Monday, December 29, 2008

Day Three: St. Maarten 12/22/08

Walking along the streets of downtown Phillipsburg is like trying to run across the lanes at the Indy 500. Apparently, the slow island life doesn't apply to moving vehicles. But, at least the locals are polite enough to beep before they run you over. Although there is a possibility that they were honking at my big ass. It seems my large posterior is very popular in the Caribbean.

St. Maarten is 2/3 French and 1/3 Dutch but the 350-year-old Concordia Agreement makes it easy to travel and do business between the two countries. Many of our fellow Serenade of the Seas cruise ship passengers bought into the notion that the French side is superior so they hopped in cabs, completely bypassing the section ruled by Holland. While they said the excellent food and shopping was the reason for their excursion, I suspect they all just wanted a glimpse of full-frontal nudity on one of the many French nudie beaches.

But, hey, the beer is cheaper on the Dutch side and we saw naked boobies anyway.

We made our way over to the Honky Tonk beach bar where our Dutch bartenders served us $1.00 Caribs. I hadn't had a beer since being diagnosed with GERD two years ago, but, man alive, there is nothing better than downing an ice-cold lager while staring at beautiful blue water. So I packed lots of Omeprazole and Ranitidine, cracked open a bottle of brew and hoped for the best. It was worth every gas-inducing and acid-inducing gulp.

The beaches are within walking distance of the port, although some folks opted for the $6.00 water taxi. We had this incredible knack for not wearing bathing suits when we needed them and wearing bathing suits when it was completely unnecessary. So, we hustled back to the ship and changed into our beachwear.

For $10.00 US you can rent two lounge chairs and an umbrella. Ironically, we sat near a French family who was consuming McDonald's like peasants who had just stormed the kitchen of an aristocratic family.

Beer on the beach was $2. Do they think we're made of money?!

Nearby, a Caribbean band entertained a group of touristas dining at an outdoor cafe. My state of beach euphoria was momentarily interrupted when I realized they were playing the theme from the Brady Bunch. "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia," the lead singer yelled when the song was over. Yes, Virginia, there is a dominant American culture.

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