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Use it or lose it!

Thomas C. Famous. Photo: Provided
Maxine Simms-Famous stands at the border between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten. Photo: Provided
Maxine Simms-Famous stands at the border between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten. Photo: Provided
Thomas C. Famous

Many human resource departments across Bermuda have sent out a directive about vacation time to employees.

With very few people travelling due to the pandemic, thousands of Bermudian employees have been racking up countless vacation days.

So much so that companies are now actively encouraging employees to take their vacation days before the year ends. Subsequently, quite a number of my co-workers have been taking well-needed vacations.

For me, it was a no-brainer, and I looked online for ticket prices.

I am not sure why; however, I was extremely grateful to be able to get a one-way ticket to New York for $150 and a one-way ticket to Sint Maarten for $100.

That's a total of $250 to get to Sint Maarten from Bermuda.

One island, two nations.

Sint Maarten is on the Dutch side in the southern part of the island, and French Saint Martin is on the island's northern side.

There is an open border between the two nations with flags of France and Holland indicating the demarcation points.

The island itself is a total of 37 sq miles. The population of the Dutch side is roughly 60,000 persons, with a size of 16 square miles. To the North, the French side has approximately 39,000 persons spread over 21 square miles

So in total, approximately 100,000 persons are living on the island

On the French side, the currency used is the Euro. On the Dutch side, the US Dollar is used.

Languages spoken include; Creole, Dutch, English, French, and Spanish.

Melting pot

The Taino and Arawak tribes initially inhabited the island out of South America.

Since the 17th Century, both sides of the island had several hundred plantations that enriched the Dutch and French Empires.

Crops are grown by enslaved Africans included; sugar, indigo, mangoes, and livestock.

Present-day, the island serves as a melting pot of cultures, perhaps one of the most culturally diverse islands in the Caribbean. One can find persons from every Caribbean island with a significantly large proportion of Europeans and persons of East Indian heritage.

The Friendly Island.

On both sides of the island, the primary industry is tourism. Pre-pandemic, they had over 2 million visitors per annum, inclusive of cruise and air arrivals.

Negative PCR tests and travelers' insurance has to be purchased before arrival. Once on the island, no further tests are required. Unfortunately, there have been a total of 125 Covid related deaths.

Hotel accommodations range from Airbnb to Five-star resorts. One can get a perfect hotel room/suite with water views and beach access in the price range of $150-$250 per night.

We were fortunate to get a hotel suite for $130 per night at the Flamingo Resort, where the staff, Katherine, Bryan, Deondre, and Marie, treated us like family every step of the way.

Rental cars can be had for roughly $50 per day for an almost new midsize SUV.

Restaurants range in cost, depending on whatever one wants to eat. There are fast food franchises, European eateries, as well as many places offering local dishes.

One will never go thirsty, as you cannot drive for five minutes without seeing a bar on the side of the road.

Wherever you go, you will find amiable people willing to serve you, and language is never a barrier. If you happen to go off the beaten track, you will see, just as friendly livestock, slowly roaming the road.

The Hub

St Maarten also serves as a hub for several nearby islands.

Affordable, fast ferry services are available for short trips to nearby Anguilla and St Barths.

Regional airlines such as; Air Caribes, Winair, Inter Caribbean, and SXM Airlines fly out of Princess Juliana International Airport daily to other islands such as; Antigua, Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Saba, Statia, St Kitts, and the Virgin Islands.

There are international flights from the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

So, If you are looking for somewhere to go that you can feel relaxed, well served, and not break your pocket, you would love a trip to the Friendly island.

3 Responses to “Use it or lose it!”

  • teacher john (13/10/2021, 17:37) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Good read yall
  • Futuro (13/10/2021, 18:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    What you saying boy. You promote SMX ????
    • Liat should be ashame (17/10/2021, 14:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Hearing those ticket prices Liat should be ashamed and embarrassed, their prices making you dont want to fly..imagine $900.00 from here to st kitts, 40 minutes away...Thats Criminal...We miss Bratheaite going to Antigua and St. Kitts from here.!

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