St Maarten/St Martin
11 March 2012 Newsletter

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Cupecoy sunset

Weather: Sunday started nicely with haze at sea, a good bit of cloud cover, even rain on the western horizon. Given prevailing easterly winds, that's not a problem, but the eastern horizon was pretty cloudy, if not actively raining. And that lasted for about an hour, when the skies opened and drenched the start of the last regatta race. We went out to Orient to watch them come around the east coast and caught some more rain, but by the later afternoon it was just puffy clouds, leading to great weather for the final party. Monday was warm and hazy and Tuesday was more of same until the haze started falling from the sky at sunset. You can see how dark it got on the right. That's Passat on its sunset cruise and shortly after I took the photo, the heavens opened. We haven't seen Saba in days, but during the worst, we could barely see the lagoon. Below left is a shot of Mont Rouge taken from our lagoon balcony. The good news is that it lasted about 15 minutes. Nonetheless, we went into Pburg, did some shopping and had lunch without getting wet. That evening, we passed on the music at Porto Cupecoy because of intermittent rain. On Thursday morning Saba was lost in the mist and it was raining. It really is someplace behind the cruise ship you can barely see in the middle photo below, but there was a rainbow, and even a hint of a double rainbow! The National Hurricane Center came out with a prediction that this will be an average hurricane season with a dozen tropical storms, half of which will become hurricanes.

The box shows the current local conditions and here's the detailed forecast from Click for Juliana Airport, St. Martin Forecast Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel. Sunset tonight will be at 6:22 PM. In 2012 the full moon dates are 6 Apr, 5 May, 4 Jun, 3 Jul, 1 Aug, 31 Aug (a blue moon), 29 Sep, 29 Oct, 28 Nov, and 28 Dec.

SXM-Beaches: The tourist association is going to ban me if I persist in showing photos of rainstorms. The photos left and right are more typical of most of every day. The tradewinds blow fairly steadily from 10 to 15 mph. They bring squalls over the island, causing whiteouts, scattering tourists, etc. But they also move those squalls out rather quickly and the squalls are frequently localized. It will rain at Cupecoy and Simpson Bay will be fine. On the left is the new sign for Le Sand, the new beach bar next to Le Shore in Nettle Bay. Note the bit of blue sky there and on the right showing their view across Nettle Bay to the ruins of Belle Créole. It was pretty breezy there as they are exposed to the tradewinds with no sheltering hills on the side like Anse Marcel.

Beach reading: Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear - (about $10 new paperback) - - From Publishers Weekly: The eponymous heroine of Winspear's promising debut, Maisie Dobbs (2003), continues to beguile in this chilling, suspenseful sequel set in England a decade after the end of the Great War. Maisie, "Psychologist and Investigator," as the brass nameplate on her office door declares, gets hired by a wealthy industrialist to find his only daughter, Charlotte Waite, who has gone missing. With the help of her cockney assistant, Billy Beale, Maisie sets out to learn all she can of Charlotte's habits, character and friends. No sooner has Maisie discovered the identities of three of these friends than they start turning up dead, poisoned, then bayoneted for good measure. At each crime scene is left a white feather. Increasingly preoccupied with these tragedies, Maisie almost loses sight of her original mission, until it becomes apparent that the murders and Charlotte's disappearance are related. As in her first novel, the author gives an intelligent and absorbing picture of the period, providing plentiful details for the history buff without detracting from the riveting mystery. Readers will be eager to see more of the spunky Maisie, with her unusual career as a one-time maid, nurse and university student.

Earlier, I recommended To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochchild, an excellent history of WWI. This book, though fiction, relates some of the after effects for the "winners" of that war.

ginger Sapphire Beach Club: We are back in our condo at this time, so it will not be available until 10 April. The rate is $1000 per week. 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, including the use of our 2011 SXM Privilege Card that gets you discounts on many restaurants. Check the calendar on our website for available dates. A recent visitor said, "Erich, We had a wonderful time at your condo for the third year in a row. We appreciated the coupons. Hope to be able to do it again next year."

The shot on the left is a ginger flower and on the right is a shot of the sunset on Friday evening taken from our Caribbean balcony.

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. At present, there are several 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.

SXM-Hotels: Bleu Emeraude is running a special for the month of March: stay for five nights and pay for four with breakfast included every day. It's a lovely new facility on Grand Case Bay. The beach is your back yard.

On the other side of the island, Azure Beach Studios has just revised their pricing structure. All units have free high speed wifi, free cell phone, free international calls (to most countries), ac, kitchens or kitchenettes, satellite tv with premium channels and there are free Hawaii loungers with umbrellas on Simpson Bay Beach, which is their back yard.

Take a little tour of ... Marigot: We went over to Marigot on Tuesday. I dropped Martha next to Claude's Mini Club on the waterfront and went round the roundabout to find a parking spot that we had passed on the way in. The photo on the right was taken by Leland Harms after a hike up to Fort Louis on the hill at the eastern end of Marigot harbor. If you click the photo, some of the main features will be identified. Martha walked into the shopping district looking for some place mats and coffee cups. I parked and walked into the West Indies Mall to have a look. On the way I walked past Claude's which was open for lunch. Claude has sold and new owners are in charge. The fish market doesn't appear to be open on Tuesday. Shortly after that was La Sucriere where we get our banettes, a very tasty bread. After about a ten minute walk, I got to the mall and was surprised that there were no empty shops for rent, at least on the lower level and it was fairly busy. The panoramic shot below was taken from the waterline near the cemetery and starts with Sandy Ground and Les Mammelles in the French lowlands, sweeps across the harbor with Anguilla in the distance and ends with downtown Marigot with Fort Louis on the hill.

Shopping: We haven't been doing our dining with Deepti feature because we haven't been dining with Deepti. We haven't been dining with Deepti because she has been in an alternate hemisphere for the last six weeks or so. She came back last week, but with the regatta making travel difficult through Simpson Bay/Pburg, we did not head downtown to see her. You may recall we had brought a friend's bracelet down to have the clasp repaired. While Deepti was gone, the jewelry was repaired and sent back to our friend. So it isn't just Deepti that makes DK Gems work so well. Kamal, Raj, and Jeff are there to provide excellent service also.

Activities: On the left below are two photos from Richard E. Santaga from NY. He was out on the water during the regatta. On the far left is Virago. She won the CSA 2 class with first place finishes Friday and Saturday and second place Sunday. The next photo was taken looking back at the island showing Paradox taking a bit of air.

The crane in the distance marks the spot of the Caravanserai project, still in fierce competition with the Blue Mall for the title of longest running construction project on the island. On the right is another sop to the tourist board. This was taken on Thursday, showing blue-ish sky (although a bit hazy). I have to say that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, at least so far, have been great.
Groceries: On Wednesday we went to Sunny Foods in Pburg to pick up some veg. They probably have the cheapest veg on the island. Periodically the Daily Herald runs a page of food and household product prices at the various markets and they do quite well. They also have a wider selection of local and ethnic foods, such as boniato (left from ivanatm), a nutty tasting, red-skinned sweet potato. Martha braised some pork shoulder (less than $3 per pound at Grand Marché) with a bit of thin-sliced scotch bonnet pepper (habenero), lime juice, and allspice. She then added some boniato and served it all over some basmati rice, making the dinner shown on the right.

Alcohol: The peppers made our Montevina Zinfandel from Netco an ideal companion for this meal. We stopped in at Netco the next day to pick up more of the Zinfandel and the Gabbiano Chianti, our "house" red wine for dishes with a tomato sauce.

On Thursday we stopped in at Select Wine Cellar and had this rather nice 2009 riesling from Domaine Weiinbach Cuvée Theo ($39.50) as an aperitif before lunch at Champagne Snack Bar. The Eau de Vie Mirabelle ($40) was the after dinner (or in this case, lunch) drink. We picked up a bottle of 2009 Côte de Beaune Le Clos Topes Bizot ($33) and a bottle of 2009 Beaune premier cru Chouacheux ($52), both from Chantal Lescure. The premier cru is a bit pricey, but it's a fine wine for special occasions. For everyday drinking, we picked up four more bottles of our "house" wine, the 2009 Bourgogne Pinot Noir from Guy Amiot ($24).

Traffic: The residents of Simpson Bay and Beacon Hill just had a noisy meeting wherein they voiced their opposition to the proposed bridge across the lagoon. They have a point that it is a bridge to take people directly from the airport to Port de Plaisance, just short of the French side.

Travel: St Maarten has hit the big time. According to the recent US State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report St Maarten has moved into its top money laundering ranking, the Jurisdiction of Primary Concern. Previously, they were just a backwater Jurisdiction of Concern, but the latest report places them in the big leagues with Curaçao and the Caymans. Surprisingly enough, our State Department also places the United Kingdom and Japan on this list and, I am not making this up, the United States of America. This was reported in the same edition of the Daily Herald that reported Pat Robertson's comments about legalizing marijuana. Pat has pot on the brain, and come to think of it, that does look like an illegal smile.

Gas: Cadisco has raised gas prices by 3 cents per liter at the Marigot location. It's now $1.28 per liter or 4.85 per gallon. It''s usually a few pennies more per liter (or 10-15 cents more per gallon) at Cadisco's Orient Beach location. On Saturday, the Dutch side prices went up to 2.57 NAF per liter, or $5.41 per gallon, if, and make that a big IF, you get the 1.8 exchange rate. There was a big flap on TTOL about this. The pumps on the Dutch side sell gasoline in NAF (Netherlands Antilles Florin). Never mind the part about how they are no longer a part of the Netherlands Antilles, just concentrate on the fact that the exchange rate should be 1.8 Florins = $1, or take the number on the pump divide by 2 and add 10% to get dollars. If they don't convert the sale price, you are being robbed. If they use 1.75 or 1.7 as the conversion you are merely being abused for not having Florins.

Cars: Alain Arnell (Triple A Car Rental) lost control of his previous website and has a new one at www.aaa-sxm.com. The site highlights the new world headquarters building (right) next to the airport runway. He does meet you at the airport so it is a very short drive to the lot.

Green logo Nature: On the right is an kingbird on the top of the palm tree that grows up five stories high beneath our sixth floor balcony. In a few years, we may have an obstructed view. Until then, the top spike is a perfect perch for local birds and the tree has actually been a nesting place for several over the years.

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

Small Island story: I reported here earlier that one of the ministers was blocking a second high speed internet connection for the island. It appears that I am not the only one who thought this was not a good idea. The company that is bringing the line to Saba and Statia has sued the local minister and there was an editorial cartoon on the topic in the Daily Herald. It doesn't mean anything will happen, but it might.


As you can request five prizes on one entry form, you could win a bargain on lodging, car rental, entertainment, dinner, and a gym to work it off! That would be five prizes to one person.

Current Contest:

19 Feb to 15 April 2012
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
Marci's Mega Gym - Two for One week with a shake
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate
Peg Leg Pub - $50 off a dinner for two
SXM-Privilege Discount Card - One free monthly card
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine
Radiant Gems - $50 off a purchase of $200 or more
Piazza Pascal - $50 off dinner for two
Escargot Restaurant - $50 off a 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.

Here's some comments from a past winner:

I was very pleased to win your contest when my wife and I were on the island. I was able to use the three restaurant certificates and the Privilege Card. They were well appreciated and we had good service at all along with good food. Skipjack's has been a regular for many years (one of our favorites and we always go twice during our visit). Peg Leg Pub is also a restaurant we have frequented in the past (good steaks), but Piazza Pascal was new to us and will now be on our list to visit next year. Donna was very good hostess.
Bob Ross

Future Contests:
15 April to 15 July 2012 | 15 July to 14 October 2012 | 14 October to 9 December 2012
same cast of characters as current contest



On 4 Mar the Euro was at 1.320 and today it is at 1.312. It's been fairly steady over the last few weeks as good news has come from Europe.

California Restaurant is still offering 1 to 1. La Villa and Piazza Pascal, also in Grand Case, is offering 1 to 1 for cash. Almost all other restaurants on the French side that we have visited have offered us a better rate that we would get from our credit card or a bank. There is no doubt that they want your business.

Charging your credit card in dollars used to save the 3% currency transaction charge that most cards are now charging for foreign currency transactions. About a year ago 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. Note that you won't get frequent flier tickets quite as fast. It may be best to use the Cap 1 card out of the country and take the rewards in merchandise. We picked up an 18 bottle wine refrigerator with half of our points from the previous year, but we couldn't even fly one of us to SXM.

Chase has come out with a Sapphire Card that is similar to Cap One, although the no foreign transaction fee only comes with the $95 per year preferred version. You'd have to spend about $3000 overseas to make the fee worthwhile, but there are other benefits, including a signup bonus if you spend over $3000 in your first three months. Read these discussions on Credit card Forum and Daily Markets and decide if they work for you.

Kakao Beach Bar
On Sunday we headed out to see the regatta boats coming from Marigot past Orient Beach on their way to Simpson Bay and the final regatta party. We had made reservations because it's a bit of a tradition for people to go out for a Sunday lunch at the beach. It was good that we did because Kakao was packed by the time we got our food. The waiter mentioned a a special antipasti that featured a round of burrata cheese surrounded by grilled vegetables, jambon cru, and bread with some pesto (24€, below left). It sounded great and it was. We added a pizza supreme (13€, below center) and a good sturdy wine to go with it all: a 2007 Cotes du Rhone from Guigal (28€, below right). With water and coffees our bill came to 78.50€, converted to $102 using a rate a bit better than you could get in a bank. I had never heard of the cheese, but Steve Jenkins has. His Cheese Primer says that it is a cow's milk cheese made by enclosing remnants of mozzarella and cream in a bag made of pulled curd which is then tied closed. It was good and creamy, great on the grilled veg and what was leftover went to our pizza!

L'Oizeau Rare Restaurant
On Tuesday we stopped in at L'Oizeau Rare Restaurant on the waterfront in Marigot for lunch. The restaurant is a few steps above the street on the hill leading up to Fort Louis and has a nice view over the parking lot and ferry dock to the harbor with Anguilla in the distance. It's an open air restaurant and the tables in the front have that view while the tables toward the back have a view of a waterfall with lovely plantings coming down that slope. Not only does the cascade provide a scenic view on two sides of the restaurant, but it also provides soothing sounds to compete with the rather busy lunchtime traffic.
I arrived early as Martha had gone out looking for some dining accessories for our condo, unsuccessfully. I had a bottle of Badoit red label (extra fizzy) water and a a bottle of 2008 Paul Jaboulet's Beaumes-de-Venise (26€, left) waiting for her. We looked over the menu and the large specials board. She choose the halibut stuffed with a delicious fish mousse (18€, center) in a creamy coral sauce (coral being fish eggs) with rice. I ordered the 12 ounce ribeye (Angus beef) special (24€, right) that came with a tasty wine sauce and a dollop of ratatouille. I asked for their very good frites and we received an extra portion to keep Martha away from mine. We lingered over our wine, eschewing coffee. Our total bill came to $109, a bit much for lunch, but black Angus beef is very good and we skipped dinner.

L'Escargot Restaurant
On Wednesday we headed to Pburg for a bit of shopping and stopped for lunch at L'Escargot Restaurant for lunch. We ordered water and a two glasses of pinot grigio. Vernon said the snapper looked good and Martha had some with a tasty garlic sauce (below center), not exactly what was on the menu, but it wasn't a problem for the kitchen. Three days later she was still telling me this was the best piece of fish she has had this season. I guess Vernon was right. I haven't had too much calamari lately, so I had the calamari steak in a caper and lemon sauce from the menu (below right). We also like the conch salad which is slightly spicy and I always used to add more hot sauce. Service is good and the food is fine. Our total bill was about $90 when a 15% tip were added. Joel and Sonya, peering out the window below left, know more than most anyone about what is happening on the island. They have been here on Front Street for over 30 years.

Champagne Snack Bar
On Thursday we went to Select Wine Cellar to see Sylvain, pick up some wine, and have a lunch next door at Champagne Snack Bar. This is another of the reasons we love being here. The plan was merely that the three of us would have a bottle of wine in the store, move next door to the restaurant, and have lunch with another bottle of wine before we bought some wine to make up for what we had consumed over the past week. All great fun and it worked well until toward the end of lunch Eric, the lobster pilot, showed up with a friend for lunch. Eric flies to Barbuda to bring lobster to St Maarten. This has been a slow week because the weather has not been conducive to lobstering, so currently he is the driver for Sarina Suno (right). Personally, I don't think that flying lobsters is difficult work, but there is a possibility that I would pay to drive Ms Suno. She will be playing violin at Waikiki Beach Bar this Sunday.

This was about lunch and Bruno had two specials: seafood pasta ($16, left) and a brochette of beef and chicken ($15, center). Both were quite good. Sylvain brought out a 2008 Chateau Lilian Ladouys that had just arrived. Our new arrivals had salades niçoise and we required another bottle of wine. While we were chatting, Elisa from Bikini Beach came by and then the shop got busy, so we sipped Mirabelle eau de vie we waited for our turn to purchase some wine. So what do I love about this? Just that we can plan an hour to have lunch and pick up some wine and end up chatting for an entire afternoon with interesting people.

Le Tastevin
On Friday we headed over to Grand Case for a dinner on the water at Le Tastevin. I first went to this restaurant in 1993 shortly after the current owners, Christine et José Manrique, had finished transforming the building into one of the prettiest restaurants on the water in Grand Case. Hurricane Luis removed their terrace in 1995 and Hurricane Lenny forced complete reconstruction in 1999. They rebuilt a dining room almost 100 feet long running along the bay. Almost half the tables are on the water but the landscaping along the waterfront worked into indentations in the facade provide some of the most intimate dining areas in Grand Case.

Because we had reservations, a waterfront table at the far eastern end of the room was waiting for us. We started with sparkling water and noticed a 2007 Chateauneuf-du-pape from Mont Redon on the wine list for a mere 51€, fabulous year, good producer, reasonable price.

Bread, AOC butter, and amuse bouche
foie gras with a fig compote Above right is a basket of lovely rolls with AOC butter. Only the French would rate areas that made better butter, and frankly, this is the only restaurant that I know that serves it. It's quite good. The amuse bouche is a gaspacho. Our appetizer was a canneloni stuffed with yellow chicken and black truffle with parmesan cheese in a jerusalem artichoke sauce (14€, left). This was a farm-raised chicken with an extra ration of corn to give the chicken a deeper yellow color and more flavor. Martha had a special consisting of small loin chops from a suckling pig with mashed potatoes mixed with aligot cheese, the unripened curds of Cantal (26€, below left). I had the black angus beef tenderloin in a dark and flavorful Spanish onion and Shiraz sauce, with red cabbage and a brie and potato gratin (29€, right). We finished with espressos and madeleines, as we talked of Proust and things that mattered. I did, however, add a balloon of old rum. The bill came to about $200, which is expensive, but the dining room is lovely, the view spectacular, the service impeccable, the wine superb, and the food is not only top quality, but well-prepared.

As always, we both felt that this was one of the most pleasant dining experiences of this season. We always wait for a full moon to illuminate the clouds and Grand Case Bay. The owners, Christine et Jos€, have been here over twenty years and the chef, Patrick Guillerm, has been here for nine years. Even the kitchen help and wait staff are fairly stable. The only newcomer I noticed was their son, and that is a good sign. They are open every day for lunch and dinner.

News and Changes: We have reworked the article on Créole restaurants that we wrote a several years ago. There are recipes for a four course meal in SXM-Info's features section. You'll find a recipe for Conch Chowder from Antoine Restaurant, a recipe for Accras from L'Escargot Restaurant, a recipe for Crab-stuffed Grouper from Skipjack's, and a recipe for Sweet Potato Pudding from Ti Coin Créole. Antoine logo

We haven't seen the upstairs fine dining restaurant at La Vie en Rose open on any of our trips through Marigot at night. There has been some work at The Inn at Cupecoy. The name Fig has been stencilled on the front window of the right side, where the Cupecoy Market was. A restaurant may be opening.

Grand Case Nights: Harmony Night in Grand Case has morphed into "Les Mardis de Grand Case" - The Tuesdays of Grand Case. It still features the closing of the main street so it can be filled with local arts, crafts, and food vendors along with a few musicians. It's great fun, although it can get crowded and if you want a streetside table, you will need reservations or extremely good luck.

Drummers in Grand Case

Porto Cupecoy Nights: On Monday nights they have a French Film Festival with subtitles. This week the show is A bout de souffle/Breathless - A young car thief kills a policeman and tries to persuade a girl to hide in Italy with him. On Wednesday night there will be a free concert featuring Connis V and the Mo-Towns, blues and jazz from St Maarten. On Friday, while parents enjoy a cocktail or bite to eat, children take their turn at games such as musical chairs, lime in spoon races, treasure hunts, and bean bag toss. On Saturdays, from 9AM to 1PM they have a farmer's market featuring local fruits and vegetables, gourmet foods, and island crafts.

Marina Royale Nights: Thursday night has been claimed by Marigot's Marina Royale. This coming Thursday has a Latino Dance theme with Pedrin Pacheco.

Dutch side carnival schedule:

Thur, April 19 Opening Carnival Village/Opening Jump Up Fri, April 27Senior Calypso Finals
Fri, April 20Senior Calypso Eliminations & Road March Competition Sat, April 28Jouvert Morning 4am
Sat, April 21International Concert (Soca) Sat, April 28International Concert (Latin) (8pm)
Sun, April 22Junior Carnival Parade Sun, April 29International Concert (R&B / Reggae)
Mon, April 23Ms. Mature Queen Pageant & Cultural Manifestation Monday, April 30Grand Carnival Parade
Tues, April 24International Concert (Hip Hop / Dance Hall) Tues, May 1Second Day Parade
Wed, April 25Senior & Teen Carnival Queen Pageants Wed, May 2Closing Jump Up & Burning King Momo


SXM Privilege Card Coupons: Below are links to the SXM-Info clients who have coupons on their websites. Another approach is the SXM Privilege Card which seems to be a pretty good deal. It will get you various discounts and/or perks at about 50 restaurants. They also cover hotels (mostly spa treatments at hotels), activities, and more. Most of the restaurant perks are a 10% discount. Use it twice in a month and it pays for itself. Victoria Contin, the force behind the Privilege Card, has come out with Island Video Guide and Web TV. SXM Island Video Guide and Web TV

Bikini Beach
Kakao Beach
Marci's Mega Gym
Endless Summer Beachwear
Oizeau Rare
Pizza Galley
Tai Chi
Select Wine Cellar
Radiant Gems
Tropical Wave

  Our condo: The condo is available for rent $1000 per week or less for the summer. 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 tasting 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 and MedjetAssist to arrange medical transportation services. We hope you never need it, but when air evacuation flights cost $30,000 or more, it's good to have. Check out both and see which one offers the best prices your timeframe and traveling group.   Click here to Enroll Now

Kindle: We now have one, so I'm really convinced that the Kindle e-book from Amazon is the best thing to take to a beach. It only weighs a half pound and is one-third of an inch thin. Even better, the price has dropped to $79. 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 and now Wendy reports she bought her own. If you've already got one, you can get books here. They are cheaper than any other version of the book (except used!)  
Even though Martha has a Kindle and is quite happy with it, she still downloads audio books from our local library to her Zune or Sansa player (iPod knockoffs) 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. I just got a newsletter from a reader who reports that "Regarding downloading - several of my friends have the Nook and they can download books on it from their library in the states...but they do expire after 2 weeks."

Erich S. Kranz
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