Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Welcome to St. Martin – Two Countries – One Island


Welcome to St. Martin – Two Countries – One Island by D.G.Kaye

Welcome to this month’s edition of my travel column here at Sally’s Smorgasbord. Today I’ve chosen to share some interesting facts about the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Martin, affectionately named ‘The Friendly Island’.

The island of St. Martin is shared between two countries – French and Dutch. The island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Caribbean to the west in the northeast of the Caribbean Sea, approximately 190 miles east of Puerto Rico. The whole island is approximately 34 sq. miles with the ownership of each side is usually said to be a 60/40 split, with the French owning approximately 20 sq. miles and the Dutch 13 sq. miles. Although smaller, the Dutch side boasts a heavier populated side than the French side.

History and Legends

The French call their island Saint Martin and the Dutch call it Sint Maarten, and no matter what you choose to call it, it’s one of my favorite islands in the Caribbean.

The island was divided back in 1648 after being taken over several times by various conquerors. The capital of the French side is Marigot and the capital of the Dutch side is Philipsburg. Legend says Christopher Columbus first discovered the island back in 1493.

After several take overs the Dutch built a fort to assert their claim and control access to the island. In the 18th century, a massive influx of African slaves, were imported to the island to develop the sugar cane plantations. On March 23, 1648, the kingdom of France and the Dutch republic agreed to divide the land and created what is still known today as The Treaty of Concordia

There’s an old legend that speaks about how the land was decided to be divided.

Apparently, the natives of each side were asked to choose a ‘walker’. The two walkers began standing back to back and were instructed to walk in opposite directions – no running! At the point where the two met up again was to be declared the dividing line for each one’s country. According to legend, the Frenchman walked faster because he drank wine before the race and the Dutchman drank gin, supposedly the gin was more tiring than the wine. But ultimately, the Dutch accused the Frenchman of running, which apparently didn’t seem to matter because the new perimeters were set with each country officially being deemed with their respective land official.

About the Island

Climate – The dry season with sporadic rain runs from December through May, and the hurricane season typically runs anywhere from June through November where one can also expect tropical storms, particularly in September. Daily annual temperatures typically range anywhere from mid 60s to high 80s throughout the year. Visitor guides will state that mid-November and December, and May and June are the best times climate-wise to visit the island. While November through May will cost more money to visit there, the price for hotels goes down considerably May and June and likewise for the summer/early fall months because of the unpredictable weather. Many hotels on the Atlantic side, in particular, close down during hurricane season.

St. Martin has been hit by several hurricanes through the years, namely, Maria in 2017, which was reported to damage approximately 95% of the French side and 75% of the Dutch side. I was stunned to hear that the island was re-opened for tourists shortly before Christmas of 2017, although it was still in need of major repairs.

Tourism – The main industry for the island relies on tourism. The Dutch side is best known for its beaches, duty-free jewelry, native guava berry liquors, casinos and nightlife. The French side is known more for its nude beaches, clothing, outdoor markets and French and Indian Caribbean cuisine.

Languages – The two official languages spoken on the island are French and Dutch. But there are also French based, Creole and Spanish languages spoken from the emigration of natives from surrounding islands. Many other immigrants from the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, living there, speak their traditional Papiemento.

Shopping – You will find some of the world’s best prices on this duty-free island, especially for fine jewelry – gold, diamonds, watches, and just about every piece of jewelry you could possibly imagine for less than half of what you’d pay at home. Many of the jewelers are wholesalers and distributors, so as consumers, we bypass the middlemen retailers and resellers, and of course the import and export taxes.

Other items of note to be found on the island for some great discounts are liquor, tobacco, leather goods and many designer goods. To give you a rough idea of deep discounts, you can still pick up a carton of cigarettes there for $15 – $20! Liquor is ridiculously cheap. Before my husband was informed he can no longer drink alcohol due to his health issues, he enjoyed the odd glass of Johnny Walker Blue Scotch – the highest grade of that brand’s label. Here in Canada, that bottle would run close to $350 – I kid you not. But every time we’d visit the island he would pick up a bottle for approximately $115 US. A ring my husband once bought me for $2200, came in at $5500 dollar upon the appraisal I obtained once at home.

The main street – Front St. in Philipsburg, is located directly in front of Great Bay beach where the cruise ships dock. It’s a long street lined with jewelry store after jewelry store so it’s good to have a recommendation from someone where to shop for best value because it can become very overwhelming going into every store with all those sparkly trinkets beckoning your attention.

Currency – Although the Euro is used on the French side and the Dutch Netherland Antillean guilder used on the Dutch side, the whole island also operates with U.S. dollars.

Airport – Princess Julianna International serves the entire island, and people can pass freely with no border checks between the two countries. The airport hosts many major airlines and St. Martin’s short main runway is known for its specific location between a large hill and the beach, attracting many tourists to watch some spectacular landings and takeoffs flying just above sunbathers on Maho Beach. There is also a paid tour offered complete with cocktail on the beach to watch the low flying planes and listen live between the aircraft and control tower.

Beaches – St. Martin is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, and there are many of them. For an island of only 34 sq. miles, the island has 37 gorgeous beaches to sunbathe, swim, snorkel, parasail, you name it- your choice of watersport is there. On the French side, you will also find the famed nude beach- Orient Beach located on Orient Bay, known as the St. Tropez of the Caribbean, also known for its nude beach.

My first visit to St. Martin was over twenty years ago. I wasn’t quite adept at investigative research as the computer era had yet to hit. We were hoping to book an all-inclusive property, which back then was rare for that island, and we chose a hotel situated on Orient Beach. Little did we know after our first morning of walking that beach, that hub and I would feel a little out of place as we strolled with our shorts and bathing suits on while passing many sunburned bottoms and breasts taking in more sun. We ultimately decided that we’d still go for our morning walks on the beach but decided to sunbathe at the pool during the day with our swimsuits on.

Dining – St. Martin is known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean with a variety of cuisine choices available. Besides the many delicious French restaurants in Grande Case on the French side, you will find many other popular restaurants and ocean side dining offering Dutch, Creole, Italian, Jamaican, Indian, Vietnamese. Japanese and American food. A true culinary experience to suit an array of palettes.

Sightseeing – There’s plenty to do in St. Martin if you’re feeling energetic and ambitious to get up off your beach chairs. This small island packs a punch of fun things to do besides visiting beaches and shopping. You will find tours to Rhum distilleries, ATV adventures, evening cruise sails with dinner, drinks and dancing, a wide array of water sports, jet ski rentals, swim with the dolphins, wine tasting, the double-decker bus tour. and even smaller group tours that will take you by boat to close-by neighboring islands – St. Barth’s and Anguilla.

This island also holds its annual Carnival celebrations complete with feathered costumes, reggae music and local bands performing on the streets. The French side celebrates during Lent and the Dutch side celebrates for 17 days and nights when the island comes to a standstill for over 17 days and nights. Locals prepare for this festive event by sewing costumes and preparing to party hardy. If you aren’t able to attend one of these fabulous celebrations, make sure to visit the Jump Up Casino in Philipsburg to see a display of photos and items from previous parades.

I love St. Martin for its beautiful beaches, the best shopping deals, their beautiful island temps, great food and one of the friendliest islands in the Caribbean. I’ve been there many times as I’ve been on many Caribbean cruises and never choose an itinerary that doesn’t include visiting that island. If I were to take a solo island vacation again, I would definitely consider going back to St. Martin for a winter vacation instead of just a day or two stop-over on a cruise ship.

Have any of you ever been to St. Martin?

©D.G. Kaye 2018

Another amazing article from Debby for the travel column and I know that she would love your feedback and questions on St. Martin or any other travel related subject.. I am sure she will have the answer for you.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

About Twenty Years: After “I Do”.

May/December memoirs.

In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.

Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Canadian author, D. G. Kaye has written a heartwarming memoir in “Twenty Years After I Do,” detailing the ups and downs of marriage to an older man. I was eager to read this book because I am married to a man who is older than me by a decade. I wasn’t sure what I’d find, but having read other books by this author, I knew I was in for a treat.

Kaye shares how she met her husband, Gordon, chronicling how he swept her off her feet with his captivating personality, and how he made her laugh. With a sense of intimacy, the writing draws you in, as if you are listening to a good friend. Their connection, a true love story, (so rare these days) was a joy to experience through her words.

This book is a memoir in the real sense of the word, where the author details her relationship with her husband based on her knowledge of his battle with prostate cancer. As time trudges along, and more health issues crop up, this couple finds themselves confronting their mortality head-on. Most people would crumble under the stress of these burdens, but not Kaye. Because of the love that she and Gordon share they discover that they can overcome whatever life throws at them.

What I enjoyed was Kaye’s willingness to share the innermost details of her life experiences so others could learn from her example. There was no glossing over here, and she does tell it like it is. Ultimately, she leads the reader to the conclusion that love and humor conquer all. I’ve taken many of her insights and tucked them away for future reference.

A quick read, “Twenty Years After I Do,” will touch you with warmth and sincerity, as the phrase “…till death do us part…” takes on new meaning.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5  Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Read the other reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077V386TL

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077V386TL

Other books by D.G. Kaye

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Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies

Come and visit me at our Literary Diva’s Library group on Facebook

Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Google: http://www.google.com/+DebbyDGKayeGies
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/dgkaye
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Thank you for dropping in today and please help spread the news of Debby’s travel column and we look forward to your questions and comments. Thanks Sally and Debby

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Caribbean and Canada Customs by D.G. Kaye


If you would like to share some of your posts on travel to anywhere, by any means of transport and pass on your experience and tips, then details are at the end of the post. Don’t forget it is an opportunity to showcase your blog and your books!

Time for the last in the travel series of posts from D.G. Kaye’s blog. And this week we are off to the Caribbean and more adventures with Customs and Excise!!! First published by Debby Gies in February of 2017.

Welcome Aboard

Hello lovely people! I’ve just returned from the beautiful Caribbean, and although I’m in between my return and part 2 of our winter vacation in Arizona next week and doing lots of laundry, sorting out emails and details for the next trip, and having a few follow up doctor appointments for hubby, I’m dropping in here with a short post.

We had a spectacular vacation of fun and sun. We were blessed to have everything flow beautifully from our departure to Fort Lauderdale, all the way through our return journey home.

Fort Lauderdale

A view from our balcony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

I had hoped to post more on social media, but between our constant busyness and unpredictable internet, as anticipated, I was pretty much absent on the web. While at sea, the days magically turned into night so effortlessly that time drifted by.

We were up early daily, eating breakfast on the balcony before we headed out by 9am-ish to either our lounge chairs at the pool or exploring on the shores. All the years I’ve been with my husband on vacation, he’s been the one to get out by 6am to secure the deck chairs with a towel and chair clips to ensure we ‘got a good spot’ to soak up the rays without being squashed in by too many other chairs enabling us to turn our chairs around as the sun moved. This time was different.

Balcony view on the Caribbean

A view from my cabin balcony in the Caribbean

Our friends who my husband had always got chairs for as well, repaid the favor to allow him to sleep in, and took turns waking at dawn to secure our seats. Chair saving and positioning is an art, and one the six of us are conveniently all fussy about.The weather was gorgeous and hot, particularly when we got out of the Atlantic into the Caribbean.

Balcony view Equinox

Our lovely balcony

We traveled with our friends Lynn and Gary who we’ve been friends with for 6 years now and actually met them on a cruise. They also live in Toronto, and now book our cruises together. We also met up with other friends we’ve made on past cruises, Deb and Sean from the U.K., who also booked the same cruise to once again spend time together. We soaked up the sun daily, laughed a lot, and met more interesting people, Holly and Brad from Vancouver.

The last supper

Last dinner night with friends: Sean and Deb, Hub and me, Lynn and Gary

Travel pals

Holly and Brad

The routine was simple: Get up early, get into the sun or off the ship and back into the sun after a shopping trip, grab a cocktail to go at 4pm back to the room to shower, lounge on the balcony and get ready for dinner, meet at the bar before dinner then go listen to music or dare to visit the casino, or on occasion head to bed at 930pm when we’d all taken in too much sun and fresh ocean air that knocked us right out. That combination is a great sleeping tonic and had me hitting the pillow and knocked out many nights before I could even read a book.

Amazing sunset in the Caribbean

Gorgeous sunset view from our balcony in St. Martin

So, with our busy agenda and lounging life, I didn’t have much opportunity get on the computer. When I did attempt to use the computer by getting up at 6am to try to steal an hour’s time on it, I found every page load was taking 5 minutes and decided I wasn’t going to spend hours in my room on the internet. Intentions were there but I wasn’t going to allow shaky, lagging internet to take over my vacation. Thus, I didn’t visit many blogs or even get to post pictures more than once on Facebook. Eventually I got over the computer withdrawl stage and relaxed in island time. I have to admit, it was quite freeing to do nothing but relax, laugh, chat, and of course, shop, lol.

St. Kitts

I hope to post some notable moments of our trip and some of the places we visited by the weekend. I have a few short days this week to get organized here and get ready to leave for Arizona early next week. And for many of you who have read my book, Have Bags, Will Travel, and know about my struggles with all my luggage and Canada customs, I’ll share an enlightening recap here of my return home to Toronto airport.

First off, I’m proud to announce that I was quite disciplined when it came to shopping this trip. Subsequently, I stayed within my customs allowance, AND BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE.

I’ve made a bit of travel history for myself! But, just because I stayed within the limits doesn’t necessarily mean that Canada customs would take my word for it and may want to have me pulled over for further inspection, so I still felt a little apprehensive.

This time, as usual, they asked me questions about how much I spent and what I was bringing back. And as part of the system, they hand back my declaration card stamped and write a ‘secret code’ number in big red numbers on the card. These numbers always have me perplexed, leaving me guessing as to what fate will be in store for me, so I try to snoop at other people’s cards to see if anyone has the same number as me, or if mine is different, as has been the case many times in the past.

After picking up the luggage from the carousel, we get to either exit the terminal to freedom once handing over that card, or find out we’re being pulled over to the investigation room where they rummage through your luggage to see if they can find something we haven’t declared. I call it the ‘scary room’. I’ve been sent there too many times and done some fancy talking, and gratefully I always managed to get out unscathed.

I had a glimmer of inspiration this time when I noted that the number written on my card this time was ‘111’. Many of you who know my obsession with being guided by angels, may also know that triple sequence numbers, particularly 111 are messages that the angels are around you. I immediately felt calm when I noticed that number.

This was the first time of all my returns home from the Caribbean that I handed in that card after picking up my luggage, and sailed right through customs through the exit doors! A fantastic finish to a fantastic vacation!

©D.G. Kaye 2017

My thanks to Debby for sharing some of her entertaining travel posts and you will find plenty more on her blog, just follow the link at the end of the page. I have read Debby’s book Have Bags Will Travel and I am sure you will enjoy.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Debby has written a book about her travel adventures – Have Bags Will Travel

About the book

D.G. Kaye is back, and as she reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines–with her overweight luggage in tow. Her stories alert us to some of the pitfalls of being an obsessive shopper, especially when it comes time for D.G. to bring her treasures home, and remind us of the simpler days when traveling was a breeze.

In her quest to keep from tipping the scales, D.G. strives to devise new tricks to fit everything in her suitcases on each trip. Why is she consistently a target for Canada customs on her return journeys?

D.G.’s witty tales take us from airports, to travel escapades with best friends, to reflections on how time can change the places we hold dear in our hearts. Her memories will entertain and have you reminiscing about some of your own most treasured journeys–and perhaps make you contemplate revamping your packing strategies.

A recent review for Have Bags Will Travel

Super fun travel reading on April 20, 2018

“Have Bags, Will Travel” is a delightful read on the experiences of travel, fashion, the art of packing suitcases with the emphasis on having a good time. Author, D.G. Kaye details her days on board planes to many popular destinations and her vivacious antics with friends. She also relates her solo travels to exotic destinations with steep cliffs and too much baggage. I particularly enjoyed the details of the by-gone, romantic days aboard Wardair, and the exquisite details of vintage Las Vegas.

A consummate shopper, D.G. Kaye relates her rather humorous run-ins with customs officials. How does it feel to be singled out routinely by airline officials? A read through this humorous pages will give you the insight to these first-hand conflicts.

I would say this might be required reading for shoe connoisseurs and fashion mavens especially if they have a plane ticket in hand. Germ avoidance theory is also discussed, and it may never be possible to look at airplane bathrooms the same.

D.G. Kaye brings back the memories of best friends and blazing trips through the desert. Many readers will identify with the struggles of this stylish lady attempting to blend in to avoid a custom’s mishap. A short and super fun read, “Have Bags, Will Travel” is perfect for your next airplane ride.

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Have-Bags-Will-Travel-Over-Packer-ebook/dp/B015HP1R6S

Other books by D.G. Kaye

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Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies

Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Google: http://www.google.com/+DebbyDGKayeGies
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/dgkaye
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

 

How to participate in this series.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog since you began blogging up to October 2017 and you simply send the link to those blogs to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been over 600 posts from 150 + bloggers that have reached a different audience and encouraged more readers for their own blogs and current posts.

The deal is that you also help promote the post by sharing on your social media and responding to the comments.

Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord short stories revisited – Blue Jay Cay by Colin Peck


When I worked on radio in the south of Spain I presented and recorded four series of Authors in the Sun showcasing local writers and their short stories.

Colin Peck who is an established author of several books kindly contributed two stories, one of which I am featuring today. You will find the link to his Amazon author’s page at the end of the story where you will find his novels.

Blue Jay Cay

Blue Jay Cay was a beach like no other they had seen. At least a mile of golden sand stretching before them, underneath a clear blue Caribbean sky. A line of coconut palms swayed in the gentle breeze, standing like soldiers on parade just above the shoreline. It was paradise.

Arnold raised his camera to eye level to photograph the wonderful vista and spoke to his wife, Caroline.

‘If we could get that run down chalet bungalow just behind the beach, we could renovate it completely. Ideal for all the family and friends to visit. I bet a few from the office will be out as well!’

‘Perfect location,’ Caroline agreed. ‘And you could build a patio just like the one we had on the house in England. And that garage could be converted into another bedroom. And I could completely change the garden.’

‘Yes, I think we’ve certainly found the right place to retire. Let’s get back into Nassau town and see the agent, before someone else snaps it up! I shan’t sleep tonight if the money hasn’t arrived!

Then Arnold spotted some more property seekers. ‘Look, there’s another car pulling up over there, I bet they’re looking for a bargain property as well!’

They hurried back to their car and then went speeding off down the dusty track that led to the main road into Nassau.

An old local man, Winston had hoped to greet them as they drove past his old shanty house and perhaps sell them some bananas, but as he raised his hand to wave he was showered in a cloud of dust and sand. They had not even glanced his way.

Momentarily blinded, Winston lost his balance and fell straight out of his hammock, scattering the squawking yard chickens. His old mongrel, ‘Bonzo’ woke from a deep slumber and dutifully started barking.

‘Gee whiz! Them folks is in a hurry!’ he said to himself as he stood up and brushed the sand off of his threadbare shorts and torn shirt. He looked along the road but the car had long since disappeared in a cloud of dust.

‘Oh never mind. Come on, I guess it’s time we went fishin, Bonzo.’

Winston was back in his hammock at the same time the next day but on this occasion he decided he would keep a sharp watch out for approaching cars. Sure enough, Arnold’s car appeared and roared past and then stopped near the old bungalow nearby. The same two people got out and wandered off, armed with what appeared to be plans and stopping every few yards to take snapshots.

An hour later they had finished, but this time their car did stop outside the shanty when they saw Winston’s weather beaten old sign, ‘Coconuts and Bananas for Sale.’

Winston was half-asleep but listened from underneath his straw hat, which was covering his face, as the couple got out of their car and approached.

‘I say there,’ Arnold said in a slightly raised voice, ‘Do you know of any plans to build more houses here?’

Winston stayed put with his hat still covering his eyes. ‘Well, let me see. Good afternoon, by the way,’ Winston paused and thought for a moment as they waited anxiously for his reply. ‘No, no plans I know of. Why d’you ask?’

‘Well, we’ve just bought that old bungalow behind the beach,’ Caroline replied. ‘We wondered if we might eventually be surrounded?’

‘No. Only by all this lovely peace and quiet, Ma’m. Us folks around here just like to let the world go by. Actually, the Cay is designated an area of natural beauty.’

‘Oh,’ Arnold replied as he and Caroline stood closer and looked over the garden fence. Bonzo got up and began to wag his tail.

‘My word, you have a lot of old empty bottles piled up there!’ Caroline pointed at a carefully arranged heap of old rum and beer bottles surrounded by a flower border.

‘Can’t you throw your rubbish away properly?’

‘That’s not rubbish, that’s Uncle Vernon,’ said Winston.

‘How do you mean?’ Arnold was puzzled.

‘He’s buried under there.’

Caroline gasped in horror. ‘What, under there…?’

‘Sure, six feet under, that’s he’s final restin’ place. Ninety one years of age, he was. We all think it was the relaxin’ way of life he enjoyed. So here he is, still relaxing. That’s how we bury our folks in this part of the world!’

‘Good gracious, are you allowed to do that?’ she asked.

‘I hope so, Ma’am. He’s been there for two years now!’ Winston said, finally rising out of his hammock and ambling slowly over to them.

‘So now, what are you good folks doin’ looking at property around here? Holiday home, retiring?’

‘Retiring actually,’ Arnold announced.

‘Good for you! Life’s too short. Just look at all this tranquillity!’

‘We thought it was an ideal opportunity,’ Caroline added.

‘Sure is Ma’am, what are you gonna do with all your spare time?’

‘I like painting,’ said Arnold.

‘That’s great, just look at the scenery around about. Mind you, oddly enough, I’ve never seen a Blue Jay around here! What do you use, oils? Watercolours?’

‘Oh no, I meant painting the house,’ Arnold replied.

‘Gee mister, we don’t worry too much around here. Jus’ look at this old shack behind me.’ Winston gestured at the old flaking timbers of his home.

‘You just never seem to catch up with the rainy season in this climate.’ Then he smiled at Caroline.

‘So, how about you, lady? I’ll bet you’ll be relaxing and reading on the verandah! Catching up on all those great books you folks collect back in Europe?’

Caroline appeared to be slightly shocked at Winston’s direct manner. ‘Oh no, I’ll be far too busy getting the house ready for visitors.’

‘Visitors!’ Winston shouted in disbelief. ‘Boy, you must be wealthy people if you don’t mind me sayin’ so! Them devils cost a fortune, did you know that?’

‘Well I’m sure ours won’t,’ Caroline snootily replied.

‘In fact folks, that is why that old bungalow is like it is now!’ Winston exclaimed.

‘What do you mean?’ said Arnold.

‘The couple in there had so many visitors, they went broke!’

‘I don’t believe you,’ said Caroline.

‘It’s true!’ Winston continued, ‘That guy did so many airport runs it turned his car into a wreck. His lady wife wore out so many washin’ machines and steam irons they could start a scrap yard! There was even a rumour they had to run four chest freezers and- they had to buy a bread making machine! Broke up their marriage in the end!’

‘We think you’re exaggerating,’ Arnold said testily.

‘OK, just check it out. By the way, would you folks like to buy some bananas?’

‘Not today thank you,’ Caroline snapped and they both turned away to walk toward their car.

‘Suit yourself. They are very good for stress,’ Winston called after them, ‘So is coconut milk!’

‘We shan’t have any stress, we’re retiring, remember!’ Arnold shouted back.

Winston watched their progress with growing interest over the following weeks and months. First of all, Arnold got an old trailer to pull behind his car and then a new cement mixer arrived. Hardly a day went past without a delivery of bags of cement or timber, or gravel. New window frames and literally hundreds of tiles. Bonfires of garden rubbish were a daily occurrence and both Arnold and Caroline appeared very tired as they toiled in the heat on their noisy and dusty building site.

Then after six months of hard work, it was Christmas and their first visitors arrived.

Winston saw Arnold driving past in his now well scratched and dented car, forcing a smile and waving a bandaged hand, as he returned with an assorted group of passengers from the airport. What a way to spend Christmas Eve, thought Winston as he watched Caroline greet the passengers on the porch and Arnold struggle into the bungalow with several large suitcases.

And the procession never ended. Hardly a week passed by when Arnold wasn’t on the airport run and Caroline wasn’t hanging out extra laundry, or weeding the garden. Even the small local supermarket could hardly keep up with the demand. The local gossips said they were doing ‘Bed and Breakfast,’ but it was not the case. Just constant visitors.

By Easter, they had worn out their second barbecue and Arnold had even bought some scaffolding to make window cleaning easier.

Theirs was a strange retirement; Winston could not help thinking. They must have really hated leaving work, he decided one afternoon as he lazed in his garden hammock. As though they were terrified at the thought of relaxing in the sun and taking a well earned rest. They were good folks and should be making the best of their new life of leisure.

Then it was time for his work. Winston had finished his afternoon nap and strolled down the golden sand to his little fishing boat moored at the pontoon. Arnold was driving slowly by with a load of building tools and an air conditioning unit strapped to his car trailer.

Winston waved to him and then cast off his boat into the gentle surf.

Hopefully, the Grouper fish would be biting this evening. Otherwise it was Cajun chicken for supper, while he listened with interest and fascination to the local radio station. Sipping a rum punch afterwards, while watching the glorious sunset was just another added bonus of life on the Cay.

He slowly motored the boat offshore, watching the fading gold streaks of light dance on the surface of the sea and then glanced back to the shoreline. He could just see Arnold and Caroline still bringing trays of drinks and snacks to their latest visitors, who were all relaxing on the bungalow verandah. The poor devils were still catering at this time of the day, as the guest’s laughter echoed across the water.

Then Winston suddenly had a thought. It was very easy for him to criticise well meaning folks and the way they lived their lives. But it was still a fact that so many of the new settlers could not help falling into a trap of a sort. Thinking that they were retired, but really still working.

More to the point, what on earth would HE do, when he decided to retire? He didn’t have to think twice of the answer. Then he began to laugh at himself as he got his fishing nets ready to cast, causing a slightly confused ‘Bonzo,’ to wag his tail.

©ColinPeck 2004

About the Author
Colin Peck was born in London in 1946 and grew up in a working class environment during the austere post war years. He was fortunate to get a place at Clarendon School and went on to study chemistry, working in his early career in the technical departments of an international oil company.

He started writing several years back, having some short story fiction published in the U.S. and has written factual articles on both nautical and espionage matters, published both in the U.S. and U.K.

‘Enrico Albyvendie’ was his first novel, inspired by his lifelong interest in London’s history and an intricate knowledge of the London taxi trade. Together with his wife Avril, he retired to live in Spain in 2000 and has written to further books in the Enrico Albyvendie series and recently published his sixth novel.

Books by Colin Peck

 

Buy Colin Peck’s books
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Colin-Peck/e/B00651QJ9E

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