Sleeping last night with the balcony doors open was fantastic. I woke up once and it took me a second to figure out where I was. I looked over and uncoils see the stars and the crescent moon, and the sound of waves crashing. It was such a different experience. Oh and I slept great. No mosquitos!
Alarm was set for 7 but I woke up around 6:30. It started getting bright out and the birds were chirping so loud in the trees right outside.
Had some granola for breakfast (that I bought the other night in Soufriere) and packed everything up again. I feel like my life is a series of unpacking and repacking, haha!
I didn't really need to be at the airport, which was right down the road, until 8 at the very earliest, but I was ready early, and the airport had better wifi. So I went.
The airport is SO tiny. One of the smallest I've seen. On par with Carriacou almost. Thre were some people there already so that was encouraging. I got checked in, got my boarding pass, and then he said, "Now you go pay the departure tax," and pointed to another window. Ummm, what?? That's usually included in the ticket price! Not here...
So I went over to the window, and there were two super nice people working there. I said I didn't realize there was s tax and asked if they took credit cards. Of course they didn't. I could take a taxi in to town to get cash... Ugh! But then I remembered I always have a secret stash of cash. I always carry around $20 of local currency just in case of emergencies -- such as this! So I pulled out my 50 EC bill and said that was all I had. Was it enough? They laughed and said close but you need 59 EC!! Okay, I have lots of change. So I dumped it all out on the counter and started counting... They were laughing and jot irritated, thank goodness. And wouldn't you know, I had 8.65 EC in change! So close!! I begged them to not make me go in to town to an ATM FOR .35 EC (which is like .13 USD) and they laughed again and covered my difference for me. Officially broke, but disaster averted. :)
I had over an hour to kill, so I sat down on my laptop, did some St. Martin and Anguilla research, and FaceTimed my mom. In the middle of the call, a guy came up to me and asked if I was Ms. Keeler. They needed to search my bag and it was locked. Why does everyone want to search my bag?! The lone white girl and they pick me! So i had to go to a back room and unlock the bag. And told them good luck on getting it all back in there as I left. ;)
A little after 9, a worker just said, "St Martin" and about 20 people got up to head to the "immigration" desk. I followed.
Got through security and had another 10 minutes or so to wait before the plane showed up and we boarded.
Tiny little 18 seat prop-plane. And it was full. We took off at 9:40 - only 10 minutes late - and it was such a loud flight! If you've been on a prop plane you know what I'm talking about. The flights I've been on on those are usually like 10-20 minutes. So an hour and a half of the loud roaring was a bit much.
We cruised along at 7,000 feet - just above the clouds - the whole time. About an hour in we hit rain and some pretty not awesome turbulence. There bad enough in a big jet, but over the middle of the ocean in a little prop plane is just not cool. One was so bad the plane literally bounced almost completely sideways. No joke. I'm not even exaggerating! People were freaking out (me too). I think about getting my go pro out to record it but decided trying not to puke was more important.
Anyways, we landed at Princess Julianna airport in St. Martin at 11am on the dot, and flew right over Maho Beach, the famous beach where people stand right under the planes coming in to land. I have to check that place out tomorrow!
The airport was big and nice and clean...and empty.
The line to get through Immigration was long but moved quickly, and they didn't question me at all. And by the time I went to the bathroom, my bag was already there.
Walked outside, connected to the free wifi, and got some cash out of the ATM. They use USD here! And 5 minutes later, Olivier, my French Couchsurfing host, showed up. I swear, Couchsurfers are the nicest people I've bee met. He came to the airport to pick me up, took me to the grocery store, made me lunch, took me to the beach, bought me a drink...and is letting me stay for free at his house in my own bedroom. Oh and he's a salsa dancing teacher and is taking me out dancing tonight!! I've always wantsdntonsalsa dance. And now I get to learn. On a French island. Well, technically half of it is French and the other half Dutch, but whatever.
The bridge is the divider - French on one side and Dutch on the other ^^
Okay, so backing up... We went to the supermarket - a big, nice one - where I loaded up on food. And he has a blender! Smoothie time!
Dropped my stuff off at his flat above a restaurant on the main road in Grand Case. The plan was to head to the beach but I was hungry. Of course. So he made me lunch: pasta and tuna. I haven't had pasta in weeks but it was delicious! (Healthy eating is out the window these next few weeks I've decided...)
He lives above this restaurant ^^
He has a LOT of books - he is a history teacher (and ex-cop)
THEN it was beach time. He lives about a one minute walk to Grand Case bay / beach.
It's been awhile since I've had a chill out and relax beach day, so it was due. I sat under an umbrella, connected to free wifi, and did some research on my next destinations. I had nothing planned after tomorrow... And now:
Ferry to Anguilla Saturday morning
Couchsurf Saturday night with Vince
Ferry back to St Martin Sunday afternoon
Fly to Saba Sunday evening
Couchsurf Sunday night with Funmmi
Fly back to St. Martin Monday evening
Couch surf with Laura Monday night - on her boat
Fly to Tortola (BVI) Tuesday morning
Couch surf for two nights on Tortola with Jenifer
So excited to meet so many new people!
That's a lot of planning and booking I got done today, as well as lots of reading in my Caribbean Fodors book. I'm feeling pretty good about the next week...
Olivier went for a long swim and then left to get his haircut. And when he left he ordered me a strawberry smoothie! So, so kind, I'm telling you!
I sat on the beach until the restaurants closed and the sun went down, and then walked back to his flat. Thankful for a little alone time. Couchsurfing is fantastic, but sometimes gets old when you feel like you have to constantly be present with them. So this was great. In don't mind a little alone time! :)
Back at the flat, I showered and put on a cute shirt that has slits up the side. I have to keep up with Olivier and look a little nicer here! We talked and listened to music, and then he started cooking: some sort of fried cheese and bread for dinner. Ha! So French.
Oh, and the appetizers: Tomatoes and mozzarella, and then some sort of zucchini and cream drink. I don't like any of those things, but I ate them all, of course. They really weren't bad at all.
I thought I was going to burst from eating so much (and I don't even eat cheese!) but he said it offends the French when you don't eat what they give you (I think he was joking) -- and I already didn't eat all the pasta for lunch...so I kept chowing down. Ugh. I mean it was good, but wow. A lot of cheese and bread (and wine)!
And as soon as we were all done eating (well, I was the only one who didn't finish my tub of cheese!), we walked 10 minutes down the road to a bar for some salsa dancing.
I never go out, especially when I travel, but man, it was so fun. The bar was awesome, the live band was fantastic, and the party was so big it spilled out of the bar and on to the beach. We danced the night away until after midnight. SO late for me, haha. I haven't danced in a long time, so yeah, had a good time for sure. Except my hips literally do not move like they're supposed to for salsa dancing! Olivier had one of his friends try and teach me and he had his hands on my hips trying to move them and they just wouldn't do it right, haha! I need more practice for sure.
At the end of the night, we were walking back and spotted a golf cart taxi kind of thing, so of course we all hopped on for a ride. I mean, it was literally like a 10 minute walk, so wasn't even worth paying for, but two drunk guys will pay for anything. ;)
Driver, Laura (from Italy) and Rinaldo (also from Italy)
Definitely crashed hard, in a big bed with three pillows and an air conditioner...