I’ve been lazy in posting to this blog and my brother’s blog of his cross country car trip inspired me to continue with mine. So here we go…
I let my friend, MM, convince me to take a quick weekend trip to the Caribbean. Ok, I admit it – did not take much arm twisting. The ambitious plan was fly to St. Maarten on Friday morning, take a ferry to Anguilla on Friday afternoon and return to St. Maarten in the early evening. Go to St. Barths for the day on Saturday and then return to St. Maarten in the evening. Spend Sunday morning in St. Maarten before heading home on Sunday afternoon. The trip did not go as planned- the pace was even more frenetic.
Years ago, I took a bus from Oxford to London. A few minutes after the bus pulled out of Oxford I needed to pee. The bus did not have a functioning bathroom but I thought I could hold it since it was 1.5 hours away. Then we hit rush hour traffic and the trip turned into a 3.5 hour ordeal. That trip traumatized me so much that I avoided intercity buses since then. But, in the spirit of adventure, I overcame this trauma to take an intercity bus to NYC to take a flight from JFK to St. Maarten. While I survived, I don’t think I’ll repeat the experience anytime soon.
After a routine flight to St. Maarten, we checked into the Beach Plaza hotel in Marigot on the French side. Because of some hiccups at the hotel (note to self – listen to TripAdvisors), we got a late start to Anguilla. The ferry ride was bumpy but short, thank goodness. A very friendly taxi driver drove us to the famous Blanchard Beach Shack on Meads Bay and was willing to wait to drive us back to the ferry when we were done. Can’t beat that friendly island service. The food was delicious but I think almost anything would have been delicious given that a) nothing beats the ambience of a beautiful and nearly deserted crescent-shaped beach; and 2) I was starving. Alas, we were able to stay only about an hour before we had to head back to ferry. It’s such a small island that I think everybody knows each other – our taxi driver pointed out when we passed the owner of Blanchard’s on the road.
The overnight bus ride to JFK and the mad dash to and from Anguilla caught up to us (well, me at least) and we ended up crashing at 9:00. So I can’t report back on the night life of St. Maartens but I’m sure it’s lively and fun based on the locals we met.
It was a good thing I went to sleep so early since MM wanted to take the 7:15 am ferry to St. Barths. After sorting out another mix-up over our ferry reservation by the hotel’s concierge, we boarded the ferry – it’s the “nicer” one and shows an in-cruise movie. We got to watch 30 minutes of “Love & Basketball” before docking at Gustavia, St. Barths.
Since we were catching the 10:30 am ferry back to St. Maartens, we hurried to St. Jean Bay to have breakfast followed by a quick walk through Gustavia’s waterfront for some souvenir shopping. I had hoped that the ferry back would show the ending to “Love & Basketball” but instead it showed the same 30 minutes – I guess they figured that no one taking the 7:15 ferry would actually take the 10:30 ferry back. I need to see whether it’s on Amazon Prime so I can find out who won the one-on-one.
When we arrived back in St. Maartens, MM was concerned about whether we would be able to get back home the next day given the flight situation. So we made a game-time decision to catch a connecting flight through Miami that night. We theoretically had 3 hours to connect in Miami. However, there was an over 2 hour delay because the aircraft had mechanical problems, and then the St. Maarten airport closed to allow a rain squall to pass by, and then we had to wait at the Miami airport tarmac for another plane to leave the gate, and then I was stuck behind a slow moving woman and her children. MM and I booked it through immigration, custom, and TSA screening to the gate and…we missed the flight by 1 minute, literally. And it turns out that the flight left 5 minutes early. So we got to spend the night in Miami but we managed to get on the first flight out the next morning.
Now, would I do this again? No but I do not regret doing this trip this time around. Not many people can say that they visited 3 Caribbean islands and overnight in Miami in less than 48 hours. Final thoughts, St. Maarten, Anguilla, and St. Barths are wonderful islands that I will likely visit again at a more leisurely pace.