OH the Caribbean! A dream for South Americans, while often dismissed by Canadians. It’s a paradox: Brazil has tons of beautiful beaches, but Brazilians often think that sitting at a beach chair in a Caribbean resort while watching the crystalline ocean waters and being served a colorful cocktail with a decorative umbrella is the best luxury one can have. Meanwhile, Canadians that are poorly provided of paradisiac seaside spots often flock to the islands to escape the winter (or in any given date). It’s such a staple to do it, and there are so many vacation packages sales available that they barely consider this type of trip one to be mentioned at a dinner with friends.
Well, at least that is what happened to yours truly author. Caribbean always seemed so fancy! But then, only a few years after moving to Canada and taking various trips to the islands, I was like: meh.
That was, although, never the case with St Maarten.
Perhaps or coincidentally, on my first visit I was still living in Brazil. And it wasn’t easy to get there. That is surely the main reason why Brazilians see the Caribbean as so utopic: it is damn hard to get to certain islands. On my way there, I had to connect in Colombia. The flight options were limited, so when the airline informed me of a small schedule change on my way back, that meant I would miss that Colombian connection – and would probably be, to this day, trying to walk home through the Amazon forest. Luckily I managed to make some witty changes, and then my connection became something crazy like: St Martin to Curaçau (one night in sketchy hotel by the airport); then an earlymorning flight to Aruba, a 14-hour lay over (evidently I went to the beach and did a day tour. It was great), and then finally a night flight back to Sao Paulo. Easy peasy 30 hours trip.
Meanwhile my now-husband just had to hop in a 3h direct flight Toronto – SXM and he was there.
Whatever! It was worth. We got a beautiful while villa right at the Rouge Beach, with a pool and a BBQ overlooking the ocean and the naked bodies walking the nudist beach. Sausage anyone?
That was Saint Martin. The french side of the island.
At night we would drive “across the border” for the dutch side St Maarten to the Casino Royale, win unexpected cash, and eat at delicious restaurants while tipsy on Guavaberry Run Punch.
What a wonderful time we had there in 2009.
10 years later, we decided to go back.
The island was still recovering from the hurricane Irma 2007 destruction, and it was sad to see how abandoned Le West Indies mall looked, and how St Martiners were still struggling to regain their tourism and economy. Our villa was gorgeous: a modern hilltop construction with three huge bedrooms surrounding the infinity pool overlooking the ocean. The open concept and open air kitchen had sparkling amenities, but we had to hide the food as monkeys from the neighboring woods were expected to come for a visit anytime. And the price for the week was wonderful – another proof that demand isn’t as high as it should be for such a beautiful vacation place.
I absolutely adore St Maarten, and can’t wait to stay again in St Martin’s Terres Bases. The dutch, the french, the nonsense of Euros being valued equal to US$: it’s all one love.
Too bad we can’t go right now, as the handsome and foolish Canadian prime minister decided to cancel all flights to the Caribbean until end of April (even though the islands are not a pandemic hot spots).
I hope St Martin+St Maarten can survive the 2020/21 COVID earthquake and it’s travel restrictions – so Canadians can continue appreciating this unique island (that ain’t one to stay inside an all-inclusive resort), and Brazilians can one day fulfill their paradise dream – with less umbrella drinks but tons of real crystalline waters.