January 05, 2009 | Comments 0

Amphibious Fun on St. Martin

Whenever we visit the islands while on a cruise ship vacation we take advantage of every opportunity to see something new at each stop. I never understood why anyone would take a cruise that has several ports of call and decide to stay on the ship and not visit the island. Whether we’ve visited the island before or not, we are always enthusiastic about what we might see or learn from the people that live there. One trip not too long ago we were with some friends on a cruise and we let each person pick a tour they would specifically like to take. When we visited St. Martin we were all aware we were going to be taking a tour that let’s just say, was unexpected. The end result though was wonderful. Our good friend Stephan had chosen the “Caribbean Duck Tours” as our method of touring the “friendly island” of St. Martin this time.

What is a “Caribbean Duck Tour” you may be asking? As you can see from the picture (click on it for a larger version) it’s a boat with wheels. After boarding the boat with a ladder and finding a seat we were all greeted by our friendly tour guide. He passed out free quack noise makers that had the ability to make grown adults turn into children. If my kid had one of these quackers it would last about three minutes before it would be confiscated. Still we all enjoyed blowing on the silly devices.

Our guide loved to entertain and sing while explaining the island to us while the driver navigated the streets of St. Martin for us. To get the group woke up and involved he encouraged all of the passengers of this quack mobile to sing along with him as he took well known songs and “Caribbeanized” them (yes, I know that’s not a real word). As is always the case a member of the tour felt he could sing and was sure he had a future as a comedian. He felt he was so good that he came all the way up front so everyone could watch the show he was about to perform for us. We really do not need to go into too much detail but I will say this gentleman had a good time standing up in front of us all making a fool of himself. Imagine him singing the only line of the song he knew: “hot, hot, hot” over and over again. From what I understand, the song he was performing was titled “Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot”. I’m convinced it was written for such occassions. It was fairly early in the day so I do not think the performer could blame his actions on the rum yet. I will never forget his tall dark socks tucked into his ankle high boots. His ensemble was accented by wide suspenders holding up knee length shorts. The suspenders were strapped over his blazing white t-shirt. Of course, the obligatory jungle hat donned his balding head. Now close your eyes and imagine this man singing and dancing for you while the rest of us encouraged him on by making loud quacking noises. It still sends shivers down my spine. That same gentleman made one of our female friends stay on guard for the remainder of the outing. We stopped at a nice beach for a while and swam and sunbathed. While a few of us were swimming we looked back at the beach where our friend was obviously being sized up by the suspender wearing gentleman. When it appeared he was about to make his move to begin his moves on her the rest of us helped whisk her out of the situation. I felt a little sad for that poor fellow but the humor of the situation quickly squashed those feelings.

I had mentioned earlier that our on-board guide was the master of ceremonies for the entertainment planned for our group. He was intent on turning this mild bunch of tourists into party animals. His singing and dancing performance was being captured by many camcorders and digital cameras owned by the enthralled that were aboard that day. The moves this young guy performed thrilled many of the single older ladies on the tour. They would blow their quackers louder and louder with each new vibrating move that he pulled out of his act. It’s obvious he felt one of us aboard was a Hollywood scout looking for new talent. All the R-rated gyrating and fancy moves he showed us made you think he felt this was the day he would be noticed.

After spending a bit of time travelling the streets we found ourselves approaching the ocean. I must admit it was fun realizing we were driving from land to water on an instant boat. We toured the bay and watched the planes land on the famous runway of St Martin. If you haven’t gone on youtube and watched the idiot tourists standing on the beach as the jumbo jets fly just slightly overhead you need to. Our tour guide said people used to go to this little stretch of beach and hang on to the fence posts as the engines of the huge airplanes wound up as they prepared to take off. The winds from the engines would have the tourists flying horizontally. I wonder how long it took them to get their hearing back as well.

Our guide was also knowledgable about all the cool stuff tourists want to hear. You know, something you can take back and relate to your friends and make them envious. For instance, the guide explained to us why there are no longer any Chinese restaurants on the French side of the island. Apparently several of the locals started having their dogs come up missing. The last straw was when someone had found the skinned carcass of thier own pet. Yeah I know it’s not a story you want to tell your kids but it is trivia I am not going to forget.

The island truly is friendly as it has been nicknamed. People wave to you as you drive by on the Quack Mobile like they were your long lost relatives. The island is beautiful and the beaches are gorgeous. Speaking of beaches, my wife still feels it was my fault we ended up on a topless beach. The fact is, her and all our friends were present when I asked “Cowboy” our taxi driver to take us to a nice beach not too far away. That’s all I said. Once we got there we were walking toward a spot on the beach we could claim for ourselves when I felt my wife poke me in the side telling me about all the skin she was seeing on the beach. Up to that point I had not seen anything but now that I knew where we were I gradually was able to verify her account. One thing we learned is that the people that walk around naked on these beaches are NOT the people that model for the tourists magazines. It took several days to shake off the visions that had been welded into my brain that day.

St. Martin is fun so make sure you get there someday. And please, don’t stay on the cruise ship when you have opportunities to see and experience things you never will back at home. There are some pictures of that fun escapade below - my dreadlocks have really come a long way.

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