Friday, February 17, 2017

Life in St. Martin - RX Eyeglasses In Foreign Countries

OK so now what???  We're here in St. Martin.  First on our agenda was to get new batteries.  Our plan was to order expensive Lifeline AGMs to replace our no-name mismatched AGMs.  A trip to the nearest marine store, l'Ile Marine (formerly Budget Marine on the French side) and we changed our minds.  They carry a much less expensive brand, Numax... sold in the UK... (and no, I'm not going to become that annoying traveler that touts my worldliness every chance I get, but face it, the US is not the world) we can have three batteries for the price of one Lifeline...  And we won't have to worry so much if we have to replace them again in three years.  Cruisers are hard on batteries...  So we arranged to have them delivered to our boat the next morning out in Marigot Bay.

And about Marigot Bay... It is a wide open anchorage with lots of boats.  Depts are in the 10-20 ft range and even though it is a large, seemingly unprotected space the prevailing east winds and waves don't reach this bay...  normally.  We have a forecast for North or NE wind and waves following a brief clocking around through the west... which will cause the anchorage to be uncomfortable.  So do we go into the Lagoon?

The scary canal and bridge opening to allow a boat through
We've heard lots of bad things about the Lagoon being dirty and the bridges being difficult to transit due to current... and the depths inside the Lagoon are treacherous...  But it's safer in there, and more comfortable in adverse conditions...  But the holding is terrible and if the winds really pick up there will be boats dragging all around into one another...  What to do, what to do?

Our little group was experiencing an overall reluctance to enter the Lagoon, so we decided to just tough it out in the Bay unless it got really bad... We are close to the canal where the chandlery is (where we will be spending a lot of time) and for now, we will just stay put and do all of our exploring by dinghy.

Once you pass through the canal, which can have some current but not that big a deal, you come into the wide open space of Simpson Bay Lagoon.  There are channel markers, contrary to what we had been told... leading to the left and to the right.  Turn to port and you will pass a couple of boatyards and a mooring field.  Boats are moored fore and aft and stacked in like dominos...

Moored boats

Further on you find the public dinghy dock at Marina Royale.  There is a boardwalk around the cul-de-sac lined with bars and restaurants and some shops.  We were told that this dinghy dock is the safest place to leave a locked dinghy.  There is another public dock out in Marigot Bay in the middle of town but it is reportedly stalked by thieves who are bold enough to steal your gas can in broad daylight.  We won't be stopping there in the dinghy... we can easily reach it on foot.
A walk through Marigot

A modest vendor on the poor side of town

There are small groceries scattered throughout 

So many people have told us that we are going to love St. Martin.  After only a couple of days here, we can wholeheartedly agree.  Fears about the language barrier are gone as almost everyone here speaks at least a little english...  Especially the ones who wish to sell us something!  Cruisers can reach anything they need by dinghy and a short walk.  If you want to tour the island it can be done by rental car for about $40 per day, or you can hop onto one of the public busses for $2 or less per person each way.  You can splurge on a taxi for not much more.

St. Martin promotes itself as "The Friendly Island" and I can vouch for the truthfulness of this.  Everywhere we go, people are friendly and welcoming.  It is very easy to be here... we may never leave!

Bruce broke his eyeglasses recently and we worried that we wouldn't be able to get replacements...  We asked around and found that there are several optometrists and many places to get glasses made.

Tendence Optic looked like a good enough place to look... Genevieve was a little evasive about the cost of the exam... but after we picked a frame for Bruce, she said that we could have a second pair for free in his prescription for around $500 US, including the exam.  That's about what we would have paid in the states so we were happy with that!

The exam was "old school" which suits me just fine.  I've never been happy with the new method and after Bruce got his glasses back and loved them... I ordered a pair of sunglasses for myself!  I paid about $200 less for mine than I paid for the same options in Florida.  I should have ordered them when Bruce did, because they take 3 weeks to arrive...  Island Time.

This will be our third time receiving "health care" outside the US.  And we are happy to say that we are happy customers!  Yes... there IS life outside the States... It may be a little more relaxed and not as shiny and polished... but I'll gladly trade good, friendly care over a fancy couch to sit on in the waiting room any day!

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