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St Maarten/St Martin
18 March 2012 Newsletter

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ISLAND NEWS


Cupecoy sunset

Weather: Sunday was lovely as the photo on the right shows. It was taken at lunch from our table at Tropical Wave on Galion Beach. We were looking southwest across the bay, over the reef where the waves pushed by 6000 miles of tradewinds break, to the island of St Barts about 16 miles away. It was warm and sunny, but with a few puffy white clouds. The perfect day for a lunch on the beach. On Monday it was possible to see most of Saba (below left) and for the first time in about two weeks, we could see Statia (below center). It was too good to be true as the photo from later on Monday shows (below right). Even with the sun shining, it managed to rain in the afternoon, but at least we got a rainbow over the lagoon. Tuesday had a shower in the morning and another around 11AM while we were at Marci's Mega Gym. The rest of the day was fine. In fact, the rest of the week was very nice, a bit warmer, more humid, some sun, some clouds, but few showers. The prediction is thundershowers for the next several days. Saba has been hidden in haze for several days. You can see it peeking out in the photo in the Sapphire section.

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 6:23 PM. the vernal equinox will occur on Tuesday. 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: Below is a panorama of Galion Beach. I was standing at the water's edge, a few feet away from our table at Tropical Wave and shot four photos as I scanned across the bay to the beach on the left. The stitched together panorama shows that the beach runs out to a rocky section of the coast. You can cross over that to the Atlantic to experience fierce tradewinds. That rocky section drops under the water for a bit becoming a reef that causes the six to ten foot surf to collapse as it enters the bay. The shallow bay is extremely calm but still has a pretty good breeze, making it an ideal spot for wind surfing or kite sailing. Beginners can stay in the calm waters but still have a pretty good breeze. More experienced enthusiasts can head out toward the real surf. The photo on the right was taken from the roof of the restaurant. From that height you can see how little land is protecting the bay. Tropical Wave serves good lunches with an accent on fish and rents all manner of water sports equipment. There are coupons for both on the website.

Beach reading: Banker by Dick Francis - (about $10 paperback) - When young investment banker Tim Ekaterin becomes involved in the cutthroat world of thoroughbred racing, he finds his life in business blown to smithereens. For suddenly the multimillion dollar loan he arranges to finance the purchase of a champion racehorse is threatened by an apparent defect in the animal. Then, as Tim desperately searches for answers, he falls headlong into a deadly deal of violence and murder. . . .

It's a typical Dick Francis thriller involving horse racing. He was a jockey who later was the author of more than forty acclaimed books. Among his numerous awards were three Edgar Awards, the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger, and the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. He died in February 2010.

Martha is reading this on her Kindle at the moment.

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 2012 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 a small cruise ship heading past Saba taken from the 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: Porto Cupecoy is taking out full page ads in the International Herald and the Daily Herald offering stunning discounts. A boat slip dropped by over 60% and the condos are dropping 20-30%. Below is the parent company's stock price (Orient Express). As you can see, it has not recovered from the 2008 crash (blue line, still at about 20% of its pre-crash value), while the S&P 500 (red line) has recovered. Last week the news on the stock was that it had met sales expectations, but missed profits. Obviously, cutting prices by 20 to 60% (they also cut maintenance fees and rental fees), is likely to pump up sales while producing minimal profits.

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. They are now offering 20% off on all rooms during the summer.

Take a little tour of ... Simpson Bay: We go through Simpson Bay at least five days a week to work out in Marci's Mega Gym so it is pretty easy to pull together a tour. On the right is Hilma's Windsor Castle. I'm pretty sure that there is no connection to the Windsor family nor is there much similarity to their castle. This one sits on a tiny plot next to the RBTT on Airport Road. She has four stools but does a pretty good takeout business for breakfast and lunch featuring local food. If you look closely, the building in the back to the right is the Turquoise Shell Inn, although the pool (below left) makes it look much more appealing. It's actually across the street from Simpson Bay Beach. To the left of Hilma's is Endless Summer Swimwear (below center). Back on the shore road you can find Azure Beach Studios (mentioned above) and the Horny Toad Guesthouse who is represented by the lovely sunset photo taken from their waterfront.

When I first came here in 1993, I was astounded by the blatant theft of copyrighted names. 7 Alive got sued and recently won their court case. Also in this area was Stop and Shop, Midass Mufflers, and Hooterss Bar, all gone now, but not because of lawsuits.

On the right is Tahoma Beach Bar. It is on Simpson Bay Beach, but can only be reached by driving past Caravanserai and along the runway. Tahoma was the original form of Tacoma (as in the seaport in WA). It is also a typeface bundled with Microsoft Windows.

Activities: On the left is James Chance playing trumpet at Sapphire's restaurant. He's there on Tuesday nights for the all-you-can-eat ribs party. He uses backing tracks and plays lead on the trumpet. Most of the music that comes up from the bar deserves a cauldron of boiling oil dumped upon it, but I actually liked the music I heard last Tuesday. It included "You Look Beautiful Tonight" and 'Unchained Melody".

On the right is Tryst, Pat Turner's trimaran, returning to Galion Beach after competing in the Heineken Regatta. Pat was at the helm, Tracey was first mate, John Jackson, owner of Saratoga, and Dan, owner of Greenhouse, were part of the crew for the return voyage. I believe the house in the upper right corner of the photo is Pat and Tracey's new home. Certainly, it is someplace on that hillside.

melon Groceries: On Tuesday we went shopping, starting at the Grand Marché in Cole Bay to get fresh milk. As far as I know, there is no fresh milk on the French side, only the long shelf life UHT (Ultra High Temperature) version that heats milk to 275F, causing Maillard browning and changing the taste and smell. It's handy in hot climates or places with third world electrical production problems (or both), but the taste and texture are not the same. While there, I checked on the Charentais melons. They were coming from Guadeloupe and were $4.40 per kg. We continued to the French side for French cheeses and patés and found the melons for $3.90 per kg. There are people who claim the French side is more expensive. Obviously they don't buy melons or gasoline. You can understand the confusion when TTOL carries a post headed "Euro rate at Marigot restaurants is out-of-control". It was written by someone who admitted he didn't know the exchange rate and complained that one restaurant charged him $1.35/€, essentially the going rate. The poster proceeded to tell us that Gran (sic) Case had a 1 to 1 rate. If you read on in this newsletter, you will find three restaurants mentioned that are offering that rate, but a quick check of Grand Case shows that there are about 30 restaurants. This is wrong on so many counts. The poster takes one incorrect data point and smears the entire marina and then presents more inaccuracies that were viewed by over 2000 people. Luckily some other posters responded to the inaccuracies, but the headline remained and was viewed by even more visitors.

Alcohol: On Friday we stopped in at Select Wine Cellar for our usual lunch at Champagne Bistro. Sylvain was celebrating the purchase of his new delivery van, a smaller, but more reliable vehicle. It does catch your eye as it is extremely, vividly yellow. The celebration involved a bottle of Belin Champagne which he sells for a mere $30 per bottle, a very good price for any Champagne, but especially for one of this quality. For lunch I choose Chantal Lescure's 2009 Chambolle-Musigny Les Mombies ($68). We haven't been drinking much of this because it is such a fine wine and will improve greatly with age. Musigny, the grand cru vineyard that had its name attached to the commune of Chambolle, is arguably one of the best Burgundies. The commune is known for producing feminine wines with floral elegance rather than power and was the favorite of my belated crazy uncle Peter who introduced me to the wonders of good Burgundies. We took a bottle home, adding Girard's 2009 Savigny-Les-Beaune ($32.50), one of my favorite less expensive Burgundies, and for everyday drinking, we picked up three more bottles of our "house" wine, the 2009 Bourgogne Pinot Noir from Guy Amiot ($24).

Travel: Jet Blue canceled a flight on 10 March. It appears that the First Officer on the SXM-SJU flight was taken ill after arriving in SXM. The staff doing the rebooking and handling hotel and meal vouchers was hopeless. Even when the "manager" arrived, it didn't get much better. However, if you think you can avoid this problem by using another airline, JD aka ruralcarrier on TTOL pointed out that "big part of the problem is [that] Jet Blue, USAir, Delta, etc. do not have their own ground staff in SXM. They contract with either Arrindel Aviation or another local company to provide the counter and ground services." Another poster noted that Halley Aviation Services handles the JB operations in SXM. The local kids get very little training, especially in procedures that (one hopes) are rarely required. Note that the post was about Jet Blue and this is a photo of Corsair by Leland Harms, although I have no reason to believe that Corsair has a lot of personnel here on the island. In other travel news, the airport was shut down for an hour on Wednesday evening because of a strong, irritating odor. After an hour everyone was allowed back into the building and no cause has been found yet.

Gas: Just a reminder that Cadisco at the Marigot location on the lagoon (not the Nettle bay location on the main road) has the cheapest gas on the island. 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. The Dutch side prices are now 2.57 NAF per liter, or $5.60 per gallon at 1.75 NAF per dollar.

Traffic: We went to Mario's Bistro for dinner and, as usual, I drove past the entrance, dropped Martha off, and drove on looking for a parking space. Since Spago (an Italian restaurant) opened next door, parking is at a premium. I eventually turned around and headed back only to see someone pull into a recently vacated spot in front of Mario's!%&##! I parked on the main road and noticed that the lovely coat of blacktop was still warm. They were still paving when I went to get the car after dinner and traffic was being rerouted. No big deal at 10:30PM, but be aware that the main road from the French Bridge almost to the roundabout at the cemetery in Marigot is being rerouted slightly and resurfaced. It will be great when they are done, but until then, use caution.

Military operations: The Royal Dutch Navy is taking a vacation or as they say "training" nearby. The HNLMS Amsterdam (A836) is a 550 foot replenishment ship that was used as part of Operation Enduring Freedom to provide assistance to two American naval vessels after a battle they had fought with pirates in 2006. She carries 6,700 tonnes of diesel oil, 1,660 tonnes of aviation fuel, and 500 tonnes of cargo when fully loaded. There is the possibility that the Dutch were flexing their muscles as Britain's Prince Edward was poncing about the nearby British Territories. It's always possible that as the Netherlands Antilles were being rearranged, one of them may have lost its way and become a British possession. Gotta watch the Brits.

The US countered by sending in one of its hurricane hunters (above right), a giant C-130 loaded with sensors that flies into hurricanes to gather data. If you read the story, you'll see that they welcomed the local school kids aboard for tours in the morning and opened up for all visitors for a couple hours in the afternoon.

Green logo Nature: On the right is an iguana up a tree near the parking lot of Kakao Beach. The body was easily two feet long and with the tail, it was five to six feet long. That's a lot of soup.

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

Small Island story: As reported last week Minister Franklyn Meyers was sued by the company that is laying fiber optic cable to Saba and Saita for his refusal to let their cable land on SXM. As expected, they did not win. In a country that makes money on telecommunications, competition is not desired.


SXM-INFO'S CONTESTS


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:

Erich,
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

 


RESTAURANTS


On 11 Mar the Euro was at 1.312 and today it is at 1.317. Again, that's not much change, but Europe is stabilizing its debt crisis and the US will soon have the Repubs and Dems arguing past one another for a few months after which the election may (or may not) solve anything.

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.

Tropical Wave

On Sunday we went to Tropical Wave on Galion Beach. Owners Pat and Tracey were sailing Tryst, their 40 year old trimaran, over from Simpson Bay where she had waited for lighter winds before returning home after the regatta. It appears that the strong winds during the regatta favored the newer fiberglass speedsters. After he arrived, Pat told us that he had finished third in his class, although he did mention there were only three entries.

Tropical Wave usually has a fish special and we usually have that, but today Martha had a shrimp salad (13.5€, right) and I had a the mahi-mahi plate. It came with salad and fries or baked potato (13.5€, left). There's a small wine list and on the beach we generally go with a rosé, and the Carte Noir was quite reasonably priced at 16€. Our entire lunch came to 43€ and was converted at the going exchange rate to almost $56. The full menu is on the website and there are a couple coupons there to save you some money on lunch and watersports. There are few things as interesting as sitting down with Pat at lunch and discussing what the island was like when he arrived. He was here long before Hurricane Luis and has plenty of tales.

Mario's Logo
Mario's Bistro
On Tuesday night we went to Mario's at 7:30PM. You supposedly cannot get a table on the water at 7:30, but we don't care too much as we stare out at the water all day long. We arrived at 7:30 and were promptly seated on the water. When I asked why, I was told that sometimes the Tuesday Night party in Grand Case leaves a few openings on the water. So if you want a table on the water a bit later, try Tuesday evening. Any other night, you'll have to be one of the first to request an early seating (7:00) on the water, and then only for tables of two to five.

  We started with two flutes of champagne and managed to save some for our appetizer, the flathead lobster taco (16€, above right). It's a lovely looking lofty lobster ap with a touch of heat and the champagne worked quite well. The textures were also nice, contrasting the crisp taco shell with the chewy lobster and the creamy sauce. I ordered the 2009 Mercurey Chateau de Chamirey, an under-appreciated pinot from the southern part of the region in a very good year (41€). It was very nice with the lamb shank that Martha ordered off the menu (28€, below left). The white smear of sauce and the white container of rosemary goat cheese crème Brulée caused the photo to overflash a bit but you can see the lamb shank on a very tasty potato concoction. Hidden behind the crème Brulée is a roasted garlic head. I had a special consisting of lamb shank off the bone in a shepherd's pie with a duo of lamb chops on asparagus spears (28€, below center). The shepherd's pie arrived with three house-made crispy potato chips and I also got the crème Brulée and roasted garlic head. We had espressos and complimentary after-dinner drinks. The total bill was 140€, a bit over $180.

It's a bit expensive, but lobster, lamb, and Burgundy are not cheap and we took home enough for dinner the next evening. We generally save Mario's for two special occasions, our anniversary as we arrive in January and our final meal. This year our anniversary was on a Sunday when they are dark, so we went elsewhere. We find Mario's food to be among the most interesting on the island. The service is superb and while the view of the canal is not the same as the view to Anguilla, it is not without its amusements (below right) and finally, the tables are very widely spaced.

 

Dining with Deepti
Rare and Temptation

On Thursday we went to Rare at Atlantis Casino with Deepti from DK Gems and her sister-in-law Manisha. We sat inside Rare, Chef Dino's steakhouse, but we could order from Rare's menu or from Temptation's menu, Dino's sister restaurant a few feet away. Martha and I split the fried calamari ap with a tomato based dipping sauce and parmesan cheese. (right)
Manisha had some lovely lamb chops (above far right). Deepti had the Deepti chicken. It's not on the menu, but if you want it, they know what it is. She did say that she has been venturing further afield in her dining habits, trying salmon carpaccio and several wines. Martha had the osso buco from the Temptation menu (center) and I had the angus beef ribeye with scalloped potatoes. I ordered the 2009 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir. Vintage years in California make little difference as the sun is always shining but "It never rains in California." Consequently, they are allowed to water their grapes. In Europe it is the opposite. Beaune, the capital of Burgundy production, is at the latitude of Maine's north woods, about 48° North. The northern boundary of the US with Canada is about 49° North for our western states. Consequently, the Europeans have difficulty getting enough sun to ripen the grapes producing the sugar that will ferment into alcohol. They are also in danger of rains at harvest time which will make the grapes watery, diluting the flavors and the alcohol. Thus, they are allowed to add sugar to their squeezings. The US and European winemakers point fingers at one another, but I believe they are both doing what they have to do to make quality wine. I prefer quality wine to wine made with one hand tied behind your back. That's a long way of saying that this was a pretty good wine and it went well with Dino's flavorful preparations.

And this was a long way of ignoring most of our dinner while we talked about Deepti's wedding and her plans for the future. This will be the last Dining with Deepti feature as she is heading back to India to plan a wedding in Goa. Her intended is an Indian (of course) with a business in Shenzen, just north of Hong Kong, and that is where she will live. She promises to visit our island, quite possibly in March. We miss her already.


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. Escargot logo

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 Mon meilleur ami/My Best Friend - Catherine, refuses to believe that her business partner, the unlikeable Fran├žois, has a best friend, so she challenges him to set up an introduction. On Wednesday night there will be a free concert featuring The Next Level Band - Dance the night away to the Next Level's sizzling Soca & Salsa beats. 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: This is the final thursday night affair at Marigot's Marina Royale. They are keeping some of it secret, but they say the Mighty Dow will perform.

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


BARGAINS AND HAPPENINGS


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
Escargot
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."

Regards,
Erich S. Kranz
www.SXM-Info.com
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