Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Fair enough

No I don't think it's fair that our friends and family work hard to carry on, responsibly, through the daily routines of their lives back home while we squander a good portion of our savings on gourmet creole dinners, French wine and fresh baguettes. I don't think it's fair that the people we care about the most are left to fight traffic on their morning commute, while some days the biggest challenge we face is deciding what kind of rum to put in a ti-punch or how much sun screen to use. We don't always have it easy, as you know from previous entries, but we do have it pretty sweet most of the time. That's why we've extended an open invitation to all of our family and friends to come join us for as long as they can, whenever they can. Sometimes I wonder what we did to deserve this life, this adventure. And the simple answer, I've discovered, is we left port. We took a chance on the boat, on each other and our ability to handle this challenge. We stepped out of our comfort zone to discover something about ourselves and the world around us. We leapt, and we have encouraged others to do it with us. 
This month my friend Justyna flew in from Edmonton to accompany us on the passage between St. Martin and Guadeloupe. We picked her up at the small airport on the Dutch side of St. Martin and transported her to Rodeo on our friend's dinghy. Ours is barely big enough for the two of us, let alone a guest and her luggage. Already low to the water "Mini Max" would never make it from Marigot Bay to the airport without taking on the liquid waste that fills Simpson Lagoon, which separates St. Martin from St. Maarten. The lagoon is filthy, especially on the French side. It is a landlocked body of water accessible only via 2 bridges, one on each side of the island. It is home to dozens of charter boats, permanently anchored live-aboards and countless transient cruisers. Effluent from these boats is constantly and visibly fed into the stagnant waters of the lagoon. Absolutely revolting. 
Rodeo was anchored out in Marigot Bay, on the open ocean side, where water was moving and clean, but every trip into town was a health hazard. I'm not even exaggerating. Shielding our hands from contact with lagoon water and plugging our noses was all we could do to keep our breakfast (of delicious crisp pastries and fresh coffee) down and staph infections at bay. By the time Justyna arrived on a Thursday afternoon, May 12, we had already been there a few days and had no desire to stay any longer. After our friend unpacked and settled in we made a move for cleaner pastures, a neighboring bay of Grand Case. Thursday night is salsa night at Calmos Cafe in Grand Case, and that's where we headed after a modest supper of BBQ tuna, coleslaw and rice. The waterfront cafe is as much a local hang out as a tourist attraction. No more than a beach shack with most of its low tables nestled in the sand, it's a quirky and fun place with a laid back atmosphere and a killer drink menu. We felt obliged to drink, laugh and kick up some dust on the sandy dance floor way past our usual bed time. I know, life is tough. But like I said, it could be for you, too. The invitation stands.

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