St Maarten/St Martin
17 December 2017 Newsletter

Other newsletters
Contests | Restaurants | Bargains and Happenings


Cupecoy sunset

Unburdening my Sole: We returned to the farm from SXM in Mid-April. Before the end of April, I had stepped on a stick as I chased a laying hen through the woods. The stick punctured the sole of my shoe and went on into the sole of my foot. I went through seven doctors over eight weeks and an X-ray, an MRI, and blood work before I got into a hospital for foot surgery over the Fourth of July weekend. There is still a scab on the bottom of my foot, but I am finally walking. The total bill was about $20,000 and my share was a mere $1045.

Vacation: You may recall that there was a hurricane that hit the island on 7 Sep 2017. That was the day that Martha and I left the US for France where we would meet Sylvain from Select Wine Cellar. The vacation was sixteen days plus a day's travel at each end. You can read all about it here: France 2017. Almost every day was cloudy, 20F below normal temperatures, and rainy. We got some info concerning our condo at Sapphire and Sylvain's store and apartment which seemed hopeful.

Lilly the wondercat: We had friends come from Quebec to look after our farm and cat while we were on vacation. They arrived with a very friendly dog which was more than Lilly could handle so she promptly headed out into the woods. Our friends were devastated and weren't helped much by Martha's news that she had seen a large bobcat at our front door recently. After about a week Lilly was spotted but would not enter the house. Our friends returned to Quebec and one of our tenants began feeding the animals. She spotted Lilly and left the garage door up about 6 inches. We drove up from Newark arriving about 10PM and found Lilly in the garage. She had lost about 30% of her body weight and was a bit scruffy, but she was glad to see us.

Travel:At present Jet Blue is flying from JFK to SXM. United is not flying from Newark to SXM. I cannot find any flights from Albany (an hour and a half drive) to JFK. This leads to at least three legs and usually four legs to get to SXM from ALB. Most journeys require an overnight someplace. The expense and logistics get even worse when you add a cat. At present we have no reservations and I doubt we will until United resurrects their EWR-SXM nonstop.

Newsletter: What does all this have to do with the newsletter? It explains why you did not get many newsletters this summer and sets you up for no weekly newsletters over the 2017/8 high season. WendyK is sending me some info, especially for the lowlands where she lives.

Alcohol: Sylvain from Select Wine Cellar returned to find that his home, his truck, and his shop were in good shape. He is offering Deutz Champagne at $35 per bottle. That's a very good price on some very good Champagne. Moulin Fou is open seven days per week and Sylvain Is the wine steward on weekends.

The following is from WendyK:
The island has greened up considerably. Although there are a lot of unhealthy-looking mangroves along our property (not sure they'll come back?), I'm looking at an hibiscus flower in bloom, and the bouganvilleas are, as well. I haven't seen any sugar birds yet, nor heard the mourning doves, but there are pelicans, crows, and yellow butterflies, which I remember post-Lennie.

Arrival at the airport was smooth and efficient, despite it being done outside under tents. I noticed a couple of the jetways looked undamaged as we landed. There doesn't appear to be any reconstruction work going on in the terminal, which someone complained about in the online version of the Daily Herald.

A drive to Marigot through the Lowlands revealed some of the walls and gates damaged. Sandy Ground looks much the same as usual, although I guess there's extensive damage close to the water on both sides. Nettle Bay looks like a war zone, except for the rebuilt building where the pharmacy is located. It is up and running and is undamaged, although the little market has not reopened. The structures that were Dreams and Le Sand are partially standing. I understand they will not reopen.

The area along the waterfront is in bad shape. Serafina's, La Sucriere, The Mini Club are all closed. (ed note: I thought Sucriere and Mini Club were closed last April. Bar de la Mer and Awarak, and the lolos across the way were open. Le Gout de Vin was also open, but I haven't been in there yet, nor did I check out the Marina, although I heard Tropicana was suppose to open this week. Some of the "luxury" shops on whatever that street is (Rue JFK) were open. The Cadisco gas station on the lagoon has just reopened.

Simpson Bay is not looking too bad. Some businesses are not open. The first floor above the Mailbox is gone, as are all the computer "booths" in the Mailbox. There is currently one mail delivery a week: on Wednesday. (Today's the day!) Lee's lost all of their solar panels, in addition to losing the case for rights to use the land. He's to be out in Feb, I think. The Pizza Galley is just gone. The McDonalds is closed, although the building doesn't look damaged. i wonder if it was looted so badly it isn't reopening. I talked to a couple who is staying in their unit at the Atrium! The Market Garden is open.

Harley Davidson was being demolished when I was in the area on Monday. Merchant's Market is closed. Sylvan said for at least 6 months, although Mario told me it had been sold to an American, I believe before Irma, and there was some union busting involved in the closure, so it may be more than the hurricane. Mario was able to buy some things out the back door before they closed. Prime is open, as is Ace. The RBC next to Port de Plaisance is closed and the Carrefour behind it, as well. There's some damage to the new car dealership next door, but it appeared to be open.

Yesterday Patty and I took the Philipsburg route to Orient and Grand Case. There was one cruise ship in port for the second day, and traffic going up the hill was backed up, as "usual". French Quarter looked much the same as the last time I drove through there 6 or 7 years ago. The buildings at Club O were either flattened or empty shells. The Perch bar was open in some capacity, and they were renting chairs and umbrellas. Pedro's is gone, as are all of the new structures that the French built with great fanfare and minimal engineering. Those poor merchants... Luis has reopened his "shop" on the concrete platform where I assume it used to be located. It is open air now. Didn't see Orient Village, but the beach looked pretty bare as far down as I could see.

Mt Vernon, in the distance, looked pretty good. We took the entrance over the bridge into Grand Case, so didn't see the whole "strip", but there was plenty of damage to see. Some structures have disappeared; others are whole, and still others are piles of rubble. Hope Estate has lots of damage, as well. La Peninsule was open, as is the fairly new restaurant next door (Al Dente).

Maho is also pretty devastated. Parts of the Sonesta are down to the steel beams. There is visible work going on at the Royal Islander, La Terrasse, and the casino, as well as a couple of the shops along the strip. The market is open, and there's a new Jamaican restaurant where the coffee place used to be up above, Bajatzu is open, and they are working on 3 Amigos; Le Moulin Fou, Winnie's, and La Rosa are open. Fig, which had closed before Irma was gutted.

The road through the golf course looks sad with so many of the palm trees that lined it missing their tops. There are 4 palms down just around my apartment, which hopefully will be cut up and removed this Sat when we rent a chainsaw for Lockman. The Atlantis/Starz casino is a wreck. Visible damage to parts of the Cliff and Rainbow and Arbor Estates. The Tradewinds looks pretty good. Of course the Summit is destroyed.

The AUC looks good and will be reopening in January. Cathy and Bill returned yesterday and are living in the apartment next to the one they used to live in, which has serious damage. Jordan Village looks very good. The new Carrefour Express that opened there last winter/spring is closed due to looting, but the restaurants: Beirut, the Spaghetti House, Jules' Bakery, and Bar Code are all open, as are Fat Tony's and BB's and the Chinese Market. Dan's pizza is closed, but is likely just waiting for the school to reopen. Cote d'Azure apartments all look in good shape, and I appreciated that every one had their outside lights on last night when I drove to Mario's. The only dark portions of road were just by Parc Lagon (which has always been dark) and the stretch from Sapphire to the far side of the Blue Mall.

Porto Cupecoy is fully open except for the perennially closed Maximo's (NY Brasserie, Shanghai Brasserie, etc), or whatever it was originally called, and the ATM outside the Carrefour Express. I had lunch on Sat (9 Dec) at ALTRO: a 3 course prix fixe with 4 choices for each course, for $26. A glass of rose was $6. I had the calamari and potatoes (left), lamb, and panna cotta with mango sauce. Monique had the fish of the day: wahoo (right), and a chestnut mousse with figs and rum.

Dinner recently at Mario Bistrot, with a somewhat smaller than normal menu, was excellent, as always. I arrived at around 7:00 and sat at the bar. There were 2 tables outside with patrons and 2 waitstaff in addition to Bobby, the bartender. Mario came out and talked with me for quite a while. He abandoned his apartment on the French side and is renting at Jordan Village. I had 2 aps from the "specials" list: fresh smoked salmon drizzled with creme fraiche, sliced radishes and arugula, and my favorite standby, beef carpaccio. I drank two glasses of pinot noir. They add an 8% service charge to the bill, I believe it was, and I left more, of course. Mario has found a purveyor on the French side who's beginning to get some good seafood in addition to meats, he said. He complained about GEBE, who charged him as much, if not more for the time he was closed due to Irma than when he was open, and basically said tough luck when he complained. He also complained about spending $4k each for 2 employees to help them get "legal", to no avail. It's not clear if they're working for him anyway. Oh, and every outside table was full when I left.

green logo Nature: On the right is Martha's stink plant. I think Sapphire brought things in from our porch, but I doubt the plants will survive without water. Our med-student tenant is no longer around as Sapphire is closed so I doubt the plants are being watered.

Small Island story: The Dutch have pledged lots of aid for St Maarten, but insist on watching the expenditures. This, of course, upset the locals who prefer not to be watched very closely.


I haven't awarded contest prizes since late June. I know four of these prizes are gone with the wind (or waves) and will not be there to give you a prize. Until this is all sorted out, new prizes will not be awarded.

Current Contest: None is currently scheduled
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
DK Gems - $150 off a $500 purchase
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine
Piazza Pascal - $50 off dinner for two
Pizza Galley - $25 off on a dinner for two
Ti Coin Créole - $30 off on a dinner for two

Credit Cards and Exchange Rate

On 27 Aug the Euro was at 1.193. Today it's at 1.176. That's down about 1.4% over the last four months.

With the Euro still high against the dollar, restaurants doing 1 to 1 become more interesting. It behooves those of us with dollars to check the exchange rate offered by restaurants. For several years French side restaurants have been offering better than market exchange rates, especially for cash. However, if a French side restaurant offers a bad exchange rate, ask for your credit card to be charged in Euros. Assuming you followed my advice below and got a card that has no charge for foreign transactions you will get the wholesale rate on the exchange.


Café de Paris
Last March we went to Marina Royale in Marigot for lunch at Café de Paris. They have a daily special and the FaxInfo from that morning said it was onglet. That's a hanger steak, basically the tip of the diaphragm. It's not filet mignon, but it is very tasty. I had that for only 12€. As the photo on the left shows it came with puffed potatoes, sauce, and a salad. It went well with the Ropiteau Pinot Noir (center, 19€). Martha had another special, a crab and avocado salad (right, 14€). It was very nice also. The total came to 51€ for a delightful lunch on the Marina.

News and Changes: We frequently post some dining photos to Facebook. Less frequently we post activities and other things related to SXM or food. If you're interested, I trust you know what to do.


SXM-Info has chosen SkyMed to arrange medical transportation services. We hope you never need it, but when air evacuation flights cost $30,000 or more, it's good to have. Check out their offerings.


Erich S. Kranz
Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe
Our privacy policy