May 28, 2011
Tonight is the last night of our holiday abroad. I really don’t want to go home. I know we have to work hard to play hard, but work just sucks.
Today we were in one of our very favorite places, St. Maarten. We love it. The people are helpful but not pushy, there are zero vendors on the beach where we go, and we jusy enjoy ourselves immensely when we are there. It is half-French, half-Dutch, so it’s a mixture of two wonderful cultures. They, unlike St. Kitts, have had tourists for many years, and so they know how to cater to them very well. Everyone, from the taxi driver to the bartender, is super nice.
Today, like last time, we went to what I consider the best beach on the island, Orient Beach. It is on the French side, so there is a great nude beach on one end and a bikini beach, as the locals call it, on the other end. The sand is white, soft powder and doesn’t get all caked up on your feet. There are beach chairs and umbrellas for rent, starting at $5 and going up, depending on which part of the beach you’d like to go to.
The bikini beach is larger than the nude beach, and it’s more crowded. It caters to the younger-traveling set, and it is noisier than the nude beach. I say nude beach, because most people are so, but it’s "clothing optional" to be real. There are many people who are nude, and most are over 40. There are quite a few who just go topless, and I’d guess there are mostly couples as it’s associated with Club Orient, a clothing-optional resort. I would guess packing for such an adventure would be easy. One carry-on with a few pairs of shorts and a couple of shirts plus toiletries and you’re good to go. No swimsuits required!
The bartender, Willy, has been there 27 years. (We asked her.) She has a cool accent, and she speaks fluent French, and maybe other languages, too. The last time we went to St. Maarten was six years ago, on our honeymoon. It was a wonderful experience, too. I would love to go stay a week and just be.
Willy is my hero. I wonder how she became a beach bartender, and why she’s stayed at it so long. She is easy-going and makes a mean daiquiri for sure. We always have a drink there when we’re on Orient Beach.
The clothing optional side is cool, mainly because the people are more like us. In our 40s (me just turning so) we like to hang out with the "older" crowd and do things that people our age do. Oh, there are parts of me that want to party it up, but it gets more and more seldom all the time! I’d prefer a good movie to a club any day these days. (More about this some other time.)
The crowd just sits and hangs out in their beach chairs. Willy has happy hour and rings a bell to call everyone. Much like Pavlov’s dog, everyone interested in a frozen drink, beer, or glass of wine heads down to get in line. Today it was at 14:30, and we didn’t imbibe as we were in the water for the last time on this trip. We’d already eaten lunch, so we had had our drinks beforehand.
The folks next to us today were from California. They were super nice and we enjoyed the visit. No, it’s not weird talking to people when they are nude. It’s just like talking to them when they are clothed except you don’t find yourself wondering, "Where did she get that dress?". There are a multitude of different people on Orient Beach – some really old, some with surgical scars or military tattoos, and some that look a lot like me. When people are nude in a group, you just don’t notice as many fat people, or maybe it’s that you notice their personalities more. I don’t know, but either way, it’s a cool experience.
As we sailed away today, I told St. Maarten goodbye (au revoir) and that I would see her again soon. I would love to come back for a week. For now, we are sailing on the high seas and thinking about how much our suitcases weigh!