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Day 3 – You Can’t Fight Island Time

Written By: dawg on May 23, 2009 No Comment

Adventures in Saint Martin – April 2007

I was up late again at 7:00 AM, took a short walk on the beach and then awakened the ladies at their requested time, so we could be shopping in Philipsburg at 9:00. Showers, makeup, breakfast, traffic and viola, we were standing on Front Street in Philipsburg at 11:15. Obviously, we had no problem making the switch to Island Time!

Front Street in Philipsburg

Front Street in Philipsburg

Unlike Grand Case, we were impressed by the sidewalk lined streets in Philipsburg. The beautiful brick road and walk on Front Street provided a pleasant experience, without the constant fear of being flattened by an auto.

Madam Luvely and Miss Witt had come here with one goal in mind … to eradicate all Coach Purses from the city. Since our airline seats were in coach class, I assumed this infatuation had something to do with their intense acceptance of our social standing. They just snarled at my fashion stupidity. While the ladies emptied all the stores of these designer purses, I absorbed another Carib and checked out all the stuff I don’t need in the electronics stores. At one point, Madam Luvely dragged me into a jewelry shop to convince me to buy her a diamond necklace. Sorry honey, but I think the budget has already been consumed by all these new chic handbags you are carrying. However, the salesman handed me a Heineken, so I was fine loitering while she dreamed for a few more minutes.

Island Time again kicked in, extending the 2 hour planned shopping into 4 ½ hours and shrinking the sightseeing time for our single day island tour. While I was distraught, Madam Luvely and Miss Witt were elated, having relieved Philipsburg of 7 purses and a wallet for gifts and personal consumption. My total purchases consisted of two bottles of Ma Doudou, coconut and chocolate. A word of warning about Ma Doudou shopping … just like there are “knock off” Coach Purses in Philipsburg, there is also “knock off” Ma Doudou. If it doesn’t have the Ma Doudou label on the back, it is fake and probably also has a plastic sticker instead of the unique hand painting of authentic Ma Doudou.

As we drove the Sad Little Car around the island, we were actually amazed at how well traffic flows through two lane roads with virtually no stop lights or stop signs at any of the intersections. It is often anyone’s guess who has the right of way. Honestly, the island drivers are courteous but crazy, aggressive but forgiving. Several times I just sat there at an intersection while someone was waving me through, until the Miss Witt navigation system (backup to the Madam Luvely navigation system) said “GO, he’s waving you on”.

Landing at Sunset Beach Bar

Landing at Sunset Beach Bar

Our next stop was Maho Bay and Sunset Beach Bar, which was a nice, entertaining area to hang out. We enjoyed a few drinks, a few laughs, courtesy of Miss Witt, and captured many nice photos of the planes landing.
Throughout our island tour in the Sad Little Car, we heard Madam Luvely periodically exclaim in her most concerned, emphatic voice “Oh Man!” … “Oh Man!” … “Oh Man!” Finally, Miss Witt said, “mom, would you please stop saying ‘Oh Man’ every time a motorcycle rides down the center line in heavy traffic”. However, it was useless to curtail her instinctive … “Oh Man!” … “Oh Man!” … “Oh Man!” Soon after we left Maho, we rounded a sharp corner and this time when Madam Luvely said “Oh Man!” it was truly worthy of an “Oooh Maaan!” Sprawled on the roadside was a mangled motorcycle and a just as mangled person on a stretcher. Surrounding him was an ambulance, two police cars and 8 policemen. We continued on, with somber thoughts of concern that the man would be OK. When we recovered from the sorrow of the situation, we began to consider that strange scene in more detail. With two police cars and 8 policemen, that means they were carpooling with 4 policemen per 4 seat car. Do arrested criminals ride in the trunk? Do they have a shortage of Sad Little Police Cars? Perhaps some of the 8 policemen were on foot, except this was a rural area making that unlikely. Just as perplexing was that 8 policemen seemed a bit excessive for a single accident with one person injured, although granted it was a bad injury. Do they have any more than 8 policemen? If the entire police force swarms to one site, who is left to cover problems elsewhere? Is there such little crime here that the 8 bored policemen rushed feverishly over to this crash? Was there some bizarre side effect of island time at work here that we did not understand? Not surprisingly, we never figured out the answers to these questions, we just asked them with bewilderment. But we never again complained about Madam Luvely saying “Oh Man!”

When we got to Nettle Bay, the traffic came to an abrupt halt. We sat there for about an hour, only moving a few feet the entire time … again … Island Time. A local man was sitting on a brick wall in front of his house, peacefully ignoring the traffic jam. So Madam Luvely rolled down the window and asked if he knew what the problem was. He replied that the draw bridge was simply being raised, so cars could not pass. Considering the Carib that I had at Sunset Beach Bar, I had something else that needed to pass. Madam Luvely strictly forbid me from asking the local gentleman to borrow his toilet, so we just waited and squirmed. When traffic started moving, the anxious hunt for some facilities began. As we entered Marigot, I stopped at a little park and looked desperately for le toilette. I saw none, so I settled for a small bush as a substitute and suggested that Madam Luvely do the same. Because of her “proper upbringing”, she refused and the search continued. Well into Marigot we finally found the Holy Grail … a gas station and convenience store. Madam Luvely dashed in and quickly blurted “Do you have a restroom?” The disgruntled reply was “Couldn’t you at least say hello first?” Upon completion of her dire agenda, Madam Luvely bought a few items and emphatically pleaded “Bonsoir, Merci Madam, Merci, Bonsoir”. There are certain times when necessity overpowers politeness, even for someone with “proper upbringing”.

After the long day driving, I dipped into the Chocolate Ma Doudou at the hotel, before heading for dinner at Le Piment Pizzeria in Orient Village. A few beers before the meal arrived and I was primed to work on my French with our spirited waiter, Fabrice. Needing to expand my half dozen word vocabulary, I first asked Fabrice “how do you say ‘how do you say’ in French?” He quickly rattled off the interpretation, which I quickly forgot. But I continued relentlessly in my amusing attempts to speak the language. As I waved Fabrice over I spouted “bonjour, bonjour” (intending to say monsieur, monsieur), “un bier see vou play … merci bookoo, bonjour”. Um, um, um … “how do you say ‘how do you say’?” I don’t know who was laughing hardest, Miss Witt and Madam Luvley, Fabrice, or me. Of course, Miss Witt, having completed 3 years of French, and Fabrice were constantly correcting my words and pronunciation, between bouts of rolling on the floor in laughter.

As we reflected on this day, we had repeatedly learned the valuable lesson that you don’t fight Island Time, because it is a battle you cannot win.

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