sit looking out, I can see the day coming alive. The locals heading to work, my dog greets each one with a bark as they pass by. We have no plans for this day. No tours booked, no scheduled events it is really going to be an adventure.
We decided to do breakfast here at the hotel restaurant. The restaurant we soon realized is an actual shed converted into a kitchen. (I will soon find out that many of the restaurants on the island are actual sheds, converted shipping containers and part food truck/part structure) The chef/waiter/presumably owner speaks no English so we navigate our breakfast by pointing at things on the menu. There’s a cat sitting on the counter and a dog came to sit next to me at our table. Strange Breakfast Company. A breakfast of fruit and croissants, we set out to see how this day will unfold.
We navigated our way to Mullet Beach, I love walking the shoreline of beaches, and we stopped at a fruit stand and bought some mangoes and other fruits, checked out the local vendors and tile art in Marigot Market. The restroom in the mall cost $1 to use so let me just say, I washed my hands six times and flushed ten. I’m joking. It was a beautiful bathroom and well worth the $1.
I braved running through a crazy intersection to get some close up photos of Lady Liberty. There is a story on the internet about this statue being the original gift from France that the US rejected. While that story of the original Statue of Liberty being black and rejected is seemly true, I am certain it’s not this statue as she stands in an intersection of a roundabout and absolutely nothing on the scale of the Statue of Liberty in NY/NJ, besides, I learned for good sources she was sculpted in 2007 by Theodore Bonev for the 159th abolishment of slavery in 1848. Lady Liberty was beautiful, Irma however stole her lantern so she appears to be signaling to the world “This is me and this is where I belong”
We drove pass abandoned rusted out cars on mountaintops, boats, yachts even sunken in the water and property in various phases of construction or demolition. I cannot imagine what this island must have looked like directly after Hurricane Irma. As a matter of fact I pulled up a YouTube video of the news right after and saw some pretty horrific things, like every single tree on every mountain leaves were burnt off from the sheer force of the destructive storm. Yet, every islander we spoke to about it said that they have come a long way in their clean up and restoration efforts, so I can only imagine.
Hurricane Irma made landfall where I live in SWFL at a Category 5 and I personally experienced the wrath of this storm. I was hunkered down in the closet listening to what sounded like several freight trains coming in at once, through my roof with every blast of wind. My windows was so compromised from the force of the wind picking up water from the canal across the street and literally pelting it at our house that we ended up with leakage on both floors and spent six months replacing tiles, carpet, walls, window etc. so my heart definitely went out to the island who got the brunt of the storm.
As one person explained to me, if it could be categorized as such, Hurricane Irma making landfall on St Martin, it would have been more like a category 7!!!!! Amazingly enough, I felt no pity, just empathy. There was no woe is me attitude on this island, on either side. Everywhere you look people were smiling, friendly, gracious.
There are no traffic lights on St. Martin and traffic patterns was basically you get in where you fit in, the people however, were gracious is letting you into traffic, stopping so you can make turns etc. Driving on narrow roads, around hills and mountains with no traffic lights, and seeming no rules of the road is an adventure within itself. We had lunch in Simpson Bay, a cluster of Lolo’s where I ordered fried fish that took a while to prepare, it was fresh and delicious and the owner/chef apologized for the weight explaining that she only clean and prepare fish when it’s ordered. I joked a little that she must have went to catch it in the ocean behind us… but I was half serious.
Everywhere you turned there was restaurants, food stands, places to eat. I learned that St. Martin is considered the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean. The Lolo is a small traditional restaurant where you can taste the flavors of the local cuisine. As I mentioned before, some of these are food trucks, stands at the side of the road and even converted shipping containers. On an island where resources are limited we quickly learned that shipping containers could be converted to restaurants, stores and even in some instances home. We ventured around sound more and eventually ended up back in Simpson Bay at the same cluster of Lolo’s for dinner but this time at Captain D’s roadside grill where it seems all the locals, visitors and teams that was in town for the Heineken Regatta happening this weekend came to hangout, drink and eat.
Tired, we actually decided to call it a night without checking out what the nighttime happenings on the island looked like. This is my saddest point in St. Martin as I learned the next day (I no longer run my Instagram or I would have been well aware) Soca artist Alison Hinds was the performer at the Regatta concert that night. 25 years of the hubby telling me that if he ever was in the same room with Alison Hinds he wouldn’t remember my name, we had missed the opportunity to see her live (again). I messaged Alison and she graciously responded that she had already left the island shortly after the show but hoped we were having a wonderful time.
A good day of adventure overall.