more on fixing the island

this video was made for the Caribbean Foundation for Sustainability

what's wrong with St. Martin?

For a long time now I've been trying to gather my thoughts and succinctly explain what my feelings about St. Martin were and why they tended more towards the negative than the positive. Every time I meet someone who hears for the first time where we lived and that we were not as thrilled about the experience as honeymooners usually are about being in the Caribbean, I realise how little people outside the Caribbean know about its reality. I think that through this blog and through conversations I've head I've managed to astonish quite a few people.

But to astonish them was not the point. I was under the impression that many of these people thought I was just ungrateful for the 'fortune' of an experience in the tropics, or worse, that I am just a difficultly satisfied spoiled snobby westerner - even if I'm not a westerner;) So I hope it is clear to all, I did not complain about St. Martin because I'm thankless or because it sounds cool to say a desired and unreachable for many place sucks.

I would love to have triggered a thought provoking process with all the negative SXM aspects I drew attention to. This is probably not the last post on the topic. I still feel there's so much more I can say about the reality of the island and that somehow this will at one point translate to someone's positive doing and 'fixing' of the 'wrong'. I just don't know how to link the 2 yet. I feel I have to spread the word about what I learned there, what I saw, what I experienced. SXM is not a paradise. It is a ruined paradise; ruined by people, people who wanted to exploit the paradise without any consideration for it's fragility, for its limits, for the irreversibility of certain actions or for the costs of trying to restore balance, or for the natural, social and economic side effects of certain activities. To use a popular term, there was never an impact assessment done, or if there was, it was ignored.

SXM is a place out of control in many aspects. The best illustration to this statement is a video uploaded to the following link of a local SXM ngo, (Caribbean Foundation for Sustainability) with which I was involved while living there. First 40 seconds show you the paradise you expect to see, later you see the reality the island is made to endure. The second half of the video is what shocked me at arrival and what kept impacting me all along my stay.

Notwithstanding the state of affairs, there are plenty of great civil society actions under way in St. Martin. It is not a forgotten by God place, but the ones who care and want to fix or restore seem to be outnumbered by the ones who keep not caring. It was really a difficult place to live and to accept it all, especially the not caring.

the move is done - sxm chapter is closed

It's been ages since I've posted. Apart from being busy, I have had little authentic will to blog lately. Maybe because I was already exiting the virtual and entering the real life phase and perhaps I felt I didn't need to blog to be able to share feelings and observations. Other, more traditional forms, were available again.
It's not yet time for conclusions or a summary. I'm sure I'll get around to that sometime before Christmas this year, when the West Indies experience will feel truly in the past. For the moment, anyone interested in following our travels and discoveries is welcome to visit the new blog:)

careful what you wish for

It's been a while since I was able to blog. Life surprised me in one of the hardest ways and kept me occupied, stressed and completely reprioritising for a while. As much as I wish not to write about all of these events they have a consequence for the blog other than there being a few months of silence. I will be leaving the island of St. Martin. Going to my next place, for the moment unknown. Thus the blog will shortly come to a natural end.
Those who have followed my entries know that although I've tried hard to be an optimist I never really felt I fitted in. I didn't directly express wanting to leave but I think it was clear for the sensitive readers, my attempts of making St. Martin a home were giving poor effects. Now that I know I am leaving for sure and for good, I feel like I have not done all I wanted to. And there will probably be no time to squeeze in what's not yet ticked off. There were places I haven't gone to, food I haven't tasted, events I haven't participated in. The pain of most likely not experiencing these things is somehow double; for one I won't know what it's like - just for myself, won't enrich my exposure, my senses, my observations, I will feel less fortunate for not having my own opinion on x, y, z; and secondly, I won't be able to write about it here, in other words, I won't fully analyse it, digest it, put it into carefully considered words and share through the blog. This makes me sad.
I am as strong believer in that all things happen for a reason and that, oh well, if for example I did not go scubadiving here in St. Martin, this is just an excellent opportunity to make it up elsewhere, ect., ect. I won't have a number of experiences here I wish I had had, simultanously I'll be having others I did not anticipate, in a different place. Life is always full of events, so here or there, something will be happening to you, if not a, then b.
Since I know I won't be able to make up for time lost in the future, rather than planning on doing just certain most desirable things, I will most likely frantically catch the opportunity and jump at random activities that pop into my mind. After all if I end up leaving for good without having done something, I will only after realise, I really wanted to do, St. Martin will still be here 10, 20 and 30 years from now.
How does it feel to know to be leaving? It feels as if even though, this is what subconciously my mind wanted all along, it's too soon, too unexpected and too violent, like I'm too little in control and like this is not the way I wanted it.
I will probably have some more gaps in writing, I'll prefer to focus on final experiencing and picture taking; I'll be able to do my writing ex post from the next 'home'.

vote vote vote

The blog is getting so much traffic recently and so few votes in the polls:(
Maybe it's because it's not necessarily visits from SXM and I guess asking someone who lives in California or Germany how often he get's left with no water is like asking him how often he has no oxygen;) But at least I hope all the island dwellers have voted:)

In case I don't get a chance to post anymore before Chritstmas, Merry Christmas everyone!

some sunrise now, since the sunset was so popular:D

These pictures were taken from the lookout at the hill of Orient Bay at 6.30 am about 3 weeks ago. We had an early flight to catch and one of the few good things about getting up so early was witnessing this great sunrise:) If you click on the picture to see it larger you'll notice how nicely St.Barths is lit with the morning rays:)