St Maarten/St Martin
1 March 2009 Newsletter

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Cupecoy sunset

Weather: Sunday turned out to be decent and Monday was better, still some clouds and extremely scattered showers. Tuesday was prime, hardly a cloud, a very light breeze, and the temperature hit 81F. The photo on the right was taken at lunchtime from our balcony. The water was sparkling in the sunshine with Saba in the hazy distance, 26 miles away. Later that day, that haze on the horizon lit up as the sun set (below left). As it set further the high clouds overhead turned red. If you look closely (or click for the larger image) you can still see Saba. Wednesday was cloudy and hazy, but the clouds cleared, and the temperature got up into the 80's for another lovely day. Thursday was another lovely day but clouds kept building to the east and by late afternoon a squall had driven everyone from Orient Beach into the beach bars. In about 15 minutes it was clear and a bit cooler. Friday was another wonderful day with a very short late afternoon shower, at least in Cupecoy. Saturday was warm and sunny with a light breeze, reaching 80F. Sunday started out nicely, already 75F at sunrise, but a bit cloudy. It will probably burn off as the day warms up.   Sailboat and Saba
Tuesday sunset   Click for Juliana Airport, St. Martin Forecast Here's the current local conditions and here's the forecast from Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel. We've passed the winter solstice, so for the next six months we'll be getting more sun every day. Sunset today is at 6:15 and the moon is a waxing crescent. Full moons for 2009 are 11 Mar, 9 Apr, 9 May, 7 Jun, 7 Jul, 6 Aug, 4 Sep, 4 Oct, 3 Nov, and 2 Dec. Last rays of the sun and Saba

SXM-Beaches: Cupecoy report: Sand, although diminishing, at the little cove, coming back to the ShorePointe beach. Pretty easy to get in and out by Tuesday, with some nice swells. On Saturday, Cupecoy was lovely, with a nice breeze. There is sand at all three beaches; the most at Shorepointe. Still some rocks there, but easy access to the water at the far NW end, closest to La Samanna. There was a clear view to Saba for most of the morning, with a few colorful small sailboats tacking back and forth in preparation for the regatta.

Orient looks great, no problems with sand. On the left is a shot looking north from Pirate Beach Bar. If you look closely, you'll see a parasailor in the sky. If you can't see him, the center photos shows what a 24x zoom can do, if it has image stabilization. The shot on the right was also taken from Pirate, but looking to the southeast. There's plenty of sand in the shot and also plenty of clouds off in the distance. The prevailing tradewinds brought them to us in a few hours.

Orient looking north from Pirate Orient parasailing Orient looking southeast

Beach reading: The French side had several carnival parades last week which reminded me that if you haven't read Don't Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk, you should. Amazon has it for about $11, but several "new" copies are listed at about $5, and used ones are cheaper still. It's a rare comedy by the Wouk that chronicles the travails of a middle-aged Jewish man who wants to start his life afresh as the owner of a hotel on a (ficticous) sleepy West Indies island. Everything seems to go wrong, but eventually through ingenuity and luck (and the "carnival spirit") all turns out well in the end. Wouk observes the island lifestyle, warts and all, with great accuracy. A very enjoyable read: comedy and pathos are well-blended. The island may be fictional, but the happenings certainly seem real, especially the parts about traffic.

  Don't Stop the Carnival

Bob   Activities: On Monday night we went over to Pineapple Pete's to catch Ronny Santana's last set again. Dinner was winding down and a deuce opened right in front of the "stage" and Pete asked us if we would like to sit there. I got some great photos listening to some great music. Pete's just got the "best live music" award in the Daily Herald's reader's poll.

On Friday evening we caught Jim Spector on acoustic gut-string guitar at Skipjack's. He can play most anything, from the Pachelbel Canon In D (also known as the Taco Bell Cannon) to Creedence Bad Moon on the Rise (also known as There's a Bathroom on the Right). There is a sound system so you can hear this classically trained guitarist and he really can play almost anything.

  Jim Spector

Alcohol: We like zinfandel with spicy food and when we are home, we spice things up a bit. A recent meal of pork loin with a barbecue sauce enhanced with minced onion, garlic, orange juice, and sambal oelek (see groceries), led to a tasting of these two zins that we purchased at Netco, behind the Ace Hardware Store in Cole Bay. We had purchased the 2004 Montevina earlier ($9) and liked it, but remembered the 2003 Alderbrook ($15) from last year and thought we liked it better. I picked some up and opened both, expecting to easily discern the Alderbrook. I tasted them blind, twice, and could find no difference. Martha tasted them and said the same. The Alderbrook comes from Dry Creek Valley, north of Sonoma and the Montevina comes from Amador County in the Sierra Foothills, southwest of Sacramento. Both areas are quite dry helping them to produce highly alcoholic, very robust zins. A search on WineZap showed the Montevina is usually available for $9 to $12 and the Alderbrook can be found for $11 to $16, in the US. The Alderbrook comes from a better area, but I'll be drinking a lot more Montevina in the future.   Zinfandels

Sapphire Beach Club: Our condo will be available again in low season (starting 15 April) for $1000 per week. The rental includes about $500 in coupons from several of our website clients. Check the calendar on our website for available dates.

For those of you who wish to sell or rent their week or unit, we have opened up the Sapphire Beach Club website for that purpose. We charge $25 per year. If you wish to rent or sell your unit, send us some text (and $25 to esk@sxm-info.com via Paypal). If you wish to rent or buy a unit without high middleman fees, check out the website. Given the large assessment that Sapphire just levied, there may be a lot of sales. At present, there are 20 sales and/or rentals available directly from owners. Given a 25 to 35% standard rental commission, there should be some bargains in eliminating the middleman and dealing direct.


Perfumes, skincare products, and cosmetics
Perfumes, skincare products, and cosmetics
  Shopping:: Last week we visited Tijon at the far end of Grand Case. John and Cyndi Berglund opened this spectacular shop late last year. In addition to selling perfumes that they make on site, they also carry a line of skincare and tanning products, candles, soaps, gifts, posters, music CDs, and men's and women's clothing. Finally, they offer a perfume class where there are presentations on the sense of smell, the history of perfume, and the raw materials and oils used in perfume followed by lab work to produce your own perfume, which you take home along with a gift bag. The perfume and the gift bag are easily worth the $125 fee. They are open Monday through Friday from 10am to 1pm and 6pm to 8pm - perfect for a visit before a wonderful meal in Grand Case.  
Language of perfume poster teeshirts

Sambal Oelek   Groceries: We picked up some pork tenderloin in the Grand Marché. They were selling boneless, essentially fat-free, pork tenderloins for less than pork chops with a bone and a layer of fat. Shopping down here at times defies logic. Possibly the trick was we had to buy two tenderloins in one package, but Martha cooked them both and set them aside. She then added some wine, chopped garlic, and onions to the skillet to make a lovely sauce. She put one tenderloin back in the refrigerator and sliced the other one adding mashed potatoes and sautéed zucchini. I contributed a bottle of 2004 Aleth Girardin Pommard from François at Philipsburg Liquor and we had a great and inexpensive meal at home.

A few nights later she sliced up the remaining tenderloin and added it to a barbecue sauce enhanced with minced onion, garlic, orange juice, and sambal oelek (left). Sambal is basically a condiment made of hot peppers found in Indonesia (and thereabouts), and by extension in Holland where I found it when I worked there in the 1970's. It was typically available on the dining table in Indonesian rijstafel restaurants. It can be quite hot and Martha's ministrations certainly improved the KC Masterpiece Spicy Barbecue Sauce (whose main ingredient was high fructose corn syrup). If you need a degree in chemistry to know what you are eating, you probably shouldn't be eating it. Martha added a cold potato salad and steamed cauliflower for a second meal on the $8 worth of pork tenderloin. There was enough left for lunch later in the week. This was the meal that brought out the zinfandel comparison

Travel: The figures for airline crashes are out for last year and the hull loss rate is up to 0.81 from 0.74 "crashes" per million flights. Deaths were down to 502 versus 692 in 2007. (Captain Sullenberger's amazing amazing feat with his powerless Airbus will help the 2009 figures). The article pointed out that the worst hull loss rates were in the CIS (several of the former Russian states) at 6.4, Latin America at 2.6, and north Africa and the middle east at 1.9. North America (0.58), Europe (0.42) and Asia (0.58) all performed better than the global average. On a brighter note, shark attacks were down in 2008, probably because there were fewer beachgoing tourists. Maybe it's not a brighter note. As an indication of how many travelers there are (or are expected) Flamingo and Royal Palm announced they would be closing their sales office. Then again, I remember something about a large maintenance fee increase. I suspect that there are plenty of private sales available at good prices on these properties.

Nature: This is a shot of a bougainvillea twining itself up a tree in L'Escargot Restaurant's parking lot. The plant's name comes from Louis Antoine de Bougainville, an admiral in the French Navy who discovered the plant in Brazil in 1768. Escargot Restaurant's name comes from the tasty snails they serve, inter alia.


Traffic: Last week I mentioned Deep Bleu's water taxi around the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Shortly after writing that I tried to drive to Grand Case from our condo in Cupecoy. It took 45 minutes, most of it sitting in Sandy Ground trying to get into Marigot, but another major amount of time was spent inching past the market and waterfront in Marigot. The water taxi would not have helped to go any further than that (ie all the way to Grand Case), but if you wanted to get to a restaurant or shop in Marina Royale it would have been much quicker than my journey. When we returned at about 3:30, the road through the lowlands was stopped solid all the way back to the Marigot waterfront. We eventually turned around and went clockwise around the lagoon to get to Cupecoy. Tourism is supposed to be down, all the rental car companies are complaining, and yet the roads seem to be full, but only sometimes. I think a lot of the problems are the construction projects. I noticed a large truck leading our parade on the way into Marigot. Orient Express is running a fleet of 10-yard dump trucks loaded with lagoon leavings up the hill toward the French side and dumping them on the other side of the road where they intend to build villas. I've driven 10-yard dump trucks and in case you're wondering, they don't haul uphill very fast.
traffic   Next door, the Bleu Mall is pouring the southern portion of its lot line to lot line structure. When you build lot line to lot line, you have to park the concrete truck and the putzmiester (concrete pumping truck) on the roadway. They actually reduced the road through Cupecoy to one lane while they did this. As I left for dinner at 7:30 that evening I encountered yet another concrete truck heading toward the site. The photo on the left shows them blocking off one lane for a delivery.


Just up the the hill from us is Rainbow Beach Club, another lot line to lot line project. Whenever they need to move materials from the garage, they have to come out into the road with the tela-handler (a telescoping fork lift on steroids, above right). It moves faster than a 10-yard dump truck, but not much. On Tuesday morning heading to Marci's Gym, they had a concrete truck blocking off half of the road as they were pouring right to the lot line. When we returned, we noticed that they had put some excess concrete in the potholes that their project has created - at least that is some good news. There were a few other distractions on the road last week: carnival parades and demonstrations/strikes, which are quite similar, and construction on Rue de Hollande, the main road on the back side of Marigot.

Small island story: The Daily Herald reported that Port Services, a stevedoring company, is about to lay off about 60 people because they lost their contract with Tropical Shipping for handling Tropical's freight. Port Services has had this contract for over 20 years and currently handles about 40% of Tropical's freight. Intermar handles about 50% of Tropical's freight and will be awarded what previously went to Port Services.You'd think that Intermar must give great service, but the article went on to point out that Intermar is very close to a commissioner in the island government.


Winners of the contest that ended on 1 March 2009:
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October) - Cybele Boutros
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket - Luis Jimenez
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two - Cybele Boutros
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine - Cybele Boutros
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate - John Kimball
GCBC Watersports - Two for One snorkel trip to Créole Rock - Doreen Cesari
Tijon Perfume - One free bottle - Cybele Boutros
Peg Leg Pub - $50 off a dinner for two - Luis Jimenez
PassportMD - Six months free service - Dorene Kuffer
Radiant Gems - $50 off a purchase of $200 or more - Cybele Boutros

Read our rules, visit the websites of these sponsors, find their contest codes, and enter them on our entry form.

One of the rules is that you should enter each contest only once. You can enter five of the drawings on one entry. Thus, you could win a rather nice vacation at a considerable savings by combining accommodations with dinners and activities.

Current Contest:

1 March to 26 April 2009
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate
GCBC Watersports - Two for One snorkel trip to Créole Rock
Tijon Perfume - One free bottle
Peg Leg Pub - $50 off a dinner for two
PassportMD - Six months free service
Radiant Gems - $50 off a purchase of $200 or more

Future Contests:

26 April to 26 July 2009 | 26 July to 25 October 2009 | 25 October to 27 December 2009
27 December to 28 February 2010 | 28 February to 25 April 2010 | 25 July to 31 October 2010
same cast of characters as current contest



On 22 Feb the euro was at 1.285. Today it is at 1.269. A bit of a change and in the right direction. Vanessa at California Restaurant confirms that they are still doing 1 to 1. Pirate Beach Bar's menu is in dollars, no conversion necessary. Momo at Ti Bouchon says his menu is in dollars also. We had a lunch at Kokomarina where the menu proclaims 1 to 1. Le France in Marigot's Marina Royale is doing 1 to 1 also. L'Auberge Gourmande is doing $1.2 to 1 . We'll let you know as we hear from more of them.

Halsey's Restaurant logo fine dining-unrefined waterfront dining on the lagoon in St Maarten  
Halsey's Restaurant
On Sunday we headed over to Halsey's on the lagoon in Simpson Bay for some fine dining, unrefined. It really is some of the finest dining in Simpson Bay: quality ingredients, carefully prepared, and artfully presented. The unrefined part refers to the fact that it is a dock on the lagoon with plastic side curtains (new this year!) and no snooty headwaiter. If you can deal with that, you'll get some great food at good prices. We had reservations and when we arrived, a waterfront table was waiting (although it is hard to find a table that is not on the water). We ordered a bottle of water as we received the menu and wine list. The water arrived smartly and we ordered some Burgundy. After a bit of searching this lovely Burgundy (right) arrived. It's a 2004 from Champs Perdrix, a very good negotiant, and it was quite inexpensive (about $30).
Scallops and Shrimp   All dinners at Halsey's start with a basket of sliced baguette with butter and an olive oil/garlic dipping sauce. We then moved on to the Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Cakes with a Spicy Cajun Remoulade ($13). They were quite good with the Burgundy - lots of crab and some really nice heat in the remoulade, not overpowering but very good with the slight pepper on the edges of the tongue in a Burgundy.   Stuffed chicken
  Halsey's includes a very tasty salad with dinner. It's always crisp lettuce with their own house dressing, tangy and with just a a hint of sweetness. Martha had the scallop and shrimp sauté with a black truffle cream sauce; bacon, scallion, and shallot risotto; and sautéed veg ($24). I had the chicken breast stuffed with smoked Gouda, prosciutto ham, and spinach in a rosemary demi-glace with wild rice and sautéed veg ($19). Using the high quality ingredients (truffle oil, prosciutto, wild rice, even smoked Gouda) and taking the extra step to put a creamy risotto with the fish and wild rice with the chicken are why this is fine dining. The dinners were as good as you would expect given these quality combinations. Given the very tasty dipping sauce for the bread and the included salad, we were not about to order dessert. We finished the last of the wine as we dealt with a total bill of $93. That's not a misprint, $93.

La Gondola
We took the short drive to La Gondola on Monday evening. As long as Rainbow Beach Club is still a construction zone and Atlantis Casino offers a free valet parking service, we will drive the half mile rather than brave the obstacle course on foot. David has done a bit of refurbishing and the interior is as lovely as ever. We had a reservation and a table was waiting. Despite the recession, David generally fills the 7:00PM seating every evening and frequently fills the second seating at 9:00PM. This restaurant and Mario's Bistro are unlikely to seat you before 9:00PM without a reservation.
  Gondola logo
The menu had a special that featured beef cheeks cooked in Barolo for 24 hours with gnocchi (below left, $16). This cried out for a sturdy Italian wine and Antonio offered a 2005 Planeta from Sicily ($69). It was a bit young, but some vigorous maneuvers with a shapely decanter made it quite good. Another half hour in the decanter made it splendid and it did, indeed, complement the beef cheeks and the tender gnocchi. Martha ordered the veal parmaggiano with penne (below center, $27) and I ordered another special: a duck breast in a four peppercorn sauce with a porcini risotto (below right, $34). The veal was good and the duck breast was fantastic. Again, the wine worked well with both. We finished with Illy coffee and Antonio brought over a complimentary Gianduja liquor, based on a sweet chocolate containing about 50% hazelnut paste, similar to Nutella. Our bill came to $160, but the wine was $69. It's a top quality restaurant, and service remained good even as it filled to capacity.
Beef cheeks Veal parmiggiano duck breast

Belle Epoque
On Wednesday evening we made a short drive to Marina Royale in Marigot for a bistro meal at Belle Epoque. It's one of the longest running restaurants in the marina (since 1990!), consistently turning out goodly amounts of good food at good prices. The chalkboard had a special appetizer using baked cheese (always good), a special fish combo, a beef stew, and a farmer's pizza (chicken and eggs, honest). I really like the thin crust pizzas here, but that is not my favorite. We ordered water and a bottle of Joseph Drouhin's LaForet, a good Burgundy from a good negotiant.
Night View
We choose the accras, cod fish fritters (left, 8€) as our ap. They came with the usual spicy sauce chien and a bit of lettuce. Martha always has the tuna steak anchoïade (center, 17€). The anchoïade is a sauce made of anchovies, garlic, and olive oil, although Belle Epoque adds a bit of tomato and onion. It's a bit hard to discern, but the gauzy over-flashed item in the front center of the plate is a lemon with a bit of gauze on it so that you can squeeze the lemon to get the juice, while keeping the seeds behind. You may be eating on placemats with paper napkins, but Belle Epoque is serious about the food. I had the beef stew with carrots and tagliatelle (right, 16€). Everything was quite good and served efficiently and quickly. There's no need to feel rushed, however. We lingered over espresso and were brought complimentary flavored rums even though the tables were full. Our total bill was $93 using a reasonable exchange rate.

A few issues back I talked about tipping. At the table next to us a French couple split a pizza and then each had a dinner and dessert. They left $2, which is about what I said. The French expect the bill that reaches their table to include a service charge and they leave a small amount of money as a pourboire (for a drink).

Accras Tuna anchoiade Beef stew

Pirate Beach Bar
On Thursday we braved Marigot traffic again (35 minutes from Sandy Ground to Galis Bay) to have a conch salad at Pirate Beach Bar on Orient Beach. We have always liked the fish here and really like the Pirate Salad which features conch ($10). Put together two of those and two caribs and you'll have a $24 lunch on the beach. There's a coupon that would get you the two beers or rum drinks, two chairs, and an umbrella for only $12 more. That's a total of $32 for two lunches, two drinks, two chairs and an umbrella for the afternoon. You'll probably want a few more drinks out there leading an active life on your chaise loungue, but they're pretty cheap.
Pirate salad with conch

Orange Fever
While we were having lunch, we noticed that the beach bar next door was doing some business. It's Olivier, who was a waiter at Sunset Café last season. He has raised this location from the ashes (literally, as it burned a couple years ago) with the help of Florence's (of Auberge Gourmande) husband Luc. They are in partnership with Beatrice who owns the land lease. The photo is Beatrice and Olivier at the drinks station. Because of the ongoing strike in the French Overseas Departments (notably Guadeloupe and Martinique, but touching on St Martin and even Réunion Island east of Madagascar), they have no electricity and the kitchen is therefore, not ready for inspection. They have the orange umbrellas and this view over the umbrellas.
  Beatrice and Olivier

Orange umbrellas

St Maarten Events Magazine
Rancho del Sol | Kokomarina
Kakao Beach | Tai Chi Restaurant
Select Wine Cellar
On the way into Orient we had stopped at Rancho and talked to Johan about a dessert recipe for next year's article in Events Magazine. After talking with Olivier and Beatrice, we walked a short distance to KokoMarina to talk with Johan's sister, Marina, and her husband Koko about their appetizer recipe. While we were there, I noticed this lovely beef kebab on a nearby table (below left). Pretty fancy for beach bar. We continued on down the beach and caught up with Hervé and Doumé at Kakao. They are providing the recipe for the main course. Doumé also owns Tai Chi and we will be going there on Saturday for some soup for the article and a lot of sushi for us! Having set up all the photo shoots and tastings for the article, we were about to leave when the heavens parted and gray sky seen in the earlier beach photo released a deluge that sent everyone scurrying from the beach and kept us glued to our bar stools. The deluge stopped after about 15 minutes, but our wine glass kept getting refilled. Eventually we headed back through Marigot and went clockwise around the lagoon, stopping at Select Wine in the Orange Grove shopping center to discuss their help in recommending wines for the the various courses of next year's meal. This required a bottle Chantal Lescure's 2005 Côte de Beaune. It costs $30.50 which is a bit pricy for a Côte de Beaune, but it's worth it. I think it would work wonderfully with the main course for next year, but we'll let Sylvain and Marina decide. Almost forgot, the pirate lasses adorn Kakao. Pirate lass
Beef kebab Beaune Pirate lass

Pizza Galley
We left Select at about 6:30 and stopped at Pizza Galley on the way home and essentially reprised our dinner from the week before: Caesar salad, a JP Special pizza (Pepperoni, Italian sausage, green peppers, mushrooms, caramelized onions, black olives and mozzarella cheese), and a bottle of Mon Redon Cotes du Rhone. Total bill with a tip came to $60. Good wine, good food, good service.
  JP special

On Friday we headed over to SkipJack's for some mussels and music. Brad had told us that they had received mussels and he was doing them in a broth with onions, tomatoes, and a dash of white wine (right). Pretty good, especially when followed by the Asian Plate - slightly seared ahi tuna with a sesame crust, some very tasty and spicy hot calamari salad, several shrimp, a wakame salad, ginger, fresh wasabi (danger!), and a soy/ginger dipping sauce (below left). We are pinot noir freaks so we had Mondavi's pinot noir, but a white wine would have been fine.
  Asian Plate   After dinner we headed over to the bar where Steve made Martha a very nice margarita while I sipped some Gentleman Jack as we listened to Jim Spector on six string guitar. Click the link to hear Jim play. He's here on Friday along with local jewelry.   Jewelry Jim Spector

Tai Chi Restaurant
On Saturday we headed out to Tai Chi Restaurant in Orient Village. We were here to taste the wonton soup and get photos for our upcoming St Maarten Events article. We came, we tasted, we liked. It's a very nice soup and I'm sure Martha can take the chef's recipe and produce a recipe that a home chef could duplicate. We then had a double boat of sushi, sashimi, and even a bit of deep-fried maki. I guess I forgot that we usually get the single boat and find that to be enough for the two of us. The double boat is a beautiful sight, but we could not do it justice. Had we ordered the single boat, our total bill for soup, the single boat, and four 1664 Kronenbourg beers would have been about $80 using $1.3/€, an inexpensive night out to be sure.
  Double boat

News and Changes: La Chapelle in Orient Village was closed up when we were in Orient Village for dinner at Tai Chai Restaurant. The downstairs café at La Vie en Rose has not been open for lunch on several recent passes through Marigot. The upstairs restaurant has been open for dinner on several recent passes. O Sole Mio next to La Vie en Rose has not been open all season. Arawak was closed at the start of the season, but has opened recently. Lafayette and Tokyo Sushi in Marina Royale are gone.

The Heineken Regatta will be here next week. Sailors will be coming ashore. Keep the children indoors.

Mount Gay Rum is sponsoring an after-regatta party at Sesame Café in Grand Case starting at 7PM on 9 March. Mr Skin will be providing music. Hamburgers, hotdogs, merguez, and Mount Gay are $2 each. Buy 10 Mount Gay drinks and get a free gift. Maybe it's some aspirin.

It appears that the Blue Martini on Airport Road in Simpson Bay will be presenting semi-famous musicians: John Cafferty and Beaver Brown Band with Eddie and the Cruisers on 22 Mar and Firefall and Al Stewart on 11 April.

Karakter, on Simpson Bay Beach near Mary's Boon, is having a beach dance at 6:30 on the first Friday of every month. This week!

  Mount Gay


Gunslinger's Steel Pan Band Tuesday Night in Grand Case: Grand Case is again having a Harmony Night on Tuesday. Restaurant Row will be blocked off and filled with street vendors, music, dancers, and parades. Here's some photos from previous years.

Friday Night in Orient Village: Once again Orient Village is bringing in a band and several vendors on Friday evening for a lively time in their square.

Band in the square at Orient

  Our condo: We are here until 15 April and have a good bit of the following two months rented already. The condo will be available for rent at $1000 per week from 15 April 2009 to 15 December 2009. The rental includes about $500 in coupons from several of our website clients. The holiday weeks will be available at $2000 per week and the balance of the high season that is available will be $1500 per week. It will be unavailable from 15 January 2009 until 15 April 2009. Check the calendar on our website for available dates. The rate is so good and the coupons are so popular that we get about 60% occupancy in the low season (we are already at 30%). If you want a week, it's best to book early.

  SXM-Info has chosen SkyMed as our preferred medical travel insurance partner. Any medical travel insurance will get you back to the US, but SkyMed takes you home. Where's home? From their website: "Our definition of home is simple: Home is where you say it is. When struck by the unexpected, our service takes you home.  

PassportMD provides many things, including access to Monthly Harvard Health Letter and the Harvard Mental Health Letter, savings on prescriptions, medical reminders, an ability to email your doctor, and more. The most important benefit for travelers on cruiseships or those who take extended vacations in the third world is the ability to have your medical records stored in a secure server that will allow quick access in your time of need. SXM-Info has teamed up with PassportMD to provide these services with a two month absolutely free, no strings attach trial.


  Our article featuring four recipes from four restaurants from Cupecoy to Sandy Ground has been published in St Maarten Events and is available on the island. Look for a moules appetizer from Mario's Bistro, a vichyssoise from Ti Sucrier, lamb chops from Montmartre Restaurant, and a blanc mange dessert from Boucaniers. I had taken several photos for the article and Michael Dingemans, the publisher, was on the island just before high season taking more photos. As always, his wife, Carina, turned it into a beautiful layout. The magazine is distributed free throughout the island and contains a useful island map as the centerfold.

Amazon: I'm not convinced that the Kindle e-book from Amazon is the best thing to take to a beach, but it sure is a lightweight way to get some of your favorite books to the Caribbean, especially now that the second bag costs $25 or so on most flights! They just came out with the newer version and it's barely a quarter inch thick and weighs about 10 ounces. It has 16 shades of gray for the page background and reads well even in direct sunlight. Maybe it is the best thing to take to the beach? Here's a NY TImes review of the Kindle. Martha has been downloading audio books from our local library to her Zune (an iPod knockoff) and that has been working rather well. Obviously, these are audio books and it's not the same as "reading" the text, but it works quite well.


Coupons: Look on the SXM-Info website for a list of all restaurants and others that have coupons for some freebie or discount. There are several coupons there to make your vacation a bit cheaper. Here's a list of what you'll find:
Bikini Beach
Beau Beau's
Kakao Beach
Oizeau Rare
Paradise View
Pizza Galley
Pirate Beach Bar
Tai Chi
Select Wine Cellar
Endless Summer Beachwear
Radiant Gems
Mario's Cookbook   The Mario's Bistro Cookbook is still available online. They are shipped via UPS and cost $49 for one, $87 for two, and $123 for three, delivered. Delivery via UPS should take a day or two in the US.

Sandy Molloy at Molloy Travel offers personalized service to fit your needs and budget.

Ô Paradis has beautiful views of Orient Bay. You can walk to the beach for great lunches and to Orient Village for great dinners and great times. Check out the the Ô Paradis website for more details on the apartments and the Orient Beach site for more information on restaurants in the area.
  View from