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4 Notes & Comments

St. Maarten/St.-Martin is an odd tiny island. My tour guide gave the briefest ‘history’ lesson ever (“The French man and the Dutch man made a bet to walk around the island. And where they would meet again would determine how much land each side have. I don’t know if the French had longer legs or if the Dutch was lazy, but that’s what we have now.”), and it left me feeling like Wikipedia probably had more information. The French side definitely was quieter. The houses a little more private, if they were large. The capital, Marigot, a little more quaint. The people a little less hungry for action. I had not eaten any food in the Dutch side but the food at the French side was amazing. The restaurant I stopped at was a small place with plastic chairs and tables squished together under a tent. Apart from a little review from Anthony Bourdain in its menu, there was nothing to hint that the food would be delicious and thus lunch was an incredible surprise.

Of course, a day’s tour can’t confirm anything, but I had noticed things were a little more ambitious in the Dutch side. The best and simplest example is the airports. The airport on the French side was a small strip allowing only a few planes per day, most of which were private. The airport on the Dutch side was a literal show, with one end of the massive landing strip right next to a beach. When planes arrive, the crowds stand to cheer and salute, with the aircraft barely skirting overhead on the beach before going over the fence and onto the strip. When they depart, they move to the end, turn with its tail facing the beach. Sand kicks up into the air, forcing sunbathers to jump into the ocean. Even in the ocean, the force of the jet’s engines ripple out on the waves, a miniature storm experience before the plane taxis off and flies up into the sky. Whereas the French airport seemed like some hush-hush entrance into the country, the Dutch wanted a big show, with the arrivals listed on a surfboard like listings on a rock concert poster. Even the Dutch airport, built in 2006, was modern, large and proud.

The photoset is simple – no big comparisons between the two sides, and they might be the touristiest photographs I’ve taken in a while. I don’t know if the conch and the urchins were handled safely or correctly, I apologise.

On a side note, I had joked in the tour car that my memory only had a three-year lifespan. My guide thus proceeded to lecture me about how horrible that trait is and that she even remembers her first communion when she was eight. She had been given chocolate milk, which gave her just horrible flatulence that her aunt had to shake the curtains to remove the smell. It was the strangest tour I ever had.

st martin st maarten travel art photography artists on tumblr