27 march Philipsburg (ST MAARTEN)

For hundreds of years, the Caribbean were an exotic battlefield to the colonial powers, committed to delivering rich rum, slaves and gold from the New to the Old World.

A few cannon shot was enough to transform from a day to another, the political geography of the area and, after centuries of this Risk played between sand, sea and coconut palms, only one of the 7,000 islands of the Caribbean remained divided between two nations that they preferred to share it rather than lose it altogether.

It is easy to see why this place: Saint Martin for the French and Sint Maarten to the Dutch, it was so coveted.

The political division has given to this island two distinct personalities, almost like if they were two Siamese twins with very different characters.

The "French" cling to the European roots, as evidenced by the attention on the food, the attachment to the French traditions and to hear, in Marigot, the capital is in Europe, in Paris, and Marigot is just the largest town on the island!

The "Dutch" prefer to emphasize their social life, especially through music, the relaxed beach life etc.

According to the legend, the island's division originated from a kind of foot race. The French made their way to the north, the Dutch southbound. While the first, along the way, quenched their thirst with wine, the latter drank some shoddy gin and were forced to a long break to work off the effects. This would explain why the French have been snapped up a large part of the territory.

We dock in Philipsburg: Dutch capital. Meet Eddy Miller, who will be our friendly driver today!

After a ride through the streets of the city and after the usual visit at the post office, we go to Maho Beach, the famous beach where stands the sign: "The aircraft in landing and flying at low altitude can cause serious injury"; standing next to a picture of a human body that rolls away under the immense silhouette of an aircraft.

I didn’t expect a such beautiful beach above a so clear and transparent sea.

Between a landing and the other we go for a refreshing and deserved dip in the pool... pardon: the sea!

It is very impressive to admire these aircraft in the final path, just a few seconds before the touch down point.

A big boeing lands just as we're about to go away making fly away all the hats of many visitors at the beach!

We cross the bridge and the boundary between the two sides: on one side the Netherlands, on the other France!

We go to Marigot, capital of French St Martin, a bustling port town dominated by a fort that stands on top of a hill.
Here the feeling of old Europe is very strong thanks to boulangerie, wrought-iron balconies, lampposts in belle epoque style, French tricolor flags everywhere...

Marigot is not very interesting and therefore we decide to return to Philipsburg, specifically in Front Street, the road that runs along the bay along which an uninterrupted chain of boutiques, jewelers, restaurants, casino and duty free shops are aligned.

Here’s a place where I could live!

 

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