St Maarten/St Martin
28 March 2010 Newsletter

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Cupecoy sunset

Sunset over Cupecoy   Weather: Sunday afternoon got up to 84F and with little breeze the heat index hit 90. On Monday I awoke to a totally overcast sky followed by welcome rain. After that it cleared up, the breeze freshened, and the humidity dropped, so even though it was 86F, we were quite comfortable with no A/C. On the left is a sunset photo taken that evening from the cliffs above Cupecoy. Monday was a spectacular day, although there were scattered (and welcome) showers. Tuesday was more of the same, reaching 84F by 9AM, but staying there into the afternoon. With a good breeze, it was quite comfortable without A/C, as the humidity was down. We even got a hint of Saba through the haze. Wednesday and Thursday just kept getting better.   Saba in the morning sunlight
By Friday the wind had tacked to the northeast (the usual direction for the tradewinds) and was blowing at about 10 mph. The humidity had dropped to 62%, making the heat index essentially equal to the temperature of 84F. Saba was quite visible and one could make out Statia (35 miles out), but St Kitts at 55 miles, was still hidden. It sprinkled a bit as we drove to dinner. The photo of Saba on the right was taken on Saturday morning as the sunlight raked the north side of the island. You can see the houses marching from the airport at the lower left up the hill toward Mount Scenery with its rain forest. The peak is lost in the clouds, as usual. Eventually the road curves south at Hell's Gate and passes through English Quarter and Windwardside, finally reaching The Bottom. Here's a map. SXM is almost due north of Saba. 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. We passed the equinox, which is to say the sun reached the equator and we have more than 12 hours of sunshine per day. Sunset today is at 6:21 and the moon will be full tomorrow - great for dining on the sea. Think Grand Case. The full moons in 2010 will be 29 Mar, 28 Apr, 27 May, 26 Jun, 25 Jul, 24 Aug, 23 Sep, 22 Oct, 21 Nov, and 21 Dec.

Big Beach   SXM-Beaches: After some 3 months, the sand is back at the main "Shore Pointe" beach at the far northwestern end of Cupecoy. There are still lots of rocks exposed, but sand enough for a couple of dozen chairs. There was also a bit of sand at the middle beach just south of that, north of the monolith, and in the corner and northern portion of the baby beach. The water was reasonably calm on Saturday.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo   Beach reading: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson Publishers Weekly says: "Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family's remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller by muckraking Swedish journalist Larsson. At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden's dirty not-so-little secrets (as suggested by its original title, Men Who Hate Women), this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple: disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, freshly sentenced to jail for libeling a shady businessman, and the multipierced and tattooed Lisbeth Salander, a feral but vulnerable superhacker. Hired by octogenarian industrialist Henrik Vanger, who wants to find out what happened to his beloved great-niece before he dies, the duo gradually uncover a festering morass of familial corruption—at the same time, Larsson skillfully bares some of the similar horrors that have left Salander such a marked woman. Larsson died in 2004, shortly after handing in the manuscripts for what will be his legacy." The movie is just now making its debut, but the book's American publication coincided with the downfall of Lehman Brothers. The book is about the crimes of corporate bigwigs and actually has a passage that says: "A bank director who blows millions on foolhardy speculations should not keep his job” and also “A managing director who plays shell company games should do time.” We listened to the audio version last summer, but the paperback is available for $5.50.

Clients at Porto Cupecoy   Construction: Porto Cupecoy is moving along. There is still not a lot open, nor are their many "residents", making something of a catch 22. It's a pretty lonely place to locate a business at present. The Bateau Ivre (Drunken Boat), an outdoor bistro, is open on some days and looks lovely. The views from the waterfront are also beautiful. The sign is a little difficult to read but Moulin Fou will be opening an outpost here. The story I hear is that Thai Fou at Maho will give up on Thai food, keeping sushi. Blooming Baskets and Shipwreck Shops are also on the sign. It appears they will have a watersports shop.
  The Drunken Boat Bleu Mall  

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.


Bob   Bob as Mick Jagger   Activities: On Tuesday night at Peg Leg Pub we caught the first set of Cover to Cover, which is Bob and Dave, a guitar, a lot of professional backing tracks, a closet full of clothes, plenty of props, and years of experience covering the hits from the fifties to the almost present. Not only do they cover the songs, they vamp the singers. That's Mick Jagger on the left and Elvis on the right, complete with hair and a blue lamé jacket. Yes, it should be gold lamé, but the price of gold is a bit high at the moment.   Dave
House of Blues and more   We got to Pineapple Pete at about 9:35PM, just in time to catch the opening song from the House of Blues and More. From the right, that's Alex on bass, Youmay singing (also doing trumpet and getting some amazing sounds out of a cowbell), James on drums, Amin and Ronny on guitars. They swapped lead and rhythm guitar roles all night long, sometimes in the same song. By the end of the night Amin was fretting Ronny's guitar as Ronny plucked a solo. Yes, these are live action photos, not studio shots, and that explains why Youmay and Ronny have microphones in front of their faces. Sorry guys. Toward the end of the night we had a guest harmonica man and Jim B, an ex-pat with some resemblance to Santa Claus, came up and astounded the crowd, not with "Jingle Bells", but with Led Zeppelin tunes. He sure didn't look like Robert Plant in his prime, but he sounded like him. Then again, Robert Plant no longer looks like Robert Plant in his prime. He's 61.   Youmay

Again, this is not a very strenuous activity, but you can watch the NCAA tournament at Pineapple Pete's ESPN bar and at Bonita's Cantina. Bonita's outfitted the front room with a new bar and two big screen TVs, just in time for the Superbowl. The back dining room also got some new and better TVs as soon as Bonny and Bryan took over. A chat with Bryan revealed that he had seven receivers, so he can have one group watching the the tournament, another watching the six nations rugby matches, and a third watching soccer. That leaves plenty of room for boxing and tennis, if they should intrude. The next bit of news is that Bryan is offering a contest entitled Stump the Chump during the tournament. You may remember that Bryan got his MBA at Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City. That's Masters of Barbecue Administration. His loyalty to Kansas cost him a few pulled pork sandwiches as the Chump was stumped when UNI (home of my maternal ancestors, Northern Iowa anyway, none of them went to college) beat the Jayhawks. Come on in and get your share of the fun, maybe even your share of some pulled pork.

Crime: The Gendarmes caught somebody who stole a laptop computer from a patron in a restaurant within half an hour. This is an amazing change. In earlier days, you couldn't find a policeman within half an hour. Now they are responding and catching petty thieves, and not so petty thieves. While dining in Grand Case, we usually see two or three truckloads of Gendarmes heading down restaurant row in the course of an evening.

GEBE: We didn't notice any trouble at Sapphire or at Marci's Mega Gym in Simpson Bay in the morning or while we were at any of our dinners, but the paper reported that they had some troubles.

Nature: There have been a couple iguanas killed crossing the road near the airport and I've seen a couple others trying to cross safely. Their recent peregrinations are caused by both the very dry conditions and the construction for the runway extension. An old bit of folklore says that there were no iguanas here until a delivery of pet iguanas came into the airport. The box was dropped and broke open, releasing all of them into the swamp that many years later was filled in to make parts of the new airport.

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

Small Island story: The governing coalition tabled a budget, several amendments were made, and everyone went home to read it all - somewhat less dysfunctional than usual.



We are running two contests currently, the normal SXM-Info contest and a special contest that started during the regatta. The Regatta Contest can be found on our charter boat page, although most of the prizes are gift certificates to restaurants. You can enter both contests.

The only prize that hasn't been awarded in the Regatta Contest is the two for one week at Marci's Mega Gym. I think that speaks volumes about my readers. They must all be in such fabulous shape that they don't need to exercise. Congratulations. I too have six-pack abs, although mine are named after the reason they look like they do. The sleek motor yacht is "berthed" in what landlubbers call Galis Bay, based on the road signs in the area. People with good maps can see that it is called Bay of Potence or Bay of Portence. Potence in French means gallows in English, making it pretty close to Galis Bay. You can actually see the ship on Google Maps. It has deteriorated somewhat since that satellite passed over.

Oizeau Rare logo   I asked the winners to tell us about their experiences. Here's the first, from Oizeau Rare: We had a table with a view of Marigot harbor and all the comings and goings at the waterfront. There was a nice breeze on a hot day, and we love the Caribbean colors of the gingerbread trim and louvered shutters. We started with a bottle of my favorite, but expensive, red Badoit extra fizzy water (6€). The Guigal Cotes du Rhone (24€) was slightly cool, and perfect with the bavette of black angus beef (16€), accompanied by a toasted baguette slice with melted goat cheese, a bit of ratatouille, red cabbage, potato puree, and of course those wonderful frites. The tartare de boeuf (right, 15€) was served with the traditional raw egg yolk, a crispy salad, and frites. The total bill came to $86.   Beef tartare

Current Contest:

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



On 21 March the euro was at $1.353. Today it is at $1.341. For all the news about Greece (and Spain and Portugal) putting pressure on the Euro, it hasn't dropped much as it started the month at $1.36. 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. For more info on credit card fees, read this recent article in the NY Times. They even mention Capital One.

Blue Martini
  On Monday we went to Blue Martini next to the parking lot in Grand Case. We ordered the extra fizzy Badoit water in the red bottle and the 2008 Pinot Noir from Pays d'Oc (17€). The water really does have extra fizz compared to the normal Badoit. The wine comes from young vines in southern France. As such, it will not rival the taste of Burgundies, but neither does the price. Blue Martini offers an all you can eat foie gras and cold cuts starter with any fish or meat main course for 35€. This is a much better approach than ordering the foie gras (below left, 15€) and the ribeye (below center, 22€) - better for your wallet, not necessarily for your cholesterol level. Martha had a special pizza (below right, 14€), the Savoyard, with reblochon cheese, potatoes, onions, and lardons (crisp bits of bacon). It's starkly white, but very tasty. We skipped desserts and finished with complimentary flavored rums and espressos. The total cost was about $90 using a 1.25 to 1 exchange rate, quite good compared to real rate. Because we had been spattered with rain on the way over, we ate inside in the nicely appointed dining room rather than in the outdoor garden.   Pinot Noir and extra fizzy  
  Terrine of foie gras ribeye Pizza  

Peg Leg Pub and Steakhouse
On Tuesday we went to dinner at Peg Leg Pub. They moved over to Port de Plaisance (with unlimited free parking) about two years ago. In doing so, they lost some of the pub-like atmosphere but they gained a lovely covered open air space with views of the lovely grounds at one of the island's premier resorts. They also brought along all their beers, including Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, and Leffe Blonde on tap. Other big news is that Eric Brown recently bought the restaurant from Jack and Linda Parker who are still aiding in the transition. Not much has changed at this point, just a bit of tweaking. The wine list has been improved and Cover to Cover now play two nights per week (Tuesday and Wednesday) with The Island Drifters playing on Friday.

We ordered a Champs Perdrix 2008 Bourgogne ($32) to go with a ribeye (below left, $30) and a special Beef Wellington (below right, $35). The name may be Peg Leg Pub and Steakhouse and the steaks are all USDA choice, but when it comes to the menu, they are more pub-like. Both of our dinners included starch and veg at no extra charge, a welcome relief from standard steakhouse charges. We skipped aps as the Beef Wellington special came with a dessert. As you can see the ribeye had a baked potato (although there was a choice of mashed, French fries, etc) with sour cream, a medley of tasty veg, and a sauce (with mushrooms). The Beef Wellington came with some very tasty smashed potatoes, touch of mango, some mushroom sauce, and some carrots. I really liked the smashed potatoes because of their extra texture. An entire and very tender beef fillet was coated with spinach and wrapped with pastry dough. This was then sliced into rather generous portions, as you can see. The ribeye was not as tender as the tenderloin - no surprise there - but was every bit as flavorful. Our dessert was a black forest cake with plenty of whipped cream. Though we generally don't do desserts, we did this one! We lingered after dessert to listen to the band and had a half liter of Stella and some rum. The total bill with the 3% TOT added was a bit under $110, with tip, $130. Take the extra drinks out and we spent about $120 for two main courses, a bottle of wine, and a dessert, much the same as our usual dinner of and ap, two main courses and a bottle of wine. One of the differences between this and our usual dinner was that this one consisted of two courses of USDA choice beef and we took half of it home. The tenderloin was great the next day on a salad of romaine with roasted red peppers, onions, and Guadeloupe tomaotes.

  shrimp and salmon Wine Beef Wellington  

On Wednesday we headed over to Le Ti Coin Créole at the far end of Grand Case. It's possible to walk from the central parking lot, but there is a bit of parking next to the restaurant and a bit more on the street. We got a spot in their lot and walked in to a corner table. We ordered water and the Picard Bourgogne (22€). Créole food is not necessarily hot, but Carl does offer some wonderful home made hot sauce. We used it sparingly because of the Burgundy. A sturdy syrah from Rhone would be better, if you liked really spicy food.
  Martha always has stewed conch as her main course and as I always try to have two different main courses, I have the conch salad as an ap (below left, 6.50€). It's amazingly tender conch in a tasty and slightly hot dressing. Martha ordered the crab back for her starter - excellent (above right, 6.50€). Martha's stewed conch is in the center (13.50€) and I had one of Carl's signature dishes, the seafood pasta (below right, 19€). We were both very happy. The conch was tender, the pasta was al dente and loaded with fish, shrimp, scallops, and even a bit of lobster. The total cost was $95. This is real Créole food from a real chef, cooking in the house he grew up in. Honest.  
  conch Stew Conch Snapper  

Marrakech Restaurant
On Friday night we headed to an exotic dinner at Marrakech Restaurant in Marigot near the stadium on Rue de Hollande. We found plenty of parking across the street from the restaurant. It's just been repainted and is a beautiful, opulent place. We started with the red Badoit water and a bottle of the 2008 Sahari from Morocco (28€). It's a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend that was wonderful with the spicy food to follow.

  Our appetizer was the usual assortment of a dozen "salads" with a side dish of spicy harissa and a basket containing slices of warm pita bread (at 2.75€ per dish). They are not exactly salads as we know them, but here they are starting at the top left and working across, then down: green peas hummus with paprika and olive oil; wheat berries with herbs; potato salad with egg with garlic; hummus with chick peas; pickled bell pepper with vinegar and garlic; Moroccan salsa with preserved lemon; peppers and tomatoes with cilantro; Moroccan ratatouille with eggplant; grated carrots with rosewater; grated cucumber with spices; beets with cinnamon and sesame seeds; and sweet tomato jam with almond slices.

For the main course Martha choose the chicken tajine with olives and preserved lemon spices. I had a long-cooked lamb shank on top of a bed of couscous with almonds, dates, raisins, and a bit of honey. The tajine arrived with cous-cous on the side and my dish arrived with steamed vegetables, a bowl of broth, extra chick peas, and a side bowl of raisins and cooked onions. It's certainly a different set of spices than we use in the west. Moreover, they blend different flavors, often combining sweet (raisins) with savory (onions, preserved lemons). For the most part, the meal was not hot spicy, although adding a dab of harissa would accomplish that, if desired. It was full-flavored and the wine was wonderful with the meal. We packaged up enough for two lunches and finished with complimentary champagne for dessert. The tajines and couscous dishes start below 20€ and reach the mid 20s. Our total dinner (with two lunches in the fridge) cost $146 using $1.3/€, a good exchange rate. I think that is quite inexpensive, especially when the wine was a about $36. Moreover, our appetizer cost about 33€ because we got every possible dish. That was a bit much and is the reason that we also had enough leftover for two lunches. Martha often cooks Moroccan dishes at home, consulting Paula Wolfert's Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco.

  Appetizer Tajine Cous-cous  

La Source Restaurant
On Saturday evening we headed over to Marigot Marina Royale for a Fete des Fromage et des Vins organized by François Prudhomme. There was no special occasion as far as we knew, but it was about time to have another wonderful three-course (four if you want) dinner from David at La Source, located in the old Hediard shop just off the marina, behind Le Village Restaurant. By day the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, focusing on fresh, maybe even healthy, cuisine. There is also a formula lunch featuring a plat du jour and a drink for 10€. The restaurant itself is very modern and new, quite smart with an indoor air-conditioned space and an outdoor terrasse, with no view of the marina.
  Dinner was 39€ for three courses (ap, main, cheese or dessert) and 47€ for all four courses. François had chosen a nice selection of white and red wines and the restaurant had priced them at attractively, rather than the usual threefold mark-up. As we sat down François handed us the wine list and the menu and told us about his offerings. As this was the second night of this fete, he also told us about the plates he had tasted the night before. That didn't help much because David had created a menu with five appetizers and five main courses and I still wanted to taste them all, especially after sampling the andouille and apples in the amuse bouche (right) with a white wine from the Jurançon. The appetizers were thin slices of zuchinni cooked with a Basque cheese, a poached organic egg on a slice of foie gras topped with Chaource cheese, a roasted crottin of Chavignol with a bouquet of maiche with walnuts, porcini mushrooms with brie, a cassoulet of escargot laced with Roquefort. The "maybe even healthy" remark refers to the fact that some of the meal was organic (or bio, as the say in French), like the egg, but I would also guess that the maiche and the arugula (below) were also organic. As you can see, there was a bit of cheese in every ap and if there wasn't enough crunch, some walnuts or crisp maiche were added.   Amuse bouche  
  escargot   Martha choose the poached egg and I thought very hard about the porcini mushrooms, eventually choosing the snails (left) on the theory that in a few weeks I can harvest my own porcinis from our woods, but I don't eat our snails. The dish was perfection, tasty, chewy snails swimming in a sauce thickened with sharp Roquefort with some chopped nuts for a bit of extra texture. Martha's dish had similar range of textures: egg white, yolk, sautéed slice of foie gras, and melted Chaource, a delicate cheese, frequently paired with Champagne. Unfortunately, it was white on white and the camera overflashed the shot, so there is no photo, but I assure you, it was another taste treat.  
  tartare   The main courses were lotte (monkfish) with Morbier, salmon with Camembert and apples, sweetbreads with girolles mushrooms and young tomme, a tartare of beef with Reblochon, and a sausage with Comté. I don't think that I'm a big fan of cheese with fish, but David's combinations were tempting.   sweetbreads  
  Reblochon is one of my favorite cheeses but Martha choose the tartare (above left), leaving me to have the sweetbreads (above right). The tartare came wrapped in ham and topped with the Reblochon, accompanied by paillasson, a fried potato pancake, and some beautiful arugula. My sweetbreads were crispy on the edges, the girolles and the sauce were loaded with flavor, and the trauffade (another approach to a potato pancake) was crispy and laced with the cheese. The perfect arugula also had chopped walnuts for an extra texture. François recommended a 2007 Domaine Rotier Gaillac "Les Gravels" from gravelly soil in the southwest of France (18€). It's made from the Duras grape (55%), Braucol (30%), and Syrah (15%) and is certainly sturdy and fresh. They claim it will last another six to eight years, although it was quite drinkable now.  
  Cheeses   We decided to have one cheese course and one dessert course, so I picked out a sampling of cheeses from the myriad available. The plate on the left was a sampling for two people and contains two goat cheeses (the round ones on the left, and continuing clockwise), Brie, Morbier with the blue stripe, a Tomme (?), Comté, San Felicien (?), no guess (?), Munster, Reblochon, Bleu, and a soft Basque cheese. I chose less than half that adding a Pont L'Eveque. As you can see, I can't even name all the cheeses here and some of them are the generic names not the specific. I believe the Brie was really the Brie de Meaux, an AOC cheese, considerably better than the factory-made versions. Grand Marché supplied these cheeses but they did not all come from the case in the store. Many were special-ordered for this event. François introduced us to the head of the cheese department who was dining on the terrace. I realized that she used to work at the cheese counter at US Imports several years ago. This explains why Grand Marché's cheeses now rival those of US Supermarkets (the new name for US Imports). I could natter on about cheeses for some time, but let me just say these were great cheeses in perfect condition. If you want to know more, get it from the source: Steven Jenkins' Cheese Primer.  
  Tart Tatin   We had saved some of the red wine for the cheese course and now moved on to the a 2007 Chateau de Jurque Tendresse, a sweet wine from Jurançon, to accompany our Tart Tatin. You'll remember that there were apples (from Canada) in the amuse bouche at the start of the dinner and here they are again with pecans, some luscious vanilla ice cream, and a caramel topping. The pecans had been dipped in caramel and dusted with a bit of Fleur de Sel, special sea salt. That's also a lovely plate and Claire, our server, brought two spoons, although she was had been a delight all evening. François had also been as attentive as ever and even David came out of the kitchen to ask how things were after every course.  
  The menu at 39€ is a bit over $50 at the current exchange rate. That is a great deal for a three course meal. I just priced three courses at a bog standard joint in Simpson Bay and got $45 to which you get to add (or possibly they do) 15% service and maybe even the 3% TOT. At a place in Maho with a higher class menu, three courses came to about $55 (don't forget to add the 15-18%), although they had a gourmet three course menu at $47.50 plus 15-18%. My point is that the Euro may be at 1.34, but if you think you are saving money by dining on the Dutch side, it's only gas money and you won't get much foie gras.

This night was an even better deal because the wines were priced lower than normal. We did eat more than usual by one ap, one cheese course, and a dessert and we did have more wine than usual by at least two glasses, so we spent a bit more than usual, but at $164 all in, I think this was the best bargain of the season. And that's why when François invites us to his dinners, we show up. Besides, we get his brother on harmonica!


News and Changes: The article on restaurants at Orient Beach with recipes for a four course meal that we touted all last season has been published on the web in SXM-Info's features section. You'll find a recipe for Shrimp Dumpling Soup from Tai Chi Restaurant, a recipe for Goat Cheese Salad from Palm Beach Restaurant, a recipe for Beef Wellington from Kakao Beach, and a recipe for Coconut Flan from Rancho del Sol.   Tai Chi logo

While we were watching the NCAA games on Friday night at Bonita's Cantina Bryan mentioned that he was going to do an Easter feast.



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 10% off a weekly car rental from Unity Car Rental, one of the longest running and most trusted car rental agencies on the island. Other notable coupons are $50 from Skipjack's restaurant, a tastng and a bottle of wine from Select Wine Cellar, a two for one ride on Celine's famous Lagoon Pub Crawl, $50 off a daysail on Random Wind, 50 from Piazza Pascal. 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 Contessa says: "I loaded it up with more books than I needed and it was a very convenient way to read without lugging books to the beach." 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.