The Life Changing Caribbean Adventure, Days 1-2
July 26, 2021

Sunday night I got onto an airplane with my girlfriend Kristy (surprise!) in Los Angeles. 17 days earlier we had placed six destinations into a hat (Hawaii, NYC, Alaska, Costa Rica, Amsterdam, and Sint Maarten. Kristy, eighteen hours after the start of our first date, drew St. Maarten and we bought tickets through travelocity. Sunday night we got onto the plane together, having only been apart for maybe 24 hours in the past 17 days, and never for more than a 12 hour stretch. By the end of the first night I had gotten drunk from a beer named Presidente, lost my sandals, and swam naked in the Caribbean. This is our story.

11:45pm, Sunday night, LAX. We breeze through security and head straight for the bar. We drink enough to make the idea of getting onto a plane where our seats are reserved for the last row and I'm in the middle an exciting proposition. She whips my ass at gin twice but still won't gamble with me on the game. We watch about half of "I Am Legend" on the laptop and spend the next several hours passing in and out of consciousness.

At 9:30 whatever coast time (I really am not sure whether we're in east coast or east coast + 1 time zone) we land in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We wander around a bit, go outside, and finally decide to just chill at the airport. We go back through the empty security, and suddenly the half full water bottle on my backpack is a security risk. I laughed at the absurdity of it all since I had not lost sight of the security line at all in my time outside of the sterile airport area. We played some more gin, she whipped my ass some more, and she still won't gamble with me. Good news for me, cause I'd be stuck $300 on games plus the points at $5/point. I think I need to stop gambling on trips with my friends cause I don't win ever and usually end up losing what I spend on the trip in the first place (see: Alaska, Canada, etc.). Also for the record, two more beers went down each chute with a really not tasty breakfast.

The hop over to Sint. Maarten was 55 minutes long. The Caribbean sure is beautiful, and I spent most of the flight staring outside watching islands pass below. This was the first time that I've flown since I've started learning how to fly, so it was fascinating watching everything from the traffic patterns to the control surfaces at work. On our descent, I realized that we were getting really really low and were still over water. Then in about a three second period, I saw a very small stretch of beach, probably ten feet wide from the water to the rocks. Little did I know that in about eight hours I would be standing in that exact spot and would lose my sandals somehow in the process. So, small beach, rocks, packed two lane road, fence, ten feet of grass, and SCREECH *thump* we were on the ground. LOL Islands. We hit the brakes hard (must be a short field), came to a stop, turned around, and drove right back down the runway towards the beach of missing slippers. "Haha... the runway is the taxiway too, mon!"

We breeze through customs, and I'm pretty stoked for my first stamp in my passport to say, "St Maarten: The Friendly Island, 21 Jul 08." We retrieve our bags no problem, walk to the Thrifty Car Rental booth, and this lady with a Thrifty shirt says, "Reservation?" I say yes, "OK, come with me," and she turns around and walks out of the airport. She takes us to the end of the sidewalk and points to a series of car rental signs which happen to be the shuttle pickup. After about ten minutes of waiting there were about ten of us mainlanders standing on one concrete island admist a sea of blacktop, wondering why all of our other car rental neighbor islands were empty. Finally the "shuttle" pulls up. It's one of those Eurpoean style mini-vans and looks like it has 6 seats, and the French family of six has a metric shit-ton of luggage. Kristy bag is 65 pounds, I have a guitar, regular luggage bag, and my backpack (which all weigh less than 65 pounds together), and in very forceful nature the man crammed the entire French family, Kristy and myself into this shuttle. He was about to put the guitar onto a different shuttle, and I didn't like that idea one bit and said the guitar doesn't leave. It went on the dash. LOL.

So, we get to the car rental place, obv get the supplemental insurance, one of the locals decides to screw with me and tell me how insane everybody is that drives on the island, and we pull out into the insane traffic and head that way . We have no clue how to get to the place we're staying. So, I pull out what resembles a map, and start to learn about the island we are on. Sint Maarten/Saint Martin has 35 beaches on 35 miles of shoreline. It is the smallest land mass occupied by two completely sovereign nations. The side that we had landed on was the Dutch side, and if you were looking at this map, you would see that we were in the bottom left corner. I figured out that the beach we needed to get to was on the top right corner, and I had a choice of several squiggly yellow lines to get us there. There isn't any easy road around the island, no pch if you will. These major roads were two lanes, one each direction, very narrow at times, and people pretty much just did what they wanted. It was a very controlled chaos and I felt right at home in my mustang convertible. Online Poker

We made it to the Esmerelda Resort with only two wrong turns, and both were caught quickly. We checked in, un-packed, and were on an immediate mission to acquire food. We walked down to the beach, sat down on a table under a palm branch hut, ordered two Presidentes, and officially started our vacation.

After we finished eating we started walking south on the beach, which meant that the water was on the left, which really screwed with this left coaster. We passed other resorts and bar hopped our way to the end of the beach where we saw a sign that said, "Please, no cameras or cell phones." Yup. Turns out is was more of a nobody cares what you wear or don't wear beach, but most dudes were nude and most chicks were topless. To the bar, more presidentes, naked swim in the perfect water of this part of the Atlantic Ocean, back to the bar for more presidentes (it was happy hour at the nude beach bar... 2 fer 1's), and we started our journey back towards Coco beach.

About halfway there we stop at the next bar and end up not leaving for a while. We have a great chat with the bartender who is American and how she ended up there, etc. Jared and I have talked many times about ending up at some place like this. We met some people who invited us to karaoke, we accepted, and were back in time to hop in the cab to take us wherever it was we were going. We end up at a bar that is squeezed in there between the ocean, beach, rocks, road, and runway. I love planes, and this was the closest I have ever been to being under a runway of an International Airport, so as soon as the first shot of rum went down the chute and I had a fresh Presidente in hand, I was on the little stretch of beach that I had flown over earlier that day, and I enjoyed the sea breeze waiting for the next plane to land. Turns out many of them don't come in at 10pm, but I did watch one land, and when my Presidente ran out I walked back to the bar to acquire another: barefoot.

The rest of the night is pretty foggy, but lets just say that I made it home without my rainbow sandals, and I have zero clue where they might have gone to. We finally made it back across the island, again, and made it to sleep in a real bed for the first time in two days and many presidentes later.

Peace and good luck,


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