Tag Archives: beach

Holi on the Beach

It’s like a color run with food instead of running!

  
  Photo source: Vikasacharya

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that celebrates the advent of spring. It occurs each year around the spring equinox.

The legend behind Holi is the story of a prince who is rescued by Lord Krishna from his arrogant and evil father. The king’s wicked sister tries to burn the prince, but she ends up being consumed instead. As the story goes, people put the ashes from the fire on their heads. 

Today, Holi is celebrated with a party in which participants throw colored powder on each other, eat special food, and drink. Hindus as well as non-Hindus participate in Asia and around the world.

  
Celebrating Holi Sint Maartin-style means a party of on the beach, of course! The South Asian Medical Student Association at AUC hosted Holi at Mullet Bay. After the colored powder ran out, everyone played a game of beach volleyball. According to some of the participants, the colors did not wash off in the ocean. I’m looking forward to seeing whether shampoo takes it out or if some of the med school students will have tie-dyed heads for a while.

Advertisements

The Haunting of La Belle Creole

They have forgotten us. We have faded from memory, like our flesh faded from our bones centuries ago. Yet we are here, invisible yet seeing, inaudible yet hearing, intangible yet sensing. Our spirits laugh with the lapping waves. We cry with the soaring birds. We moan with the wind. And we rage with the storms.

IMG_0885.JPG

 

There was a time when warm blood flowed through our bodies and warm flesh wrapped our bones. We walked on the shore then, cooling our feet in the ancient and everlasting waters. We ran under the tropical sun from shore to shore. Our children dove from the cliffs—how different they looked then!—into the clear waters of the reef. We tasted the sweet meat of the crab and danced in the firelight to the rhythm of the tide.

arch

Then they came—the strange men with strange words and strange clothing. They were harsh and resolute, and we hated them. They brought with them their vicious dogs, their explosives, and their lust. We grew weak, and our children died with raging heat in their bodies. Our women and men died with boils and scars. We wailed as our loved ones died, and we buried them with broken hearts near the sacred islet. I died, and I lay in the chill earth, away from the warm sunlight.

IMG_0876.JPG

They left, and came again, this time with their cannons and ships and slaves. They had already forgotten us, and they walked on our graves. I heard their footsteps on the ground above. They dragged their cannons over our graves and shattered our silence with their wars. They annihilated our peace with the crack of whips on human flesh.

building

They left, and others took their place. Generations lived and died. We slept in peace for a hundred years, with only the occasional wanderer to stir us.

IMG_0873.JPG

They came. Their machines roared, rattling our bones. They dug over our resting places, and built great structures over our graves. I felt the pressure of a great tower over my body. We groaned under the weight. Many people came from the whole world over, and trod on our sacred tombs. We moaned, but our cries were lost in the wind. Our bloodless beings saw the blush of the new bride. Our bleached bones saw the sun-kissed skin of the happy travelers. We remembered what we had been, and what we had lost. And we remembered that we were forgotten.

IMG_0886

Our moans whirled as wind around the whitewashed walls that had become a monument to our destruction. Our screams filled the air, and our souls ripped from our broken bones. We broke through the sandy earth, through the cracking concrete to the surface. We felt again the humidity of the air. We knew again the roar of the sea. Our tears of rage and loss poured from the heavens, and the rush of our agony ripped through the trees. We stirred the elements and raged from sea to sea, screaming our anger through the darkening sky. We saw them pour from buildings and take flight from our island home. We saw them take cover in every nook and cranny. We saw that they were afraid, and we took our vengeance.

glass

We tore through the quaint buildings, tearing with invisible claws at the rich furnishings of each room. The sound of shattering glass was lost in the volume of our screams. We threw the books, the paintings, the decorations out of the windows and doors. We destroyed their world, just as they had destroyed ours.

IMG_0856.JPG

We satiated our lust for vengeance, and we regarded the havoc we had wreaked. Shredded curtains floated in the gentle breeze. Glass and splinters carpeted the earth. Not a living soul was to be seen.

IMG_0875.JPG

Only dead ones.

glass2

We could not return to our graves. We could not penetrate the earth again. So we haunted the empty rooms, weeping in silence. We could not return the decayed flesh to our bodies or our island home to our children. We could only swear to defend the site of our sacred graves to the end of time.

 

These eerie photos are were taken in the ruins of La Belle Creole, a resort that was deserted after it was heavily damaged when Saint Martin was struck by Hurricane Luis in 1995. Local superstition states that the resort was built over an ancient Arawak grave site, which is why no modern building projects have been successful on the peninsula. Of course, I don’t believe in haunting spirits or jinxes, but I found the legend interesting and the ruins creepy enough to warrant a paranormal telling of La Belle Creole’s story. 

The Pooch and the Beach

Kito’s favorite days are when we take her to the beach. Generally, she’ll nip at everyone’s toes until she gets too tired to romp around, and then she’ll settle down and dig herself a shady little hole. IMG_5448

Sometimes, we play with other dogs at the beach. She loves that. Her best bud is Sasha, the gentle German shepherd.

IMG_5342

Last week, she watched Ben surf for a while from the cliffs above. I captured the many sides of her little personality.

IMG_0331IMG_0420IMG_0332IMG_0418IMG_0359

Where do you like to take your dog?

Buccaneers!

 

IMG_0745

In Sint Maarten, there a lot of airy little restaurants on the water. Today’s destination for the American University of the Caribbean spouse’s crew was Buccaneer Beach Bar. Despite its name, this is actually a great place to take kids. It’s right on the beach, and the water is shallow. It’s also a calm area, even on days when other areas of the island have big waves.

IMG_0590
They also have a delicious assortment of non-alcoholic drinks in addition to their bar menu, and classic beachy food.

IMG_0700.JPG

If you make it to SXM, make sure you visit one of our on-the-beach restaurants! Who doesn’t want to lounge on a beach chair with a plate of fries and a glass of something cool and sweet?

 

 

IMG_0696.JPG
We saw this tiny stingray lazily drift around the bay

Christmas in the Caribbean

We had a white Christmas this year… A white sand beach Christmas, that is.


While most of our med school compadres went back to the States or Canada for Christmas, Ben and I opted to stay on the island. My parents and my sister flew in to spend a week on the island with us, and we had a blast! Going home to see family is awesome, but it was even better to have them come see us this time.


Being in a new place calls for new traditions, but it also shows you how important the old ones are. Sometimes you just need the smell of homemade cinnamon rolls for it to really feel like Christmas.

We ditched some of the traditional Christmassy things– no lights outside, a small paper tree rather than a real evergreen, no Christmas cookies.


We kept some of our traditions– my great grandma’s Christmas cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, reading Luke 2 from the Bible before opening presents, observing advent, Christmas carols on Christmas Eve, putting our gifts in hilariously ridiculous prank gift boxes.


We did some things we’ve never done before– “wine” (sparkling cider) and cheese for lunch, a trip to the beach.


On Christmas morning, we woke up to the sound of a restless puppy wanting to go outside. Ben took her on a short walk, and I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. My parents and sister, Kaylee, came over after their morning run and we read the Christmas story in the Bible and opened gifts. When the cinnamon rolls were ready, we had breakfast.

 After this, we drove across the island to Wilderness for a hike. Before long, we could see a storm rising from the sea near St. Barth’s, so we ran back down the hill and jumped in the car just in time! We drove home and had sparkling cider, cheese, and crackers for lunch  (we’re practically on a French diet).

img_3995-1
My mom and I finished making the rest of the cinnamon rolls and we all headed down to Mullet Bay Beach. I grew up in Arizona and Ben grew up in subsaharan Africa, so neither of us have had many white Christmases. The lack of snow here on our tropical island was nothing new for us, but going to the beach was. It’s a welcome change!

  
At the end of the day, tired but happy, we had dinner of smoked chicken, mashed potatoes and rolls. We took a stroll to the casino to see the Christmas village in the parking lot. Then we set up the laptop and enjoyed our family favorite Christmas movie– Christmas Do-Over– while our worn-out little puppy snoozed at our feet.

The best Christmas traditions, to me, are not the ones that have to do with red and green garland, music, or food. The best tradition to have at Christmas is simply to be with family. Whether the family around you is your parents and siblings, spouse and children or your closest friends, let’s be thankful for the loved ones that God has given us.

I Went to the British Isle

I went to the British Isle. No, not the one in Europe– the one next-door to Saint Martin. Anguilla may be Saint Martin’s closest neighbor, but it is nothing like it! Join my friends and I as we add a stamp to our passports and explore a new place.

12235089_10153741612066948_867856104225375045_n

Sint Maarten only allows foreigners to stay on the island for three months at a time. I’ve heard that Americans can stay for up to six months, but with security on the island tightening every day, I decide it would be wise to take an international excursion before my three months are up.

Sandy, Emily and I drive together to Marigot, the port on the French side of the island. It’s a busy day– the cruise ships came in the morning, so the pier is buzzing with tourists. We finally find a parking space and make our way to the ferry.

IMG_1720 (1).JPG

The ferry is a little bit confusing, because there are three lines to wait in before entering the ferry, and none of them are in any particular order! The employees and border officials are kind and helpful, though, so we quickly figure out what to do. Soon we are sitting on the ferry with stamped passports. The ferry costs $20 per person, in addition to a $5 port fee.

IMG_1744

The boat ride takes us about twenty minutes. I enjoy the rhythm of the ocean and the sea spray. Some of the passengers are worried about feeling seasick, but fortunately the ride is short and they are OK. Anguilla’s coastline becomes more and more visible, and soon we can see beach houses and boats.

IMG_1751

Soon, we arrive at the island! We eagerly pile out of the ferry and head through the customs line. Two more stamps for our passports. We walk out of the building and into the courtyard, where we are suddenly overwhelmed with people trying to rent us cars or offer us taxis! I am convinced that we’ll be able to use public buses once we walk out onto the main road, so the three of us refuse their offers and begin walking. All we see are a few houses and some goats.

IMG_2059.JPG

We walk about a quarter mile with no success, when a taxi pulls up beside us and offers us a discounted ride. “There aren’t any public buses here,” he explains, “Anguilla doesn’t have enough people to support public transportation.” We take his word for it and hop aboard. Each person costs $18 each way, but the third person in our group only costs and additional $5. We only have to pay $11 each– more than a bus would have been, but less than a car rental.

IMG_1891

We drive from Blowing Point to the capitol, The Valley, which is in the center of the island. It is so different from Philipsburg or Marigot, the capitols on Saint Martin! There are relatively few buildings– mostly government offices, schools, and restaurants. No tourist shops and no large hotels to be seen. We opt to take the bus all the way to Shoal Bay, which is the island’s best beach.

IMG_1852.JPG

Once we get there, we’re glad we did! Shoal Bay Beach is perhaps the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to– and that’s saying a lot, considering that I live a short walk from Mullet Bay Beach.

IMG_1838

We are instantly greeted by beach attendants and restaurant employees. I am afraid that they will smother us while trying to sell their services, but they do not. They are friendly to us and seem to be more interested in our enjoyment than in pressuring us to rent an umbrella or buy an expensive meal.

IMG_1756.JPG

We chose the more casual of the two restaurants, Uncle Ernie’s. The conch looks delicious, but we all decide on the $5 grilled cheese and fries. The food is good, and the meal is big enough to keep us content for the remainder of our trip. The ocean is calling us, so we leave a tip for the staff and head for the sand.

IMG_1826.JPG

I immediately wish that I had brought my snorkel gear– the reef looks amazing! One of the beach staff tells us that we can see parrotfish and sea turtles a little way out. I make a mental note to at least bring my goggles next time I come.

IMG_1759

We sun for a while, and then wade in the clear blue ocean water. Sandy and I decide to catch some waves before heading back to our towels.

IMG_1820

The beach is about 2 miles long, so we decide to go exploring. Every time we think we’ve found the most beautiful spot, we turn a corner and find something even more amazing. We finally come the eastern end of the beach. We strain our eyes to see the tip of Anguilla in the distance.

Picture1

 

 

Four-thirty comes to soon. One of the beach staff comes to tell us that our taxi is waiting, so we pack up and head to the taxi. He takes us a different way back to the ferry so that we can see more of the island. We have gorgeous view of Saint Martin almost all the way back.

IMG_1905 (1).JPG

While we wait for the ferry, we wander around the beach near the port. I am amazed to see how close Saint Martin looks! Anguilla looks very far away from Saint Martin because it is such a flat island. Saint Martin’s hills give us a better perspective of the distance.

IMG_1900.JPG

We get our exit stamps, pay the $20 ticket and $8 port fee, and climb onto the boat. We’re tired now, and happy to clamber down into the cabin of the ferry, watch the sun set, and enjoy the movie being played on a small screen at the front of the cabin.

IMG_1930

We enter Marigot port and get our last passport stamp of the day.

IMG_2069.JPG

Anguilla looks so small from the harbor! It’s hard to believe we were standing on the other side not half an hour ago. We turn our backs on the lights of the bay and head home. Behind us, the flag of Anguilla waves farewell.

IMG_2058

 

 

 

 

Kenyan at Heart

Today’s blog post is a special guest post from Gabriela, a Third Culture Kid living in Kenya. Enjoy– and don’t forget to like and share!

Having lived in four different states (having traveled to most of the fifty of them), been in six different countries (not counting airports), and lived on two different continents in my 17 years of life, I don’t have a culture to call my own. This is what makes a third culture kid (TCK) different: we make our own culture. I might have a name that is in English, Gabriela Reincheld, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m totally American. As a TCK, I take parts of different cultures and shape them into my own worldview. At the moment, I’m a senior in high school at a Christian boarding school called Rift Valley Academy in Kenya. My parents are missionaries and teach here. I love it. This school is so awesome because all of the kids here are TCKs, like me. For a while, my parents were dorm parents for ninth and tenth grade boys where Ben Johnson was one of my dorm brothers. It was awesome having twenty older brothers and my one younger sister. Over the years, I have learned so much through living in Kenya, while having more of a Western mindset.

12207888_1020589941359119_1372657312_n (2)

In March, I had the privilege of going on a cultural trip for school to a place off the coast of Kenya called Chale Island, where I would be studying Reef Ecology for one week. With a total of about 30 high schoolers and six adults, we had been traveling for nine hours by bus…you can imagine how that was. On our way to Chale, we were winding down a dusty narrow road surrounded by a vast forest. We came across an incident where a semi-truck was tipped over and we had to help flip it back over in order to keep going. The long drive from central Kenya to the coast usually takes about 9 hours, but for us it was 12. You never know what awaits you on these adventures…this is Africa. Although it was a long and tiring trip, it was worth it.

Jellyfish

We spent the next week in paradise. One thing that interested me was how pollution is destroying the environment and the natural habitats in the ocean. We got to have hands on experience by picking up 1516 kg of plastic on a 200 meter stretch of a deserted beach. Also, we learned about the different types of sea-life in the Indian Ocean and discussed how we can see God working in this environment. It was amazing to see how a tiny brown jellyfish can make a group of students laugh through their snorkels while tapping its top.

12204986_1020593918025388_1798909316_n (1)

Lastly, I must brag and say living in Kenya has its perks. Although we often have droughts and there are still internally displaced people (IDP) from the 2008 election, there is still beauty and joy found in this country. The people with less materialistic values are the ones you can see the most joy in. Whenever I visit orphanages and the IDP camps, I never cease to be amazed at their joy. God is continuing to work here and it’s awesome how he reveals his majesty.

If you would like to keep up with different events going on in my life as a TCK, come visit my blog: scarfedpassenger.wordpress.com

Image credits Gabriela Reincheld and Brian Wagner

The Sonesta Resort in Maho, Sint Maarten

If you are looking for a nice place to stay on your Sint Maarten vacation, be sure to think about Sonesta Resort in Maho. This weekend, I had the opportunity to babysit there for an American University of the Caribbean employee. The resort is both adult and kid-friendly, with great things to do for all ages. The kids especially enjoyed Sonesta’s giant pool and the kids’ club room! I liked the view of Maho beach from the dining patio.

Somesta is an all-inclusive resort, and offers both day passes and overnight stays. Let me give you a tour of the resort!

Sonesta Resort

Welcome to Sonesta! Your five-minute drive from Princess Juliana Airport takes you past Maho beach to this resort at the entrance to Maho. The first thing you see as you enter is the spacious lobby. Even before you leave the lobby, there is so much to do! The lobby contains a computer area, a casino, a shelf of books, shopping, a grand piano, a ping-pong table and several board games.

IMG_9273

If you take an elevator up, you can enjoy the Sonesta Spa, where you can get a nice massage. Of course, I did not do this, but I imagine that it is a good way to relax. Also up the elevator are ten floors of rooms. The rooms are comfortable and roomy.

IMG_9240
View from the top level of the resort

The best part of the resort, in my opinion, is outside. The pool is amazing! It is at least twice as large as most pools and has a quaint bridge crossing from one side to the other. Sometimes, there is a waterfall over the pool. At one end is a swim-up bar that serves alcohol as well as non-alcoholic drinks. One of the kids ordered a nonalcoholic pina colada that looked delicious.

IMG_9267

In addition to the pool, the resort also has a beach entry. Like all of Sint Maarten beaches, it has gorgeous white sand and crystal-clear water.

IMG_9261

You can enjoy this view from either the bar or the dining area. The buffet spread for each meal is amazing. Entrees, fruit juice, sides, delectable desserts– yummy! To my great amusement, one the kids came back from the buffet with just a roll and butter. Sometimes there is such a thing as a little too much variety, I guess.  One of the cool things about this patio is that you can watch the planes land and take off from Princess Juliana Airport. Maho Beach, just across the bay, is famous for the planes that fly low overhead and blast beach-goers with sand.

IMG_9258

There are plenty just-for-kids things to do here, too! Outside is a rainbow jungle-gym for kids to get out their wiggles while parents enjoy the ocean view.

Inside is the Maho Bungalow Kids’ Club. This is a childcare area that is a lot of fun for the kiddos! There is an indoor playground, movies, video games, a giant-sized Connect Four, and organized activities. Eduardo and the rest of the team do a great job keeping kids entertained and safe from 10:00 am-5:00 pm while parents conduct business or enjoy what Maho has to offer. Sometimes they have weekend night pajama parties from 7:30-9:00 pm.

IMG_9245

Historically, the AUC spouses organization takes a day trip to Sonesta to celebrate the fifth semester spouses last week in Sint Maarten. I’m looking forward to returning to Sonesta! Maybe Ben and I will even have a “daycation” there after block exams sometime.

IMG_9238