St Maarten/St Martin
27 August 2017 Newsletter

Other newsletters
Contests | Restaurants | Bargains and Happenings


Cupecoy sunset

Weather: The Sargassum seaweed started showing up on the Northeast beaches in mid-July. The Daily Herald posted an article with an ugly photo of the weed blocking the piers leading to Pinel. The French side reacted quickly as it did a couple years ago with a team of twenty young people collecting and processing the seaweed. A couple backhoes, plucked the seaweed out of the water, moved it elsewhere and let it dry as it produced toxic fumes, and finally composting it. The seaweed was not confined to the French side. There was a thread on TTOL showing a lot of seaweed at the western end of Simpson Bay Beach. At this time, the island seems to have dealt with the seaweed that arrived and no more is coming. Hence, a couple nice sunset shots.

The last week had three clear days, two rainy days, and two partly cloudy days. Not bad. The coming ten days start with clear day, a day with a 40% chance of rain, four days of clear skies, a partly cloudy day, and three more clear days. Sounds great! The high temp will be 87 or 86F and the lows are either 80 (one day) or 81F (nine days).

Here's the detailed forecast from Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel. Sunset tonight will be at 6:29 PM providing 12 hours and 32 minutes of sunshine. In 2017 the full moons will be 6 Sep, 5 Oct, 4 Nov, and 3 Dec.

Below is a pano taken in Marigot.

SXM-Beaches: On the left is the monolith that used to define Cupecoy Beach. The shot is from 2008. On the right is a photo from this year. It's been falling into the sea since Hurricane Luis gave it a beating in 1995.
Beach Reading: Fatal Pursuit: A Mystery of the French Countryside (Bruno, Chief of Police Series) by Martin Walker From Amazon: "The eleventh installment in the delightful, internationally acclaimed series featuring Chief of Police Bruno. A pair of murders, a romance, and rivals in pursuit of a long-lost vintage car make for another mystery for Bruno, chief of police." Martha borrowed an actual book from our Salem, NY library. I believe we have heard most of this series.
Sapphire Beach Club: Our unit at Sapphire is rented to a med student until 1 January. No news is good news, so having heard nothing, I assume that the progress made by Jan Borsje and his team is continuing. Here are some random shots off our Caribbean side balcony. On the left is a container ship in the passing between us and Saba lost in the haze. On the right is Mercedes between a cat and Saba.
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.

Garbage: The Daily Herald had an editorial noting that some sorting of the waste stream was being done at the dump and urging that something more needs to be done. They mentioned a waste to energy plant that would burn the garbage using the heat to create high pressure steam to drive an electrical generator. Obviously GEBE would be the entity that would have to buy and distribute the power. This would have little effect on the metal and glass and a large effect on the paper and plastic. The food scrap and other wet material will burn after some energy vaporizes the water contained therein. These plants are expensive, an estimate in 2010 set the cost at $115 million.

Groceries: One of our least favorite places to shop was Fresh Market which will close it's Madame Estate store at the end of this month. It's part of the Afoo Group which is a bit of a misnomer as the group now consists of one store in Pburg. The group seems to have fallen apart after the death Mr Afoo in a 2011 fireworks incident. A Carrefour Express has opened near the Med School. They are a smaller and more expensive version of the large Carrefour on Union Road in Cole Bay. An article from last year compared prices at the various markets, finding several products that cost twice as much (or more) if purchased in the wrong market. We generally find that Super U in Marigot has the best prices.

green logo Nature: On the right is a rooster roaming around Marigot.

Our office is well over 100% solar-powered. In fact, in seven years of operation our solar panels have produced over half the electrical needs for the house, my work shop, and a large animal barn. Our hosting company servers are about 130% wind-powered.

Small Island story: We have been very busy lately and these newsletters have suffered.


As you can request five prizes on one entry form, you could win a bargain on entertainment and dinner! That would be five prizes to one person.

Current Contest: now until 1 October 2017
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
DK Gems - $150 off a $500 purchase
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine
Piazza Pascal - $50 off dinner for two
Pizza Galley - $25 off on a dinner for two
Ti Coin Créole - $30 off on a dinner for two

Future Contests:
1 October to 24 December 2017
same cast of characters as current contest


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 dinners and activities. I really check and a while ago Sulay entered 33 times for one contest, instead of increasing her chance of winning, she decreased it to zero as I deleted all of them. She did account for about a third of the entries for that contest.

Here's some comments from a past winner:

We met with Sylvain at Select Wine Cellar, enjoyed the tasting, and opted for the Belin Champagne for the free bottle. It was very good. I will try and find this at home to drink again. He was a very nice host. ... I enjoyed entering the contest and look forward to future entries. Over 16 days we only had only one 4 minute rain shower; otherwise the weather was beautiful. We tried the Hideaway Restaurant at La Vista. It was very good as were the other places we dined.

Credit Cards and Exchange Rate

On 25 June the Euro was at 1.119. Today it's at 1.193. That's up about 6.6% over the last two months and almost 10% in the last four months.

With the Euro surging against the dollar, restaurants doing 1 to 1 become more interesting. It behooves those of us with dollars to check the exchange rate offered by restaurants. For several years French side restaurants have been offering better than market exchange rates, especially for cash. However, if a French side restaurant offers a bad exchange rate, ask for your credit card to be charged in Euros. Assuming you followed my advice below and got a card that has no charge for foreign transactions you will get the wholesale rate on the exchange.

When we left the island in early April, L'Escapade Restaurant, Piazza Pascal, and La Villa, in Grand Case were offering 1 to 1 for cash. Nearby Ti Bouchon, Tropical Wave and Rancho del Sol are offering 1 to 1. We also got it at Le Galion in Marina Royale, but there was no sign proclaiming this as the policy. The waiter, an old friend from Il Nettuno, offered it to us as he presented the bill. Note this is generally only for cash payments using US greenbacks and is subject to change.

There was an article in the NY Times about credit cards and travel benefits. Check it out here.

You should not be paying a currency transaction charge as there are many credit cards that don't have this onerous charge. My United Mileage Plus Explorer/Chase card no longer charges it and gets my first bag checked free for all United tickets purchased on the card.

We now use the Capital One Quicksilver Visa Signature Card that gives us 1.5% cash back - no fooling around with miles. They do not charge an exchange fee on foreign transactions and they do provide rental car insurance. This has been our primary card as airline miles are not as valuable or as easy to use as they used to be.

We always notify our card companies of our travel. Chase and Quicksilver actually accept this info on-line, making it much easier than working through the hell of telephone answering systems.

There are discussions on Credit card Forum and Daily Markets that may help you decide what card is best for you. The first one has a review of the new Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It gives you 2 points for travel related purchases and then allows you to take 20% off when purchasing your rewards through their Ultimate Rewards portal. It's tempting.


Champagne Bistro
On a Friday in February we went over to Select Wine Cellar to see Sylvain and taste some wine while having a lunch from Champagne Bistro. We all ordered the veal marengo. The dish was invented by Napoleon's chef after the battle of Marengo in 1800. It can be made with either veal or chicken sautéed, then braised with tomatoes, onions, olives, garlic, seasonings, and white wine. Sylvain choose three wines from Laguedoc-Rouisillon: 2012 Faugères, 2014 Les Cocalières from Domaine d'Aupilhac, and a 2013 Collioure. They were all quite good and went well with our flavorful lunch..

News and Changes: We frequently post some dining photos to Facebook. Less frequently we post activities and other things related to SXM or food. If you're interested, I trust you know what to do.
If you are looking to purchase gift certificates for island restaurants, check out L'Escargot Restaurant, Piazza Pascal, and La Villa. Treat your friends at your favorite restaurant!
Here is the current list of the ARCHA members contributing to the security and clean-up of Grand Case. They would appreciate your continued support of their efforts. A blue oval sticker is displayed at businesses that participate in this much-needed endeavor.

Hotels and Residences:
Grand Case Beach Club
Le Petit Hotel
Bleu Emeraude
Auberge Gourmande
Bistrot Caraïbes
Piazza Pascal
Le Pressoir
Le Tastevin
La Villa
Ocean 82
Calmos Cafe
Blue Martini
Le Soleil
Le Cottage
Tijon Perfumery
La boutique D'Anaise
La Boutique D'anaise
Cotton Club SXM
La Boheme
Sexy Fruits
Simple Elegance


Coupons: Below are links to the SXM-Info clients who have coupons on their websites.

Endless Summer Beachwear
Kakao Beach
Pizza Galley
Select Wine Cellar
Table d'Antoine
Tropical Wave

SXM-Info has chosen SkyMed 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 their offerings.


Erich S. Kranz
Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe
Our privacy policy