St Maarten/St Martin
15 April 2012 Newsletter

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Cupecoy sunset

Weather: Sunday turned out to be a great day, a bit windy. Monday started great and Saba was finally visible, complete with the roofs of some houses glinting in the morning sun (right). The panoramic photo below is from Monday evening and Saba is there, but cannot be seen. By Tuesday Saba was visible and the sea and lagoon were as flat as a pool table. The photo lower left shows a cruise ship gliding past Saba in the early morning. Note the clouds surrounding Mount Scenery, Saba's highest peak and the location of its rain forest. The middle photo is a cruise ship heading across a glass-like Caribbean into the sunset. It was still pretty calm on Thursday as Random Wind glided past Saba on her morning expedition. Note the clouds in Saba's rain forest again. The full moon was quite nice on a clear Thursday evening and Friday was warm and sunny with clouds but no haze as we could see Saba, Statia and a bit of St Kitts. Saturday was quite nice, although cloudy and muggy. No rain during the day, but it did rain overnight and Sunday had even more clouds and a bit of rain at Cupecoy in the afternoon. We drove through the rain and found Marigot to be dry. And that's the way most of the rain is at this time, hit or miss. We flew back home to upstate NY on Monday afternoon.

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 6:29 PM. We're back in the US and in NYC the sun sets tonight at 7:29. Heading 2.5 degrees further north and not even a degree to the east brings you to our home where the sun sets today at 7:37. In 2012 the full moon dates are 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 panoramic shot of half of Plum Bay. It's only the southern portion facing left as you use the public access. On the right is the considerably smaller portion to the right of the public access. The public access can no longer reached by driving past La Samanna. They no longer want you near their facilities and have blocked off the road. You are supposed to drive toward Bay Rouge and use the other entrance to the lowlands. There are gates here also, but they have motion detectors that will raise the gate when you approach. As soon as you get inside, a left turn will bring you to the Bay Long public access and parking and going straight will get you to the Plum Bay public access and parking. As you can see there were very few people here on Saturday afternoon. There is a sign forbidding nudity.

Beach reading: The Dead Hand of History by Sally Spencer - (about $10 Kindle) - From Kirkus Reviews: Two grisly murders at a bakery provide a trial by fire for Charlie Woodend's protégée. As he readies himself for retirement in sunny Spain, "Cloggin' it Charlie" has left some mighty big brogues to fill at the Mid-Lancs nick. So when two dismembered hands lead to the discovery of two employees who went missing as the first loaves of Brunskill's Prize-Winning Bread were loaded on trucks bound for market one morning, Monika Paniatowski (Fatal Quest, 2008, etc.) knows she'll be tested. But the newly minted DCI isn't quite prepared for the treachery of her misogynist bagman, DS Walker, who undercuts her at every turn. Nor the calculated indifference of her boss, Chief Constable George Baxter, who had a brief affair with Monika years before coming to Lancashire and now fears being charged with favoritism. Nor the hectoring of Mike Traynor of the Evening Chronicle, who accuses her publicly of shielding suspect Stan Szymborska because she shares his Polish heritage. Only DI Colin Beresford seems willing to help Monika find out whether it really was Szymborska who killed his wife Linda, who ran Brunskill's along with her sister Jenny. Baker Tom Whittington, the other murdered employee, was Linda's lover, so Stan certainly has motive. And there are no other prospects in sight at harmonious Brunskill's. But before charging Stan, Monika wants what Charlie would have demanded: evidence. Monika carries the torch nobly as Spencer's franchise keeps its edge.

The review may need a bit of translation from English to American. Martha read this on her Kindle, downloading it from our local library's website to her computer via our high speed internet connection while in SXM. She then transfers the file to her Kindle via the USB port and is reading it here in the US. A very handy device, the Kindle.

ginger Sapphire Beach Club: We are back in The US, so our condo is available until early January. The rate ranges from $700 to $1000 per week over the low season. You'll get a 10% discount from Unity Car Rental, one of the longest running and most trusted agencies 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 the St Barts ferry coming past our 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: Like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the Hard Rock has still not bought the Simpson Bay Resort. Moreover, the head of the resort, Mark Miller, says the sale is just a rumor and the recent court case that they lost precludes any sale. However, the SXM government says they met with Hard Rock executives. More info in the Daily Herald.

Activities: At this point both Grand Case (Tuesday) and Marina Royale (Thursday) in Marigot have stopped their evening entertainment. Porto Cupecoy appears to have stopped the bands on Wednesday, but is continuing the Monday night movies, switching to American movies, at least for the next month or so. They are also continuing family fun night on Friday where parents can sedate themselves in the plaza while the children run amok. The forlorn farmer's market continues on Saturday morning, but really, there are almost no farmers here on the island. When we visited, there was a stand with some fruits and veg with no farmer in sight. Greenfingers was there selling some landscaping plants and there were tables of trinkets available in the entryway to the plaza.

The weekly show is now at Orient Village on Friday night. On 6 April Tom Falcon was rocking through a wide repertoire (left). There was a trampoline for kids and a few vendors.

On the right is Random Wind heading past our Caribbean balcony for a day of snorkeling, dolphin photography, Tarzan swinging, dining, music, a few libations, and other fun. Unlike the big cats, she frequently uses her sails.

Take a little tour of ... Philipsburg: On Wednesday we headed over to Pburg for a bit of last minute shopping. The boardwalk starts at the head of town, closest to the cruise ship docks, next to Greenhouse Restaurant with Angus burgers and lots more. They also have an outpost in Simpson Bay. Continue down the street and you'll find the Guavaberry Emporium and across the street is Blanc du Nil featuring fashionable clothing made from Egyptian cotton.

Next to the Emporium Look Kool where you'll find some fine sunglasses without expensive names. Right along Front Street one finds casinos with more spread around town.

But Front Street is famous for its jewelry stores, electronics stores, cosmetics, and lots more. Head past the courthouse to find Royal Caribbean Jewelers at 86B Front Street although they have an outpost at Flamingo Resort in Simpson Bay. Almost across the street is DK Gems with Jeff, Deepti, Kamal, and Raj, although Deepti is pretty busy right now in India.

Near the head of town on Back Street Shieka's Bistro provides great local food. Near the center of town L'Escargot Restaurant provides fine French cuisine with several snail preparations in a colorful Créole house. A bit further Antoine Restaurant also provides fine French cuisine in a dining room overlooking Great Bay and also provides food and beverage service to a beach full of lounge chairs.

Groceries: On the left is a blood orange split in half. Martha used this to flavor a four pound pintade (guinea fowl) that we picked up from the freezer case at the US Market in Sandy Ground for about $16. We have a halogen convection microwave in the condo and it does wonders for us. The photo on the right shows a beautifully browned bird. We served it with garlic mashed potatoes and zucchini sautéed with shallots. I added a 2009 Chambolle-Musigny Les Mombies from Chantal Lescure from Select Wine Cellar ($68) and we had a wonderful dinner on our Caribbean balcony watching the small planes land a couple miles to the east with Saba's few lights twinkling in the distance.

Alcohol: After lunch at Kakao Beach on Wednesday we stopped at Bernie's Local Rums & Spices on Hope Hill above Orient Beach to pick up some Ma Doudou flavored rum. We got a coffee and a bois bandé (left, with Saba in the background). On Thursday we went to Select Wine Cellar for our final Friday lunch at Champagne Bistro. We had to do this on Thursday because all businesses except hotels, restaurants, and other tourist businesses must close on Good Friday on the Dutch side. As a consequence, Bruno closes his restaurant because his business customers won't be dining. As this was our final lunch with Sylvain, he opened a bottle of Dagueneau's 2008 Blanc Fumé de Pouilly ($73). It's a very tasty white wine, very suitable as an aperitif. After lunch we returned to the shop and had more of the Eau de Mirabelle ($40) as a digestif.

In the US, I just picked up four bottles of 2004 Cosme Palacio Rioja Reserva Privada from Lot18 for less than $25 each. That's a pretty good price for a ready-to-drink Rioja from one of the best vintages of this decade. Spanish wine, and Rioja in particular, is one of the few wines that has older vintages available at reasonable prices. If you've ever wondered what a 10 year old bottle of wine tastes like, buy four of these (get free shipping) and drink one per year.

I've had a few people ask about lighter, fruitier (possibly even less expensive) wines lately and certainly Beaujolais qualifies. A step up is Beaujolais-Villages from about 30 villages in the center of the region and better still are the Gran Cru areas that get to use their own name, such as Moulin a Vent, Fleurie, St Amour, etc. In the US, Saratoga Wine Exchange has 2007 Moulin a Vent and a 2009 Moulin a Vent for a bit under $17 per bottle. They are both from Jadot, a quality producer, but I'd take the 2009.

Travel: Just before we left, we went to the vet in Concordia to get a travel certificate for Lily, our lynx point siamese. As you can see, she assists me in writing these newsletters.

TTOL had a thread about a couple teenagers who were hanging on the fence at the end of the runway during a jet takeoff. They traveled further than they planned. This still shows the girl, having let go (or having been blown off) of the fence, being pushed across the road. In the next second she trips and cracks her head on the concrete curb. If you wish to see all of it, here is a link to the video on SXM Island Times.

Traffic: Traffic has been pretty bad lately. There seems to have been an increase in tourists. Pretty obvious as this is Easter week. But the locals have several days off and are also out and about.

Gas: On 6 April we drove past the three Cadisco stations. The Cadisco at the Marigot location on the lagoon does 1 to 1 for the euro dollar conversion and generally has the cheapest gas on the island. We usually put in $40 at a time. The current price $1.32 per liter or $5.00 per gallon. It's usually a few pennies more per liter (or 10-15 cents more per gallon, currently $1.35 per liter) at Cadisco's Orient Beach location which also does 1 to 1. The Cadisco in Nettle Bay on the main road does not do 1 to 1 and is priced at 1.30€, about $6.40 per gallon, about the worst on the island. The Dutch side prices are now 2.57 NAF per liter, or $5.60 per gallon at 1.75 NAF per dollar. If you buy gas on the Dutch side, the pumps are set in NAF even though they may say dollars.

PS: When we drove by last Sunday (8 April), the Cadisco stations in Nettle Bay and Marigot had raised prices by 2 cents.

Green logo Nature: On the right is a ring-neck dove perched atop the street light along the road beneath our lagoon balcony. Even in the thumbnail, the black ring around the neck is quite visible.

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

Small Island story: I am not making this up. FaxInfo reported that the newly-elected French side President Richardson's inaugural speech was purloined from the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso. After being caught, Alex Richards, the cabinet director, said that Pierre Marssin, a speechwriter, wrote both speeches. Unfortunately, Mr Marssin is not available for comment as he is very busy in Senegal, providing communication services for the President, Macky Sall. Further, unfortunately, the Senegalese say they "never heard of a Mr. Marssin."

These stories are usually shorter, but this is gets another unfortunately because Richards, when he was Tourism Director, plagiarized a tourism plan from Nièverie, France, presenting it to St Martin in 2006. You can read more in the Daily Herald which has most of this story. The full story was in FaxInfo, written in French.


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.

Winners of the contest from 19 February 2011 to 15 April 2012

Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October) - Dan Denton
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket - Bonnie Simpson
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two - Bonnie Simpson
Marci's Mega Gym - Two for One week with a shake - no entries
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate - Ray Flower
Peg Leg Pub - $50 off a dinner for two - Bonnie Simpson
SXM-Privilege Discount Card - One free monthly card - Dan Reid
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine - Bob Dallas
Radiant Gems - $50 off a purchase of $200 or more - Matt Friedlande
Piazza Pascal - $50 off dinner for two - Bonnie Simpson
Escargot Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two - Bonnie Simpson

Current Contest:

15 April 2012 to 15 July 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 1 April Mar the Euro was at 1.334 and today it is at 1.308, or 2.6 cents less, a major drop.

California Restaurant is still offering 1 to 1. Rainbow Café La Villa, Piazza Pascal and Rainbow Café, also in Grand Case, are 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.

Bistro Caraïbes
On Sunday evening headed to Bistro Caraïbes. We parked next door in the pay parking lot because the free lot appeared full as we drove by. We had reservations and were offered a choice of tables in the front or in the back. We choose the back as it is usually cooler and we are moving into warmer weather. Besides, with Fish Pot closed, the view of their beautiful lobster tank is gone. Thibault works Sunday and Amaury works Saturday in low season, and they have three other very competent and friendly servers assisting.

Much of the wine on the list is brought over directly from France, so I rely heavily on the recommendations from Thibault or Amaury. As I started with the smoked salmon appetizer (below center, 15€), a glass of crisp white wine was in order and the 2010 Bourgogne from Mancey Cooperative in Macon was available by the glass (below left, 6.50€). I find this to be the smoked salmon that I like best on the island. The dish is simplicity itself, smoked salmon, crisp sharp white onions, a lemon to add a touch of citrus, and some capers. I like the luscious salmon with the crunch of tangy onion.

Thibault with Macon Rouge

For the main course Martha chose the marmite of vivaneau, braised red snapper with vegetables in a creamy mussel sauce with saffron (below left 24€) and rather than my usual seabass or lamb chops, I had a special lamb chop and saddle of lamb combo. Our wine for the main courses was a 2009 Macon Rouge (above right with Thibault, 34€). There was a failure of communication and I received the standard menu version of the lamb chops with four chops. I mentioned this to Thibault out of concern that someone else may have had a meal that they had not ordered. He checked and said that the order had been entered incorrectly, so no one else was inconvenienced. In that my alternative choice was the standard lamb chops, I was hardly bothered and said so. That wasn't good enough for Thibault so he fired up a saddle and its braised leek which were delivered to the table within a few minutes. So the center photo is the standard four lamb chop menu item. Remove two of the chops and add the saddle and leek from the right hand photo and you have the special. No matter which, it was great especially with the red wine. The strong creamy saffron flavor in Martha's dish also worked well with the wine. Our plans for an early getaway were foiled by Thibault bringing over complimentary snifters of the 1991 Laubade Armagnac. It was a wonderful evening with great food, good sturdy wine, and fine service for only $151 using a conversion of 1.3 which is more than fair at this time.

Piazza Pascal
We went to dinner at Piazza Pascal on a lovely Monday evening. We had 7:30 reservations and parked in the pay lot. The stroll down the street showed most restaurants to be partially full, so we were thankful to have reservations on the last table on the upstairs terrace. Donna didn't give us the wine list, saying she had a special wine for us. Shortly thereafter a bottle of sparkling water and a 2009 Savigny-Les-Beaune Premier Cru from Bouchard arrived at the table. Savigny-Les-Beaune is one of my favorite wines (a good price/value ratio), 2009 was a great year, and Bouchard is a good producer. Like all the 2009s that we have been drinking, it was fruity, but quite drinkable despite its youth.

Martha and I had the Salsiccia Classico ($13, below left), sautéed Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Our main courses were the Scallops sautéed with a chive and lemoncello butter ($25, below center for Martha and the Linguini Di Napoli ($25, below right), shrimp, calamari, scallops, mussels, and assorted seafood in fresh basil tomato sauce over linguini pasta for me. All good fresh-tasting food prepared well with interesting sauces. Put it all together and I say we had a great meal in a nice location at a fabulous price.


L'Oizeau Rare Restaurant
On Tuesday we intended to get a travel inspection for Lily, our cat, at the vet in Concordia and have lunch afterwards at L'Oizeau Rare on the waterfront in Marigot. We arrived at the vets at about 12:30 to find them closed for lunch so we headed to our 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 lovely plantings coming down that slope.
We ordered a bottle of Badoit red label (extra fizzy) water and a a bottle of 2008 Paul Jaboulet's Beaumes-de-Venise (26€, left). We looked over the menu and the large specials board. She choose a trio of duck: smoked breast slices, country paté, and a terrine de foie gras with crispy toast points(19€, cernter). I ordered the 12 ounce ribeye (Angus beef) special (24€, right) that came with a tasty chevre sauce, a dollop of ratatouille, some of their very good frites, and some mashed potatoes with a bit chef's secret ingredient (compare the color of the potatoes to the color of the marmite from Bistrot Caraïbes). We lingered over our wine and called the vet. They were closed until 3PM. The restaurant was fairly busy but they would not have cared if we stayed until 3PM, but we are leaving soon and have many things to do. Our total bill came to $103, a bit much for lunch, but black Angus beef and foie gras are very good and we skipped 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

Porto Cupecoy Nights: It appears that Porto Cupecoy had it's last Wednesday concert this week. They are continuing the Monday night they have a Film Festival, showing US films for the next few months. Family Fun Night continues. 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.

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 Cantin, 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."