The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Allure Trip Journal Part 9: St. Maarten! June 12, 2012

Hello again!

*

Thursday was our port stop at the beautiful island of St. Maarten. I must have been determined to do better at getting off the ship in a timely manner than I did on St. Thomas, because by the time we got up, dressed, ate breakfast in the WJ, and disembarked, we were still early for the tour. Go, us!

*

Through previous email communications with the tour vendors (Bernard’s tours, if you’re interested) I knew a little better exactly where to go and what to look for when getting off the ship. The steel drum band playing when we disembarked was charming, and a neat touch that really added to the festive feel of the port, at least for me. So we found the tour operator and paid for our tour ($40 per person, in case you’re interested). They said we were still waiting for some other folks, so we sat in the shade at a little table by the gift shop. I didn’t want my little darlings to get sunburned, so I took this opportunity to, as we call it in my family, “slime them down” with sunscreen. A note here: I had stocked up on sunscreen and had 5 (FIVE!) containers of the stuff in varying forms and strengths tucked away in suitcase pockets here and there.

*

At this point, The Boy wanted to check out the gift shop. He was still on the hunt for “pirate stuff” because I had found the stuff at the museum in Nassau too pricey, and also because the shirt he had wanted in St. Thomas, (Pirate flag: Dead Men Tell No Tales) we hadn’t found in his size, although we didn’t actually look that hard. I checked out the gift shop with him, and found nothing we desperately needed. (Not like I was getting dangerously low on key chains and refrigerator magnets, right?)

*

So finally the remaining participants arrived and tour was about to start. I had informed them when I made the reservation that we wanted to go to some other beach than Orient. Yes, I had read all the reviews and discussions about the whole nudity thing, and still hoped to minimize the likelihood that the kids would encounter it. They had told me they would take us to Le Galion beach, but the first thing the driver (“Sugar,” if you’re interested) did was to get on the bus and start trying to talk me out of going to Le Galion. He explained that the nudity was all contained to the right side of the beach and that if you don’t go that way you don’t see it, yada yada yada, but if we went to Orient and I still wanted to go to Le Galion, they would take me. Ok, fine, whatever, let’s go.

*

Our first stop was the Iguana Farm. I couldn’t always make out every word the driver said, but basically some guy discovered that the iguanas would come up every day when he fed his chickens. Whether they were actually responding to his call or whether they just learned that there was food given there regularly, who knows? We stopped here and the driver had a bag of lettuce that he scattered around as he called to the iguanas with a high-pitched whistling noise. They came out of the woodwork, surrounding us like a swarm. There were all sizes and colors. The driver told us a few facts about them, and let the kids feed them, and they would come up and take the food right from your hand. He encouraged the kids to touch them, all the while saying they felt like a Gucci purse and asking if Mama liked Gucci. (For the record, Mom wouldn’t know a Gucci if one came up and asked her to dance. ) Anyway, we took tons of pictures and some video, and got back on the bus.

*

Here was one aspect of our day on St. Maarten that I didn’t particularly care for. I understand why it has to be this way, but this wasn’t exactly an ‘at your leisure’ tour. The schedule is constantly in the forefront of the driver’s mind, because the stop at Maho beach is considered the highlight of the tour. If you want to see the big planes land and get back to the ship on time, you have to be there by a certain time. Therefore, your minor stops like feeding walking Gucci purses and fondling sea creatures (not as kinky as it sounds- more on that later) have to be somewhat regimented. Granted, it doesn’t take a great deal of time to complete these activities, but it does lend a somewhat rushed feeling to the tour, and a feeling of being herded.

*

On the other hand, this feature of the tour might be offset for some folks by the fact that this tour offers free drinks! Sugar had stocked his bus with a cooler filled with water bottles, Capri Sun juice pouches (“for the babies,” he said, handing one to my 11 y.o.) cans of soda, AND… a huge bottle of some pink, fruity libation he described colorfully as “…special rum punch, I make it up fresh for you just this morning!” He passed it around to everyone on the bus, along with a stack of tiny little Dixie cups for passengers to help themselves to, or not, as they chose. On our particular bus, he only had to break out one bottle, although he informed us he had prepared FIVE! Yikes! I suppose on a different day, with a different busload of folks, the atmosphere might have been different and he might have needed all 5 bottles, but we were an unusually small group, and mine was not the only family touring with kids, so that might have had something to do with it. If you were the hard-partying type, you would have been well-situated. Later, he let one of the tour participants pour the remains of the rum punch into their own container to drink on the way back to security. I bet his wife really appreciated that!

*

So anyway. Back to fondling sea creatures. Our next stop on the tour was a visit to an enterprising gentleman named Calvin who captured things like sea urchins and spiny urchins and sea stars, and let tourists hold them and take pictures with them. It was fascinating to see them sitting there, moving oozily around in your hand. (Although I politely declined to enjoy that particular sensation!) The kids had fun looking at them, and shock of all shocks, Daughter S. even let him place the sea star (an odd looking creature if I ever saw one) on the back of her neck, calling it a ‘temporary tattoo.’ It’s a great picture, though. Calvin had a little table set up, with shells and sea urchin bits for people to take for free as a souvenir. He also had a little jar and a sign reading, ‘tips appreciated.’ I thought this was, again, quite enterprising of him, and when I later discovered that the bits of seashells and stuff the kids collected while snorkeling didn’t make it through security and back onto the ship, I thought it was actually quite sneaky, and not in a good way. Anything you took from Calvin and left a “donation” for would probably not have made it home with you. ( In case you’re interested.)

 

*

So we returned to the bus and made it to our first of two beach stops- the famed, feared, and much discussed Orient Beach. The driver let us know he was taking us to the establishment of a good friend who would give us a great deal on beach chairs (Only $5 per chair, umbrellas free, in case you’re interested.) I think it was called Brothers? They also boasted easy access to food and beverage, and free bathroom facilities among their amenities. (I thought, GeezMaria, do they even charge for the bathroom in some places?!) Anyway. We were dropped off and made our way between the bar shacks to the chairs. I rented 2 chairs for $10 (the umbrella was free ) and the kids walked on down to the water. It was very beautiful and would have been a great time if we’d had longer than an hour.  For the record, I personally only saw one instance of toplessness, and it was not very obvious.  The more disturbing thing I saw was this OLD man in a thong speedo.  (My eyes!  My eyes!  They’re burning!)

*

I plopped myself down on the chairs and promptly encountered the next feature of the day on St. Maarten that I didn’t exactly care for, and that was the vendor women. These women walked back and forth right at the foot of your beach chairs, trying to sell you towels, wraps, beach bags, and every imaginable variety of jewelry. I made the mistake of letting one of them get too settled in near me (she was hitting up the lady in the next chair) and eventually found myself the owner of $50 worth of magnetic necklaces. (5 of them, in case you’re interested.) I decided that on my next visit I’m going to have a matching t-shirt and hat ensemble made, with the shirt reading “Do Not Try to Sell Me Anything!” and a hat, says a big old ‘NO!’ on it! Lol! I hoped I didn’t get ripped too bad; I figured I’d stuff some in the girls’ Christmas stockings and give one or two of the others away as souvenirs. I’m telling you though, this particular vendor was pretty funny. I think I later remembered her making mention that she made all these beautiful things herself. It didn’t occur to me at the time that two of them were in plastic factory wrapping! ROFL! She must have seen me coming a mile away.

*

All this while, the kids were snorkeling and having all kinds of fun. They found a crab, fairly recently deceased. He was very pretty. Too bad for him he was dead. He must have been very popular with the ladies. Eventually, our brief stop was over. I had only walked down to the water and got my feet wet, rather than swimming, because I knew we still had a little touring to do before our next beach stop, and at the time, I didn’t want to be wet and sandy walking around in Marigot. Of course, if I had it to do over again, I’d say the heck with it!

*

So our next tour stop was Marigot, the French side capital. The kids were pretty hot and tired by this time, so all we did here was get off the bus and walk across the street to a pastry shop called Serafina’s. This place was freakin’ awesome. I took a picture of their display case- beautiful pastries lined up for yards! Ok, maybe only a couple of yards, but still- it was pretty impressive to this little small-town girl. We were all ravenous, so I bought the following: a chocolate eclair, a lemon tart, a goat cheese quiche, a fruit salad, some kind of little sandwich and drinks for all of us. I might have forgotten an item or two, but I thought that sounded like quite a lot for a reasonable price. ($22, if you’re interested.) And let me just say here- it was heavenly. Lemon is my favorite flavor of absolutely everything, and that tart was soooo good! We shared everything, and it made a wonderfully refreshing lunch/snack. If I ever go back there, I will most definitely stop in there again. Yum! If my Weight Watchers hadn’t already been a total trainwreck, this would have absolutely killed it, but it was well worth it! How often does someone from Lone Grove, Oklahoma get to eat real French pastries. Oh, and by the way, if you’ve been there before and they’re actually more French-ish than real French, don’t anybody tell me. Just let me keep my happy delusion. Lol!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

So finally we went to Maho beach. I could have and should have gotten in the water here, but I was already getting sunburned, despite my earlier “sliming,” so I opted to be the weird woman sitting on the beach with a wrap over my legs and a towel across my shoulders. Besides, if I’d been in the water, how could I have taken pictures of the planes? Also, the beach was pretty crowded and I wasn’t sure how safe our stuff would be if I left it there.

*

I met and chatted with a few CCers here, and had a private, wry chuckle at at least one other. Sorry to tell tales here, but this person’s spouse said that this person was “completely toasted” and every time someone answered one of this person’s questions or volunteered information to this person, they would invariably reply with a hearty, “No sh**!” It was pretty funny, if a little obnoxious. I can’t really say anything, because as I have previously confessed, I did a number of obnoxious things on this trip.

*

So finally it was time to go. The kids had had a good time snorkeling and Daughter S. had worked hard to collect several really pretty little shells that, as I mentioned, didn’t make it back through security with us. The scan picked them up and they were removed, but Daughter S. took it much better than I thought she would. We stopped at the “discount” souvenir place, Rimas, that Sugar told us was the ‘WalMart of island souvenirs,’ meaning they were cheaper here than anywhere else. He said he took us there because we had been delayed and had such a short time at Orient Beach, but maybe he always stops there. Not sure. Anyway, in true Hillbilly Tourist fashion, I went in and stocked up. Got some more necklaces (but this time it was a 6-pack for $6.99, in case you’re interested.) Also bought some magnets, postcards, and a completely redundant purchase of some flip-flops for the boy, who had tolerated 3 beaches with socks and tennis shoes as his footwear. So had I, but I don’t have his lack of patience with sand. (By the way, my case of Crappy Souvenir Buying syndrome had now reached a semi-critical level, but it wouldn’t peak until the last night at sea when I “hit the ship shop.” Try saying that 5 times fast! Anyway, more on that later.)

*

We staggered back to the ship, taking a few more pictures along the way, and went back to our room. Daughter S. showered, and the rest of us hung out. For some reason, she and I were both in the bathroom at one point (I don’t know how- we defied physics.) I heard a high pitched screeching commotion and asked her if The Boy and Daughter J. were fighting. (Not at allll out of the realm of possibility.) I burst out of the bathroom ready to conk some heads together if they were the ones making that racket, but what I discovered was Daughter J. jumping up and down and shrieking with joy. Guest Services had called and told her that she could meet Hiccup after the first How To Train Your Dragon ice show on Saturday. She was ecstatic, to say the very least. I have not yet emailed the corporate head honcho boss guy whose name everybody throws around here, but I can’t currently remember (- Oh yeah, Adam, how could I forget?) but I plan to. And I plan to tell him that of all the good food, good service, fun entertainment, amazing piece of machinery/art that is this ship, and everything else we experienced this whole week, that one small gesture that probably meant little or nothing to them, topped it all for my special little girl. More than they will ever know.

*

Next: Rita’s Fiesta and more!

Until next time,

D.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s