----- St Martin / St Maarten ---------------
St Martin / St Maarten depending on which side of the island you are on was our last stop on our two week Caribbean whirlwind adventure! We wanted to visit the famous Maho beach renown the runway of Princess Juliana airport situated right next to the beach. Planes daily take off and land with only meters of distance separating the airplanes for the spectators along the beach. We arrived here later in the afternoon, so I will return here shortly.
We started by heading from the Dutch side St Maarten and traveling by taxi to the French St Martin. We got out of our taxi in Marigot where we walked around and went to a French cafe for coffee and croissants. Since they take Euros here and the Euro was at a really low point, I decided to get a couple hundred Euros to have incase I went to Europe again. The exchange rate at the time was $1.07, and I did return to Europe the following summer with an Exchange rate of $1.12 so it was a good buy!
From Marigot we wanted to take the 7 mile ferry to Anguilla for a day trip, and return to St Martin in a few hours. However the customs agent at the ferry informed us that we were all free to leave St Martin which belongs to France, but to return a few of us would be denied entry because we had one person with a Cuban passport and another with an Ecuadorian passport. They would not be allowed back in so we all decided to stay in St Martin, which was fine as we had a great time.
After we left the ferry station we walked to the end of town to find a fort in ruins at the top of the hill. The hike up the hill was pretty grueling as it was really hot outside, but the views from the top were worth it. From the higher elevation we could see the resorts along Anguilla in the distance. I was once told by model I had met that in all the places she had been in the world, Anguilla had the most beautiful soft white sand beaches... I guess I will have to try to visit in the future. After we lingered around for a while we headed back down the hill to take a taxi to Maho Beach. However taxis in St Martin aren't what you expect in the US or many other countries. They are old run down cars and vans. You have to ask around for the right place to find one, but when you do they are a LOT cheaper than even taking the buses. I guess you could call it the Uber of St Martin. :)
As we made it to Maho Beach we could see the crowds lining the beach and the brave grasping the fences as jets blasted their engines for takeoff. Junior and I participated in the activity grasping firmly to the fence for fear of being blasted across the road into the rocks by the beach. It was cool to see the planes coming in right over our head. I remember a pilot opening his window as he taxied to the end of the runway giving everyone a thumbs up. He backed that jet as close as he could to the end of the runway and BLASTED those engines. People were holding on for their lives and articles of clothing were flying in the wind! What a cool adventure!
Afterward we chilled out for some drinks, and then decided we needed to head back to the ship so that we wouldn't get left behind. However unbeknownst today was a holiday and the streets were packed with traffic and we were pressing it to get back. Actually, we were concerned we would not make it as we were running late. As we finally made it to the dock we were running to get to the ship. People were radioing ahead to inform the ship we were here. As we ran along the ship people above were cheering us on, and as we entered the boat the crew was visibly upset, and yes... I was literally the last person back on the ship!