Friday, December 3, 2010

Travel Blogging IV

Dateline: Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Yesterday was Puerto Rico, today is Dutch Saint Maarten, called by the French who own the remainder, St. Martin. The other DrC and I were trying to think of all the islands where sovereignty was divided, we came up with Hispanola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), this island (St. Maarten and St. Martin), New Guinea (New Guinea and Irian Jaya), Ireland (Ireland and Northern Ireland), and Cyprus (Greek vs. Turk). We thought that was quite a lot. Can you think of any more?

It is amazing how built-up this island is, there is a house just about everywhere you could easily build one without extensive engineering work. It is mountainous and green, albeit less green than formerly according to our guide who says they now get maybe 45 inches of rain per year whereas they once got twice that. As is true on several of these islands, desalination is the major source of fresh water.

The French side tries to be tres European: 220 volt electricity, European auto tags, use the Euro currency, etc. On the other hand, Dutch St. Maarten has U.S. style auto tags, uses 110 volt current, uses the guilder (which the Netherlands no longer uses) plus the U.S. dollar, and feels more tropical North American – like American Samoa or Guam.

I was amazed that there is a entire cluster of vacation islands here, including British Anguilla, St. Barts, French/Dutch St. Maarten, etc., all within view of each other. One would not need to be much of a small boat navigator to get from one to another, island-hopping on what amounts to VFR.