St Maarten/St Martin
14 February 2010 Newsletter

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Cupecoy sunset

Sunset Weather: Sunday turned out to be a Super Sunday indeed. Sorry to rub it in, but while the middle of the east coast was being smothered by several feet of snow, we were having another spectacular day. I took the photo on the left from our balcony as a cruise ship headed west, back to Puerto Rico, into the setting sun. We have settled into our regular winter weather with low to mid 80s in the day and low to mid 70s at night. They are perfect beach days as there are not many clouds. Monday turned very calm and hazy, even at Orient as there was essentially no breeze. Tuesday was more of the same, culminating in the sunset on the right which ended in a green flash. Wednesday and Thursday were similarly hot with little breeze and so hazy that even Saba had disappeared.   Tuesday Sunset

On the right is a shot of the lagoon on a very still and darkly gray Friday morning. It stayed pretty still all day but the dark clouds gave way to puffy white clouds and it got up to the low 80s. It felt a lot warmer with no breeze, so much so that Martha and I turned on the a/c, something we rarely do as the slightest breeze comes in one side of our sixth-floor unit and out the other. I checked the airport reading at 2PM and it said 82F. Saturday was just as hazy and hot but there was some breeze. Saba was still lost in the haze. Sunday (Happy Valentine's Day) arrived with a slight breeze, lots of haze (Saba is still lost), hot and humid, with a temp of 81 at 9:30AM. Click for Juliana Airport, St. Martin Forecast The box shows the current local conditions and here's the detailed forecast from Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel. Sunset today is at 6:10 and the moon is new. The full moons in 2010 will be 28 Feb, 29 Mar, 28 Apr, 27 May, 26 Jun, 25 Jul, 24 Aug, 23 Sep, 22 Oct, 21 Nov, and 21 Dec.

  Lagoon on Friday

Bleu Emeraude view   SXM-Beaches: We went to Grand Case on Monday to check out the beach there. We stopped in at Bleu Emeraude near Le Petit Hotel on the main road from Marigot. They have a bit of parking out front and more under the rooms. The top left photo is the view from a first floor studio room. The rooms are brand new, stylishly furnished, and have a complete kitchen. That's Créole Rock framed in the left hand window. We actually can see it from our bedroom balcony in Cupecoy, not quite as well however. I went out back where there is a small deck above a bit of beach and took the photo looking east across all of Grand Case Bay to First Stick Hill rising up behind Flamboyant Beach Villas and Grand Case Beach Club.

There are several restaurants on the water along restaurant row, all affording this lovely view across the bay. Heading east on restaurant row: La Marine Restaurant is open for lunch and has chairs on the beach for customers, next comes California Restaurant with lunch and chairs, Chez Martine has reopened as Love and they also seem to have lunch and chairs. Closer to the center of town L'Escapade Restaurant and Le Tastevin have the view at lunch but don't offer chairs. All these places are west of the entrance road to restaurant row. Continuing east one finds Il Nettuno Restaurant serving lunch in high season, but no chairs. Further along are two places with simpler lunches and chairs: Zen It and Calmos Café. A bit further along, Le Shore has opened in the spot previously occupied by Amandier. This is run by Philippe from La Playa and you can expect something similar to the one of the better emporiums on Orient Beach. Heading further east, there are no restaurants on the water and a few guesthouses. Notable is Flamboyant Beach Villas having several units just steps from their sandy area atop the seawall with a few steps down to the water.   Bleu Emeraude view

The Night Manager   Beach reading: The Night Manager by John Le Carré - about ($8 paperback) - From Kirkus Reviews: Le Carré‚ returns to the same subject as his The Secret Pilgrim--the fate of espionage in the new world order--but now looks forward instead of backward, showing a not-quite innocent mangled between that new order and the old one, whose course Le Carré‚ has so peerlessly chronicled for 30 years. Jonathan Pine, night manager at a Cairo hotel, helps Arab playboy Freddie Hamid's mistress Madame Sophie photocopy papers linking him to arms mogul Richard Roper and, while he's at it, makes an extra copy to send to a friend in the Secret Service--only to find that the leak has gotten back to Freddie and that Jonathan's belated, guilty devotion to Sophie can't protect her from a fatal beating. Six months later, Jonathan, now working in Geneva, meets Roper in person and, vowing revenge, volunteers for Leonard Burr's fledgling government agency as the inside man who can supply actionable details of Roper's next arms-for-drugs deal. With the help of Whitehall mandarin Rex Goodhew, Burr sets up a plausibly shady dossier for Jonathan and stages the kidnapping of Roper's son so that Jonathan can foil the snatch and get invited aboard Roper's yacht. But even as Jonathan, still grieving for Sophie, finds himself attracted to Roper's bedmate Jed Marshall and overriding Burr's orders to stay out of Roper's papers, the boys in Whitehall--divided between independents like Goodhew, who want the old agencies broken up, and his cold-warrior nemesis Geoffrey Darker, who insists on maintaining centralized authority--are squabbling over control of the mission, with dire results for Jonathan, whose most dangerous enemies turn out to be his well-meaning masters back home.
Despite the familiarity of the story's outlines, Le Carré‚ shows his customary mastery in the details--from Jonathan's self-lacerating momentum to the intricacies of interagency turf wars--and reveals once again why nobody writes espionage fiction with his kind of authority. I say: It's a big book by the master of spy fiction. Nonetheless, it will keep you reading to the end.

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.



Activities: The Heineken Regatta starts on Tuesday 2 March with the Budget Marine Match Racing Cup. Registration for the Regatta takes place on Thursday with a welcoming party at Port de Plaisance. Friday sees the round the island race from Simpson Bay to Pburg with a party on the boardwalk. Saturday is the Simpson Bay to Marigot race awith drunken sailors in Marigot. Those that can still sail leave on the morning of the seventh for the final race from Marigot to Simpson Bay, followed by the prize ceremony and the Final party on Kim Sha Beach. the photo above was taken from our balcony during the 2009 regatta. The boats are heading north past Cupecoy Beach.

Deepti   On Saturday we stopped in at Pineapple Pete after a pizza at nearby Pizza Galley and caught the last set of Ronny and Bea. When they play together, Ronny's playlist shifts toward some bands with female singers. Think Fleetwood Mac with Stevie Nicks. Before the last set I asked them about the free Jimi Jamison concert here at The Alley last week. Ronny, Bea, and the rest of the usual suspects were the backup band.   Deepti
If you can think back to the 80's when Survivor, Asia, and a few other supergroups were forming and reforming, you may remember the highly orchestrated wall of sound. That is a bit different from our local heroes jam sessions with rock and blues. Moreover, Jimi's vocal range is a bit different today, so these tight arrangements had to be transposed into different keys. This kept the locals rather busy before Jimi arrived. You may remember a snowstorm last week (in the US), in fact, you may still be suffering from it. That storm kept Jimi from arriving until the day of the concert. He came straight from the airport to The Alley at about 4PM, rehearsed, went back to the hotel, and returned for a great concert at 10PM.

In other island entertainment news, Ziggy Chang is still at Pineapple Pete and still rapping away. That's Ziggy on the right with his SXM Street Freestyle DVD. Here's a video of an ad for Pineapple Pete. It's two minutes long and will give you an idea about what it's like to be here.

Deepti   Shopping: On Thursday we went in to Pburg to see Deepti from DK Gems about the pendant to be made from all the jewelry that Martha recently inherited. It's still in NYC being assembled. Martha also picked out a couple necklaces from the Tacori collection from which to hang her Tacori pendant. The current chain on the Tacori pendant will be used for the new pendant being assembled and the Tacori pendant will have a Tacori chain. The photo on the right doesn't do justice to Tacori, so you'll have to go to the shop and see Deepti personally. You also get a free beer. What a country!   Tacori pendant
Groceries: We had our first Guadeloupe melon of the season. The melon and the proscuitto came from the Grand Marché, although they called it jambon de parma. Jambon being French (not Italian) for ham and Parma being the region that that makes seasoned, salt-cured, and air-dried, not smoked, ham, or as they say proscuitto. The pork is supposed to be more flavorful because the pigs are raised on chestnuts and whey. The whey is leftover from the cheesemaking. The cheese, of course, is Parmesan. The ham cost 60 Nfl per kilo and to convert, you can divide by four to get about $15 per pound, a bargain for proscuitto! Of course, that's our table on our balcony looking across the Caribbean at Saba, which appears to be lost in the glare of another warm afternoon.

Alcohol: You'll note the wine is the Sainte Croix Rosé from Sylvain at Select Wine Cellar. It's $11.90, but use the coupon on the website to get 10% off. There are cheaper rosés, La Coste's Rosé d'Une Nuit or the St Roch les Vignes that we had at Piazza Pascal. All have more character and less sugar than white zinfandels. I've been told that Bono (and not Sonny Bono) bought the La Coste estate.

  Melon and Rosé

Uncle Harry's   Traffic: We headed over to the Horny Toad Guesthouse for our usual Super Bowl Party. Betty throws a party for most everything and all the guests are invited (and the webmaster). The problem is that it starts at 6:00 and given the 4:30 and 5:30 bridge openings, we just can't get there. It hardly matters as the game starts at 7:30 here, so we didn't miss any of it, but we also didn't miss the Simpson Bay traffic jam. We left at 5:15, plenty of time to allow the backup from the 4:30 bridge to dissipate, so we could zip on to the far end of the runway and head down to Simpson Bay Beach. Unfortunately, we hit the back end of a backup at the new airport roundabout and crawled to a stop in front of Uncle Harry's where there was a sign that said Happy Hour 4-7 or whenever you are stopped in traffic. Two Stellas for $3 later, we were on our way. Harry, of course, is the Dutchman often seen riding his scooter around Simpson Bay with a ball cap on his head and a cigar in his mouth. My maternal grandfather Van Note explained that Dutchmen, being so hard-headed, did not require a helmet. I'm sure the local constabulary agrees.

Ring-necked Dove Hatchlings   Nature: On the left are the hatchlings in the tree below our balcony. So far so good. On the right is an iguana alongside the ghut between the turnoff to Friar's Bay and the turnoff to Colombier as you travel from Marigot to Grand Case. He looked happy to see us as we were stopped in traffic. Green logo

Our office is well over 100% solar-powered and our servers are about 130% wind-powered.


Small Island story: We've always been amazed at how arguments are carried out in the newspaper here. The letters to the editor section contains some of the strangest back and forth. I remember the letters supposedly written by schoolchildren when they found out that there may have been houses of ill-repute right here in River City. Lots of letters asked politicians if the island had laws agin such stuff. Well, no Virginia, they don't. Like most of the countries in Europe (including the Netherlands, who has some sort of influence here) there are laws regulating the "industry", but none prohibiting it. The recent skirmish, played out in the news section, has Theo and company plugging their latest benefit for the island: 200 housing units to be built on land reclaimed from the salt pond. He went on to say that studies were done to make sure that the storage capacity of the salt pond would be adequate when the next hurricane dumped a meter of rain in the island. Given that it wasn't adequate the last time this happened, it's hard to believe that filling in part of the pond would make it more adequate in the future, and sure enough, a day later the St Maarten Pride group had an article in the paper that said their study proved just this.


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
MMG 2000 - Two for One week at the gym with a shake
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 7 Feb the euro was at $1.364. Today it is at $1.361. Ho hum. 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 and get an excellent exchange rate. The frequent flier benefits can be used on any airline and there are no blackouts.

Piazza Pascal
We stopped in on Monday to try Pascal's formula lunches. Have a drink, a plate, and a cup of coffee for $12. We had chilled St Roch les Vignes Rosé from Provence as our boisson. We got to choose from nine offerings for the plate and we had a difficult time, eventually deciding on a caesar salad with shrimp and portobello mushrooms for Martha and seafood pasta for me. Martha's plate was adequately described, but mine needs further explanation as it contained shrimp, calamari, scallops, mussels and more atop al dente pasta with a light and zesty tomato sauce, topped with grated parmesan. We had arrived a bit before noon, so Donna hadn't yet run down to the bakery behind Bistrot Caraïbes for the afternoon bread. She came back with baguettes and the slices in our basket were still warm.
  Sea view  
  caesar salad de with shrimp and portobello mushrooms Seafood pasta  
  We were sitting at the table in the center of the piazza, so we got a bit of a seaview as we stared down the entryway, across the street and down the walkway to the beach. That's really Anguilla on the far side of the photo. Don't go for the view, as that was done with a 20x telephoto lens, but do go for the great and inexpensive food. As an added bonus, a French film company was shooting a scene for a soap opera as we dined. A rather lovely young lady bought something in one of the shops along the entryway and carried out a large gift wrapped box. I think we are in the background and we have seen the film crew in a couple other spots, notably Coralita Beach.  

  That evening we headed over to Simpson Bay for some great fish at Skipjack's. We had no reservations and found out that was a mistake, even on a Monday. We were told there was a thirty minute wait for a table, so we sat at the bar and ordered dinner from Steve. The kitchen was still backed up and it took a while, but was worth the wait, and we got to watch the Villanova-West Virginia basketball game on the large screen TV. We started with a creamy conch chowder special that was very good with chewy bits of conch. Martha had the ahi tuna salad ($17) and I had the Asian plate (seared sesame crusted yellow fin tuna, calamari salad, steamed shrimp, seaweed salad, and wasabi with a soy/ginger dipping sauce, also $17). As usual, we had bottle of the Concannon Pinot Noir ($29). Add it all up and we had a very good, but small, dinner for about $70. No, we didn't have a lobster, but I couldn't refuse the photo op.   Fresh lobster  
  Ahi tuna salad Asian plate

  On Wednesday evening we made a short drive to the other side of the lowlands to Ti Sucrier in Nettle Bay. It's a lovely spot with a view back across the lagoon toward our condo in Cupecoy and the setting sun. Bear in mind that the sun is currently setting a little after six, but showing up early for sunset cocktails is not a problem. The airport is directly across the lagoon and a rather pretty sight at night from this distance. I wrote this one year ago, but the restaurant, our condo, and the airport are still in the same locations and the sun is still setting a little past six in mid-February. Ti Sucrier logo  
  Marsannay   Last year we were with some timeshare friends when we dined here and, much like the sun, timeshare friends are on a yearly cycle. The only reason they are not here again tonight is that we will be dining with them on Friday at Sol é Luna Restaurant. We looked over the medium-sized and well-considered wine list, choosing the 2005 Chateau de Marsannay (37.5€), a good year, but a lighter style Burgundy. The menu looked much the same with many of my favorite French dishes, some with island tweaking, and a major section of Asian appetizers. There were a half dozen fish courses and a half dozen meat courses, most under 20€. We started with the the foie gras terrine (below left, 13.5€). It came with toast points, chopped tomatoes in olive oil infused with basil, and a salad "bowl" made of radicchio filled with a bit of mâche (in English lamb's lettuce or corn salad, although it has nothing to do with corn). It's difficult to germinate (our attempts last summer were futile) and not machine-harvestable, so it's rarely seen in the US. I thought about ordering some sweet wine, a Sauternes or a Monbazillac, to accompany the unctious fois gras, but restrained myself, possibly because of the restraint I was getting from my belt.

Foie gras terrine rack of lamb

  For the main course, Martha choose the lamb chops, one of the most expensive main courses, at 21€. Some mashed potatoes arrived surrounded by four very tasty chops which in turn were surrounded by a medley of vegetables including some asparagus. I chose an old favorite, veal kidneys in a creamy mustard sauce (17€). They also arrived surrounding some mashed potatoes. We were quite happy with both dinners, although I believe that kidneys may be an acquired taste. We finished with espressos as we stared across the lagoon. It's a lovely open, raised dining room with well spaced tables, perfect for long lingering dinners. Our total bill with our rather expensive wine came to $137 using 1.4 as the conversion rate. There were cheaper wines available, including a perfectly good Burgundy and there were several appetizers cheaper than foie gras. It's a great place for a quiet, relaxing dinner with a great water view.   Kidneys  

Shieka's Bistro
Before chatting with Deepti, we stopped into Shieka's Bistro for some authentic local food. The bistro serves breakfast and lunch and Betty Richardson still gets up at 4:30 in the morning to put it all together. You may remember that the Bistro got a mention under best local food and best vegetarian in the Daily Herald's Reader's Poll. Since our last visit, Betty has put a roof on what used to be an open-air courtyard. There are still no walls, but at least you won't get wet in a rainstorm. Martha chose a saltfish (right) and added mixture of potatoes, chick peas, and greens flavored with colombo and callaloo (the greens from a taro root). I had the tasty jerk chicken (same as last year) with the mixture of potatoes, chick peas, and greens and some noodles with veg. Local or Créole cuisine is not neccessarily spicy hot and even the mixed veg with colombo was not very hot. However, there were two varieties of Matouk's hot sauce on the table and I added a bit to everything. The heat was then assuaged by the liberal application of a glass of freshly made ginger beer. Shieka's is a bit difficult to find, but head down Front street to Pastoriesteeg (which runs between Majesty Jewelers and Liz Claiborn) past the Catholic Rectory to the Philipsburg Community and Cultural Center. Have a great, authentic, and very inexpensive lunch.


  Jerk Chicken Shieka's logo Salt fish  

Sol é Luna Restaurant
On Friday evening we went to Sol é Luna Restaurant in Mont Vernon. It's owned by Chef Christian and his wife, Bridget, who runs the front of the house which includes daughter Charlotte, who alas, was off this evening. We went with six friends so we had made a reservation and got a lovely eight-top in the corner of the porch that is surrounded by luxurious plantings. We ordered water and the 2005 Chateau de Beaune from Bouchard (55€). It was the last one available and wonderful, though with the euro getting back to 1.4, rather expensive.

I didn't bother everyone with photos, so I will just recap what Martha and I had. We started with the scallop carpaccio with a bit of cream, some lemon, and lots of fresh pepper (25€). It was luscious and decadent, easily standing up to the formidable Burgundy. Obviously, it is white on white and not particularly picturesque, but it was fabulous. Martha had the sweetbread raviolis with a morel sauce (26€) and I had a superb filet mignon, also with morel sauce (38€). Christian still does something like the lamb tajine that has been on the menu for years and two of our friends had that, two had the filet mignon, one had shrimp and scallops, and there was a lovely tuna filet. We added two more bottles of Champy's Borgogne, a bit less expensive at 35€, a few coffees and a few desserts. When it was all done, we had spent $185 per couple but it's some of the best food on the island in a beautiful room/porch in a lovely setting with widely spaced tables.

Scallops Sweetbread raviolis Filet Mignon in Morel Sauce

Pizza Galley
We went to Pizza Galley in Simpson Bay for dinner on Saturday. They are just over the bridge and have a bit of parking in front of their establishment. It used to be a small shack, barely bigger than a ship's galley, perched in front ot the Lady C Floating Bar. Over the years JP and Lorna have put a roof over some of the adjoining space, but not too much in the way of walls, so it's an open air pizza (and a bit more) emporium. We had our usual dinner of 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. It's more than enough for the two of us and comes in a touch under $50.
  JP special
We spent a good bit of the evening talking with JP about restaurants. I take that as a good sign in a restaurant owner. We said that Piazza Pascal and La Villa were new in Grand Case and both were good and inexpensive as they were doing 1 to 1 to build up a clientele. JP said he had heard good things about Granduca in Maho.

The other thing we talked about was green restaurants. JP said that they were getting supplies from Good 2 Go. He said they were a bit more expensive, but somebody had to start reducing plastic waste on this island. There's a few more somebodies as Good 2 Go signed on to supply the Heineken Regatta committee boats with biodegradable disposables.

We have known JP and Lorna since the 95/96 high season after Hurricane Luis and are quite happy with their success here. One of my earlier jobs concerned market research for a pizza joint about to open in the US. It was my task to go to the various competitors, check their offerings and prices, and actually buy a pizza to taste. It's a tough life, but I soldier on. The worst pizzas I ever tasted were from major chains and invariably, the best came from someplace where the owner's name was on the sign and/or the owner was in the building.

News and Changes: Fusion Restaurant has opened in the space previously occupied by Terra in Maho. The restaurant on Front Street was also open on Thursday, but it was my impression that it was going to close.

Sean de Burca will be playing at Sopranos all month.


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
Kakao Beach
Oizeau Rare
Pizza Galley
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. Alert reader Ken M has spotted an alternative for timeshare travelers that bundles travel insurance with a medical evacuation plan for only $99. It appears you have to use it in conjunction with a timeshare reservation, apply for the coverage at least 30 days before travel starts, and it's only good for 90 days of vacation. Then again if you have 90 days of timeshare, I'd like to meet you.  

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.