St. Martin is a small 34 square mile island that has a schizophrenic approach to life. Half of it belonged to France and speaks French and Phillipsburg where we docked is in the Dutch part. However, its proximity to its kindly neighbor to the north means that everyone speaks English and the dollar is accepted everywhere. We also heard the locals speaking Spanish. Communication is of the essence on St. Martin/St. Maarten.
We’ve been here on cruises a number of times and have fond memories of the place. The shopping is great and we especially enjoyed “crewing” a 12 meter boat that had competed for the America’s Cup. Madly turning the wheel to raise and lower the sails while leading at a 45º angle was exciting. But we had already enjoyed the excursions offered by the ship, so we headed off to try something new on our own.
I love to go to the beach and would love to spend the day there. After ten minutes Ken gets bored at the beach. This has caused some conflict at times. But here Ken found a beach that made us both happy. We taxied to Maho Beach, a beautiful crescent of fine sand leading to the aquamarine colored waters that draw tourists to the Caribbean. What makes Maho unique is that it is located at the foot of the runway for the international airport. Good sized planes fly in and out all day, some bound for the mother countries of France and the Netherlands. When they land they skim the heads of the beach combers and make a terrible roar. When they take off the exhaust of the plane knocks people over and throws them into the water with the sand swirling around their heads.
The flight schedule posted on a surf board at the edge of the beach indicated which large planes would be coming in today. These were interspersed with smaller, private craft that did not endanger our lives and limbs, but still put on a good show. I bobbed in the warm surf, coming out to photograph when planes approached and Ken clicked away, content to spend hours at the beach. A wonderful time was had by all.