Friday-Saturday, June 8-9
I flew first class on American; miles just didn’t work out this year so it was cash. Ouch! I paid about double what I remember paying last year. I watched the fares for quite a while and was starting to think I wouldn’t be able to fly this year due to the cost. One day they were lower, so I jumped. The next day they were 50 percent higher!
Route was PDX-DFW with just an hour between flights, then DFW-MIA on a 777 with a luxurious seat. I think this was the most pleasant flight I’ve experienced. It was not possible to get from Portland to SXM in one day, at least on American, so I overnighted at the Miami International Hotel. If you have to stay somewhere, this is about as convenient as it gets.
The flight to SXM on Saturday arrived around 3 PM. Two planes landed about the same time. Luggage retrieval was as efficient as it could be under the nonautomated circumstances. We all crowded against a rope waiting for our luggage to be handed through a window and down a short ramp. The nice attendants usually brought our bags to where we were standing if we yelled when we saw them come down the ramp.
Leisure Car Rental was waiting for me although not in the area where I was told to wait for them. So there were about 15 minutes of disconnect, but it worked out in the end. They drove me to their office just outside the airport where the paperwork was taken care of in short order. All of their fleet were damaged, and it seemed much smaller than it has in the past. Although they have a cement wall around their lot, the destruction came from the tin roof on the building across the street, Jimmy told me. Then it was off to Divi.
While everyone says Simpson Bay has come back quickly, there’s still destruction everywhere you look and it’s just heartbreaking. Plus the island is drier than I’ve ever seen it. It would be tragic if there were a fire in the hills. So the dryness and destruction combined make for some unattractiveness. This is the hill right across Little Bay from Divi where the Chinese construction is supposed to be going in.
Check-in seemed to take forever; I think they may have been having some computer problems. My unit isn’t renovated yet so I’m in a room right next to the only pool that’s open, which is also serving as the only restaurant (Seabreeze Pool). There is a lot of noise and zero privacy, but at least I’m here. This is scaffolding outside my unit.
After unpacking, another timeshare owner and I went to Roxy’s Corner in the fish market for dinner, where we met Lucinda Frye of SXM Cooks and Jeannie Gee of Shop ‘n Drop Grocery. Roxy’s is run by a former server at Divi who isn’t returning as she’s trying to make a go of her own place, a lifelong dream. The food is “local” cooking and good. Three of the group had prawns, and I had salmon; all were served with a little salad and rice and beans; the rice was especially tasty. It was a very pleasant evening, catching up with Jeannie and Luci. If you want to help a local woman succeed with her own business, please give Roxy’s a try.Sunday, June 10
This was grocery shopping day at the Carrefour at the roundabout, formerly Le Grande Marche. The new store is laid out completely differently but is quite nice. I was surprised, however, at the many empty shelves in the dairy section. After unpacking the groceries, I headed to Mary’s Boon to meet up with Bill and Elaine as they were leaving the island the next day.
This was another very pleasant afternoon . . . once I got there. Parking was a real problem as both Mary’s Boon and Karakter were quite busy; I had to park several “blocks” away. I sat at the beach bar, which is apparently open only Friday through Monday; the bartender was an absolute hoot. He offers a sample of rum with ginger, which is extremely potent but yummy if you like ginger, as I do. I had a tuna salad while there, which was excellent: barely seared. Lucinda Frye, who also was at Mary’s Boon that afternoon, thinks the food is much better than it has been in the past.Monday, June 11
I spent the day at Divi on the beach, which was lovely. I will do a separate thread in the future about Divi.
Jeff Jhangiani had invited me to a dinner being organized by Jeannie Gee at the Residence Adam & Eve, a naturist villa in Orient Village. Jeannie discovered it previously while doing a grocery delivery and became acquainted with the manager, a trained chef who also makes Willy’s Ice Cream, who was taking care of the villa while the owners are in France. Jeannie thought it might be nice to throw some business Willy’s way while the villa was not occupied so organized a four-course dinner for a group of nine.
What a lovely evening it was! The food was superb, the villa was lush and lovely, and the company was a delight. Lucinda Frye wrote an article about the evening on her blog at http://sxmcooksblog.com/dinner-adam-eve/.
Since she included pictures of the food on her blog, I will include pictures of only the villa here. The menu was as follows:
Aperitif: raspberry kir Royal, marinade of lobster, cucumber and lime with a light cauliflower mousse; starter: tomato and basil gazpacho, celery sorbet and goat cheese ice cream, served with garlic bread; main course: roasted lobster with anis star butter, pumpkin mousseline with ginger and fresh mint; dessert: ice cream and sorbets palette, fresh fruits and crispy coconut. There were six flavors of Willy’s ice cream, creatively served on an escargot plate, truly the “frosting on the cake.” This was one of the nicest evenings I’ve spent on the island.
Part of the swimming pool
More swimming pool
The group; chef Willy in the orange shirt
Interesting dining table
Steps down to the “laboratory” where Willy makes his ice cream
View through the dining room windowTuesday, June 12
I needed to take care of getting a local phone number. I brought with me both a G2 phone I purchased from Sharon when she went out of business and an unlocked Windows phone I was no longer using. At the UTS store in Cole Bay, I was informed that a Chippie sim card might not work in the Windows phone, and they referred me to a “phone expert” who was located in the tech store at Carrefour. So after purchasing a sim card along with an Internet package, I headed to Tech Hub inside the Carrefour store. They were great! The G2 phone might have worked with Telem but I didn’t want to use Telem. The Chippie sim card did not work with the Windows phone so I purchased a new phone that was on sale for $89; it’s the same one Beach Kitten and Elaine have, as discussed in another thread. They downloaded the apps I wanted, and I was good to go. Impressive service. Apparently Chippie is all out of the cards you use to top up your number, and using the card is the only way you can top up. Unless this changes, it appears that purchasing a new sim card with a new number each trip will be required.
I headed back to Divi to make lunch and spent the afternoon on my deck, where this is my view.
I was meeting friends for dinner at Jimbo’s but got there early as I wanted to talk with Mirian, of the former Passaat, who is filling in as general manager while Jimbo is off island. Along with losing their livelihood, Pieter and Mirian lost all their personal belongings, as they lived on the schooner. So very sad. I’m looking forward to going on a couple of sails on their new boat next week.Wednesday, June 13
I had been told that Bernadine Ali who had the rum stand next to Paradise View restaurant had a stand at the Marigot market so I headed there to find her, without success. I found a vendor who knows who she is and was told she does not have a stand at the market. I understand that she still goes to the area where the rum stand was each morning at 8 a.m. to feed the cats. I’m not sure I’ll be getting up early enough to get over there to see her. I did drive up that little hill the night I went to Adam & Eve, and it was another heartbreaker. The rum stand was completely gone, as was the place where Bernadine lived. The first two stores were still standing, but nothing else in that strip. The restaurant is boarded up.
I spent a very windy afternoon at Friar’s Bay. Although FB Beach Café is open, I went to The Root, formerly Kali’s. The mahi mahi Caesar salad was very good. There was a busload of kids at the beach with teachers and/or instructors. I’m not sure if they were having a swimming lesson or what, but they spent a lot of time in the water.
Friar’s Bay Beach Café
Some of the school kids
Driving back to Divi, I went through Sandy Ground and stopped at the place where Jean-Pierre Straub had his workshop and studio. That structure was still standing, but there is now a shop that makes windows operating in the space. The man working in that shop didn’t know where Jean-Pierre is. I have several pieces of his marquetry art and wouldn’t mind having more. It was also sad driving by where Dreams used to be as it’s now just flat ground. I also drove up to where The Summit used to be; you can see the swimming pool toward the right between the trees.
I also drove up to The Blue Marine complex where I stayed a year ago November and was stunned at the destruction there. The buildings are still standing, but everything is gutted and no one is living there. This is the building I stayed in.
After a bite at Bar Code, I returned to Divi where I spent the evening on my deck working on this trip report.Thursday, June 14
After spending time at the fitness center, which I’ve done daily so far, and having breakfast, I headed to Pinel. The stench of seaweed is overwhelming and most unpleasant.
It goes away after getting on the boat; cost is $12 round trip. The owner of the Red Piano was on the boat along with his two adorable sons; his wife teaches at the medical university. He talked about some of the struggles related to Irma and hopes to reinstitute the no-smoking policy if business picks up in October/November.
I initially headed to Karibuni as some have suggested the food is better there. They had a sign to not sit in a lounge chair until a beach boy “installed” you. I waited what I felt was a reasonable amount of time without being assisted so went back to Yellow Beach. I was immediately and pleasantly assisted so spent an incredibly relaxing afternoon there. I had a scallop salad which was delicious. It contained several large, and appropriately cooked, scallops.
On the way back, I drove to LeGalion, where there literally is nothing, including beach.
Rum and Peas advertised Thursday as their tapas night. As I wasn’t very hungry, tapas sounded good. Service was quite friendly. I’ve never had oxtail so ordered oxtail spring rolls. They were absolutely delicious!
It seems that more places are now charging a 15 percent service charge, and this was one of the places. I was told 10 percent goes to the server and 5 percent to the house.Friday, June 15
It was a quiet day at Divi. I spent some time walking around the property, taking pictures, and also spent some time on the beach.
Went to Le Moulin Fou for dinner, and it was as good as ever. They were able to reopen in November as their damage wasn’t as significant as surrounding areas. I had a scrumptious goat cheese salad and duck breast entrée. After dinner, I joined friends at The Hole in the Wall in Maho, which has a resident “bar cat,” to hear Bob Barron and Ronny Santana.
The next eight days will bring four sailing trips. Stay tuned!