Tuesday, November 22, 2011

St Martin/Marteen
We had a smidge of a plan going into this port. We wanted to go to the butterfly farm and we wanted to go to the beach. Last time we went to a really nice beach called Orient (nude on one side, topless on the other :-) so that seemed like an easy choice.

We partnered up with two couples that we’d met on the ship to share a private excursion and off we went. We ended up visiting an iguana “farm”… dunno about the “farm” part. It just looked like some beat up old buildings with a bunch of iguana hanging out. Our guide bought a bag of bananas to feed the iguana. One thing I learned is that iguana are good swimmers! They move through the water quickly kind of like an alligator. Very cool thing to see. There were also about a dozen small cages (maybe 3x3’ square) holding some extremely well groomed roosters. My fears were confirmed by our guide: cock fighting. Apparently completely legal and acceptable on the island. So sad. We fed the iguanas some bananas, pet them a bit and then moved on to the butterflies.

The butterfly farm is really just a very large screened in area filled with tropical plants. Can you say HUMID? Yikes!

G had a single goal: she wanted to have butterflies land on her. I didn’t think this was going to be a problem but it turned out to be a bit more challenging to accomplish than expected. The butterflies hardly ever landed. It seemed like they were in constant motion. When they did land it was for an extremely brief time (think ½ to1 second) and then they were off again. Or, if they did land, they’d close their wings. After awhile I started to really wonder if G was going to get to hold a butterfly. She usually has an incredible amount of patience for a three yr old but she was starting to lose it a bit. It didn’t help that it was about 100% humidity in there and we were all dripping with sweat. Finally, Bobby found the newly emerged butterfly section and managed to get one of the newbies onto his hand. Since it was young and weak he was able to transfer it to G and then it just sort of stuck there. Yeah! Success! G was very gentle and after holding it for awhile Bobby helped her put it back into the newborn section. Tragedy avoided.

Next stop Orient Beach. G had her normal fun laughing and screaming as she played in mostly less than 12 inches of water. Then we had a quick lunch and worked our way over to Maho Beach in hopes of seeing the planes take off and land. I could have skipped it. We did it last time and I felt like I’d BTDT but the others in our group had never been. It is a St Marten must do. We got lucky because a big plane was just landing when we go there. Then, that was it. We sat there almost an hour and the only thing we saw was a few cessnas taking off. Kind of a let down.

Final stop: ship! At least that was the plan. As it turned out, Queen Beatrice of Holland, was visiting her island and set to leave that afternoon. What this meant was that all traffic came to a screeching halt and we ended up sitting parked in the van for at least an hour. Its times like this that I really appreciate how agreeable G is. We sang some songs, she played with her doll and she was fine. The one positive out of the whole thing is that the queen’s cavalcade came right by us. She and her entourage came through in a large black expedition type vehicle led and followed by a few motorcycles. All I could think is that the Dutch must not be too worried about her safety. If it was the American president there would be car after car of security and other people and he would never come through in a vehicle without tinted glass. Ah well, I guess that was my brush with royalty. For a split second we were less than 10 feet away from her.

Back on the ship for dinner. Tonight’s was my worst. It was cold, sent it back, returned cold again. Uhhh, ok, skip that. Then G went to the kid’s club for their Very Merry Unbirthday party. On a side note, G has been loving the kids club! It seems to work out to have her go for about 1.5-2 hrs in the evening after dinner. They have lots of activities then and we get some down time. Nice. Thankfully, with a bit of intervention from the Asst Cruise Director, our issue with the supervisor was resolved, hopefully for good. Without G in tow, Bobby and I decided to go to the show! It was a not very funny comedian. Even so, it was nice to have a bit of grown up down time.

Checking out the reptiles
They really went for those bananas
There's this lookout area where a local stands and shows tourists sea life like urchin and sand dollars and such. He has a collection of shells there for the taking conch, etc and you can give him a buck or two. G picked this huge sand dollar. The animal is not inside any longer. Conch is a very popular food in the islands. I'll have to try it some time I guess but it just doesn't look appealing to me whatsoever.

At the butterfly farm. Trying to get a picture of one with its wings open was an incredible feat. It didn't help that I was using my pocket camera with the auto focus.

This is the butterfly G finally got to hold. Isn't it beautiful? It almost doesn't look real.

Again, it looks like it was photoshopped onto her hand.

At Orient Beach. G body surfs in like 12" of water. Its hysterical to me that she enjoys it. It seems like she just gets washed up onto the shore than runs out to do it again. Certainly this is what seashells feel like.

At Maho... here comes the plane...

and there is goes!!

Tomorrow: St John's, Antigua

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