|SS Norway anchored at St Maarten - 1992 - The tender is alongside the ship.|
Ilse and I walked down the dock toward security but I dawdled, taking photographs of a three-masted sailing ship, the Stad Amsterdam, tied up across the dock from us. A beautiful, nostalgic clipper ship geared to those who wistfully want to relive the golden age of sailing ships, she calls St, Maarten home-port. Most everyone stops to look at the beautiful ship as they head toward the security checkpoint.
By the time we get through security, a second German ship, the AIDA Perla, has docked alongside her sister ship. They must be related, they are painted identically. The Perla, while quite a bit larger than the Sol, is to me, just as gaudy and quite honestly, goofy. Ilse and I walk across the concrete wharf to get a better photograph of the two ships and stop to talk with a couple walking slowly from the newly docked ship toward the port exit. They sailed from Hamburg, Germany, on a thirty-eight day cruise and will visit the Dominican Republic and Cuba before returning via Lisbon. We laugh and chat for ten minutes – mostly them, my German is not up to par these days – before saying goodbye. Everyone remarks what a small world we live in.
We walked through the old dock area and the boardwalk, taking photos of the old landmarks we had seen many years before. Ilse haggles with a street vendor for a swimsuit cover-up, settling on a price less than half the original asking price but still twice as much as it was worth. When I asked her why she paid the price, Ilse smiled and said “They have to make a living, too.”
One of the shops caught Ilse's eye, especially since she's a yoga instructor. A store had a row of yoga pants mounted on mannequins on display on the sidewalk. The very first form-fitting pair of pants was one with snowflakes and reindeer. "Where did you get those?" "Why, in St. Maarten, of course!"
A cat was sitting in the walkway at the security checkpoint. It looked as if it was checking the ID cards as well as the several uniformed guards who leaned on turnstiles and waited for the few straggling passengers. I smiled at the guards, but instead of showing them my ship’s ID card, I bent over and presented it to the cat, which in perfect cat fashion, looked at the card, then slowly looked up at me and meowed. I said “thank you,” to the cat – and showed the card to the guard just to be safe.
The guard said, “You want a cat? Take this one.”
We went back to the cabin, ordered drinks, went out on the balcony and put our feet up. We were looking down into the almost clear water, it was almost a milky blue, when a huge sea turtle surfaced right beside the boat. I went inside grabbed a camera, and when I got back, there were two of them! They stayed beside us for several minutes before diving out of site. If we had been in St, Croix, we would have seen them underwater.
The heliport is opened for the departure from St. Maarten, but Ilse passes and I went back up to see if I could catch any unusual shots. One single gentleman I had chatted with several times a day, older than me, was complaining bitterly to a steward that it really wasn’t much of a party. The steward, serving free drinks to the passengers watching the dock disappear as we pulled out, didn’t have an answer. The complainer was originally from Belgium but now resides in Florida, and was simply being petty. I couldn’t help but butt-in. “I didn’t even know there was a party, my friend,” I said, “Would you like to dance?” My grumpy friend put his empty margarita glass back on the server's tray and climbed back down the stairs. I glanced back at the steward. You could see the twinkle in his eyes above his face mask.
We have two glorious days at sea ahead of us on our return trip to Ft Lauderdale. A perfect vacation.