Monday, February 27, 2017

It’s A Date - Dinner And A Parade

So many times in our Cruising past, we have failed to be in the right place at the right time.  Finally we are poised at the cusp of being “Where it’s at” to participate as much or as little as we please.  Word has it that there’s a parade in Marigot… Something to do with Mardi Gras?  

We’ve had enough of boat projects for a day or two… let’s take the day off and head ashore to see if we can find the parade!  Breakfast came to us by way of the Bagette Boat… The Almond croissants are seriously delicious… but good luck trying to convince this cute couple that I can NOT eat them every day!  I think they lapse into understanding only French when it suits them… Well…maybe just one more…
Gated cemetery right on the waterfront in Marigot

I'm afraid to go in and find out what happiness is being served by oneself within...

I always appreciate the pop up art...

Vendors pedal their wares to the tourists

By the time we went to shore, returned to the boat for Bruce’s shoes… and made it back to the dinghy dock… I was beginning to feel hunger pangs again.  We strolled the nearly deserted streets where one after another interesting looking restaurant displayed nothing but shutters…  Soon enough we began to smell food and followed our noses to Rosemary’s.  

The menu looked good, and the welcoming attitude of the server convinced us to squeeze into this crowded little open air eatery…  We ordered fried Mahi Mahi with Creole sauce… mmmmm… 
Festive decorations hanging from the ceiling!

As we sat there listening to the sounds of French conversation, watching pigeons strut around beneath the tables in search of crumbs… and devouring a simple but delicious dinner we couldn’t help but marvel at what odds had brought us to be in this place…  We truly are fortunate.

Just as we were finishing up our dinner and paying the very reasonable bill, we began to feel the thump, thump, thump that would fill in to become very loud music.  That must be the parade!  We pointed our feet in that direction and followed our ears until we could literally feel the thumping as it echoed in our chests and rattled our ribs!  My own heart had to compete for control inside my chest.

Eventually they stopped looking menacing and turned to watch the parade!
We found some policemen where the road was blocked off up ahead and asked around.  Perfect spot!  The parade would come right down this road toward us and then turn to our right.  We would have a primo viewing place right here.  

We wondered why there was no sign of the parade after a bit… and asked our policeman about it.  He said that the lead car had a flat tire so the whole parade had to cool its heels until a repair could be made!  Eventually the music got louder and we could finally see the beginnings of the parade participants coming our way.

First came some sort of evil creature… I’m sure it was symbolic of something.  Must brush up on my Mardi Gras lore… 

Then the Princess and Queen, followed by one after another group of mostly ladies, but a few men… all dressed in bling and feathers!  

The costumes ranged from fully elaborate, to rather simple.  The makeup and the sparkles and the movement to the music made me want to dance!  

A few times people would encroach on our view, but for the most part we had front row seats just behind the policemen.  Several times the crowd had to be pushed back to allow space for the semi-trucks pulling the bands with all of their equipment and VERY LOUD speakers to pass.  Two of them had to make multiple attempts to make the sharp turn without taking out a lamp post or the eaves of the building behind us.  It was all very exciting to watch and I felt for those poor drivers.  I was also very glad that I didn’t have that job!  Driving a boat in wide open waters is very much more my speed!

Several trucks had to make multiple attempts to make this turn.

There were many long pauses in the movement of the paraders… I think it was due to performances for the judges just down our road.  By the time the later groups made it to us, the kids were visibly running out of energy.  The day is warm and the sun is shining directly on them for the most part.  One poor girl looked as if she was going to drop.

Handing out BEER!
There were handlers keeping up with their groups, providing water and food.  They were also throwing out water, t-shirts, and even handing out BEER!  Wonder what it takes to get a permit to hand out beers to random strangers of indeterminate age in the streets!!!  Oh yeah… we aren’t in the US anymore!  NO PERMIT NEEDED!  We didn’t get a beer, but we did get a cold water!  Score!

Looking a little tired!!

What happened to the guns???

Just cuteness!!

Potty break!!
Eventually Bruce started to fidget.  I ignored it for a while, so he had to step it up and actually say that he was ready to head back to the boat.  It was 3pm and very warm.  

Walking back through the empty streets, we caught a small group of paraders waiting outside the public restroom… Wonder how they got those costumes off… and back on again so that they could rejoin the parade just down the alley…

As we backtracked to the dinghy dock it was like seeing the parade again only backwards… and with less energy!  These scary dudes looked positively frightful with a little body language shift…

What a great day it was.  On our way back we passed our friends on Adventure Us 2, who had attended the parade with Smart Move.  We missed them because of our unscheduled return to the boat, but in the end, it was fun doing our own thing, just the two of us.  Trying to keep up with four other people in this crowd wouldn’t have been easy.  As it was, we could hold hands and wind our way through… just like being on a date!  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bucket List - ✔Maho Beach

AU2 stayed behind with us slow pokes while Smart Move sped on ahead!
For years I've been following the other Cruisers who have blogged about their experiences, and I have a full mental list of things I really want to do!  Maho Beach is on that list!

There are several Maho Beaches out here... but the one I'm talking about is the one where the runway for a major airport begins - or ends, depending upon which way the wind is blowing - at this beach!

When Robyn and Barry on Smart Move invited us to tag along with them to Maho, we cleared our schedule and hopped into the dinghy!  They sped off across the Lagoon leaving us to put-put along after them in our slow dinghy.  JL and Michael were nice enough to hover like a mother hen so that we wouldn't get lost!

One of several wrecks in the lagoon
The Causeway Bridge leading to the Dutch side - Sint Maarten

Passing beneath the Causeway Bridge in the middle of the Lagoon

There are a LOT of very large and beautiful yachts here on the Dutch side

The bar is right behind these big, beautiful boats!!!

I couldn't even fit the entire mast in the camera frame!
We all met up again at a place called la Palapa... or more precisely... the Soggy Dollar Bar dock.

I for one was very appreciative that we had someone to show us the way.  Robyn and Barry have been here before... they told us where to tie up, then they led us through the bar to the street where we could catch a bus to our destination.

We will have to come back here when we're done!
When we looked up and down the "main drag" here on the Dutch side, I marvelled at how different it is from the French side.  There are more cars and more businesses with a completely UN-French vibe!  How can these two worlds live separately on such a tiny island???

Driving is done on the right side of the road island-wide.  We just stood beside the zooming traffic until we saw a van with a card in the window that said "Maho" displayed... one raised hand and our ride arrived!

See the sign?
We piled inside and away we went... bouncing over the busy streets of Dutch Sint Maarten.  Soon we reached our destination where we piled back out again and paid our $1.50 US per person.  We found ourselves surrounded by tourists and restaurants and little beach bars.

Two steps further and Maho Beach stretched out before us... bright white sand and sparkling blue water... packed full of tan bodies.

SO MANY BODIES!!!  As we wove our way through the throngs of beach-goers and picture-takers, a couple of smaller planes came in for a landing.

The noise and blowing sand from just these small planes was enough to convince me that I did NOT want to be here when a big plane came in.

Thanks to Robyn, we found the perfect spot from which to watch the festivities... and have a delicious lunch!

We were able to find a primo table bayside at Sunset Beach Bar where we settled to watch the show.

Planes come throughout the day but the larger ones seem to come mid morning and mid afternoon.  We saw many landings, fascinated to watch the completely odd scene of giant planes floating right over the heads of the unsuspecting beach-goers.

There's always one...
It's all fun and games until one big plane spends a little extra time at the start line... big jet engines rev higher and higher.

Suddenly sand begins to swirl... the blast becomes stronger still... until sand and people are literally tumbling into the water as the big bird releases the brakes and hurls itself forward into the sky!
You can see the sand and people being blown into the water!  It was awesome!
We stayed until the big planes were done and our delicious lunch was gone.  You can only watch this for so long before it becomes somewhat repetitive...  Check this one off the Bucket List.  It's done!

It wasn't how I had imagined it.  In my mind's eye...  I envisioned me standing on this beach with only Bruce and maybe a couple of friends.  I would be slim and tanned in a bikini... my hair would be long and blond... I would lie back on my beach blanket with my camera at the ready for a big one to come.  I would lazily raise the camera and take the perfect video and photos from directly beneath the landing plane... so close I could have stretched out my toe and touched it's belly as it passed over.  My hair would have lifted gently in the soft breeze...  

Wake up Tammy!  What really would have happened if Robyn had not the sense to find us a safe haven from which to watch the carnage is this:  I would have stood down there in the blazing hot sand, jostled by the hot, sweaty bodies of people way to bold and comfortable in their own skin to be touching me...  That big plane would have come over and I would have NO pictures because I would have been screaming and reeling from the pain as sand entrenched burrowed beneath my eyelids... And I would STILL be picking impacted sand out of crevices I didn't know I had!  Thank you Robyn and Barry!

Happily anticipating a review of my photos, we traipsed back across the sand to catch the "Phillipsburg" bus back to the Soggy Dollar...

In case you missed the sign earlier...

After a photo op with the big boats...
When I escape from the boat and get away from the endless list of boat projects, I am reluctant to return... So when JL and Michael suggested we stop for happy hour at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club I said YES!
You know you're at a yacht club when...

Do people really carry around a supply of burgees to leave at random yacht clubs?
Now I would not normally just make myself at home at ANY yacht club... even though we were members of one back home before we left... But evidently this is an open kind of yacht club... the kind that only wants to see your money.  And the prices at happy hour really weren't that bad.

Me first!!!
The Claim-to-fame at THIS yacht club is it's proximity to the Simpson Bay Bridge.  This is the bridge through which all of the mega yachts must pass to gain entry to the Lagoon.  The French bridge is too narrow and the channel is not dredged deep enough to accommodate them.  So... coincidentally, there is a bridge opening time that happens at the height of happy hour!

Let the show begin!
People come in droves to sit and watch the big boats squeeze through the opening.  It is marvellous fun and a perfect end to a perfect break from boat projects!

Easy does it!  Center it up...


That all folks, nothing to see here... keep moving...