Dave goes a little stir crazy on the boat. He describes it as a touch of cabin fever. He really needs to keep busily productive or get off the boat and exercise. Don’t be surprised if our plans change and we come home earlier than the four years or so planned. Keeping a workaholic from working is no easy task. Walking to the fort the other day only made Dave itch for more. We met Steve on Slow Flight, who hikes nearly every day. He told us to go to Hotel Port de Plaisance on the dinghy and hike up the hill behind the resort. So today we got an early start. We listened to the cruisers’ net at 7:30 before taking the dinghy across the lagoon to Port de Plaisance.
We soon came across color-coded trail markers, an encouraging sign that we found a proper trail. However, we do not have a trail map or key to the color coding, so we do not know where they lead. At this point it doesn’t matter. We haven’t explored any trails. The trail was a fairly steep uphill climb before we came to a split off. Dave, of course, chose the more difficult trail that was an even steeper climb. I noticed that along this trail we did not see any color-coded trail markers. I did see a lot of manure piles that I assume must belong to cows. They were large like buffalos leave behind, but I doubt there are any buffalos on this island. Next I noticed deer pellets. The only footprints I saw were Dave’s, who is always way ahead of me.
I told Dave that I didn’t think we were on an actual trail; that we were following a wash. He ignored me, assuming I was complaining (which I admit I tend to do when I am hot and sweaty – I still hate to sweat). In places it was a measly excuse for a trail with thorny bushes creeping across it. “Dave, I am pretty sure this is not a hiking trail. This is an ungulate trail.” The piles of evidence continued. Finally, we crested the summit and were rewarded with an amazing view.
We could see just how crazy the SXM, Princess Juliana Airport, really is. It is on a strip of land surrounded by water on all four sides. The far end is where people brave the jet blast on Sunset Beach. Past this viewpoint, however, the path narrowed and the thorny bushes grew denser. We were following it around the hill we just scaled into a clearing of sorts surrounded by trees. “Dave I think this is a grazing area. I don’t think we can go any further.” Unperturbed by my protests, Dave continued scraping his way through the bushy trail until he could go no further. “Janice, I don’t think this is a hiking trail. I think it is an animal trail.” Isn’t he funny?
We turned around to retrace our steps all the way back to where we left the real trail. I got stuck in the thorny bushes twice before I picked up a stick to help push them out of my way. One fateful step, a strand of thorns stuck to my shoe as I was stepping forward, slicing it across my other leg. I am certainly no graceful mountain goat and I have no business following a mountain goat trail (or whatever ungulates travel there – we never saw any). This is probably Dave trying to kill me again. They are likely poisonous and I’ll die tomorrow.
I did see all kinds of interesting plants flowering and fruiting and several different birds. I also found a pretty snail shell that was as long as my fingers! And I have big hands. Haha.
Eventually we made our way to the original trail. Just as we got there, rocks rolled under Dave’s feet and down he went. Luckily only a short fall, but he is no mountain goat either. Turn left and we go back to the dinghy, turn right and who knows where we go. So Dave turned left. By this time, I was sucking down his water like crazy. The tropical heat was oppressive. We started to see markers again. It was more encouraging to continue when we saw rocks with painted arrows, even if they were a different color than the trail markers we started following. We didn’t know where we were going anyway, so what difference did it make? We crossed one hill just to come upon another. The views are spectacular, though. St Martin has all kinds of interesting shapes to it creating the natural bays and the lagoon (pictured at top of page).
I was starting to lose my steam. My hip was talking to me and it had become apparent we were heading towards the French side of the island. We were almost out of water and had a decision to make. Turn and go all the way back or continue on and hope it lets us out somewhere near civilization and a place to get cold drinks. We continued on and the hiking became easier. We were passed the worst of the hills and we caught glimpses of a town more frequently. We finally made it to a paved street. We knew we were somewhere in Marigot. We continued walking and weaving our way through the streets until we recognized the lagoon side of Marigot. Oh joy! Dave remembered a French creole restaurant he wanted to try and we made a beeline for it. We would soon have drinks and food! We spared quick glances at the meat and fruit market as we walked by. We were soon treated to a delightful meal of Trinidadian curry chicken and Dominican creole shrimp. To celebrate our accomplishment, we put the calories back on that we just shed with some frozen yogurt. Then we stopped by the French bakery and picked up another loaf of fabulous bread before catching the bus back to the Hotel Port de Plaisance and our dinghy. It wasn’t easy, but it was kind of cool to hike from one country to another.