Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Friendly Island-Part 2

Upon arriving in Sint Maarten, we realized immediately that things were just a bit off.  And by off I mean it was different than home.  I rarely travel, so I’m not very worldly.  Anything different I notice right away and can’t let it go.

First I will start off with the globalization.  Sint Maarten has a lot of things that the States have.  Also, it just happened to be the case that the Dutch side is the more touristy side.  While the French side is more European.  For example, the main currency on the French side is the Euro, while on the Dutch side they claim it’s the Netherlands Antilles Guilder, but really the U.S. Dollar has taken over in dramatic fashion–America!

Well at least they tried.

So right off the bat, it feels a little like home.  That is until you see things like a Texaco station.  Or a 7-Alive instead of a 7-11.

Also, there is no sales tax on the island.  It’s the Delaware of the Caribbean!  It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt though.  Or in this case, some one overpays at a restaurant.

A word to the wise, when you get your check at the restaurant, it may help you to ask your waitress why there is a sales tax on your bill, when Sint Maarten is duty-free.

Travel websites all over warn tourists that natives of Sint Maarten will sometimes try to trick American into leaving extra money even when there is already “sales tax” added onto the bill.  Needless to say, my friends and I learned this the hard way at the first restaurant we ate at.

Meow? Would you like to join us for lunch?

This last point may not be weird, but its just something I’m not used to seeing in a populated area.  Stray animals.  I’m from a suburb of Philadelphia, when there is a random cat outside, it’s a big deal.  My mom will go on a hunt for our outdoor cat to make sure he won’t be attacked.  And even then that random cat might not even be a stray.  It’s probably just our neighbor’s outdoor cat.

But in Sint Maarten?  Stray animals are every where.  Dog, cats, whatever.  Some looked mangy, sad or hungry.  Some looked OK.

One afternoon while we enjoyed lunch in the capital, Philipsburg, a stray cat just sat at our feet.  I knew this was trouble the minute I heard the meow.  I love cats–well, all animals–so my spidey-senses went off immediately.  However, my roommate Ilana has an irrational need for animal companionship.  She wanted it immediately.  Secretly so did I.  Nothing says fantastic souvenir like a new pet riddled with whatever Caribbean diseases that reign free on the island.

We did, however, see stray animals that made our hearts break.  A black lab with its ribs showing.  Another dog with dirty fur and cuts on its paws.  It was a never-ending ASPCA commercial that you just couldn’t escape

Some stray animals on the island become sort of like pets for restaurants–like the cat who snuggled at our feet at Taloula Mango’s in Philipsburg.  While others just wander aimlessly.

On a related note, upon returning to New Brunswick after my trip, I noticed significantly more stray animals–mostly cats–wandering throughout the city.  I hadn’t noticed them before.  I’m assuming they didn’t just show up while I was away on spring break.  As if it was some cat coalition to invade the streets of dirty New Brunswick.  Regardless, someone, somewhere, never watched the Price is Right and heeded Bob Barker’s warning to help control the pet population…

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The Friendly Island–Part 1

postcards were made on this island

Oh yeah, for spring break I went to Saint Martin/Sint Maarten.

I went with two good friends, Ilana and Jamie.  It’s a lovely little island that’s split in two.  Half controlled by France, half controlled by the Dutch.   I stayed on the Dutch side.

I could go into great detail about how beautiful the island was.  How places like this only exist in movies.  How the sunsets took my breath away.  But I won’t.  It’s a Caribbean island, I’m pretty sure that’s just a given.

First, I will start off with the plane ride.

Yes, we had a 9 a.m. flight. So that meant getting to the airport before the sun did.

Disclaimer:  I hate flying.  It’s a hate that manifested years and years ago, for no reason at all.  I attribute it to disaster movies, my fear of heights, and possibly just a reason to feel proud of myself when I step off a plane.

Let’s take another step back for a hot second.  Upon going to load up my car with our bags, I was rewarded with a lovely surprise.  My drivers’ side window had been smashed.  Glass was all over the front seats, there was a rock on the passenger seat.  It was completely gone.  I cried.

So with a little replanning, we loaded our bags into Ilana’s civic, moved my car to my boyfriend’s driveway, and heading on our way–half an hour late–to Newark Airport.  Needless to say, I lived through the plane ride, much to my disbelief.  You could go on about how I’m being dramatic and planes are the safest way to travel.  But just wait until you hear about the airport in Sint Maarten.  Princess Juliana International Airport a.k.a. We fit the shortest runway in the world on the only stretch of straight land on the tiny island and hope for the best.

Our resort had a good view of planes landing and taking off.

That part is in entirely true.  There are specials on the History Channel on the most dangerous airports in the world and Princess Juliana is one of them.  Basically there’s the ocean, about 15 feet of sand, and then the runway.  So up until the last possible second, if you look out the window, you convince yourself to prepare for a water landing.  And as everyone knows, planes don’t land in water, they crash.  No big deal.

When leaving the plane, you’re encouraged to congratulate the pilot on a good landing.  That isn’t just a thing for all flights, there were signs in the airport asking “Did you congratulate your pilot today?”  And by good landing, they mean not dying.  Then there’s take-off.  As I said before, the runway is very short.  and then directly in front of it are the mountains of Sint Maarten.

So immediately after take-off the plane–and of course that aforementioned, experienced pilot–must make a 90 degree turn to the south before subsequently crashing into the mountain face.  Fortunately while you’re taking off, you can’t see ahead of you.  You’re mesmerized by the view from your side window; the island, the blue ocean, and the sadness that you’re leaving your vacation spot for dreary New Jersey.

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He got a hair cut?

Here are some updates on a man I like especially much.  Caleb Followill.

From VH1 Storytellers

1.  He’s getting married.

 Well… there goes my chance. As if i had one.  He’s marrying a model.  Whatsherface.  I don’t even think she has a name.  She’s just that chick marrying the front man of Kings of Leon.  And she was in the video for Use Somebody.  I hope she enjoys Tequila as much as he does.

2. He got a hair cut?

Evidently, he’s got a receding hair line.  I liked his long hair before.  Perhaps because of his ever-present hair whip during shows.  Willow Smith has nothing on that hair whip.  But that fluffy tuft above those direct eyes will suffice.  For now.

Hi. My name’s Liz.  And I’m a stalker.

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