It’s hard to believe that a week ago today I was roaming the beautiful beaches and taking the amazing sites of the gorgeous island of St. Martin. My boyfriend and I made the big escape from New York and ventured down to the Caribbean for a little R&R.
To say that I was overdue for a vacation is a massive understatement. I had no idea how burnt out and tired I was until we finally got down there. Instead of having to hop subway trains and endure the honking of street traffic, all I had to do was sit in the sand and marvel at the turquoise waves that surrounded the island.
A little background: St. Martin is island shared by two countries; France and the Netherlands. We stayed on the Dutch side, which is more affordable but we often ventured to the French side by car. Even though the island is only 36 miles or so, you definitely need to get a car to get around because it’s ridiculously hilly. Thanks to our little Hyundai, we were able to power through the steep hills and get around town quite seamlessly (big thanks to the GPS gods).
The Dutch side is a little touristy feeling and probably caters to more American tastes while the French side feels less so. AJ commented on how much the island reminded him of Nigeria and even though I’ve never been to Africa, it did feel like in a French-African nation
The other good thing about traveling ot the French side is that you got to see how people really lived. I’m not impressed by sterile resorts that are pristine and perfect and seeing how the native folk lived also shed light on the gross income disparity between the wealthy and not-so-wealthy. It provides a sobering reality and lends to a more wholesome experience.
While St. Martin is pretty diverse, the French side seemed overwhelmingly Afro-Caribbean. We heard French sailing through the air as we walked through Marigot and watched people fishing on the docks or saw them hanging out in tiny restaurants serving fresh seafood and Creole.
Of course, one of my favorite parts of the island was the Butterfly Farm, a.k.a, “Photographer’s Heaven”, which houses one an impressive butterfly collection all in a modest, but pleasant, setting. I damn near lost my mind running around trying to photograph these beauties, some of which were as large as my hand. In addition to learning about butterflies, people also have the opportunity to feed them and on rare occasions, have them land on them (AJ and I were not terribly fond of this idea when it came to those big butterflies).
I already miss St. Martin and can’t wait to go back to explore. In the meantime, I‘ll look back on the shots that I took with fond memories.