Tag Archives: Dutch Side

One Hour in France

One week after the attacks on Paris, the French flags in Marigot, French St. Martin fly at half-mast. Although the crowds of tourists seem to obliviously enjoy the sun, sand, and sea, the denizens of Saint Martin–on both sides of the island– feel a change in the atmosphere.

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Fort Louis in Marigot, French St. Martin flies the French flag at half-mast

 

Although French St. Martin’s port flies only France’s flag at half-mast, the Dutch side of the island is hoisting all flags at half-mast, a gesture of support and compassion for its French counterpart. “Je Suis France,” cries a sign in Simpson Bay. It is times like these that the unity of the nationally-divided island is most evident.

The significance of the bombing hits close to home for many– for us, exactly .70 miles from home. I’m sure you can image the underlying fear that many people on our island feel. Besides sharing our land with the French, many of us, Ben and I included, have loved ones who live in Paris.

Security on the island is tightening as events continue to unfold. On Monday, the Dutch-side newspaper announced the arrival of a small group of Arab men with false Greek passports. The men were detained as suspected potential terrorists. I’m pretty sure they’re not– real terrorists would certainly have more realistic passports and would know better than to use Greece as their cover country.

Tuesday, the police created a road block and checked every single car on the route to the capitol. I’m not sure why, but it certainly slowed down traffic and I was glad to be coming back rather than heading toward Philipsburg.

The attack in Paris not only brought our attention and compassion to Parisians, it also (finally) opened many Western eyes to similar tragedies around the world: West Bank, Somalia, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Chad, and Cameroon all experienced acts of terrorism in the month of November, 2015 before Paris was bombed. We did not hear about those on the news because terrorism in Africa and the Middle East no longer shocks us.

Perhaps our horror at the attack on Paris will give us renewed perspective on terrorism in any country.

Maybe it will get our attention so that we will stop re-posting and start doing something about it.

Dutch Sint Maarten is not the only place Syrian refugees showed up with false papers. I heard of incidents in both Honduras and Texas in the last 24 hours. Of all the people currently affected by terrorism, certainly Syrians are at the top of the list. It seems they have nowhere to go, so they are going wherever they can. Wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do for the suffering of Paris except put up a French flag on my Facebook account and bear with the haters and the cries of “white supremacy.” It’s not much, but it’s a way to join with St. Maarten in supporting St. Martin and France.

Fortunately, there are tangible ways that you and I can help the people escaping violence in Syria!

I found this article from a UK-based news source that gives practical ways that “regular people” can be a part of the solution.

One of my friends offered this updated Amazon link. You can spend that unused Amazon gift card and send needed items to be distributed to refugees.

Friends, the world can be a terrible place. The acts of wickedness shock us, petrify us, make us weep. But we don’t have to live in fear, without hope. We can be the hope. We can be part of the solution. We can pray for God to bring comfort, peace, and justice. Then we can stand up and be the answers to our own prayers. We can bring light into this dark world. We can extend the hand of compassion to those who are hurting. This is what God has called us to do, and we can all do it, wherever we are.

 

 

 

Seven Chinese-English Translation Fails

One of the things that I find most entertaining is Chinese-English translation fails. Zero judgment on the people who created these interesting translations– regardless of how grammatically incorrect the translations may be, the translators still speak a foreign language way better then I do! I have huge respect for any Mandarin-speaking person who can learn English and vice-versa. Still, these phrases are pretty funny. The Chinese market next door to our apartment complex carries plenty of plastic imports that make shopping a little more fun. Here are a few:

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The Wonderful Life plastic food container. I’m not sure if it’s trying to remind me that my life is wonderful, so I should be happy, or if being happy every day makes life wonderful.

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“Happy diary. If you often have smiles on your face good lucks will naturally come to you.”

Matching the positive thinking of Wonderful Life food container is the happy diary. Maybe you can only write positive things in this book. On one page record what makes you happy, and on the opposite write all the naturally occurring “good lucks” in your life. If you think about it, this actually makes sense. I’ll bet that if I wrote down all the happy things in my life and smiled more often, I’d quickly recognize how blessed I am.

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The Huahu pitcher!

“Huahu daily-used will become us living of a part, let’s enjoy living for every day.”

I don’t know what “huahu” is, and the rest of the poem doesn’t make much sense, either.

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Cookie bear tub

“Cookie bear, Baby happy baby, I want.”

Does the bear want a cookie? Or does it want a baby? Or does the baby want a bear or a cookie? Or is it a baby bear wanting a cookie?

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Mini desktop drawers. There are three drawers in this set, and every one of them has the exact same poem:

“Flowers of Happiness. Flowers, dreams can’t answer. Where has, The only way to obtain happiness, boy and girl, wandering in the world, no matter is the numerous hills and streams.”

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Toilet soap. Not really for toilets.

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Notebook- “There is something better in writing.”

Is it trying to remind me that there are a whole lot of writers out there who are better than I am? Or just that writing is better than not writing? I don’t know whether to feel insecure or encouraged.

That’s all for now, folks! “There is something better in writing” coming in future posts. Stay tuned and please subscribe!

Eight Things You Won’t Buy on Sint Maarten

When we first moved to Sint Maarten, I was expecting to be forced to go without some of the things that I’ve always been used to having. Not the case. In fact, not only do the stores here carry virtually everything you could possibly need, they also carry some things you could never, ever possibly need in a million years. For your entertainment, I have compiled a stack of photos from the Ace Home Store.

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First is the Palmpeeler. Basically, it’s a ring with a carrot peeler on the inside. This in the answer to one of the great questions of life: What would Larry the Cucumber buy his girlfriend for an engagement ring?

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The Garlic Keeper! For only $5.95 (plus tax!), you can keep garlic clove halves fresh. It will only take a few years for this thing to pay for itself.

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The Easy Twist! Works on pretty much every jar anywhere, and you’ll never have to ask your husband to open a jar of pickles again. Of course, you could just get one of those circular grippy things (or a kitchen towel), but why save kitchen drawer space when you could have a cool new toy?

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A lime squeezer, a lemon squeezer, and an orange squeezer. I get the need for  an orange squeezer, I get the need for a lemon squeezer, but I don’t get why you’d need both a lemon squeezer and a lime squeezer. Just to have all three colors? And how often do you really use lime juice in cooking, anyway?

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Because we wouldn’t want to lose our silverware, now would we?

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Here’s what every kid wants at her birthday party: two creepy centipede balloons with bunny ears.

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The jar safe! It’s an empty jar with the inside painted to look like it contains fresh strawberry preserves. This is a great idea, but it should probably be a Pinterest pin, not a twenty-dollar retail product.

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Bagel slicer. Because knives are super hard to handle.

That’s all, folks! Tune in next time for Chinese-English mis-translations on plastic imports, brought to you by the Asian market next door.

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Sint Maarten, The Netherlands, and Holland (Explained)

As many of you know, I am currently living in a Dutch island in the Caribbean called Sint Maarten. Some of you may be geographically befuddled about what exactly “Dutch” means and what country my island belongs to. Never fear, you’re not alone. Actually, until I watched this video about a year ago, I had no idea that Holland is not actually a country. If you don’t know the relationship between Sint Maarten, Saint Marten, Saint-Marten, the Netherlands, and Holland, this entertaining video will clear things up! Have fun.

Holland, the Netherlands, and the Dutch Caribbean

Liked that one? Here are a few more to widen your understanding of the world.

The United Kingdom (And a Whole Lot More) Explained

The American Empire

Where is Scandinavia?

How Many Countries are There?

Welcome to American University of the Caribbean!

Today is the day! We’ve been dreaming of this day, planning for it, and praying for it for many months. No, it’s not our wedding. We already did that. Today is Ben’s first day of medical school!

Like the dorky picture-snapping wife I am, I took a “first day of school” photo and posted it on Facebook.

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This is technically the first day of classes, but Ben has actually been on campus all week. We first stepped onto campus for our campus tour last weekend. Our first impression of the school was that it is spacious, clean, secure, tastefully decorated, and has a great view. We also thought that the campus is pretty big, but anything looks big compared to our undergrad university. Our campus tour showed us the “welcome center,” or guard shack, as it is commonly known, where security checks in and out every single person who enters campus. The next stop was the rotunda, a large, circular room in the center of the main building. Here, there are stairs that go to a second floor, which contains a few lecture halls, the library, and other rooms. On the same level as the rotunda is a nice recreational building with a ping-pong room, a room with couches for chilling and studying, a yoga room, and the gym. I was most excited about the gym. I’ll be spending a lot of time there. It has several treadmills and ellipticals in addition to other workout machines that looked like they are in great condition.

Pumpin' iron
Pumpin’ iron

There is also a cafeteria near this area, and the prices aren’t bad. Ben got a chicken wrap, an apple, and a bag of chips yesterday as a free new student gift, and he liked it. I think it would usually cost $5, which isn’t bad at all, considering the price of food on this island.

If you walk straight from the front door into the rotunda and then out the back door, you will arrive at note services, more lecture halls, and study rooms for rent. There is also a basketball court and the smoking area. I have no idea why anyone would be going into medicine and also be a smoker, but to each his own.

Basketball Court
Basketball Court. Too bad I took this at night– the lagoon is in the background.

Through a patio garden area, down the steps, and across the street is The New Building and the dormitories. The New Building has many lecture rooms, offices, a smaller cafeteria area, a study zone, anatomy lab, the auditorium, etc. Ben will be spending most of his time here. His class is the biggest at the school so far (about 280, I think), so they will be living in the auditorium for most of their classes. During anatomy lab, they will be upstairs working in small groups. Thankfully, each person gets their own anatomy lab locker, so nothing that smells like cadavers and formaldehyde will come into our apartment!

The auditorium
The auditorium

Behind The New Building is a stunning view of Simpson Bay and the mountains that make up this island. Beautiful.

Mural outside Ben's classroom. It represents giving a bright future to the island's children.
Mural outside Ben’s classroom. It represents giving a bright future to the island’s children.

Besides a tour, the school has hosted many other fun and/or required pre-class events. There were several shuttle runs to the grocery store over the weekend. Saturday was a beach volleyball game and Ben got his ID badge that same morning. Sunday was registration in the morning and a welcome meeting in the evening. Happily for us, the evening event was catered with a delicious meal! Nothing says “happy students” like free food. After the welcome meeting, everyone was invited to compete in a scavenger hunt (this provided the lovely photos for this post) and an ice cream mixer.

Boats in Simpson Bay Lagoon
Boats in Simpson Bay Lagoon

Monday included seminars on wellness and professionalism. If I had named them, I would have called the sessions How Not to Die and How Not to Lose Your License. Most of it seemed like common sense to me as I flipped through the booklet, but it’s always good to hear good advice, especially during times of transition and stress. Besides, there are a lot of ways to be stupid and get in trouble on this island. Hopefully people will take the warnings seriously, because coming to class with a massive hangover is not a good way to pass one’s Step Ones.  There was also an assessment and a reading quiz on Monday over the book Short White Coat. 

Island Bus Tour
Island Bus Tour

Yesterday (Tuesday) contained more and longer workshops, as well as an island tour. We stopped in Marigot and visited a French Patisserie. It was actually a pretty good price– four delicious pastries for about six bucks. We also stopped in Orient Bay to see Saint-Martin’s best beach. I have to say that I like Mullet Bay much better. Orient is pretty seaweedy this year, and the beach was pretty busy. It does have a good view of Anguilla and some small islands, though. We didn’t stop anywhere else, but it was nice to drive the perimeter of the island and see the less touristy areas where local people live. I was delighted to finally see some fresh fruit stands! After the island tour, the students went back to school for complementary subs and a meeting with their orientation advisers.

French Pastries
French Pastries

The week is not over yet! After today’s classes, there is a student mixer. Tomorrow is the Spouse Organization’s first get-together. Friday is the white coat ceremony. And from there, it’s all about studying, studying, studying.

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What to Do for a Week in Sint Maarten

We have now been living in Sint Maarten for a week! We have a week yet to explore and enjoy before classes begin for Ben at American University of the Caribbean. We’re going on as many adventures as we can on our beautiful island home. Here are some of the fun things we have done. If you ever come to Sint Maarten, take some time to try a few of these!

1. Mullet Bay Beach

We love Mullet Bay Beach! I can’t believe we live just a short walk away. Mullet Bay has gorgeous fine white sand, warm clear water, and best of all, not too many people. There is even a little beach snack shack with umbrellas and chairs for rent.

Mullet bay Beach
Mullet bay Beach

2. Fort Louis

We took an excursion to the French side of the island last week. On the north side of the town of Marigot, there is a short hike to the ruins of an old French fort. I’m not sure if the best part is the view or the awesome vintage cannons.

Ft. St. Louis
Ft. Louis

3. Fishing

I’m not sure about the French side of the island, but on the Dutch side, one does not need a license to fish. And the fishing is good! We’ve done just about every type of fishing you can imagine. It’s fun, but the downside is that most fish aren’t edible. The majority potentially carry Ciguatera, an incredibly toxic virus that affects people quite badly. Fortunately, the little ones and the herbivores are generally clean. We made fish tacos last night. They were delicious.

Ben catches a barracuda. Can’t eat these, unfortunately.

4. Shopping

Both the French side and the Dutch side have great shopping. Most of it is pretty expensive, but what do you expect on an island? Our shopping has been limited to fishing equipment and groceries for the most part.

I'm not sure what exactly this is useful for, but I've always wanted to be a mermaid!
I’m not sure what exactly this is useful for, but I’ve always wanted to be a mermaid!

5. Snorkeling

The fish here are beautiful. There are few things more fascinating than watching tropical fish go about their little fish lives. The variety and color is amazing! So far, the coral we’ve seen is a bit drab, but the fish make up for it. The other day, I saw a scary huge barracuda and the biggest granddaddy spinefish I’ve ever seen!

One of three good watersports stores we discovered in Marigot
One of three good watersports stores we discovered in Marigot

6. Casinos

I wouldn’t recommend the gambling, and a definitely wouldn’t recommend the bars. I’ve heard of the sketchy and dangerous things that happen in some of these bars. However, the casinos sometimes have pretty great food for a reasonable price at their restaurants! We ate at Thai Savanh’ in Stars Casino for Ben’s birthday. They have a nice patio for dining away from the smoke of the casino.

Thai Savanh'
Thai Savanh’

7. Hiking and Running

We went on Guana Bay hike with friends yesterday. We loved the views! There are so many little islands that you can see from this trail. This is just one of many hikes on the island. There are good opportunities for running, too, whether on the beach or the golf course.

Guana Bay hike
Guana Bay hike

8. Surfing

Surfing in the storm
Surfing in the storm

Ben and his friend Matt bought a couple of surf boards today and took advantage of tropical storm Erika’s big waves. There aren’t too many days with good surfing, so today was lucky. Unfortunately, Ben ended up getting thrown onto a sea urchin, so right now he’s experiencing the bad side of the:

9. Wildlife

The flora and fauna here is awesome! Ben climbs coconut palms so we can have fresh coconut milk. There are a few fruit trees here, too. I’ve already mentioned the fish, and in addition to sea creatures, there are interesting land creatures, too, like the giant iguanas that sun themselves on the golf course.

Caribbean iguana
Caribbean iguana

Until next time!