Tuesday, March 31, 2015

De plane!

I'm still thinking about the trip. I got an email message from Captain Bob, the owner of the boats, asking how we liked the tour. I gave him a glowing review on tripadvisor. It really was a good time. The tours are designed for cruisers, so they try to pack the sights and the snorkeling all into a specific length of time. We weren't limited by time, but 6 hours cruising on a speedboat was enough.

The last bit of the tour is the jet flyover at Maho Beach. We had stopped at some resort beach that had such clear blue water, but we were only there a minute (and already one guy had jumped off the boat into the water), when our captain, Roddick (a French person), looked over his shoulder and shouted out, "The plane is coming! If you want to see it come in, we have to get going!" (all with an outrageous French accent) Everyone, including the guy already in the water, agreed we wanted to haul boat butt over to Maho for the flyover. The swimmer climbed back in the boat and we took off for Maho. It sure was a speed boat. Roddick handled it well, though, and we plowed to a stop in the middle of Maho Bay while the plane was still just a small dot in the sky. Personally, I don't know how he saw it that first time, but we were all glad he did, because it was AWESOME.

The metal bars belong to the little boat top.

This is the underside of a plane. It was SO CLOSE.
That is me in the water. Yes, I was there.

Happy day! We love being on a speed boat!

Oh, the water, the beautiful, clear, turquoise water! Isn't that like the prettiest color in the whole world?

The French person, aka Captain Roddick

The radar thingie at the airport/beach

An airplane's butt

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thursday on St Maarten, wherein I attempted to snorkel

One thing we didn't do when we went to Florida Keys back in 2013 is go boating or snorkeling. I take that back, we did travel on the catamaran to Fort Jackson, Dry Tortugas. But we didn't snorkel, and while we were at Fort Jackson, I was sort of jealous of the people I saw snorkeling. They said it was great fun and they saw all sorts of neat (and even keen) things.

Well, dangit, while on the island, we were going to snorkel, even if it killed me, and I was worried that it would. I do love being in the water, but I wasn't sure I could handle the mask and snorkel; that I would feel claustrophobic, or that it would bug me not to breathe with my nose. But I thought I wanted to try anyway. Jim, who doesn't much like being in large bodies of water, said he would try it too, even though I gave him an out by saying I wouldn't be offended or think anything of him staying in the boat.

Jen and Mike recommended a day trip that included snorkeling with Soualiga Tours and we signed up.

And it turned out to be the best day ever.

See that little speed boat on the left? That was our vehicle for the day. One captain, and three other couples besides ourselves. Despite the free all you can drink beer on board, no one got drunk. Yay!

Jim and I sat in the back of the boat and since the water was choppy and the front of the boat went up and down a heckuva lot more than the back, I was glad we sat in the back. On the other hand, the back of the boat was subject to large sprays of seawater. So we were soaked and my eyes stung from the saltwater.  I was determined to have a good time, so I didn't let myself care about getting wet--we were going snorkeling later and we would be getting wet then anyway. As for the stinging eyes, eventually, that went away.

(I just went through all the pictures we took during the boat trip and I'm going to have to break it up into several posts)

We finally got to Tintamarre Island where our first snorkel adventure would be. I was afraid to jump into the water, which surprised me a little. But this snorkeling adventure was about doing something fun that I hadn't done before, and if I was going to do it, I had to get over myself and jump in. So I did, and I lived. Yay for me!  Jim also lived! Yay for Jim!

Putting my face in the water and breathing through the snorkel tube sent me into a bit of a panic (complete with thrashing arms and flailing finned feet) at first, but I found that concentrating on breathing for a few seconds made the panic go away. Then I could enjoy myself.

It was so peaceful staring into the world under the waves. We saw a sea turtle and many fish. All the noise was deadened while my head was underwater, so unless I was staring at the halves of people under the water, I kind of forgot they were there. I managed two decent pictures with my underwater camera (and many more sucky ones). Actually these are pretty sucky too, but at least you can tell what I was pointing the camera at.

The second place we snorkeled at was Creole Rock. We only had half an hour at each place, not nearly enough time as I would have liked to spend (but there were other things to do and they were fun too). I took one fairly decent picture here (and as before, many more terrible ones):
I like that fishy. I think I will name him Ralph.
And here is one of Creole Rock:

I have decided that I want snorkel gear for my birthday or Christmas. And I plan to go on a snorkeling vacation (doesn't have to be St. Maarten, I would settle for the Keys again) someday. I could spend all day paddling about with a pool noodle tucked under my arms (that's what Jim and I did so we didn't have to pay attention to not sinking), a snorkel mask on my face, and my face pointed down in the water.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The restaurant at the middle of the alley

Panoramic photo of Nettle Beach. Such relax........

Happy selfie...waiting for more French food

Sunset view from the restaurant in Grand Case

Happy Jim

our table was right up against the railing, which was right on the sand, not 15 feet from the ocean

panoramic pic of sunset

dessert, a profiterole  SO DELICIOUS

moonlight on the deck of the villa

I thought I would start off with pictures. We spent Wednesday walking around Phillipsburg. I'll have more picrures of Phillipsburg later because we went back on Friday. The big deal of this day was the dinner in Grand Case. Our guide book says that Grand Case is the culinary capital of the Caribbean. For such a dinky little town that is difficult to get into (seriously we took wrong turns several times), the title is well-deserved. The only issue we had was that at the time we wanted to eat, most of the restaurants were closed. I swear we are old people. We were looking around for places to eat along the alleyway that serves as the main road through the heart of Grand Case around 5 but most of them didn't open until 6:30. We finally found an open restaurant, actually the guy found us and lured us in with promises of jumbo shrimp. The minute he said shrimp, I was practically sitting down. The food was heavenly. I had a risotto that I wish went on forever. And the scallops and shrimp were perfect. Jim had ribs. For dessert, we shared a profiterole.
The restaurant itself was a lovely little place with a host who was happy to have us there. The server was funny too--Jim reached over to the water bottle to pour himself another glass and she rushed over and said, "Step away from the water!" She was so eager to be of service. I felt like we should have been celebrating a major anniversary with the view, the food and the service.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Orient Beach

On Tuesday I actually spent the morning in the seminar for dental practice management. It was very good, especially the presentation from the guy who had gone to jail for insurance fraud--his presentation was "Stay Out of Jail". He taught us all how not to get caught at it (HA not really). I tried very hard not to make jokes about everything because I was sitting next to my boss (He's also the reason I am tempted to make jokes and stuff). I took notes on the hotel-logoed pad of paper given to us as a freebie by the hotel. The hotel pad that had 3 sheets of paper on it and a fine cardboard backing. Yes. 3 WHOLE SHEETS OF PAPER. And it was warped from water damage. Boy, did the Westin go all out or what???

But you don't want to hear about the conference, which was held in a windowless room so we couldn't be distracted by the view of the beach.

After the conference, Jim and I had lunch in another French restaurant called Le planteur. It was very uncrowded. Jim and I have determined that the French do not like to be rushed when they eat and so everything is served in an untimely manner. You forget that time is actually passing. You just sit there and look at the view.
The view of Oyster Bay. Our villa is on the other side of that big hill on the right side of the picture.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Even the picture is relaxing

The interior of "Le planteur." Again, no real walls. Open air eating with a roof for shade.

After lunch, we set our sights on Orient Beach. We didn't get lost so much as we guessed wrong a couple of times. We never did see a sign for the public beach area. 

We did spy a sign for "Club Orient" and figured that it was close to the beach. It was a resort but it allowed public parking. So we parked and asked the attendant how much it was to park. He said "It's free today." Yay for free! We walked into the resort to get to the beach and discovered Club Orient is a resort for nudists. HAHAHAHAHA! We just kept walking.  We finally did get to the beach, but it was the part of the beach where the nudists sunbathe. We just kept walking. I felt like everyone was looking at me because I was wearing a swimming suit. Also, I was probably the youngest one there by decades. No, I didn't take any pictures. There was a sign saying pictures weren't allowed.

We finally found the not nude section of Orient beach and got ourselves a couple of chaises and an umbrella. 

At one point, I saw a guy walking along the beach that looked a lot like Mike (who had gone their own way that day and I wasn't sure where they had gone to). The closer he got, the more like Mike he looked. Then he stopped at my chair and said, "Hey. Here you are." It was Mike. How ridiculous not to realize that the reason that the guy looked like Mike was because it WAS Mike. Anyway, he was walking up and down the beach looking for something he and Jen had lost. They were at the other end of the beach. Then he went on his merry way.

I went into the water and bobbed around in the swells again. I stayed mostly by the jet ski in the picture above. There was a guy who came within a dozen yards and motioned for me to approach him. I was leery, but after repeated attempts to get me to come closer, I finally decided he was harmless and went over. I'm glad I did because he was surrounded by a school of angelfish and he was feeding them bread. He gave me some bread and let me feed the angelfish. IT WAS SO COOL. They nibbled on my finger and having no teeth, it was simply a funny feeling and not painful. The fish were beggars, they knew that there was food to be had and they wanted it. It made me laugh. What a perfectly delightful beach activity! Eventually the guy wanted to take his school of angelfish to show others, and as he was about to leave, he looked around at the fish and said, "OK everybody, come with me.  This way." And he and the fish moved on to the next person in the water. What a strange person, and it was one of the highlights of the vacation. Too bad Jim chose to sit on the beach the whole time and not get into the water.

At the end of the beach time, we had to walk back through the nudist part and resort. I was telling Jim how even if I wanted to be a nudist and stay here, I would have to wear shoes (rocks and sticks and grass and stuff) and just as I said that, a guy walked by (nude of course) and replied, "Ain't that the truth."

Friday, February 20, 2015


After Friar's Bay, and going back to the villa for a shower, we contemplated where to eat. Jim and I had seen a creperie in Oyster Bay and I had a keen interest in trying it out. Mike and Jen agreed to go along. At first, Mike wasn't so sure about it, because he wanted pizza. Fortunately, the BZH had pizza on the menu.

I have no idea what BZH stands for and I wish I'd asked. We'd also had a grocery store clerk tell us that she worked at BZH in the evening and we should go there to eat. So when we showed up, there she was and she remembered us. She saw us and said in her awesome French accent, "You came!"

I ordered a savory crepe with creme fraiche, ham, avocado, and a sunny side up egg in it. I think we all enjoyed our food, except for Jen, who ordered a different kind of savory crepe that had a kind of sausage on it that smelled and tasted like a barn. The server said it was a French taste and probably an acquired taste at that. I tried it and it was indeed yucky.

I'm glad for Jen's sake that we got dessert too, so the trip wasn't entirely a downer for her. I ordered an apple cinnamon crepe and Jim got a caramel one. I loved my apple one, but when I tried Jim's caramel one, I had to physically restrain myself from taking it from him and eating the rest myself. It was heavenly. All week, I had thoughts of that crepe in my head. If I ever go to St Maarten again, I will go to the BZH and eat caramel crepes every night.

I have to post all the pictures of the two of us together that I can.

The BZH restaurant kitty

The luminescent mushroom lights. I want several of these.

My apple crepe. I didn't take a picture of Jim's caramel crepe--we were too busy eating it.

The BZH menu on an Apple computer screen. They somehow put the pieces of paper behind the screen glass and no it wasn't a computer generated image appearing on the screen.

the restaurant dog. He wandered around the restaurant and would occasionally stop to let people pet him, or he would nap under a table.

from the outside

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Couples pictures and my near death experience

So after Maho, Jim and I headed back to the villa. We kind of got lost, but on a tiny island only 37 square miles in size, it's hard to be too lost. There is only one main road around the island, and only a few roads that run off of it. Anytime there is a choice of roads to take, they use a roundabout to control traffic--which means there is not a single stoplight on the island. And very, very few stop signs.

Mike and Jen had returned from their scuba adventure and we went out for dinner together at the restaurant that is Busby's during the afternoon. It's weird that it's called something else for the evening (Daniel's by the Sea? Can't quite remember, dangit). There was a dog at the restaurant. We weren't sure if it was owned by anyone, but since the restaurant had only a roof (no walls, only railings) the dog came and went as it pleased. The French like their animals and allow them in restaurants.

Jen and Mike. Also notice that the restaurant features plastic patio furniture to sit on. Then again, we are essentially eating on a deck.

Yours truly, and my truly.
 We then retired to the villa for a round of Settlers of Catan while the Super Bowl played in the background.

On Monday, Jim and I lazed around a bit in the morning. Jen and Mike left for their second scuba appointment, but returned soon after because of an accident that suspended diving activity. Jen was sure death was involved (and she found out later that she was right). So the four of us headed out to Friar's Bay beach for lunch and sunbathing. The rental cars were powerless little husks, and with the four of us in the car and the air conditioning on, it was iffy whether we were going to make it up the steep hill. I was afraid we were going to start drifting backwards ("into the bay" Jenni, remember that Bill Cosby routine?). Jim had the bright idea to turn off the AC to give the engine more power and it worked. The car still putt-putted up the hill, but I wasn't worried that we were going to slip backwards.

Friar's Bay was not very crowded unless you count the pack of roaming dogs. We ate lunch there--there are restaurants right on the beach. The waves got big later on in the day and I was dumb enough to attempt to outrun a large wave. I had been bobbing around in the swells quite a ways out (for me) and I realized these big swells were creating big crashing waves on the beach, which were not going to be fun to dodge when trying to get back to shore. I went for it anyway, and a big wave crashed on me, knocking me down and pulling me under. It was so strong that it knocked my two-piece bathing suit different directions and I was trying to pull everything back on while also wondering when I was going to resurface so I could take a breath. Just in time, the wave receded and I was saved from drowning and dying. I felt a little out of whack after that. I kinda felt like I'd been assaulted. But I refused to let my "near-death" experience dampen my mood. I had to take a good long shower when we got back, though, because that wave put sand everywhere. I'm sure I was nowhere near dying really, but still one does tend to get a little creeped out when one isn't sure when the next opportunity to breathe air will be.

So serene!

Jim is sporting his tropical vacation wear.

More open air restaurant eating.

More selfie

It wasn't cloudy the whole time. It rained only briefly once that day. (it rained briefly once or twice for a few minutes several days we were there)

Those rocks made a cool tapping noise when the waves pushed them up on the shore and then dragged them back out.