RESTAURANT HIGHLIGHTS, continued: Our most memorable meal took place on our anniversary. Rastaman personally saw to it that we had the best table in the house at L’ASTROLABE, located at the Esmeralda Resort in Orient. This restaurant is not mentioned often on TTOL, but if you have an opportunity to splurge, you might want to consider this one! Our anniversary fell on a Friday which is Fresh Lobster Night & live music. As an appetizer we ordered garlic snails on fresh baguette toast with mashed garden peas; on the side black truffle and chicken soup. I’ve never seen Matt eat peas before, but this appetizer was something special. We each had the lobster which was deliciously tender and sweet. Dessert was cheese cake with a twist of lime, banana flambéed with Trois-Rivieres rum and ti-punch sorbet. Sound good???? The musician made a special announcement about our anniversary and a toast followed. Just a memorable evening.
BTW, for 42 euros (I know, pricey right now) you can order any soup or starter, any main course and any dessert off their extensive menu (there are a few exceptions).
Also memorable was dinner with Norm and Betty at DANIELS BY THE SEA. We had a nice, water view table. Norm has posted pictures of the homemade apple pie dessert! Before we knew it, over 3 hours had passed.
Norm and Betty are a joy to know, so genuine. And in case you didn’t hear, Norm REALLY LOVES SXM!!!! He has so much information and stories to share that you can’t help but think the travel books are a waste of time…just ask Norm! And believe me, Betty’s got some stories of her own.

SAFETY: I’m throwing this in here because I don’t want to end on this subject. We felt completely safe at all times, even walking to and from Orient Village at night. Having said that, we were unaware of some of the incidents that took place toward the end of our trip (Bamboo Bernies, mugging on Orient, etc). We took prudent precautions at all times, no jewelery, no large sums of $$$...we even had it “planned” that if we should be approached by anyone, we would give up what little we had on us and not put up a fight. Remember, Matt is 6’4””, 250# and the plan was something he needed to think about, but in the end he agreed that nothing was worth endangering our safety.
Crime is on the majority of people’s minds and many of us have mixed feelings; many are thinking about other destinations but know that there will not be another place quite like St. Martin.
I was on a mission to retrieve a bag that Contessa’s daughter left on the island when I had the pleasure of meeting David, aka Island Crimefighter.
David is deeply passionate about doing everything he can to let the island officials know that the threat to tourism is very real. He would like everyone to email him with any reports, comments, concerns so that he can pass them on. Contessa has his contact info.
We did see one check-point on a Sunday at about 3 pm. Cars coming from Orient to Grand Case were being stopped. We were driving in the opposite direction, so I can’t say what why this was being done.
At this point, we will monitor the situation and if we return we will always stay in secured areas and continue to use common sense.

THE BEST PARTS: So what is it about vacations in SXM (or other places) that brings out the best in us and our relationships? We meet old friends like Joni and Jerry and make new ones as was the case at the TTOL get –together at the Dinghy Dock…thanks to Norm! A couple of days later, we hosted a small cocktail party at Villa Belle Mer. In attendance were Jerry/Joni, Norm/Betty, Kristin/Dan, Deb/Ken. The moon seemed full that night as we lined up along the pool for our TTOL photo; beautiful breeze; another 3+ hours of non-stop camaraderie. We celebrated the publishing of Dan’s first book, The Aliens Next Door, and he presented me with an autographed copy.

So it’s about the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes, the way we can leave the stress behind, the way we re-connect with why we chose our spouse in the first place…all those things and more that keep us coming back.

To all of the TTOL’ers out there, may your next trip be the best ever!

Joyce M-C

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