saint-martin 2017

    Les Temps des Cerises   hotel, our home away from home.

Les Temps des Cerises hotel, our home away from home.

I mean, where do I begin?

I guess, first off, hello!  It's been quite some time, yes?  So, while I was gone, I spent my 50th birthday with my family on a quiet beach holiday in Saint-Martin, West Indies.  A few months ago, when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do for my birthday, I'd honestly had plans to do something more adventurous -- I was googling places like Machu Picchu and Easter Island -- when I came across a photograph from the balcony of this tiny little hotel in St Martin that looked a lot like this ...

  The view from our room balcony.  

The view from our room balcony.  

... and I realized that it was exactly what I wanted to do to celebrate:  spend lazy days by the beach reading funny and inspirational books, and eating great seafood at night.  And, my friends, that is exactly what I did.  The hotel had a mere 9 rooms, so by the time we left, we'd made friends with a couple of other families (one of whom was also celebrating a 50th birthday!), and all of the staff knew us by name.  We reserved lounge chairs every day on the beach, and I ended up reading 5 books (after I was done with the four I'd taken with me, I started in on Alex's stack).  It was bliss.

But there were a few day excursions away from our hotel as well:  one day, we spent several hours at Loterie Farm, which really isn't much of a farm at all, but almost an outdoor club, with multi-level pools nestled in the rainforest, and a DJ span and waitstaff brought delicious food and beverages to our lounge chairs (or for some, their more expensive cabanas).  We visited a really charming butterfly farm (that actually was a farm), and learned more about butterflies and moths from an amiable tour guide named Tito than you ever would've thought possible.  And we even took a day trip to the neighbouring island of Anguilla, driving through its lone city before arriving at one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever visited in my life. 

In short, it was one of the most restful, educational, bonding and inspirational family vacations we've ever had, and I emerged on the other side more determined to create more meaningful work, relationships and experiences than ever before.  And Lordy-me, it was all just so beautiful.  Saint-Martin is incredibly charming, and I love that it seems to have maintained its culture more than any other Caribbean island that depends on tourism I've ever visited, save maybe for Tobago (and I'm not sure that Tobago counts, since Tobago is part of Trinidad & Tobago, whose main source of income is petroleum).  So that was heartening to see.

All in all, I'd call our week in the Caribbean an unmitigated success.

So here are some of my favourite photographs, shot entirely with my little Sony point-and-shoot.

    Grand Case beach  , right outside of our hotel.  Yes, the water really is that blue.

Grand Case beach, right outside of our hotel.  Yes, the water really is that blue.

  Every Saturday night, the hotel has a lobster barbecue by the beach.  

Every Saturday night, the hotel has a lobster barbecue by the beach.  

  The lounge chairs and private cabanas at   Loterie Farm  .

The lounge chairs and private cabanas at Loterie Farm.

  Someone on   my Facebook page   mentioned that I neglected to post a birthday selfie on my birthday for the first time this year -- so here it is, belatedly!  Taken at   Ocean 82 restaurant  , Grand Case, Saint-Martin, July 16, 2017.  I'm  FIFTY  .

Someone on my Facebook page mentioned that I neglected to post a birthday selfie on my birthday for the first time this year -- so here it is, belatedly!  Taken at Ocean 82 restaurant, Grand Case, Saint-Martin, July 16, 2017. I'm FIFTY.

  Alex amassed an impressive collection of sea glass (and a few cool-looking rocks).

Alex amassed an impressive collection of sea glass (and a few cool-looking rocks).

  Shoal Bay, Anguilla.  Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.

Shoal Bay, Anguilla.  Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.

  Sunset back at our hotel on Grand Case beach.  Let me tell you, there are worse places to end your day.

Sunset back at our hotel on Grand Case beach.  Let me tell you, there are worse places to end your day.

  Alex and I got quite a bit of sun.

Alex and I got quite a bit of sun.

  Tito showing us a moth at the butterfly farm.  He says that this moth is small -- this type can grow twice the size shown here.  I asked him if a moth like this has ever carried off a small child, and he said no. I don't believe him.

Tito showing us a moth at the butterfly farm.  He says that this moth is small -- this type can grow twice the size shown here.  I asked him if a moth like this has ever carried off a small child, and he said no. I don't believe him.

  A more reasonably-sized butterfly at the farm.

A more reasonably-sized butterfly at the farm.

  A final caipirinha, the last evening of our holiday.

A final caipirinha, the last evening of our holiday.

 

One other thing:  I've been toying with dipping my toe into video for several years now, and I decided that for a milestone birthday, it would do me well to push myself, dive in, and give it a whirl.  I recorded a bunch of footage while we were there, and you can see the result below.  Go easy on me -- it's my first attempt at video, and I've made a long list of things I'll do differently next time (like use my big Nikon dSLR instead of the Sony), but it'll definitely give you an idea of what our holiday felt like.

Click here or the image below to watch.

 

With that, I hope you guys had a wonderful July.  It's great to be back.  Tell me something good!