St Maarten/St Martin
31 January 2010 Newsletter

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Cupecoy sunset

Cruiseship Weather: Sunday turned out to be a very nice day, but had a few sprinkles as we settled into the late game at Bonita's Cantina. Monday was pretty clear with a good breeze, the whitecaps on the lagoon indicate about 13 mph. If you are interested in the rest of the physical indications of wind speed, here's a table from the University of North Carolina. When we passed through the golf course on our way to Marci's Gym, we were astounded to find a half foot of water in the low spots. Those late night sprinkles must have gathered considerable force as we slept. The golf course is much greener. The rest of the week has been pretty good, a few sprinkles, but no showers that we have seen. On the right is Thursday's sunset.   Sunset

On Friday morning the air was clear, usually meaning less humid, although the sky was cloudy. On the right is a shot of sunrise over Saba. If you look carefully, at least at the enlarged version which you get by clicking the photo, you can see a row of house roofs reflecting the early morning light. Given the clouds in the sky, I was quite surprised to see Statia clearly and astounded when I looked a bit further to the east and saw St Kitts and Nevis! It rained a few times in the late afternoon, cleared enough to get a green flash at sunset, and positively poured while we were dining that evening. Saturday arrived a bit cool, 77F at 9:00AM, and a bit breezy. The breeze brought in clouds, such that the clear sky at 6:30AM was obliterated by 9:00AM. It stayed cloudy all day but didn't rain often. Sunday arrived with haze on the horizon but just a few clouds in the sky. The forecast for next week Click for Juliana Airport, St. Martin Forecast says low 80s for the high and low 70s for the low with little chance of rain. It's a tropical paradise, come on down. The box shows the current local conditions and here's the detailed forecast from Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel.   Sunrise over Saba

Sunset today is at 6:03 and the moon was full last night. It's a little late to mention this, but a couple nights before before and the night of the full moon are probably the best for enjoying a water view here. There aren't many restaurants facing east to give you a beautiful view of the moon rise at sunset, which is a bit early for dining. Thus it is best to go to a water view restaurant a day or two before the full moon to catch intense moonlight from an almost full moon when it is higher in the sky. The full moons in 2010 are 28 Feb, 29 Mar, 28 Apr, 27 May, 26 Jun, 25 Jul, 24 Aug, 23 Sep, 22 Oct, 21 Nov, and 21 Dec.

SXM-Beaches: We headed out to Orient Beach on Thursday to see some old friends and see some new restaurants. We approached from Philipsburg and the first entrance to Orient Beach is the southernmost. It has been paved recently and they are doing more work now. The paved entrance road heads past the Butterfly Farm to Galion Beach, the home of Tropical Wave. A dirt road heads off to the left around the salt pond and arrives at the southern end of Orient Beach, home of Club Orient, the nudist (and nudest) resort with its nude restaurant. I'll bet you can guess what the attraction is. At this end of the beach there are several small restaurants/beach bars serving simpler fare at lower prices. Aloha, ZEN Café, and Andy & Cheryl's branch out a bit from the usual beach fare. The main road continues up Hope Hill, arriving at Paradise View Restaurant, with a glorious view of all the nearby islands (Pinel, Tintemare, Green Key) but also St Barths, 17 miles to the southeast. The photo on the right was taken from their refurbished dining room looking over the Orient salt ponds (left) and the fish pond (right) across Galion Beach to St Barths. The new owners, Matthias and Wilfried, are from Brittany and they have turned this into a beautiful Breton Creperie. They are Zuzu's nephews, that's Zuzu (and Alain) from California Hotel and Acropole Orient Villa).   Paradise View of St Barths

The main road comes off Hope Hill and at its nadir, a road leads right (east) into the Orient Bay Resort. This paved road goes toward the beach and then curves to the right (south) heading past the Plantation Resort. Soon a road heading toward the beach goes to Coco and Waikiki Restaurants and a bit further along, a rotary offers the possibility of heading back to the main road via a residential area or down to the beach to find Bikini Beach, Kakao Beach, Kontiki, and La Playa. The first five, all on property belonging to Plantation, used to call themselves "the five stars of Orient Beach" and used to have a website that is no more. Certainly La Playa was their equal as all of them have large establishments with boutiques, massage stations, beach chairs, and restaurants with large menus featuring fairly sophisticated food.

On the next hill heading north on the main road is Rancho del Sol, run by Zuzu and Alain's son, Johan. The restaurant has similar views, pizza, a bit of Tex/Mex, burgers, free Wifi, and more. Continuing north, turn right before the Cadisco gas station onto a road heading toward Boo Boo Jam, home of the Sunday party, and Palm Beach Restaurant, run by Zuzu and Alain's daughter, Marina, and her husband, Koko. The road splits with Boo Boo to the north and Palm Beach to the south up and over a slight hill. This concrete road is in good shape and leads to a large parking lot.

View from Palm Beach   There is plenty of beach here and they have many beach chairs near the water with a large dining room a bit below grade and another one above. If it's windy, shelter in the lower one but on calm days the upper dining deck affords great views. There are even small dining bungalows scattered about, some with two stories! Previously this spot contained a building that had not been used in all my years on the island. Koko said that he, his father, and Alain built all this starting in August of this year. Zuzu said that she and Marina did the painting. It is very large and beautiful. The photo on the left was taken from the dining room at Palm Beach, looking north. More on lunch in the restaurant section below.   Bungalow

Chese Primer Beach reading: It's been a cheesy week so we'll mention Jenkin's Cheese Primer again. After years of importing cheeses, exploring cheese-producing areas of the world, and setting up cheese counters at gourmet food shops, Steven Jenkins, our foremost cheese authority, decided to write it all down. CHEESE PRIMER tells you every thing you need to know about the hundreds of cheeses that have become available in this country. Region-by-region, Jenkins covers all the major cheeses from France, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. It was a cheesy week because I bought nine different cheeses at the US Market in Grand Case on Thursday and had a great cheese platter for lunch on Friday followed by a cheese course at dinner that evening and couple baked cheese in phyllo dough salads. darlier in the week.

Construction: On the right is a shot taken at the Grand Opening of Porto Cupecoy on Friday night. There were ads in the papers inviting everyone over and as we headed out to dinner at about 7:00PM, both sides of the road were lined with cars for at least a half mile centered on their main entrance. As I've said before, it looks rather nice compared to some of the other projects in the area.

  View of Porto Cupecoy

Sapphire Beach Club: We are in our condo until mid-April but it is available after that for $900 to $1000 per week until 15 Dec, when high season kicks in. You'll get a 10% discount from Unity Car Rental, one of the longest running and most trusted on the island, and many more coupons as well. 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.


Jimi Jamison   Activities: We stopped in at Pineapple Pete for lunch this week and the Head Pineapple told us that Jimi Jamison from Survivor will be upstairs at The Alley on 4 Feb. That's this coming Thursday. Doors open at 8:00PM for a 9:00PM showtime. I checked Jamison's website and hope he gets here because it says he's playing in San Maarten Island that night. It's close but you never can tell with the heavy metal bunch. For those of you who don't remember the 80's or weren't born yet, Jamison started with a band called Target in the 70's and really hit it big when he joined Survivor in 1983, going on to land five singles in the Top Ten. The most memorable was probably "Eye of the Tiger" used in the Rocky soundtrack.

That's Random Wind coming past our balcony on Saturday.

  Random Wind

Shopping: Love Mahtani from Jewels By Love sent along the following:


At one time, counterfeiting attracted the occasional organized gang. The situation is very different today. Of the 17 biggest criminal organizations worldwide, 14 are involved in trafficking counterfeit goods (DVD's, pharmaceuticals, watches, clothes, etc.). If this isn't enough to convince the public of the type of activity they are encouraging when they buy fakes, they should also know that six of these 17 organizations are also involved in exploiting workers, money laundering, illegal money transfers, prostitution, drug trafficking, and arms dealing.

In this context, the Internet is an effective means of diverting the attention of consumers who look no further than the attractively designed website displaying authentic-looking products (on the photos only) at prices no "competitor" can hope to match. Consumers must realize the consequences of their acts; they must see the wider picture beyond the coveted object on their wrist. This is all the more true as the risks and repercussions for people who buy fakes, not least legal sanctions, are far from negligible. They are also in danger of falling victim to other equally reprehensible activities.

Obviously as the premier purveyor of fine timepieces on the island, Love has an interest in stopping counterfits, but he does have have a point. When you buy a "replica", not only do you get a product that is worth essentially nothing, you are supporting a network of thieves and worse.

Pied Mouton   Groceries: On Wednesday morning we drove off to Pburg for some groceries from Sang's Supermarket at the head of town. A few years ago, they built a new facility with plentiful parking. Their prices are generally good and their selection of Oriental goods is very good. We picked up a pound of frozen squid for about $4, some bean sprouts, scotch bonnet peppers, napa cabbage, chili bean paste, and some rice noodles. Martha put it all together in the condo and we had a very interesting and tasty dinner for well under $10. and we have half leftover.

After our trip to Orient, we returned via Grand Case stopping at the new and improved US Market. It appears that US Imports has revised its rather silly name, as most of its products came from France, not the US. Obviously, US Market is no closer to the truth, but it is one of our favorite markets here. On the right are pied mouton, lamb's feet, mushrooms. I doubt they came from the US and they certainly are rare in US supermarkets, but these firm and tasty morsels made it into my omelette this morning. I also bought a considerable amount of cheese (many on sale), all from France, and most not available in the normal US supermarket.

The three cheeses on sale were Comté at 12.90€/kilo ($8.30 per pound, multiply by 2/3 to change from €/kilo to $/lb - at today's exchange rate), Beaufort at 22.90€/kilo ($14.70/lb), and Fourme d'Ambert at 10.90€/kilo ($7.00/lb). The first two are hard cheeses and are quite close geographically. The full name of Comté is Comté de Gruyère. It is the French version of Swiss Gruyère, coming from Franche-Comté on the Swiss border, just north of Lake Geneva The main difference is that Comté is aged at least six months rather than three months for the Swiss version. It's quite good, but it's not Beaufort which is made in Savoie, just south of this province. Jenkins says it's a superb mountain cheese whose only drawback is its high price. Fourme d'Ambert is the poor man's bleu cheese. It's a reasonable substitute, but doesn't have the tangy, tears-in-your-eyes bite of the real thing.

Alcohol: This lovely photo shows Monday afternoon as we were about to enjoy a salad featuring the leftovers from last week's Cornish game hens from Cost U Less with a bottle of Chateau Sainte Croix from the Cotes de Provence in the south of France. The wine was lovely and crisp - just a hint of sweetness, but we couldn't say the same about the afternoon. Saba really is 26 miles out, lost in the mist and I'm sure the sun is somewhere high in the sky above all these clouds. However, it's still warm (81F), not raining, and we are enjoying a fine wine from Sylvain at Select Wine Cellar on our balcony.

  Chateau Saint Croix

Gas: We got gas at the Dutch side Texaco. Ten dollars got us 9.877 liters, making it pretty close to $1 per liter which is about $3.86 per gallon. The French side has signs advertising 92 to 96 euro cents per liter. You'd be lucky to buy euros for $1.50, making French gas about $5.30 per gallon, unless they are selling it at 1 to 1 on the dollar. When last I checked, Cadisco was doing so at its location next to the stadium and tennis court facility on the lagoon along the road from Sandy Ground into Marigot and at its Orient Bay location. They were not doing so at their Nettle Bay location. However, even at 92 cents per liter, 1 to 1, it's only 8% cheaper than the Dutch side, hardly worth the gas required to make a special trip, not to mention your time. Correction: The above was perfectly true as it was written at the beginning of this week. The Friday Daily Herald said that the price of unleaded gasoline was going up by 16 guilder cents per liter on Saturday. That's about 9 US cents per liter or 35 US cents per gallon. That brings the Dutch price up to $4.22 per gallon, still cheaper than than the French side if you are buying at the correct exchange rate, but you'd save about 60 US cents per gallon if you got gas at the Cadisco stations offering 1 to 1. I wouldn't drive too far to save six bucks on a ten gallon fill-up, but if you are on the French side near Orient or Marigot, it would be better to get some gas there.

Nature: Anybody who has read these letters over the last year might have noticed that we installed solar panels on the roof of our new barn and generate 60-80% of our electricity for our farm in the US. That's certainly enough to power our laptops and cover the rest of our office usage. Our hosting company has also gone green. They now claim to have purchased renewable energy credits covering 130% of the electricity that their server farm uses. You can read all about it on their site.   Green logo

Small Island story: Last Sunday afternoon GEBE had one of their usual power outages. The airport knows that these things happen, so along the road they have a string of generators that take over. As soon as they took over, GEBE sent out a power surge that knocked them offline for about 45 minutes. No planes were in the air, but several were on the ground and all their passengers got to wait for 45 minutes before any documents could be run through the new computerized system.


Current Contest:

27 December 2009 to 28 February 2010
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
Lighthouse at Oyster Bay - $1000 off a summer week (June-October)
Piazza Pascal - $50 off dinner for two

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.

Future Contests:
28 February to 25 April | 25 April to 25 July | 25 July to 31 October | 31 October to 26 December
same cast of characters as current contest



On 24 Jan the euro was at $1.415. Today it is at $1.386. That's another 2% this week. The stock market may be tanking, but somebody likes the dollar.

I have been told that Piazza Pascal is offering 1 to 1 for cash. Vanessa and Patrick's restaurants (California and ZEN Cafe Concept) are also doing 1 to 1, as is La Villa. Zuzu tells me that they use 1:20 at Paradise View Restaurant and Rancho del Sol. It's 1:25 at Palm Beach Restaurant but the beach chairs are free if you eat there. Charging your credit card in dollars used to save the 3% currency transaction charge that most cards are now charging for foreign currency transactions. Recently my Citibank card said they would charge me 3% just for doing business overseas - even if it was in dollars! I now use a Capital One card. The frequent flier benefits can be used on any airline and there are no blackouts. I just charged something in euros on the French side and got an excellent rate from Capital One, at least as good as the rate I quote here, which is for large transactions.

Shakti Restaurant  
Shakti Restaurant
On Sunday we headed over to Shakti Restaurant in Simpson Bay for some Indian food for lunch. The previous night at about 9:30, Leslie from LAW Car Rental and Prince from Prince Car Rental called me from the restaurant and said that Loknath at Shakti Restaurant wanted a website. They explained that he previously was the chef for Lal and in the shuffle to Lal's new location (and shorter hours of operation) he had moved to Billy Folly Road and started his own restaurant.
When we entered Shakti, we immediately recognized Loknath because we had thanked him many times as we walked out of Lal's passing the cooking gazebo. Lal was tired of the late nights and has switched to a smaller location with few tables, seeking more of the take out crowd with his new slogan: "Curry in a hurry". Those of you who want a sit down experience with the same food should head over to Shakti. We had the onion kulcha bread with the chicken mirch masala and shrimp korma and a handful of Caribs. The total bill was about $35 with a tip. It certainly was enough for lunch and probably was enough for dinner. If you are interested in tasty, different, and inexpensive food in an interesting atmosphere (it's way upscale from Lal's joint on the water) check out the website and then go see for yourself.   Plate with Onion Kulcha

Bonita's Cantina Logo   First, let me say that I do not have an ownership interest in Bonita's Cantina, nor are Bryan and Bonnie any relation. I am not happy to have the first three newsletters since our arrival mentioning the same restaurant. I am not unhappy about it either, as the experiences were all good. When I am here on this island, these newsletters tell you what I did as a long-time tourist on the island. They are not made-up nor do they give you recommendations based on experiences long ago. Nonetheless, I have never mentioned the same restaurant three times in a row, so I offer this explanation. Bryan obviously checked SXM websites. It's no secret that SXM Restaurants comes up first in Google searches for "st maarten restaurants" or "st martin restaurants", so he was in contact with me before we arrived and I said we would see him soon. As it turns out, he is conveniently located and has parking. While we were on a shopping trip shortly after our arrival, we espied a rare parking spot in Simpson Bay. We parked, walked in, and saw Ryan from Halsey's Restaurant.
Rule number one, if a fellow chef is dining there, it's probably good. The pulled pork lunch was very good. Next Sunday, one of the divisional championship games was on Fox. We don't get Fox at Sapphire, but Bonita's Cantina does. The chicken wings were also very good. The next Sunday (which is to say last Sunday), the Minnesota/New Orleans game was on Fox, and while the outcome was not good (we go for the geez, it's an age thing), the Tex/Mex was great. On the right are the Nachos Grande with smoked chicken. The chips were crisp, the guac was fresh, and the smoked chicken rivaled our own (and I raise them and Martha smokes them). Our next course, not shown, was the beef enchilada plate, also good. With four pints of Presidente, our total bill was $33. I don't think we will be here quite so often over the next two months, but I guarantee that we will stop in - good food and good service at a good price. They are still associated with Random Wind Daycharters and the people on Random Wind are our good friends also. If you've ever been on the boat and met Diane, you'd understand.   nachos grande

Dining with Deepti
Auberge Gourmande
On Monday night we headed to Auberge Gourmande for dinner with Deepti from DK Gems. We arrived at about 8PM to find the free parking lot completely full and headed to the pay lot. It's a few bucks, but there is somebody there watching the cars in the early part of the evening and it's a considerably shorter walk, something to consider, as it had been sprinkling on the way over. We opted for an inside table given the wind and rain and found the restaurant was almost full. We had made reservations so our table was waiting, but it appears that reservations should be considered, even on a Monday night.

We started with champagne cocktails and choose a 2006 Chassagne-Montrachet from Ropiteau for the wine with dinner. The wine was one of the best we have had this season, rich and flavorful. Deepti deconstructed a special of snails and mushrooms in puff pastry with a blue cheese sauce, deleting the snails (top right). Pascal, true Frenchman that he is, was a bit surprised that someone would leave the snails behind, but he did convince the chef to do it. I choose the aumoniere, a beggar's purse made of phyllo dough containing baked goat cheese, Roquefort, and pecans with some baked apple slices on endive leaves in a balsamic dressing (second right). I have always like the combination of flavors and textures in the aumoniere, two big, flavorful cheeses with creamy textures contrasting with the crunch of the baked dough, crisp apples, pecans, and even crisp endive leaves. Add in a bit of balsamic for extra sparkle.

For the main course, Deepti chose the chicken breast stuffed with emmental and morel mushroom sauce. It came with gratin dauphinoise, thin sliced potatoes with cream (third right). I've had this several times and the rich flavors of the morels work well with the Burgundy. Martha had a Chilean seabass grilled a bit crispy on the outside with shrimp (bottom left). The crisp exterior of the seabass contrasted nicely with the lush, flaky interior. All dinners come with a medley of vegetables and Martha particularly liked the sweet potato purée. I had a special of monkfish with scallops in a saffron sauce with wasabi mashed potatoes. Monkfish is called the poor man's lobster because of its texture and color. Add saffron and I think it tastes just as good. For dessert we shared the chocolate delight with fresh fruits and coulis as we drank some espressos and sipped on a complimentary after-dinner rum.

All in all it was a very pleasant evening. The food was as good as ever, beautifully arranged, with a well-thought out array of tastes and textures in every dish. Even the vegetables had contrasts between the sweet potato purée and the broccoli and cauliflower florets. Service was quite good under Pascal's direction, even though the restaurant was quite full.

  Mushrooms in puff pastry

Goat cheese aumoniere

Chicken breast

  Seabass Monkfish and scallops Concerto  

Pineapple Pete
On Wednesday we headed over to Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay for a nice, casual lunch. Forget elegant decor, but you can get very good food here. We've tasted quite a few things on the menu over the years and have never been disappointed. We started with a bottle of Carte Noir Rosé which was fine with jerked chicken on a warm afternoon. Martha had a chef salad topped with jerked chicken and I had a jerked chicken wrap that arrived with some very crisp and tasty French fries. We both were pleasantly surprised at the heat in the jerked chicken. Service was fine, the free Wifi was a bonus, and the cost was about $50. Considering about half of that was attributable to our wine habit, that's not bad for such a good lunch.

  PP logo

Palm Beach Restaurant
On Thursday we headed to Orient Beach for lunch at the brand new Palm Beach restaurant. It's run by Koko and Marina from Kokomarina restaurant and it is a spectacular facility. There is a large two story restaurant, a beach bar, many beach chairs, a few bungalows, and more scattered across the lovely grounds. The parking lot is solely for their use, something that is getting to be a problem further south.

After wandering around the grounds, we moved into the first floor dining room and took a table just under the second story as we have been plagued by scattered showers. We started with a bottle of the LaCoste Rosé (20€). It's a lovely rosé and a rosé is lovely on a warm day at the beach. The menu is rather large and has entirely too many good and interesting choices. I wanted several of them. On the theory that the specials wouldn't always be available, but the menu items would, we choose two specials: moules in white wine (16€) and a salad featuring caramelized pears with Saint-Marcellin cheese baked in a bit of phyllo dough (13€). The mussels were plump, tasty, and fresh. The fries that came with them were crisp as could be. I know because I managed to save a few from my maurauding tablemate. Her salad was quite good. Jenkins describes Saint-Marcellin by saying "no finer cheese exisits; a cheese to be worshipped." Luunch cost about $70 total, but the chairs are free for lunch customers.

  Entrance, from parking lot

St Marcellin salad


Procession of St Vincent  
La Source Restaurant
On Friday evening we headed over to Marigot Marina Royale for a St Vincent's day Burgundian celebration. St Vincent is the patron saint of winegrowers and each year a Festival is organised by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (the brotherhood of Burgundy winegrowers) on the first Saturday after the 22nd of January, the feast day of St Vincent. The feast travels to a new town each year and this year it was held in Chassagne-Montrachet. Our feast was organized by François Prudhomme, sommelier extroadinaire, and held at La Source, located in the old Hediard shop just off the marina, behind Le Village Restaurant.
Dinner was 39€ for three courses (ap, main, cheese or dessert) and 46€ for all four courses. François Prudhomme had chosen a nice selection of white and red Burgundies and the restaurant had priced them at 10€ above cost rather than the usual threefold mark-up. As we sat down François handed us the wine list which started with apertifs: Kir (white Aligoté wine with a shot of cassis, black currant) or Crémant de Bourguignon (a sparkling white Burgundy). We were having one of each when our waitress arrived with gougères, cream puff pastry with cheese, in this case gruyere - very tasty and salty. The aps were rillettes of trout with Aligoté and a snail salad. Both were good and very Burgundian. We had chosen the 2004 Santenay (24€) for our wine and it was great with the snails but did not overpower the more delicate trout. The main courses were scallops in a Chablis sauce, asparagus, and porcini or Beef Bourgigonon with gratin of potatoes with Comté. We both went with the beef, but the scallops looked great. The beef was very tasty and great with the Santenay. We ended with the cheese course featuring a Comté, Epoisses, and one that slipped past me. The Epoisses is Jenkins favorite cheese, and this one was perfection. We were told that the cheeses came from Grand Marché and the table next to us had five people from the supermarket. Before it was all over, we had spent almost $200, despite a 1.3 exchange rate. It was a wonderful evening.  

News and Changes: Our stroll through the Marina Royale showed a few missing restaurants, all near the parking lots. It's pretty dark walking in along the water with only Petite Auberge des Isles open for dinner. David's does open later for a bar crowd. Tropicana seemed to be doing well, and so were Le France and it's new neighbor Cugini, an Italian restaurant. It appears that Chanteclair has changed hands and the website works. Unfortunately the owner's name is spelled wrong and the name of what was their famous dessert is incorrect. Interestingly enough, it was called the "No Name Dessert." And the Franglais is truly memorable.

I already comented on US Import changing its name to US Market. I find it amazing that two countries that weem to hate each other so much still use the other one to impart cachet to their efforts. The joint that used to be called T-Bone at Atlantis Casino has had a name change also. Nothing but junkyard dogs, jazz musicians, and certain steaks should be named T-Bone, so a name change was a good idea. Now it is called Manhatten. OK, not so bad, but underneath that it says "a French restaurant"??? Across the courtyard Montmartre, possibly the most French of names, has changed chefs and now offers international cuisine.


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
Diamonds International
Halsey's Restaurant
Kakao Beach
Oizeau Rare
Pizza Galley
Pirate Beach Bar
Tai Chi
Select Wine Cellar
Endless Summer Beachwear
Radiant Gems

  Our condo: We were here until 13 April. The condo is available for rent at $1000 per week from then until 15 June, $900 per week from 16 June until 1 October, and $1000 per week until 15 December 2009. The rental includes about $500 in coupons from several of our website clients including one for $50 off a weekly car rental from Unity Car Rental, one of the longest running and most trusted car rental agencies on the island. The Christmas and New Year's holiday weeks will be available at $2000 per week and the balance of the high season is available at $1500 per week. As always any days within the next month are available for $100 each. Check the calendar on our website for available dates.

  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." We hope you never need it, but when air evacuation flights cost $30,000 or more, it's good to have.  

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.


Kindle: I'm now convinced that the Kindle e-book from Amazon is the best thing to take to a beach. Newsletter subscriber Paul M wrote: "My wife and I spent a lovely week at La Samanna in late March and I loaded my Kindle with several books and read them on the beach. The Kindle was fabulous. I had a case and was careful not to get in contact with sand, but the device was excellent to use for beach or poolside reading." Wendy K reports that her friend Jerri is quite happy with hers. The only downside (for Wendy) is that she can no longer borrow books from Jerri.  
The new version and is 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. Even better news is that they dropped the price to $259 and have come out with a version that can download books outside the US. 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 and keeps us amused as we drive.

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