Day Six was a stop at Philipsburg, St. Maarten, which is Dutch. A few kilometers away was St. Martin, which is French. I really enjoy places like this, because I like to say I visited two or three countries in a day. I’m the kind of guy who gets his picture taken at Four Corners, standing in four states. Yes, I’m a dork.
Moving right along…
We booked a trip for the day, “St. Maarten Natural Wonders.” This time it would be my wife, my parents and myself. While I may not have any interest in moving back in with my parents, I do enjoy their company, so this promised to be a good day: relaxing, low-pressure and with good company.
Most of the tour consisted of driving around the island, through both the Dutch and French sides. We made a couple stops for scenic views of the coast while the transplanted Texan tour guide gave us an effusive commentary on local flora, history, border crossings, prison… you name it.
Our main stop was at a small zoo to see some (mostly) local wildlife up close. We’d actually seen surprisingly few animals up to this point: some birds, a few lizards scampering around, but not as many as you might think. I always find smaller zoos amusing, because it’s often difficult to tell which animals are exhibits, and which merely hang out for the free food. We saw more iguanas here than anywhere, although there weren’t any “in” the zoo.
I got the opportunity to meet a toucan up close and personal. We were inside a caged portion of the zoo, but my attention was focused on a bird outside the fence. Suddenly, a toucan inside the fence flew to a branch and swung his beak around within inches of my nose. I fumbled for the camera and actually had to step back, as I couldn’t fit it between my nose and his. I found myself wondering whether or not my nose was nut-shaped.
My wife has always sorta wanted a dog. We’ll probably get one some day when our lifestyle is more suitable to pet ownership, but for now, it’s on hold. Fortunately, she got a temporary fix on the cruise.
Not quite every day, we’d get our towels folded into some sort of an animal. First we got a frog, then a swan. Today while we were ashore, we got a dog wearing my wife’s glasses. The next day, we got a monkey hanging from the lights. These are things you don’t get when you stay at a Super 8.
Next was our last day of cruising, with a visit to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Oddly enough, a stop in the US was the only time we had to deal with any issues getting onto the island. It wasn’t bad, but interesting that the tightest security was going to our home country.
One of the few things we planned in advance was a trip up the paradise Point Tramway, which carries passengers to about 700 feet above sea level. At the top, they serve their famous Bailey’s Bushwhackers. Most of the group opted to start their day this way. So, about 10:00 in the morning, we make our way up the skyride.
The ride was, well, interesting. Eight of us squeezed into a single cable car and started the journey up. It was warm, it was crowded, and it was definitely not on solid ground. Sure, it seemed well-maintained and stable, but I couldn’t help thinking that we had 1500 pounds in a cable car on an island with unknown regulations over this sort of thing. The view was pretty great, though.
This was definitely a tourist stop, the most touristy stop so far. The marketing folks at Paradise Point have created a lizard couple to assist them, Limin’ and Lizzy. Everywhere you turn, one of these cartoon lizards is waving from a sign with a ™ or an ® somewhere on it. Home of the Bailey’s® Bushwhacker™. Sponsored by Cruzan® rum. The only signs without legal indicia were the ones warning you not to photograph certain displays without paying for the privilege first.
But I don’t mean to complain. When in Rome, right?
Seeing as how it was still fairly early and warming quickly, we decided to split a Bailey’s Bushwhacker, and I’m glad we did. The BB has six kinds of liquor and the only mixer is ice. So, basically, it’s a pint of slushy booze; the breakfast of champions.
I had half a BB before noon, and that was enough. We learned what happened if you had more.
A woman near us had her face planted on the table. We asked if she was OK, and her companion simply replied, “Two Bushwhackers.” Before we left, I went to use the restroom, but was unable to do so, as it was blocked off. The reason? “Three Bushwhackers.”
After the skyride, we wandered into town as a group before parting ways to do our own thing. My wife and I ended up catching a ride to the beach for a few more hours. She wanted to be sure to absorb as much saltwater as possible before the cruise ended. On the ride back, the driver stopped at the top of a hill for a quick photo opp, and we had an even better view than that on the skyride.
I think I may actually be wrapping up this story soon. One or two more installments should do the trick.