Category Archives: Nature

Things to Do in Saint Martin with Kids

There is so much to do in Saint Martin/Sint Maarten! Go beyond the beaches and explore some of SXM’s kid-friendly activities. Discover ruins, fly through a rain forest, or feel the whisper of a butterfly’s wings. Make your time on Saint Martin the best family vacation ever!

IMG_1452

The Zoo may not be as large or as varied as animal parks in big cities, but it is the perfect size to see with kids in an afternoon. Learn about endemic animals as well as exotic species.

How to get there: Drive to Pond Road in Philipsburg and go north on the Saltpicker’s Roundabout. Turn left at the end of Pond Island and follow the signs.

Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for children

IMG_0186

The Butterfly Farm is a magical place for kids. Walk through a butterfly enclosure and let the papillons softly land on you. Learn about different types of butterflies and moths.

How to get there: Drive toward Galion Beach on the east side of the island. Take the turnoff to Galion Beach, and the farm is on your right.

Cost: $14 for adults, $7 for children

IMG_2891

Loterie Farm has something for everyone. Located on the grounds of an old sugar plantation, this site is loaded with both history and modern outdoor entertainment. You can take the nature hike, relax by the state-of-the-art pool, or try one of the three zip lines: the kids’ Tarzan zip line, the ropes course zip line, or (for the very adventurous), the extreme course. Keep an eye out– you may see the resident vervet monkeys! The park is closed on Mondays.

How to get there: Go north from Marigot and turn left at the “Pic Paradis” sign. The park is on your right.

Cost: 5 Euros for the hike, 25 Euros for the kids’ zip line, 45 Euros and 65 Euros for the medium and extreme zip lines. Pool chair a towel is 25 Euros up, and is required for pool entrance. The park takes US dollars as well.

Buffalo Wild Wings has a fun kids’ area at the Blue Mall in Cupecoy. I haven’t been there personally, but I hear that it’s a favorite with the expat kids.

How to get there: Blue Mall is located west of Maho in near Cupecoy Beach.

Cost: Price of food

12742854_10154037216254665_2151107877034832185_n

Seaside Nature Park is a little slice of farmland heaven. You can ride horses on the beach, play on the playground, or feed the animals at the petting zoo. The park also has a playground and a trampoline!

How to get there: From Maho, go through Simpson Bay to Cole BayTurn right just before Daily Extra Supermarket, and take a left at the end of the road (From Philipsburg, turn left when you come down the hill to Cole Bay Go through the one-way street, turn left, and then go right before Daily Extra Supermarket). You have to drive through the GEBE power plant, which seems odd, but you are going the right way!

Cost: $60 for a an hour trail ride on the horses. Petting zoo is $5 per adult and $3 per child. Bags of feed are $1 each.

Feeding the Donkey and Horses in French Cul-de-Sac is a great free activity to do on your way to the beach or Pinel Island.

How to get there: From Marigot, go north until you find the round-a-bout toward Pinel Island in French Cul-de-Sac. Turn left at the school and then follow the road past the school and up the hill to the donkeys and horses.

Cost: Free!

img_5275

Carousel is our favorite ice cream store. Not only does this place offer delicious ice cream and cotton candy, it also has a full-sized carousel in the back!

How to get there: Located in Simpson Bay

Cost: $3+ for ice cream. Carousel ride is free with purchase on Wednesdays.

IMG_9242

Sonesta Kids Zone is a great place to drop off your kids while you relax at the pool. The awesome staff will take care of your kids with games, movies, and fun while you get a break.

How to get there: In Maho. you can’t miss it.

Cost: In order to visit the Kid’s Zone, you have to either stay at Sonesta or purchase an all-inclusive day pass, which is about $90/person for adults.

The Movie Theater is perfect for those days when your beach plans got rained out. Tickets are actually cheaper than most U.S. theaters.

How to get there: Located in Simpson Bay

Cost: $7

Free Outdoor Movie on Mondays at Porto Cupecoy is a fun way to end the day. Just be sure to check the exact time, as they often change it, and ask ahead of time for the title and rating of the movie. Sometimes it’s a family movie, and other times it’s an adult movie. You can buy popcorn and ice cream at Rendezvous.

How to get there: Drive west from Maho and Cupecoy or south from Marigot.

Cost: Free!

IMG_0700

Free Kids’ Movie Night at Kim Sha Beach is a good Friday night activity. Adults can also enjoy the food and drink selection at Buccaneer Beach Bar.

How to get there: Coming from the airport, drive through Simpson Bay and turn right after Burger King. Park at Buccaneer Beach Bar.

Cost: Free!

Layla’s Restaurant and Play Ground is one of the few jungle gyms on the island. Enjoy the French Caribbean and let your little monkeys play the day away.

How to get there: Coming from Marigot, go southwest to the “handle” of the island. After Sandyground, you’ll see Layla’s on the right.

Cost: Price of food

Coconut Trees Go Karting is great for older kids and teens. Enjoy some healthy competition and adrenaline!

How to get there: Located in La Savane.

Cost: $15

img_5309

Feeding Fish in Simpson Bay Lagoon is always fun! You can feed the big tarpon from the Simpson Bay bridge, or you head over the north side of the Causeway and feed the fish by the sunken sailboat.

How to get there: The bridge is the best place, but you can go almost anywhere!

Cost: Free!

Aquamania Playstation is basically a floating playground! It’s a jungle gym on a boat. All the monkey bars, swings, and slides with none of the bruised and scraped knees.

How to get there: In Simpson Bay, park at the beach lot east of the bridge. Walk south on the beach to Aquamania on Kim Sha Beach.

Cost: $10 and up

IMG_0372

Port Marigot Fish Market and Farmer’s Market is lots of  fun for the whole family. The fish market is a good way to view sea creatures without getting wet. Take your kids around 8 or 9 in the morning to get the best peek at all the fish and lobsters. The open-air farmer’s market is open almost daily to greet visitors fresh off the boat. Find lovely local art, cheap souvenirs, and fresh produce. Oh, and don’t forget to get a fresh coconut with a straw from the coconut man!

How to get there: Located on the waterfront road in Marigot.

Cost: Free!

Fort Louis and Fort Amsterdam are two of Saint Martin’s oldest structures. Fort Louis is an easy hike up a few flight of stairs and offers a stunning view of the surrounding area. Fort Amsterdam is a short walk up a slope. In addition to having a beautiful ocean view, this fort is also the site of a pelican nesting ground. Be sure to keep an eye on your little ones– both forts have a steep drop.

How to get there: Fort Louis is located in Marigot. You can’t miss it. Park in town and walk up, or take the back road to park near the top of the hill. For Amsterdam is just southwest of Philipsburg. Approach Divi Little Bay Resort from Philipsburg (or use the Sonesta to make a u-turn if coming from Cole Bay) and make a left into Divi’s road. Park before the gate and let the guards know where you’re going. Walk to the far end of the resort until you hit the fort.

Cost: Free!

IMG_0590

Beaches are, of course, the most popular family activity on Saint Martin. The best beaches for kids are Friar’s Bay, Pinel Island, Simpson Bay Beach, Indigo Bay, and Galion Beach, Kim Sha Beach, Divi Little Bay Beach.

kids.jpg
Pin Me!
Advertisements

Caribbean Zoo with Kids

One bird.

IMG_1489

Two birds.

IMG_1452

Red bird.

IMG_1586

Blue bird.

IMG_1478

These colorful birds are just a sample of the animals at Sint Maarten’s zoo. Although the zoo is small, it has more than enough animals to delight anyone. There is a lot that makes this place special. One of those special things is that much of the zoo consists of endemic animals.

Endemic [en-dem-ik]  (Adjective):

“Belonging exclusively or confined to a particular place.”

This morning, Les Fruits de Mer, an organization dedicated to preserving and educating about the islands natural environment, hosted the Endemic Animal Festival at the zoo! The zoo was open to the public for free for three hours. I’ve been wanting to take some of the kids from our little league team to the zoo for a while now, so I was happy when Coach Tom asked for volunteers to drive the kids from the baseball field to the event.

IMG_1449

There is nothing quite like exploring the zoo through the eyes of a child. I love to see toucans, but even more, I love seeing little eyes light up when they see toucans.

IMG_1556

The Endemic Animal Festival was awesome. There were several activities for the kids: little jars of shrimp to examine, a checklist of animals separated in endemic and non-endemic categories, sidewalk chalk, and coloring. Anilda loved the coloring and crafts! I was impressed with the volunteers. They were so sweet with the kids, attentive to them, and made learning about the animals fun.

IMG_1524

The boys explored the zoo while Anilda colored. We caught up with them later, and here are a few of the things we saw:

Some of the boys were particularly interested in the snakes. Sint Maarten doesn’t have any snakes in wild, because European settlers released mongooses to kill them off. I tried to get a picture of the zoo’s mongoose, but it made a wicked fang face at me and hid in the shadows. Although the wild has no snakes, the zoo has a nice collection. Gabby was fascinated by a small snake that some of the volunteers and zoo staff were holding. They even let Gabby hold it for a minute!

IMG_1618

A few hours after the event, Ben and I went exploring on Green Cay. We saw an Anguilla bank anole lizard, and Ben pointed it out to me. “That’s an endemic animal,” he informed me. I guess everyone learned something new today! What wonderful memories.

A Gem in the Prickliest of Places

My top fears? Finding a dead person in a public restroom, centipedes, and stepping on a sea urchin.

Some say it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Whether or not she coined the saying, I believe that it’s a good one to live by. I don’t think it means that we should always do dangerous or ridiculous things. I think that it means we should slowly widen our comfort zone, one baby step at a time. When we first moved to the Caribbean, I was terrified of sharks. Irrationally so, especially since there has been no shark attack in Sint Maarten for about thirty years. I was shaking during our first snorkel expeditions. Soon, I was able to go further and deeper and enjoy it more. Now, I can happily surf offshore for hours with barely a thought in the back of my mind.

IMG_9614

Sea urchins still plague me, though. Ben got some spines in his feet during a tropical storm, when the urchins were washed onto the beach. My friend Jay got a massive urchin sting from barely brushing up against one while floating in a tide pool. The last thing I want is to be stabbed AND stung at the same time!

 

On Ben’s first day of break from medial school, we decided to explore a few little-known cays off the coast of Le Galion beach. This place is hard to find, but it’s amazing. In the winter, you can watch wales migrate from viewing towers. Year round, you can walk or snorkel to small cays in the shallow water.

Walking through the water to the first couple cays was easy. But the path to the last cay was slightly terrifying. We began to the slow trek through the rocky water, avoiding the little spiky balls of evil that dotted the sandy ocean floor. The water was only about ankle-deep, but the waves breaking on the nearby rock barrier sometimes spilled violently over into the shallow zone, roughening the water and obscuring our view of the rocks, shells, and urchins below. Slowly, we picked our way through the obstacle course. I prayed that I wouldn’t feel a needle-sharp spike shoot through the soft soles of my flip-flops. Why didn’t I wear water shoes?

IMG_9603

About halfway across, I couldn’t find a good place to set my foot. I searched carefully beneath the ripples, trying to find a clear spot. All I could see, for yards around, was the minefield of sea urchins. I could hardly breathe for a moment. My whole body froze. So this is what it means to be frozen with fear, I thought, How silly. I guess I can get out of this the same way I got into it. Still, I had an awful vision of slipping on a mossy rock and landing prone on the urchin-covered rocks. Ben stopped picking his way through the water and looked back at me to make sure I was OK. I looked at him, then back at the water. The red centers of the small black urchins glared at me from between the rocks, like wicked red eyes. “I don’t think I can do this,” I said, “There’s literally nowhere to walk.” Ben waded slowly back to me, watching his steps carefully. “Get on my back,” he said, “I’ll carry you.” He turned, and I jumped, clinging to his neck for dear life. He cautiously moved through the rocks, the thick rubber soles of his shoes protecting him from the smaller spikes.

IMG_9684

Before long, we reached the island, and Ben deposited me on the dry rocks. We had made it! And it was so worth it. The small island offered a gorgeous view of Saint Martin. Waves beat against the rock on one side, and a brilliant blue tide pool calmly beckoned on the other. A magical, lonely, unspoiled place.

 

Often, the places most worth going have a scary path. You have to face your fears and step out into an uncertain place to get to the solid mountaintops and peaceful tide pools of life. But you don’t have to do it alone. We need each other to face our fears and support one another. Don’t live in your comfort zone! Get out and do something that scares you, and don’t be ashamed to take a friend along.

 

 

Underwater Egg Hunt

How chances will I have to do an Easter egg hunt underwater? Not many! Each year, Divi Little Bay Resort hosts an egg hunt to support the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation.

IMG_8407

 

The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation does a lot of good work to protect the island’s ecosystem. I briefly wrote about some of their activities in my article for Seven Seas Magazine. 

IMG_8369

The hunt was not just for a good cause, it was also incredibly fun! Imagine hundreds of people of all ages on the beach, outfitted with snorkel masks and fins, ready to collect 1,000 painted eggs hiding under the crystal-clear surface of the water.

IMG_8367

It was a little bit cut-throat! People are competitive. I went with the other strong swimmers to the deepest area, which seemed to be about 15 feet deep. I strained my eyes for glimpses of color peeking out from the gray-green floor of the ocean and managed to grab seven eggs. Fish flitted back and forth below us, unnerved by the sudden influx of human activity in the water.

IMG_8500

In the shallow area, small children hunted for eggs in knee-deep water.

12006179_10153882876665255_4831433376799316439_n

At the end, there was a giant raffle with dozens of amazing prizes, ranging from inflatable pool toys to a tow-day stay for two at Divi Little Bay Resort. It was my lucky day– I won two prizes! One was a lunchbox full of beach items and the other was a free sailing lesson with a Sun Bum hat.

IMG_8483

What a great thing to do on Easter Monday! I’ll be back next year for certain.

Hike in the Desert

Talk about fifty shades of gray. For much of the year, the entirety of the Sonoran Desert is more or less some variant on gray or brown. In spring, however, the desert landscape bursts into color with the awakening of the flowers.

IMG_0279[1]
Brittlebush
My parents and I decided to take advantage of the spring weather and hike one of Phoenix’s big mountains. Phoenix is unique in many ways, but one of the things I love most about this city is the mountain ranges that rise from the center of the metropolis. In fact, Phoenix has the best urban hiking in the entire United States.

IMG_0255[1].JPG

We decided to hike Piestewa Peak, the second tallest mountain in the Phoenix Mountain Range. Piestewa used to be called Squaw Peak, but many people felt that this name was not respectful. It was renamed to honor a Native woman who died in combat in Iraq.

IMG_6184

IMG_0230

Piestewa Peak stands at 2,612 feet in elevation. Its prominence is 1,175 feet. We made it up in 36 minutes. At the top we enjoyed the sweeping views of the Phoenix area. No ocean anywhere… just miles and miles of dust and hills. What a difference from the view from Pic Paradis back home! I do have to say that I love both the watery disk of Caribbean mountain top views and the endless layers of mountains in the Southwest.

IMG_0249.JPG

We could even see Arizona Christian University (my alma mater), Ben’s and my first apartment, and the Cardinals stadium from the peak.

We met a small, furry resident at the top of the mountain. I don’t see many squirrels in the Valley of the Sun! He’s so cute.

 

IMG_0120.JPG

Later, at the bottom, we saw the squirrel’s smaller cousin: a chipmunk.IMG_0305

The top of the mountains are a butterfly’s paradise. Each spring, they flit and flutter at the peaks, away from the oppression of dust and pollution.

IMG_0186.JPG
Black Swallowtail
At this time of year, the cactus begin to bloom. My mom says that cactus blossoms are God’s grace on an ugly plant.

IMG_0093
Engelmann Hedgehog
IMG_0276
Ocotillo
IMG_0297
Cholla
They certainly do add beauty to something you’d rather not hug. Still, cactus are interesting and have their own kind of charm, whether they’re blooming or not.

Desert wildflowers are gorgeous. Some years, they barely show up. Others, they carpet the hillsides in vibrant pinks and yellows. They are at the mercy of the droughts.

The quiet stillness of the hills are a refreshing break from the hurry and busyness of city life. I think that’s how we all keep our sanity. A hike to the top of the mountain puts everything in perspective.

 

IMG_0273

 

 

 

A Garden in the Desert

Ironically, I had to go back to the desert to find the garden.

One strange thing about living on Saint Martin is the lack of cultivation. You’d think that a tropical paradise would be dripping with succulent fruit, but this one’s not. And I can’t try to grow anything myself, because the only dirt I can call my own in the soil in the dustpan.

IMG_7173

Early this morning, I landed in Phoenix, Arizona, where I grew up and where my family still lives. When the sun rose, my mom took me on a tour of her garden.

IMG_7145

 

I have never been able to coax more than a sad cactus to grow in the hard clay we Arizonans like to call dirt. My mom, however, has a true green thumb. She and my dad have conquered the bugs, rats, birds, hard soil, and lack of rain by building two beautiful raised gardens near their citrus trees.

IMG_7148
The sunflowers are recovering from a storm

The first raised garden is full of vegetables and a row of giant sunflowers. We picked some carrots and lettuce. Fresh carrots hold some many good memories for me. We planted them in our garden when I was small, and I remember feeding the root to my cousins’ horses and the greens to their rabbits. Horses thought carrots were treats, so I was convinced that they were basically candy.

IMG_7134

We enjoyed the fresh lettuce and tomatoes in our sandwiches at lunch. In Saint Martin, lettuce is expensive and goes bad more quickly than we can eat it. I never buy it, so it was a treat. Especially since it was fresh picked.

 

 

 

The flower garden is beautiful. Can you tell what my mom’s favorite colors are? She grows daisies, poppies, and other bright blossoms. The hollyhocks, sadly, did not decide to grace us with their presence this year.

Last but not least is the little orchard. My parents have an orange tree, a lemon tree, a grapefruit tree, and a tiny lime tree with one baby lime. They’ve recently planted a peach tree. They also have a strange lemon tree with an orange branch grafted in. The fruit looks like an orange but is bitter like a lemon. It makes interesting lemonade but is not very good eating. Citrus actually grows very well in Arizona. It’s one of the state’s five main sources of income, along with cattle, copper, cotton and Grand Canyon tourism.

IMG_7171

Here, in the middle of the desert, good and beautiful things grow. I left behind a land of lush greenery and little produce, and found myself in a dry place with much fruit.

IMG_7158

I think that our Christian lives are like that at times. Sometimes, we find ourselves in an oasis in life, but we discover that we bear very little fruit in that rich season. Then, we may find ourselves in a desert place. We don’t expect to find growth in our lives in those seasons, because they’re so dry. But when we look at ourselves and our lives, we suddenly realize that the very place that promised so little is the place that cultivated the most growth and fruit.

Are you in a dry season? Don’t slip into discouragement, dear friend. You may not realize what great things God is doing in your life until you come to the end of the wilderness.

 

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus.”

-Isaiah 35:1

Flying Like Tarzan

I have always thought that being high above the ground is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. I was the kid who climbed up so high in the trees that the branches were almost too thin to hold me. One of my top bucket list items is to jump out of an airplane.

Naturally, when we found out that there is an epic zip-line on our island, I was excited to try it out! Both Ben and I had been waiting all semester for a chance to try it out. We finally went with my family when they came to visit over Christmas. IMG_2882

The scariest thing about the zipline is the amount of freedom you get. There’s a quick training at the beginning and people along the way to make sure you know what you’re doing, but you get to strap and unstrap your own harness to the  cables and go as fast as you want. In the U.S., they make you sign your life away and still have extra safety straps and all sorts of things to make sure you don’t stub your toe and sue them. Here, you can’t really sue anyone. So you get the extra freedom and less assurance of a pain-free experience.

IMG_2906

I’ll take the freedom any day.

IMG_2847

That’s one thing I love about Saint Martin: fewer guardrails. You can climb all over Fort Amsterdam and practically hang off the cliff, if you want to. They don’t care if you touch the 300-year-old walls and they assume you’ll be smart enough to not walk off the edge.

IMG_2856

It adds a little more adventure to life.

IMG_2926

 

 

Trash, the Island, and My Latest Article

What’s the worst thing about an island community? The eco-conscious among us would likely say sustainability problems. Image it: we have over 75,000 people on a 37 square-mile rock in the middle of the ocean. Where is all that nasty groundwater run-off going to go? Where is all the trash going to land?

Now, before you check out of what you think is going to be yet another Greenpeace-style soapbox rant, consider the delicacy of our microscopic ecosystem and the impact that you can make on it. Even if you don’t live in the Caribbean, you may want to visit some day for a vacation (Do it! It’s beautiful here). You may be surprised to find out that visitors have a gigantic impact on the appearance of sustainability of the island.

How? Find out in the article I authored for Seven Seas Magazine. The article’s title is “The Other Side of the Island” and it is on page 30. Let me know what you think! Do you have any other ideas for how tourists can contribute to a healthy ecosystem?

15761181.jpg

 

 

Art in the Park and Canada!

We’re bound for Canada! But first, we’re participating in Art in the Park right here at home. One of my favorite memories of my childhood hometown is Art in the Park. Flagstaff, Arizona held it this festival annually on the lawn of the library. It’s something I missed when we moved to Phoenix. Now that we live in Sint Maarten, Art in the Park is back on the agenda!

FullSizeRender (4)
Some of my paintings that will be for sale at Art in the Park 

The best of SXM Art in the Park for me is that I get to be a part of a booth this time. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I volunteer with a local Little League team that incorporates academics into its daily program. This summer, we all get to take a trip to Canada to watch the Blue Jays play! The Rotary Club is sponsoring the trip, but of course we are teaching the boys responsibility by having them fund-raise as well.

TRAIN (3)

 

The kids have been working on their merchandise for a long time. Coach Tom and his wife, Lisa, came up with some great ideas. The team has a rock tumbler, and they’ve polished a couple hundred rocks over the last few months. We’ll put magnets on these and sell them for a few dollars. The kids are also making lanterns with a Canadian maple leaf on the front. I’ll be contributing some of my paintings to the fundraiser, as well.

FullSizeRender (2).jpg
K. shows off one of her favorite rocks

Here’s how we made the rock magnets:

  1. The kids ran around the baseball field, gathering various little rocks.

12140161_10153247702906483_1255518858786418710_o.jpg

2. The first week, Tom tumbled the rocks with some abrasive. They came out clean, but still pretty rough. The kids washed all the gritty gray liquid off and Tom added new abrasive.

3. The second week and third weeks, the rocks were tumbled again.

12658053_10153464442276483_2263971176278255188_o

905591_10153294141401483_3205024500829125182_o
A. found an amethyst!

4. The fourth week was the last week of tumbling. This kids washed them off and shined them. We put a little lacquer on them to make them even prettier.

12657874_10153465447661483_2250046046675070850_o.jpg

5. Finally, we glued the magnets on the back. They’re ready to add some natural beauty to your fridge!

The older boys worked with volunteers to drill holes in coffee cans for the lanterns. Then everyone had a chance to paint the leaves Canada red.

Stacey and I are working on an informational display for the festival, too. All the kids and volunteers traced their hands on the background.

If you’re on Saint Martin, come visit us this Sunday (February 14) at Emilio Wilson Park in Cul de Sac between 10 and 4:30! Just head to Philipsburg, take the round-a-bout north instead of heading east to Cost-U-Less, and look for the park on your left a little past the baseball field. Let’s send these kids to Canada!

12672192_10153461334756483_4831235279881369713_o
One of our boys and Fred, a real, live Canadian! Also, note volunteer Andrea’s enthusiasm in the background. We have fun here.

 

 

 

Thanks to Stacey and Tom for providing the pictures for this post!

This is the Life!

Island jeep, surfboards, tropical French countryside. This is the Caribbean life, and we love living it.

Most days are filled with studying for my husband, Ben and his friend Matt. They work hard at medical school, and were both selected as teacher’s assistants in Anatomy for good grades. Their life mainly consists of flashcards, lectures, and tests. But there are days, the best days, when they have a free afternoon.

This is one of those days. As we usually do when Ben and Matt have a break, we wax down our surfboards and get ready to ride the waves.

IMG_5444 (1)

 

We’re rolling down the road with the Caribbean trade winds tousling our hair. Matt’s new (make that old– really, really old) jeep is topless, and I’m amazed to realize how much more I notice without walls and windows to restrict my view of the sights around me. I’m feeling a little squished in the back seat with the surfboards taking up most of the space, but there’s no way to feel claustrophobic in this open jeep. I cling to the side for dear life and lean out of the car a little, enjoying the breeze and the floral scents around me. I jump back a little as a motorcyclist, breaking the world record for the longest wheelie ever held, goes zipping by us on the center line.

IMG_0754.JPG

I look behind me, where the wall of foaming water is raging toward me. I feel a little vulnerable way out here in the middle of the water on my board, but my nervousness turns to adrenaline as I face front and paddle like a maniac. I feel the foam first, hear the roar of energized water, and then I’m shooting forward like a rocket. I gather my wits and push myself up to my feet. I balance myself and smile. The reef below me seems to rush below my board. The wave slows suddenly, and the board drops away beneath my feet. I’m plunged into the warm tropical waters below, and I come up coughing and gasping and ready for more.

IMG_0404.JPG

I’m in the back seat of the jeep again. It’s a terrifying yet exhilarating experience, sitting in this little island car with no seat belt and barely any seat, for that matter. But I love it. Up the road we go– people, houses, and animals seem to fly by. Ben and Matt joke that driving here is like a video game; you have to dodge the pedestrians, potholes, cars and animals that jump out in front of you at every turn. I watch as the scenery around us changes. We go through the hills, where the goats and cows chew lazily, watching the flurry of human activity on the road. We go past little houses, painted powder blue and pink with neat, white trim. We zip through Grand Case, where women in bright dresses and men with dreads chat in French on the porches of stores and cafes. We crawl through the traffic of Marigot, inching past quaint 19th-century storefronts. Ahead, we’ll pass the oceanfront neighborhoods of the rich and famous.

I bite into the heavenly sweetness of a peach brioche. Stopping at Seraphina’s, our favorite French patisserie, is a surf day tradition for the three of us. Ben and Matt opted for chocolate twists, their usual favorite. We watch the boats on Marigot’s docks bob up and down in the water. In the distance, Anguilla’s long coastline hides the horizon, where the sun will soon set on our afternoon of freedom.

IMG_0467