Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Last Months in St. Martin

All right, this is supposed to be the last blog written in St. Martin. Mark and I have been here almost four months (that’s a third of a year!) and are almost ready to go. Even Darwin would like to leave, get the attention he deserves, swim in clear water and run on white sand beaches again. Irie is more than itching to go, so we can clean her very dirty, crusty and slimy bottom. We’ll take plenty of barnacles away from the lagoon! As a cruiser, in my opinion, two weeks in St. Martin is enough. One week to fix boat problems and provision, the other one to do some sightseeing, beach bumming and city roaming. We stayed here this much longer, because there is a huge cruising community in Simpson Bay Lagoon during the high season, meaning potential income.

During April and May and into June, Mark has been helping out fellow cruisers with computer issues and I have been doing some freelance writing online. I created walking tours about Marigot and Philipsburg and developed three extensive lesson plans for books read by American high school kids. Over the course of these months, Mark and I also invented “The Wirie”, a complete wireless internet solution for boats. Our Wiries are waterproof, easy to use, within the cruiser’s budget and have the best chip set on the market. Now I feel like I’m giving you guys the sales pitch here, sorry, habit. Anyway, we order the parts to St. Maarten and assemble the units on Irie.

People are pretty excited about the product and they are selling well. The best part is that we have been connected to the internet from the boat ever since the prototype was built! Except when we sold our own unit, because all the others were gone. Then, we had to run ashore again with all the hassle, time and fuel that comes with it, until we built new ones. We’re not doing that again! Our Wirie stays this time. For more info, check out our business website www.thewirie.com.

Even though starting a business out of the Caribbean isn’t an easy feat, life here wasn’t all work and stress. We did find some free time after hours and on Sundays to enjoy ourselves. Every other week or so, I went out for Ladies night with other “youngsters”. From 9 pm onwards, we had free entrance in two clubs, drank free drinks all night and enjoyed free sushi. Not too bad! On Sundays, we relaxed, snuck in a bit more work, organized a brunch for friends or went to Maho Beach for exhilarating experiences with planes. You are so close to the runway there that planes land right above your head or make you hold on for dear life to the fence, when they take off.

We also had some fun nights socializing with Michael and Angie from Germany, Tom from England and his girlfriend Eli from Italy/Egypt/Holland/Germany, Chris and Christine (who we first met in Luperon) from the States, Charlotte and Peter with their three year old daughter Denise from Sweden/Germany, Karen and Mike from England, John, Bobbie and their teenagers from Canada/New Zealand and many other cruisers. Did I ever mention St. Maarten is a cultural mix, even on the water?

When a black dog got dumped on the island across from us, we fed it and tried to find it a home. When we found a cute stray one night in Philipsburg, we almost brought him with us. The bus driver didn’t want him in his van and we weren’t quite ready for another dog, so with pain in our hearts we left him behind. We hoped to see him again in the future, but that never happened.

One day, I didn’t pull our dinghy high enough up the beach where we take Darwin multiple times a day. Wake or the tide helped it afloat and there it went… Since it was my mistake, I didn’t contemplate long, before I waded into the salty, dark and unattractive lagoon, in my underwear. Soon enough I was swimming as hard as I could to catch up with our only dinghy. The distance kept growing, the wind picked up and the harder I swam the more tired I got. Finally, totally exhausted, breathing hard and loud with mouths full of yakkie water, I reached our dinghy. My arms were too tired, though, to haul myself up. So, I held on to our shore vehicle and slowly swam back towards our boat upwind. There, I was able to climb aboard the dinghy via Irie to go fetch my stranded loved ones on the island.

On a better note and more fun was the Carnival in Philipsburg. We went over there one night in April with some friends, all dressed up to find that- other than the carnival groups themselves- we were the only ones to do so. Nonetheless, we had a great time watching the colorful parades and getting deaf from the loud, pumping Calypso music. The costumes were very elaborate and beautiful and the groups danced all day long despite the beaming sun.

In between all our tasks, trials and tribulations, we managed to kind of keep up with the usual chores of laundry, cleaning, shopping, cooking, fixing small boat issues and running Darwin to shore. We still need to focus on getting Irie ready to go and we wish we had more time for Darwin. We are neglecting our child, but hopefully for not much longer. The best part about still being in St. Martin is the availability of French cheese, wine and baguettes. After all these months, it is still as tasty as the first time we started enjoying these delicacies. We can’t get enough, but it’s not going to keep us here!