Caribbean Trip - 2002

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Queens, New York

Thursday, 17-Jan-2002

I arrived at JFK one hour and 20 minutes before my 8:05 AM flight. Everything was uneventful, except a most lovely pilot was on board. We had three pilots on a 757 that only require two. So probably she was in training.

St. Martin

We arrive in St. Martin a little early. There was a small wait for immigration, then a longer wait at the Winair counter to buy my inter-island tickets. As I suspected she gave me better connections than I was offered on Travelocity.com, and a lower price.

On the plane I was chatting with the fellow near me. (Though the plane was almost full I lucked out and got an empty seat next to me. Both the fellow I chatted with, and his wife, wanted aisle seats.) He suggested it was shorter to take a bus to Mullet Bay, then to Marigot, instead of going in the direction of Philipsburg. So I took his suggestion. When I got to Mullet Bay, practically within walking distance of the airport, I learn from the bus driver that there are no buses from Mullet Bay to Marigot. So back I go. While the buses came quickly, traffic is slow. At Marigot I walk from the main road to the ferry terminal. There is one about to leave, but he wasn't letting any of us on it. There is a procedure of registering. Then when the boat arrives the passengers are let into a corral. Then the $2 departure tax is collected. Then we get on. Then the cargo is loaded (mostly DHL and FedEx stuff).

Off we go. It was a catamaran, and it was a bumpy ride on a rough sea.

Anguilla

When we reached Anguilla I put some effort into being one of the first off. I wanted to get into position to hitchhike before the other passengers leave. I learn from the info desk that Flambayo is no longer in business, and that Exotic Plus is where I should rent a bike.

The taxi drivers say that hitching is no good and they start quoting me their prices. I walk a little ways from them. A couple cars pass. They aren't going very far. Then a fellow that was on the ferry stops. He isn't going all the way, but will take me as far as he goes. The next vehicle that stops for me is a taxi driver on his way home. He doesn't try to be a taxi, but picked me up as a hitchhiker.

Exotic Plus turns out to be in The Valley. He lets me off in front. I sign up for a bike. $12 a day for a full suspension bike. Not bad, though I'm not a fan of full suspensions. Since I still have my luggage I'll take it to my room and come back for the bike. The woman tells me how to go. I walk to the roundabout and hitch. In a little while a fellow picks me up. He was sent to give me a ride by the woman that rented me the bike.

I check into Casa Nadine Guest House. My $20 room is pretty basic. But it does have a private bath (and hot water I later find out!). [Now closed. Property is for sale.]

I hitch back to get the bike. I still have a couple hours before it gets dark. So I bike out to Crocus Bay. I find Roy's. On Friday nights it has a popular happy hour.

I see that Blackgarden Bay is nearby. This is where Bob, a fellow that at one time was posting to rec.travel.caribbean, lives. His house is quite distinctive, with a dome, and I can see it in the distance. So off I go. The roads turn to dirt. There are some hills and with the ruts I have to walk my bike up.

I get to the dome house. Clearly no one is at home. I was looking around, thinking about leaving, when it starts to rain. An East Indian fellow comes running up. Come with him into his house he says. We run into a house next to Bob's. It is under construction. He shows me around. He's the caretaker. The ceiling in the huge two-story foyer has just been painted by some Russians that the owner brought over. A custom kitchen with SubZero and all. In front there is a small, but deep, pool. And of course a view from the cliff looking into Blackgarden Bay. The caretaker tells me that Bob is now living someplace else, and only visits next door. He says construction work is also being done there. If I come back before 3:30 tomorrow I'll be able to look around.

The rain stops, so off I go. I take a different way back to The Valley. This way doesn't take me up the hill on the rutted dirt road. I bike around The Valley. I'm getting tired. No caffeine yet today. It's 6:10. I have 20 minutes of daylight left. I brought a headlight, but don't have it with me.

I stop in the English Rose and ask for tea. She'll have to heat up some water in an electric pot. I wait. The pot takes a while before it steams. But she's busy doing other things, like count money. So I leave and get back to my room at 6:30. Since no caffeine, time for a nap.

After an hour nap I showered and get the lights on the bike and take off for Sandy Ground. The caretaker had said there was an Indian restaurant out there. I couldn't find it. I decided to eat at Johnno's. I had a nice meal of grouper, rice, and salad, though the mosquitoes were feasting on my legs.

I then went to check out the Pumphouse. Originally used to process salt from the salt pond, but now a bar. A small band is playing. Drinks were US$5! I had one. The people there seemed to be mostly from the boats. Sandy Ground is the port of entry for yachts.

I head back to my room and go to bed.

Friday, 18-Jan-2002

I awake at 6:30 to the sound of cars splashing through puddles. I look out. It is still raining. The roosters and dogs aren't too close. I go back to bed. Periodically I still hear splashing. Finally at 8:30 I get up and shower. The rain has now stopped and the sun is out. I head out. There are still puddles everywhere. Now if the bike had fenders (they never do), it wouldn't be an issue.

I bike into The Valley, biking around the puddles. I stop at The Pepper Pot. Not many people around. I order breakfast.

The four poached eggs and bacon aren't very filling. But only US$7. I head for the National Historic Trust. The guide book says they have an exhibit. They don't. I chat with the woman in the office. She says there is a museum in the western half. Okay, I'll go there tomorrow.

I head for Shoal Bay. The sky looks ominous. I don't get very far before it starts to pour. There is a carport nearby. I take cover. It is blowing so hard that I get a little wet anyway. A woman hitching to work joins me. The rain is very heavy. We wait there a half hour. It stops. I head off biking around the puddles.

I get to Shoal Bay. I look around. I take a walk on the beach. I head over to Upper Shoal Bay and stop for lunch at the Reggae Lounge. I'm the only customer there. Checking the map I see I missed The Fountain, an archeological site. Since it is fenced off, I'm not sure what I would have seen. A fellow tells me that some people go around the fence. Since I don't plan to backtrack, it will stay missed.

We discuss lunch and come up with chicken salad and French Fries. She's the cook and can assure me that they are not contaminated with wheat.

I finish and head towards Island Harbour. I stop at the Big Spring and walk down. I don't see any petroglyphs (faces chiseled into the stone). I then stop at the Island Pub Supermarket for water. She says you need a guide to find the petroglyphs. I move on.

I stop at Smitty's to look around. It's empty. Smitty comes from his gas station to see if I need help. He gives me a menu to keep. He has a reputation for his crayfish dish, but I've already eaten.

I head towards Savannah Bay. The road is mostly packed sand and not as problematic as the rock roads. I reach the Palm Grove Beach Bar & Grill. I walk along the beach.

I head towards Mount Fortune. More sand and rock roads to bike on. I try to get down to Mimi's Bay. I can't find the way. (Later I see what I was doing wrong.) I bike into the Sandy Hill development. This is the biggest development of tourist villas that I have found so far. The villas all have views of St. Martin.

I miss the turn off for the shortest route to Long Bay Pond. So it will be missed. I head down to Forest Bay and find the Straw Hat Testaurant. I then bike down to Conito Bay, but nothing there but some private homes. I'm now heading back. A stop at the Wallblake House finds it only open from 10-12 a few days a week. The Lonely Planet guidebook says it is never open. I head back to the room. I shower and take a nap.

Roy's Place is the Friday night Happy Hour spot. It is a few minute walk from my room. I head off. Lots of cars around the place. I get a $4 rum. Down from $6 when not Happy Hour. No entertainment for this price! (Though there are water views.) The crowd is 100% Caucasian. While there are some my age (low 50's), most are older, with some well on in years. They are all in groups, mostly at tables. All Happy Hour dinners have gluten in them. And not cheap.

I walk back to my room to check my notes and guidebook. I see that a newsgroup friend recommends The Pepper Pot for inexpensive West Indian cuisine. That is where I had breakfast. I get my bike and am about to head off, but just then a truck passes spraying for mosquitoes. Good thing I hadn't left yet! I go to the back of the building to wait a few minutes. It's rather windy, so hopefully it is being dispersed.

I get to The Pepper Pot. The local dishes are goat, pork, or chicken, in stew or curry. No pork tonight. They are all with bones, with the least in the chicken. So I order it. It comes quickly! Not much chance to write my notes! I eat it while the mosquitoes feast on my legs. These are smart critters. they know where your eyes are and avoid biting where they can be seen.

It isn't that much food. But then it is only $7. I decide I'll eat another, but first I'll catch up my trip notes.

The Dune Preserve, in Rendezvous Bay, is a disco that was recommended to me. It is further than last night's bike ride to Sandy Ground. I'm tired, so I'll pass (and save my money).

Saturday, 19-Jan-2002

I get an earlier start. I'm off by 8. Since Friday's Pepper Pot breakfast was okay back I head back there. As I arrive the woman is opening up. It should have opened earlier, but the girls that were to open had gone out the night before.

8:30 and I'm off to the western side. I pass the Heritage Museum. Not open yet. Looks like a private museum. First stop is Rendezvous Bay. I bike through the Anguilla Great House Beach Resort. I walk on the sand to the east end. There I find the Rendezvous Bay Hotel. A modest place with rooms right on the beach. [It has since been closed and is being upgraded.]

I bike back to the main road and then back down to the CuisinArt. I walk through the place. Then to check out the nearby Dune Preserve, which I walk though. Then back to the main road.

Next stop is Merrywing Bay. I walk through The Sonesta to the beach. [Now razed and was to be turned into the Baccarat Hotel and Residences at Temenos.] The waves were a bit rough. Then I bike over to Cove Bay. The map shows an unimproved road going to Cap Julucia. There is a short road that ends, and no sign of a road past that. It is a long ride back up to the main road and back to the water again. So I walk the bike along the beach. I bike around Cap Julucia and then back to the main road.

I then cut over to the north side and see the Dolphin Fantaseas and the Meads Bay Hideaway. The Hideaway is mostly under construction. It will be condos. An interesting restaurant will eventually open with views of the bay. At the dolphin place the fellow says no food at Shoal Bay (West), except expensive food. He suggests a roadside barbecue at Mead Point. I note the info.

I continue on and stop at Altamer. Right next to it is the Blue Waters, but no connection. Back to the main road and around. I see Covecastles, but don't go in. All marked private, and upscale enough that bicyclists are probably not welcome. I check out the restaurant, and it is expensive.

I then bike over to Blolly Ham Bay. A small bay down some steep cliffs. While I do see some footsteps in the sand, it only seems reachable by boat.

I then bike into the Caribella Beach Resort. The restaurant there, Mangoes, is only open for dinner.

So I head for the roadside barbecue. First I come across a place with US$10 hamburgers. I continue on. I come to a hill. I ask a security guard at the Carimer Beach Club if the roadside place is open. Yes, she says. You'll see the tent. Onward I go. At the top of the hill I find B&D's. Eight or so people eating at plastic tables under a tent. I order chicken, French Fries, and rice & peas. That's US$5. Not much food, so I order another.

At the table next to me is a couple drinking champagne. Complete with ice bucket and flute glasses. They consume three orders of ribs and four waters. They tell the women that every year they are given the champagne and take it back. This year they decided to consume it while there.

I continue on. I can't find how to get down to Long Bay. I bike along Isaac's Cliff. I bike along the one-way road overlooking Sandy Ground. I find Ralphie's, an outdoor bar. The fellow says there will be a band tonight. No cover, just buy food and drink.

I bike down to Sandy Ground. I bike back up. I bike to North Hill Village. I bike most of the way to Road Point. I find a new unimproved road heading east. Looks like it might go through. I try it. After a ways I see telephone poles in the distance. I end up on Crocus Hill. I bike towards Katouche Bay. The road stops on the top of the cliff. I am now very close to my room. So I head back. A shower and nap. I'm not tired, as I was on Friday, and it's my last night. So I want to go out. I check my notes. I see that Smitty's in Island Harbour has a band. Also it appears that there could be something at Scilly Cay.

I first figured I'd eat at Pepper Pot. I get there and find it closed.

I head towards Smitty's. I get there to find Smitty closing up. No music. Tourism is down, so he eliminated it. And Scilly Cay is only open in the daylight. He can feed me only chicken or ribs. I pick fried chicken and rice. He charges me US$16 for this and a bottle of water. A rip off. I can't recommend the place.

I bike back to town. It is 9:30 when I get there. I have been running the headlight on low, so I have enough juice to get to Ralphie's. Off I go. 30 minutes later I'm there. It is still early. The chicken is $2.50, plus $2.00 for the rice. Much cheaper that Smitty's! Though I watch and they use the same tongs for the French bread, and put the meat on the same cutting board as the bread. Too risky to eat there.

The band is loud. The bass can literally rattle the tin roof. Eventually many show up. Apparently on Saturday night this is the place to be. Drinks are US$4 or EC$10. I buy the first in US$. Then I think about it. When going from EC to US a 2.50 is a poor rate. But here it is going from US to EC, so it is a good rate. I buy my next drinks with EC$.

Eventually I head back to my room.

Sunday, 20-Jan-2002

I don't get up too early. I start packing and get off for breakfast around 9:00. Every place is closed. I ask a woman. She says only at the airport. So I go there. No fruit. So another four poached eggs, bacon and orange juice. 40 minutes after I arrive my food arrives. Four minutes to eat. Another five to pay. Good thing it was only $5.25.

I head to Cinnamon Reef. I bike quickly. It's humid. A quick look around and a fast ride back to the room. I pack, leave the bike on the porch, and hitch to the airport. Two rides and I'm there. I check in and wait.

The plane arrives and five of us get on to join a dozen already on board. I sit on the right side. Not the best for the view.

St. Martin

Ten minutes later we are in St. Martin. I walk to the gate for all connections. A few minutes later I'm on the next plane. I'm the only passenger. We wait a few minutes for my bag to arrive. I ask the pilot if it is okay if I take digital pictures. He says yes. I'm again on the right side. No good for pictures.

St. Barts

I pass through immigration. No customs. The main road runs right through the airport. I walk to it to hitch. Many cars pass and don't stop. Then a car with two women stops. Turns out the passenger is also going to La Presqu'ile! So I get delivered to the door.

I get my room, drop off my bags, and walk around. It's now 1 PM and I'm hungry. I haven't had a chance to read the St. Barts pages in the guide. So I read and walk. I settle for eating at La Saladerie. They have more than salads. Fries look okay. Nothing else is fried.

The place is full and it takes a while. The food is basic and it was gluten-free. So far all my meals have been.

I start to wander around town. I wander up to Fort Karl. As I'm climbing some rocks to get a better view of Gustavia, I slip and fall. I land in an acacia bush covered with thorns. My leg was not a pretty sight.

I find Shell Beach. I wander back and forth several times. All stores are closed on Sunday, except for three. Most restaurants are also closed, but enough still open. I walk to Public. A beach with a yacht club, some other boats, and everything else industrial. There is no crime in St. Barts. The lumber yard leaves stacks of tropical hardwood boards along the side of the road. Restaurants that are closed leave their tables and chairs out. I get Eurodollars from a machine.

I head back to the room to lie down. In the distance I hear drums and horns. Then it is loader as it passes just down the street from my room. I go out after it to see what is going on. There is a crowd following the group making noise. The noise makers have shakers, cymbals, drums, and conch horns. They are dressed in yellow and blue. Some are made up as clowns. They are throwing plastic confetti. They are slowly going down streets, stopping at times. In all they must have been out there for two hours. I learn they are practicing for carnival, and that they practice every Sunday.

I shower and I'd already decided for the same place for dinner. There was a coconut chicken dish on the menu I'd been eying. And I bring along the remains of the US$3 bottle of water (1.5 liters) that I had bought at lunch.

It was pleasant on the dock. This time I'm early and get a seat with a view of the harbor. And service is quick.

I wander around town some more. Some more restaurants have opened. A lot less humidity than Anguilla. So close, yet so different. I see people with bicycles. I ask one if he bikes the entire island. No, he says. Only in town and in Public. Places I've already walked. I get to bed at 9 PM.

Monday, 21-Jan-2002

I get up at 6:40. It wasn't the best sleep, as there is plastic under the sheet. I have the A/C on, but the room is not air tight, and still some humidity.

I pay for the room and get a map from the woman running the hotel. She says get a scooter. I check out my breakfast options. Apparently only two places serve eggs. I settle for Le Bete A Z'ailes. I order the breakfast plate, without toast. Very nice. Had tomatoes, potatoes, bacon, and scrambled eggs.

It's clear that there are no bicycles to rent (and I later see that the island is not bikeable). Some tried, but there was no market. So I rent a scooter. The fellow takes a magic marker and marks a suggested route. He suggests clockwise, as that puts the hilliest for later, after I've gotten used to the scooter.

So off I go. I pass through St. Jean. I stop in Lorient and check out the beach. I scooter around Pointe Milou. I stop at the Christopher Hotel. I try to find Marigot, but can't. I bike around Grand Cul de Sac. I see the St. Barth's Beach Hotel. I find the El Sereno Hotel. I then find the Guanahani Hotel. I then see a sign to Hannah Moser's Gallery. I decide to check it out. It is way up on Marne Vitet, in a neighborhood called DeVet. I find the home of a couple from the US. She's a retired doctor, now a full time painter. The house has stunning views to the east. We chat and then I head on.

I scooter out Petit Cul de Sac. I bike all the way to the top. I bike back down and check out the Anse du Petit Cul de Sac. I then bike out Anse Toiny. The road is under construction there, but I can go through. I then bike up Morne de Grand Fond, through La Petite Saline to Lorient. I find La Normandie Hotel and La Manoir. And then since views are different in opposite directions, I turn around and back track to Grand Cul de Sac. I then bike up into a neighborhood called Vitet. I find the Hostellerie des 3 Forces. Then a different way back to the main road. I turn and try again to find the turn to Marigot. Two more passes make three tries. Then back to Lorient.

I stop at JoJo's for lunch. They are known for their hamburger's. But they put the buns on the same grill. I settle for three boiled eggs and a bottle of water.

I then turn back up La Petite Saline, this time heading west towards La Grande Saline. I park and take a walk on the beach. There is nudity at this beach, but only a lot of males. Then over to Morne Lurin and through Le Gouverneur and to the beach. Then back into Gustavia.

Now for the northwest part. My first stop is Corossol, where I visit the museum with the thousands of shells. (It's open, despite the guide saying closed on Mondays.) Then on to Colombier. I find the François Plantation. Then to Le P'tit Morne for its stunning views. Then back to La Petite Anse. There I park the scooter and take a 20 minute walk to Anse à Colombier. I hesitated a shortways after I started, but I passed two couples returning that said go for it. It was 4 PM and I still had more than two hours of light. It was a lovely but dangerous walk. At least others take it, so if I fell it wouldn't be too long before I would be found.

It was about 40 minutes return for the walk. On my way back I found the St. Barth Isle de France Hotel. Then some backtracking to get to Anse des Cayes. There I found the Manapany Hotel. I bike out to Anse à Galets, where the electric company's depot has the commanding view. Then back up to the intersection above the airport. As I'm waiting in traffic (it's now 5 PM and rush hour) a plane flies in over my head.

I try the road that goes behind the airport., but after a ways a gate stops me. I then bike around the airport, stop by the Tom Beach Hotel, and walk along the beach, crossing in front of the runway. It seems there is a hotel on the other side of the airport, behind the gate.

I then still have some daylight left, so I bike to Fort Gustaf. I walk up. It is now hazy and cloudy, so all the islands one can see can't be seen. I don't have to return the scooter until 9:15 AM, so I can return in the morning (or I could walk up to the fort). I then check out why the upper road to the airport is closed. I find that it slid down the hill. (I later learn it slid down during Hurricane Lenny with a police car on it at the time. No one was hurt.) Some work has been done to create a new road, but no work in progress now. I then scooter back to my hotel, as it is getting dark.

A shower and I'm looking for dinner. La Saladerie is closed. I wander around town. Reading my Lonely Planet I decide on Restaurant Chez Domi. Almost everything has dairy, but the chef, who speaks better English than the waitress, says the grilled fish for 17E would be okay. I order this, and flat water. The glass of water is 3E. Okay, it is 1.0 liter, but my room is getting filled with bottles of water.

I wander around some more. Most places are pretty empty. At Chez Domi I was the only patron, until another single fellow came in. Earlier Le Select was filled with people drinking, but then it cleared out. L'Entercote has a crowd. It's a bar with pizza. Lots and lots of places sell pizza.

It is nearing the end of their annual music festival. A group is playing at the Anglican Church (a brass quintet?). That crowd will be eating afterwards. I get back to my room at 10 and call it a night.

Tuesday, 22-Jan-2002

I had set the alarm for 6 AM. But it was raining, so I sleep some more. On my way out, to do some scootering before I return it, I talk with the woman that runs the hotel. She tells me there is no road to Marigot, and that I drove through it.

My first stop is Fort Gustaf again. While it is clear in Gustavia, it is hazy in the distance and I still can't see any of the other islands.

I bike to St. Jean. I have to go there for gas, and there are roads in the hills that I haven't been on. I missed the road I intended to take, and ended up on a better one that took me up Morne Lurin. Lovely views looking back over the Baie de St. Jean. Then for gas and to return the scooter.

I try breakfast at a place across from Le Select. He gives me a ham and tomato omelette, with fresh orange juice. Then back to the room. Then a visit to the museum, which is behind my hotel. I then see a lookout on the way up to Fort Oscar, but walking up to it I find it fenced off and marked private. Back to the room to pack. She would like me out by 11:00.

Being all the way around the harbor will mean a fair amount of walking before I can hitch. I stop and rest for a while at a pottery shop. One woman made all of it. I like her whimsical pieces the best, e.g. a fat pair of clowns.

I continue walking until I'm on the other side. A woman stops and picks me up. She is going to St. Jean, so she drops me off in front of the airport. I am early. Two hours until my flight. There are shops around, and I had been planning to eat at the guidebook recommended Restaurant de la Savanne, across from the airport.

I see some postcards. I haven't sent any yet. The woman selling them tells me the post office is nearby. I buy a couple. A look at the other shops, a stop at the post office, and I'm ready for lunch.

I order burger and fries. The best so far! The fries were fat, like I like, and very hot. The burger was large, and a bed of lettuce, tomato, and onions. And it was rare as I asked. All for 7.50E!

Statia

The flights to Statia were uneventful. On the SXM->EUX leg I chat with the fellow behind me. He offers me a ride to my guest house. He doesn't know where it is, but he's giving a ride to another fellow that does. They are all private pilots, and had comments on how the pilots landed the plane.

When I deplane I decide to take a picture of the airport. As I was doing so my immigration paper blows out of my waist pack and flies around the plane. I started after it, then realize that the propeller is still revolving on the other side, so I stop and let it fly away. When I get inside there is a bit of concern. One is not supposed to go around the plane without the pilot's permission. Not that long ago a private pilot went around his plane and was chopped up by the propeller. The immigration guy says I don't need the paperwork. (Maybe more needed by those that stopped in St. Martin.)

I'm dropped off at my guesthouse. Nothing at all special. I register. It takes a while, as she is slow in filling out the receipt. I immediately head to town to get the bike. I first stop at the tourism office. At the airport the woman had no street maps, or hiking maps. At the town tourist office he photocopies some. I see from a sheet on the guesthouses there is a new one. For $5 more it is much nicer, plus it has hot water. Yet another instance, of numerous, where my updated Lonely Planet hasn't been updated.

I get the bike. A rusty piece of junk. The brakes are so bad that it barely stops. Not worth the $10 a day. Since my room has a kitchenette, I decide to buy ingredients and make my own breakfast. The guidebook lists one supermarket. The shelves are bare. The orange juice is a month out of date. No pork bacon. I buy some things and take them back to my room. Now for another supermarket. People tell me Duggins is best. I go and get the rest of what I need. Now this is the one that should be listed in Lonely Planet. Did I say that my updated LP isn't up-to-date?

I have a little more light left, so I bike around. Sunset is coming, so maybe some pictures? I find a spot where I can take some. It's hazy and sunset won't be good. I'll take some anyway. While standing there four donkeys check me out, then move on.

Back to the room for a shower and some CNN watching. This is the first place with a TV. KMart just declared bankruptcy. The only new thing about that is that rampant speculation that they would has now come true.

My Lonely Planet recommends The Fruit Tree for West Indian food. I head there. There are now new owners that are Hispanic and don't speak much English. They do not understand my question "how is it cooked?" The menu has also been changed from the LP. I have a drink in their outdoor bar instead. A fellow there recommends a second floor restaurant run by some Indonesians. I sort of head in that direction, but first chat with a couple fellows along the side of the road. One is from Santo Domingo and is working there. Eventually I learn that he came there 11 years ago to set up a Hispanic Pentecostal Church and we are standing in front of it. He takes me in and shows me it. Being in the ministry runs in his family, but he now wants to go to university and learn some more.

I head towards Lower Town. I pass Mazinga Gift Shop as a fellow is locking the gate. I say I am looking for food. He suggested the Indonesian place. He says he'll show me where it is. I start walking towards it, and he picks me up. We find it closed. I've told him I want West Indian food, so he suggest a place in Golden Rock. Off we go, and I get dropped off in front of the Chocolate Bar & Restaurant. All of the standard West Indian dishes are listed! I order conch. It has no bones. A traditional meal, though there is a piece of corn on the cob, instead of the usual "provisions."

I finish. Then I finish my notes. Now to get back to town. The proprietor shows me the footpath shortcut. I walk back to my room. I learn that in the night you don't say hi or hello when you pass people, but you say good night.

Wednesday, 23-Jan-2002

As I get up and cook my own breakfast I wonder if it is worth it. The time spent getting the food, and the time spent preparing it. The advantage is I can get a lot more to eat, and I'll be satiated into the early afternoon.

My first bike ride is to Fort de Windt. It is only 8:30 and I don't know if the laundromat is open yet. I had people describe where it is, as none is listed in the guide book. I ride out to the fort, take some pictures, and return. I gather my laundry and look at my plane ticket. I see I'm leaving at 9:50 in the morning the next day. That gives me a day and a half on Statia, and two full on Saba. I did not need to rent the bike for two days!

I walk to the laundromat. She offers to deliver. Wonderful. I then walk home the short way, about half the long way of finding it.

I change to walking/running shoes and bike to the trail head to the Quill. No vehicles parked there. I walk up. Along the way and back I see lots of hermit crabs. They always seem to be rolling down the hill. I guess when no one is watching they crawl back up. And where do they find the shells to live in on the mountainside? A trip to the beach and back? I see lots of little lizards. Two racer snakes. A beautiful yellow and black stripped butterfly, but it would not light on anything, so I couldn't take a picture. Then a couple goats and chickens. Goat droppings made it all the way to the top. One has options of trails. Other than the main one, the only one I took was to the panorama views. I didn't walk down into the crater, an another hour round trip, or to the Botanical Gardens, which is even longer. The climb to the panorama view was dangerous, but the view was spectacular.

I climb down. It starts raining after I come down from the panorama view trail. Good thing, it was slippery enough. The rain stops halfway down, and when at the trail head I see that it didn't rain in town.

Back at the room I change back to sandals. It's now 12:30. I'm only a little hungry, so I eat some of the apple sauce I bought. Now I'm not hungry. So time to check out some things in town. First I check out the Dutch Reformed Church. This is the one that lost its roof over 200 years ago. My Lonely Planet says the church tower is open until sunset. Well they are out dated yet again! I sort of realize that most places close after the lunch period, but I go to the Sint Eustatius Museum any way. I finish up there a little before 2:00.

The first place I try for lunch is the Ocean View Terrace. Closed. I did have the opportunity to wander around the Government Guesthouse. I head to Lower Town. First stop is the Golden Era Hotel. Closed. She suggests Blue Bead. I go there. We go over the menu. Wheat or dairy is in everything! They are French. Does this have something to do with it? I could get a burger, but not fries, as the chicken nuggets have contaminated the frying oil. We decide that I'll pay for my water bottle and go elsewhere, when the cook realize that I can eat their shrimp in coconut sauce. Very nice, but not cheap!

I take the extra water back to my room. I'll have to remember to bring water to dinner with me.

Now to bike to the Atlantic side. I head back up the street to the Quill trail head. Sitting in his tour bus is Josser Daniels (LP has his first name wrong), the fellow I'm staying with. He's waiting for five that walked up to the Quill, but just the basic walk. He says I can bike around the Quill and I'll find the Botanical Gardens.

Off I go. The road is initially concrete, then it turns to dirt and rocks. I scare the goats and cows out of the way. At the end I find a house and a growing shed. Two young German fellows come out. I learn the story of the nascent gardens. It was started five years ago, but then abandoned. It turned to weeds. They get to live there free, in return for taking care of the place. It was an opportunity to spend a few years in the Caribbean. They get few visitors. Hiking from the Quill is a 3 1/2 hour return trip. And only 4-wheel drive vehicles can make it out there without damaging their vehicles. Lovely views of St. Kitts from the place. Only seven miles away at that point.

My next stop is the family museum at the Lynch Plantation. This is in all the local guides, but not mentioned in LP. I find the owner cutting the grass. He shows me around the two buildings. These are replicas of buildings his ancestors had. One was moved to town, used as a store, then destroyed by Hurricane Lenny (but also restored there). One was filled with artifacts from their businesses over the years. The other set up with all his grandmother's things. Lots of old family pictures.

He then shows me the property, and around the school that they run. It's private, has a foundation, and covers 4-6 year olds. Very well equipped, complete with gardens and animals. I give him a 10 guilder donation for showing me around. He points out where Fort Alexander is. At the end of the runway.

I head off that way. After a while the road turns away from the water. After a short while I take to the grass and bike directly to the fort. Not much there, just ruins.

My next objective is Zeelandia . It is a little further down the coast. Roads would take me around the airport. So cross country it will be. There is a gully in the way, but I see a path down and up the other side. Looks like it is mostly used by the animals. Off I go. Parts of the way I can follow a narrow track. Possibly human made. I don't get to Zeelandia itself, but stopped at the cliff over looking the beach. No flotsam on it, as my LP said. Then cross country, and following a dirt road, I get to the concrete road. I head back to my room, trying to find the replica of the house at the Lynch Plantation. Not sure if I found it, but there are some restored houses there.

I get back to my room at 6:20, just minutes before it gets dark. I pay a visit to my host. My laundry was not delivered. So before my 9:50 flight I have to find my laundry and return the bike.

I watch CNN for a while, shower, and head out for dinner. I decide on the Ocean View Terrace. I get there and find it closed. Just then a fellow arrives from the other direction. I show disappointment in its closure. He offers suggestions. He offers to lead me to the Chocolate Bar & Restaurant again. Then he suggest the second floor place (L'Etoile, but he can't remember the name). We approach and see its lights out. Then he takes me to The Stone Oven Bar and Restaurant. While this is another Hispanic place, he says they know English. The cook knew a little English, but a fellow knew both and was able to translate. So I ordered beef stew. The noise is unbearably load. I try to write my notes in the dim light. The food arrives with a huge mound of rice. I eat it all. I pay. A reasonable price. I head back to the room. I set the alarm for 6 AM.

Thursday, 24-Jan-2002

I get up at 6. I wash up, make breakfast, clean up, and at 7:30 head for the laundromat. I arrive at 7:45. Less than a minute later the woman pulls up. The girl that was supposed to take care of my stuff didn't feel well and left early. She takes my clothes out of the dryer and quickly folds them. I return to my room, finish packing, and then take the bike back. I walk back to the room. I gather my things and say goodbye. I start walking to the airport. The first vehicle to pass, a truck, picks me up and drops me off at the terminal. I wait a while and check in. My flight already left! They changed the schedule, and my 9:50 became 8:55. I had arrived at 9:05. I heard that plane come in and take off (It's a small island, you can hear the planes everywhere), but thought it must be another flight. This is a bit annoying, as I had scheduled it only one week before and booked directly with them. The next Saba flight is not until 2:20. I check my bag, but keep my carry-on one. I hitch back to the museum. I buy the walking tour guide. Then down to Dive Statia to retrieve the bike. I check out the things on the walking tour, then bike to Zeelandia. From there I can hike to Venus Bay. I have plenty of time. I get to Venus Bay quicker than the guide says, so I also walk towards Jenkins Bay. I don't go down, I don't really see a path going down, but settle for a view from the ridge. Then back to town for a lunch stop at the Ocean View Terrace.

I return the bike and go outside to hitch. The place is Lower Town, not a good place to hitch. After a few minutes a car passes. They stop to pick me up. It is a fellow and a woman that works at the Winair counter. She was also at the Ocean View Terrace. She lives on St. Martin, so he's giving her a tour of Oranjsted. Then he drops both of us at the airport.

Saba

The landing in Saba is tame, compared to the one in St. Barts. I go through immigration, and then realize that I left my carry-on bag on the plane. It is about to take off. The Winair manager goes out to the plane to get it. He brings it back, and I go out to hitch. I've lost time. I wanted to be the first out there, so not to miss potential rides. The airport is at the end of a road. No other traffic on it, except to the airport.

The first car to pass picks me up. It is the Winair manager that got my bag. On our way to Windwardside he stops, and points out an iguana sunning itself on the wall alongside the road.

I check into Scout's. The German fellow running the place gives me a book with info and rules to follow. He explains everything. He gives me no key. Says I can lock the door when I'm inside, but not to lock when I go out. He says there is no crime on Saba. My room has views to both sides of the island!

I drop off my things and decide to wander around the town. I go to the tourism office and get some things. The fellow running the place was on the plane. He was over on Statia to split up a load of new furniture, sent from Holland for the two tourism offices.

I find the museum. Closed, but I look through the windows and see everything. Then I realize that the Trail Shop is closing at 4. I run over. James Johnson reopens for me. We chat about the LP write-up on him.

I wander into a gift shop. Just to kill some time. But I see some ships in glass sphere Christmas ornaments, and I buy one. I buy some water and head back to the room.

I have some time for a short hike. I see one that is quick, labeled moderate, and doesn't list shoes as a requirement. I try to find the start of the Maskehorne Hill Trail. First I head out of Windwardside the wrong way. Then I figure it out. To get to the start of it I take the Mt. Scenery Trail. All steps. Then the Maskehorne Hill Trail. All rocks and loose dirt. It ends after a while. I thought it ended at another town. It did have lovely views of Windwardside. But I think it should be labeled dangerous.

Back to the room to shower and find a Happy Hour bar. I check out the one at the hotel. I ask a fellow hanging out at the corner. He tells me my hotel is the most expensive. I look into all of them. I decide on the Swinging Doors. At the bar is Bryan Johnson, the Winair manager that retrieved my bag and gave me the ride. His father was the long time manager there before him. We, and the owner Eddy, chat and chat. At 8:30 I think it's time for dinner. I learn that the cooks go home by 8:30. I can't eat at Swinging Doors, as everything is fried in the same fryer, and everything is fried. I stop by all the restaurants. I learn that I only have one option. The Chinese restaurant that serves until 11:00. So I hike up to it. A large place with a view, but I write my notes. I get a large serving of mixed vegetables and chicken steamed. No water. Very nice, but I was a bit shocked at the US$16 price!

As I walk back to the room I look in the Swinging Doors. Bryan, is still drinking, and he had said he would end up at Guido's. I go back to my room and go to bed.

Friday, 25-Jan-2002

I arrive for breakfast a little after 8:00. I sit out on their terrace, with panoramic views of the area. No other guests are present. I order, then chat about things on the island and Caribbean, with the waitress/cook.

I head towards Hell's Gate, to the start of the recommended Santa Cruz trail. The cars passing me in town indicate that aren't leaving town. So I walk to the edge of town. I could have walked all the way to Hell's Gate, but a fellow picks me up. He drops me off in Upper Hell's Gate. He points out where there are steps, and thinks the trail starts. But it clearly isn't , so I walk to Lower Hell's Gate. I find a couple guys working at a church. They explain that in Upper Hell's Gate I have to walk all the way to the end of the road, then I'll see a sign indicating the start.

I walk the trail. I think I find three orchids. I only see one bird. I'm supposed to see many. Along the way I find a farmer tending his crop of bananas and tanya (looks like arrowroot). He says he now locks the gate, as hikers have been taking his bananas.

The trail ends and I walk the road down towards The Bottom. I then pick up a path that takes me through the Queens Gardens Resorts. All set up for lunch, but no one around, and no cars.

I continue down into The Bottom. I find the hospital. I wander a little and ask a fellow where to eat. He directs me to the Lime Time Bar & Restaurant.

I order the goat creole-style. Goat is always full of bones, a nuisance to me, but I figured I should eat it once on this trip.

I realize that I have a walking tour of The Bottom map. So after lunch I find all the indicated buildings. I find the start of The Ladder, 800 steps down to the water, but it just sprinkled, and the steps were a little slippery.

I decide I'll walk the Crispin Track and Crispin Trail back to Windwardside. So off I go. Eventually the trail ends at the Mt. Scenery Trail. I have the choice of Windwardside or to the top. I have time. I look up. The top is enshrouded with clouds. I decide I'll climb up anyway. So up I go. I can't see my objective, the communications tower, and there are no progress markers along the way. Nor can I see anything looking downwards. It looks like I'm almost at the top. The trail goes over a ridge, and then heads down. The trail is a little more slippery up there. I still can't see the communications tower. I decide to turn back there. I can't see heading down to go up. (I later learn I was within 50 yards of the end.)

It is slow going down. The steps are sloped downwards, so they drain. I still make decent time.

I shower and head out for dinner. This time I know to eat before the places close. Then drink. But of course I'm tired.

I first check the menu at Scout's, the place I'm staying. Expensive for the simple fare. I then try YIIK. Reasonable prices, and some creativity. I talk with the owner. He's intimately familiar with the menu. I decide on a grouper dish. Nice, but a little salty. I tell the owner.

I stop by the Swinging Doors. The have a barbecue special. It is full of people. I have one drink and leave. I'm tired. Back to the room. I think about Guido's. It's 9 PM, and the disco doesn't start until 9:30. I fall asleep and awake at 11 PM. I decide I'll check out Guido's. I get there at 11:30. There are about 15 people there, and no DJ. Some mix up. Had there been a DJ the place would be full. Come back on Saturday I'm told. I have a drink. The fellow next to me talks and talks. I finish my drink and go back to bed.

Saturday, 26-Jan-2002

I get up early. I'll have time to walk Booby Hill with an early start. I pack and am at the restaurant by 7:30.

At 8:30 I'm ready for my last walk. I find the Tropics Cafe and Juliana's Guest House. I then walk up Booby Hill and find El Momo and Willard's. Then a quick hike up to The Level. Then I check out and head to the side of town to hitch. I pass the Corner Imports. The fellow that had given me a ride the day before to Upper Hell's Gate is loading up his car. He says he'll give me a ride to Upper Hell's Gate again. Okay. I take it. I'll walk to Lower Hell's Gate from there.

The first car to pass stops. He lives almost at the airport, so he'll take me all the way. Along the way he picks up a couple, also hitching to the airport.

I'm there an hour and 10 minutes before departure. I walk down to Cove Bay Well and around. Then back to the airport to wait.

As I'm boarding the plane I shake hands goodbye with Bryan, the Winair manager, then sit next to the woman that I had met on Statia the day before. She's on her way to work (we stop in Statia first). She tells me one of the planes is named Freddie Johnson, for Bryan's father.

St. Martin

We arrive in St. Martin. I hop a bus to Philipsburg. Following the map I see where to get off. I check in. at the Soualiga Guest House. The woman thinks there may be a place to rent a bike in town. She says to walk and ask. But first lunch! I find Singh, a modest Indian restaurant around the corner from my guest house. But, but the service is stunningly slow! Food is good. Seems one fellow is cooking everything, plus, when he gets a chance, waiting on the tables.

I want to see if I can rent a bike in town. Tri-Sport is a bus ride almost all the way back to the airport. So I find the tourism place. One woman suggests a place. There is a little argument over the suggestion. But the recommending one insists. I walk to S&B Scooters, and yes they have just started renting bikes! They want $20 a day. I argue this is absurd, and that Tri-Sport gets $18. They come down. The bike they give me is brand new. Never used before. A really nice Gary Fisher bike, with no silly suspension.

I plan to stick around the locale. I bike over to see Fort Amsterdam. To get there one has to go through the Divi Resort. No problem at the front entrance, but on the road to the fort an East Indian fellow says I can't ride my bike. He suggests locking and walking. Huh? I'm on a road. I walk my bike for a while. He walks around to watch! Out of sight I bike up to the fort.

While there a couple comes over to ask where I got the bike. They had just arrived that day. They were also asking about where to eat. There are so many in Philipsburg that one just wanders around to find one that turns you on.

I then bike around that hill, Little Bay Hill?, and bike the north side of Great Salt Pond. My goal is to bike out to Guana Bay. There is a high hill to get to this bay. I walk up much of the hill, and decide at the top that I'll only look over to the other side.

I bike back to Philipsburg and look around. I learn that the Greenhouse is the Happy Hour place. I find it, then head back to the room to shower.

I get to the Greenhouse, on foot, a little after six. I get my two drinks, for the price of one. I see a single woman, the only one, around the corner of the bar. I go over to chat.

She's almost 21. After an Associate degree she wanted to spend some time where it is warm. Knowing a friend that had a place in St. Martin, she ended up here. She's looking for a job. She's into horses, and a job doing that is first choice. Then waitressing. She said she may have a job leading people on horseback trips. Problem is she knows only a little French. And with tourism down they prefer that available jobs go to local residents.

Eventually she heads out to visit a friend. I head off to find Indian food. There are numerous to pick from. I've noticed that many of the jewelry places are run by East Indians.

I find Namasakar. The food is good, but is mostly rice. So on my way back to my room I stop again at Singh for take out. Much faster this time.

Sunday, 27-Jan-2002

I'm out at 8:00 looking for breakfast. Front Street is deserted. The recommended breakfast places are closed. I find a fellow opening up Kankantrie, and he says he can make eggs and bacon and ham. He has several juices to choose from. We talk about which way I should go. He tells me I can make it through from Guana Bay to Dawn Beach.

Back at my room I look at some notes given to me a couple years ago on the Internet. The writer of a suggested island loop wrote that there was no connection. I've already made it to the top of that ridge overlooking Guana Bay, and I don't want to bike up and down unless I'm sure.

I'm off for my trip at 9:30. I will go counterclockwise today, and clockwise tomorrow. On my way to Guana Bay I find a fellow that says he lives there and one can get through with a bike.

I walk up the hill and visit Guana Bay. I find the gate which blocks cars, but bikes can get around. I check out Gibbs Bay. I find a family that says the highest road is the one that goes through. These are brand new roads. The area is being developed. I bike and walk up the hill. I chat with a retired Canadian fellow that was out for a walk. I find the gate that is the entrance to the community. I get around it, and head down to Dawn Beach. I find the south side, but I have to bike up a hill to get to the north side.

I bike around Oyster Pond and check out the marina on the French side. I then bike over to Baie Lucas and find a platform for viewing Baie de l'Embouchure.

To get to the other side of that bay I have to bike around Etang aux Poissons and into Orleans. A relatively poor neighborhood. I hug the water the best I can. I find an antiqities shop and walk through it. Lots of old junk for sale. I follow a dirt road and end up at Coconut Grove. Lots of windsurfing and parasailing at this location. I follow the dirt road some more. I pass the Club Orient Naturist Resort. I'm now at the infamous Orient Beach. This is a clothing optional beach. (But everyone I see is clothed.) Lots of beach bars selling lunch, along with souvenir stands. It's time for lunch, so I check out the places. Some are expensive. Some clearly won't have anything for me to eat. One potential could have been fine, but the people running it were French, and knew little English. E.g. they didn't understand the question "how is it cooked?" Then the next put their buns on the same grill as the burger. I end up at Pirates. The fellow understands my requirements. I sit inside to get away from the wind. I have a very nice chicken curry platter for US$9.50. A couple of women join me inside, to also get away from the wind. One tries to get me to sit through a Divi time share presentation. She gets a commission if I do. No thanks.

I biked on the sand and dirt roads behind Orient Beach and reach Cul de Sac. I pass all sorts of apartment buildings. Possibly time shares. I get to the beach.

I then bike around Grand Cayes. The road ends at a dump. I then bike over Pigeon Pea Hill to Anse Marcel. Or I should say I walked my bike most of the way. I walk around the marina and ask about not leaving via Pigeon Pea Hill. I'm told I have to. From the maps it appears that there is a dirt road over First Stick Hill that would lead me more directly into Grand Case. Anyway, back over Pigeon Pea Hill to Cul de Sac, and then over to Grand Case.

I'm hungry again. Lunch was nice, but not as big a portion as I'd normally eat. Grand Case is the restaurant center of the island. I find a bunch of fast food stands bear the pier where the women are hustling their food. The first I inquire at has a piece of bread on the grill, and used the same tongs to pick it up. I then checked out Talk of the Town. She didn't put bread on her grill. I had a piece of chicken. I then thought I had time to find Happy Bay, but was unable to find the road to it.

It was now 5 PM. Time to head home. I will take the main road down the east side. Around Orlean I pass a brush fire. I stop for a couple pictures. I then come to a sign saying the Middle Region is a right turn, and Philipsburg is straight ahead. I stopped, but I could not figure this out from the map I was using. So I follow the sign to Philipsburg, and go up some hills. Later I learn from another map, that the road I took was not on the map at all, and had I made the turn I would have had a more level ride. Anyway the distance was about the same.

I'm out of water. I return to the small grocer from the night before. Way on the west side of Philipsburg. She's open, the only open place I find. I buy two bottles of water. Just as I'm arriving at the guest house one falls through the plastic bag and a hole breaks in the bottom. I carry it upside down back to the room, along with the bike. Inside there is a pitcher and I can salvage most of the water.

I shower and head out for dinner. Not many places open for dinner on Sunday night. Singh is closed. I find Anand. They have dairy in almost all dishes. He points out the two chicken dishes that don't. I decide on one of them, and a vegetable dish. He asks whether I want it mild, medium, hot, or extra hot. I say I want it how it would be prepared if I was in a restaurant in India, where spiciness would depend on the particular dish. He doesn't get it. He wants to know if I want it mild, medium, or hot. I walk out.

I soon find that all other Indian restaurants are closed. All other places are also closed. I ask a security guard where to eat. He starts to lead me to one, then passes me to a woman to take me. She leads me to Passanggraham, where she is a waitress. It is fairly expensive, but they do have a family special. She checks, and tells me which dish is gluten and dairy free. A very nice meal on a terrace overlooking the water, except for the mosquitoes feasting on my legs.

I learn that the night before was a pre-Jump Up for Carnival. And it started here in Philipsburg, and ended in Marigot the next morning. I learn that the five or so bands and marchers passed right in front of my guesthouse, while I was inside! My room was on the back, and I did hear music, but I didn't know it was Carnival. I could have watched from the front balcony.

Monday, 28-Jan-2002

I get up earlier. I am ready to leave at 7. But I can't find the bike key! I search and search. I take off on foot. It is raining. I get my umbrella. The sun is peeking over a hill. I turn around and see a lovely rainbow. I get a picture of it.

I find some places open for breakfast. My destination is to see if the place from the day before is open earlier on Monday. He is. Good. I order the same thing.

I wander to the rental place. The fellow was there, but he lost his key to the office. He's waiting for someone else to arrive. I decide not to wait, but to go get the bike. I walk back for the bike. I'm about to leave, I open the refrigerator and the water bottle falls out and breaks. Half frozen, but a big mess anyway. I clean up and start out with the bike. It's raining again! I put the bike back. On foot I head for the rental place. He gives me the spare key and tells me where they make copies. I arrive there. No blanks for that one. The fellow tells me of a place with more blanks. I think harder and realize that I must have lost the key when buying water the evening before. I had to take everything out of my pocket to get my money. I must have left it on the counter. Besides I need to buy a bottle to replace the one that fell on the floor.

The rain has stopped. I get the bike and head for the grocer. Yes, she has the key. I bike to the rental place. I give them the spare. Now I'm off for my ride. Between the rain and the key I lost a good hour and a half.

I head towards Simpson Bay. I bike over Cole Bay Hill. I see dirt roads down below, but it isn't clear whether they would get me around.

I bike out Lay Bay. A mix of time share places and single family villas. I start around the airport. Then seeing homes on the beach side I figure I can bike that way. So I turn around. I check out the beach. I get about half way and the road ends. It doesn't go through. So back around the airport. Along the way I stop at the Indian restaurant across from the airport. My plans are to eat there after I check in. But I learn that they don't open until 3.

I bike to Maho Bay. I then bike to Mullet Bay, and observe all the damage from Luis in 1995. It still hasn't been repaired. I then check out Cupecoy Beach in two places. One, through a hotel (or time share, or whatever) is empty, except for a fellow selling ham and cheese sandwiches in a beach bar. The other, a public one, has many people fully nude, though most are fat, and really gross when nude.

I then bike to Grand Etang and check out Long Bay. I then bike around the perimeter. Lined with estates with high walls. Can't see in. I pass Plum Bay not knowing that some place there was a way to the beach. A result of not reading the guide book for there until after I passed it.

I then see that Baie Rouge has some beach bars with food. Good. I'm famished. I lock up the bike and descend to the beach. There are two beach bars there. I stop at the first one. I'm ignored for a while (there are only four working behind the counter), so I get a chance to observe. Rolls are put on the grill and picked up by hand. Nothing else is fried except for the French Fries. Eventually my presence is acknowledged. They say that they keep the bread to one side. The fellow is skeptical that someone can be allergic to wheat, such an important food. Then I see him scrape the grill from side to side (but not all the way across). When questioned a woman says he doesn't usually work back there, and that they don't scrape all the way across. Then one of the women says that the rolls aren't made with wheat. That's the last straw. I move over to the second beach bar: Chez Raymond.

At Chez Raymond we figure the grill is contaminated and out, but they have conch stew. So I had a very nice plate of that with fries. Then, that not being enough food, I order more fries.

I move on. I bike through Baie Nettlé, and then Sandy Ground. Can't see much of the water. I find a place that rents bicycles. I stop. They get $8 a day! I tell them S&B wants $20 a day. She says for that price you can get a scooter.

I pass the Arawak Museum. I go in. I don't know how much time I spent there, but when I leave it is 3:30. I though it was 1:30 when I finished lunch. I quickly walk through the marina. I decide to skip the rest of Marigot, and to take the bus back there the next morning.

I find Friar's Bay. It is a popular spot. I bike out to Colombier. It is lovely countryside, with a gradually increasing ride up the valley. What's left is Pic Paradis. I can't bike up, but maybe hitch? Across from the turn to it I stop for water. A supermarket run by some friendly Chinese. They let me lock the bike (first offered to keep it in the store!) and let me leave my half bottle of water in the refrigerator case.

It is now 4:50 and I'm standing there trying to hitch up. Most people passing are locals. After more than 15 minutes I start to walk away. Another car passes. I stick out my thumb. He stops. A German fellow is headed up. He has just been sailing around the Caribbean. So up we go. We walk the final stretch, snapping some pictures. The setting sun is blinding in the west, and then we headed back down. At 6:10 I'm starting off on my bike. The sun has just set, and it will be getting dark soon.

I bike back as quickly as I can. The roads do have street lights. I walk all the way up Cove Bay Hill. On my way into Philipsburg I see this bar and restaurant that is the fuselage of a jet. I stop and look in. The back side has been removed. So it is considerably larger than a fuselage. I head back to my room to shower.

I decide to try a different Indian restaurant. I find Shiva(?). They don't speak English very well. I explain to one fellow the no dairy, cheese, butter, milk, etc. I order two dishes. He wants to know if I want it mild, medium, or hot. I explain that I want it cooked the way he would cook for an Indian. He says medium.

Out come the dishes. The spinach has cheese in it. I say I said no cheese. He says that's paneer. I send it back to have them try again. The next try is fine, though their medium is I would call mild.

I wander down Front St. It's empty. The cruise ship is gone. Even some restaurants that advertise they are open for dinner are closed. The casinos are open, with only a few locals inside. I head back to the room.

Tuesday, 29-Jan-2002

I'm up early. It has been raining hard. The streets are flooded, so I walk to breakfast. I reach my usual place at ten to seven. They are there, but not yet open, and the fellow that cooks isn't there. Two cruise ships are already docked. Two more are due. It will be crowded there soon.

The other fellow cooks for me. A stop back at the room and around the corner to catch a bus to Marigot.

First I climb up to Fort Louis. Lovely views. I then wander around. I check out the souvenir stands. I see them selling produce, or trying to, as I see no customers.

After an hour and 15 minutes I've seen enough. I hop a bus back to Philipsburg. It has been raining more there than in Marigot, where it never got more than a mist. I get the bike and try to bike around the puddles to return it. I then say goodbye to the fellow that owned the breakfast place (he never did show while I was eating that day).

I then head for the museum. A rather unimposing entrance, but quite nice once inside and upstairs. And a bargain, being free. Two groups of school children are there getting an education.

On my way out I chat with a woman with all the physical characteristics of undiagnosed celiac disease. She's never heard of it. She writes it down. She said she does have scleroderma, reflux, and osteoporosis. No Internet, so she'll ask her doctor.

Front Street is now crowded with cruise ship people. There are hustlers all over, mostly for time shares. I take some pictures and head to my room.

I check out, say goodbye, and head for the airport. There I have to wait in the main check in line, even though I have nothing to check. Boarding passes aren't produced any where else.) Then upstairs for lunch. Just a basic burger and fries. As I leave the three pilots for the flight come in for lunch. I head to the waiting room and wait with the others. I don't get selected for the thorough search. An uneventful flight back.

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