Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Embrace The Adventure

This is just a bit of rambling on the title - embrace the adventure.  That is the reason we chose to come to Sint. Maarten - otherwise you might as well stay at home - right?  Sometimes it may take some reminding but it is important in order to get the absolute most out of our time here.  Then there are times that we have no option but soak in whatever the island hands to us.  This is when we had a little adventure (I define an adventure as any possible outing that may choose a path of its own) on our way to one of Ronan's check ups for his arm (he broke his arm a few weeks ago - I have not posted on this yet but wanted to write about our little drive before it was washed away with more memories).  His check ups require we return to the outpatient clinic that is located at the Philipsburg Medical Center - which of course is across the bridge (when it goes up for boats we get traffic jams) and over the hill.  We had already changed the appointment once because Mike had a new schedule at school and he did not want to miss this visit.  It was basically decision time - does Ronan need a wedge in his cast?  Do we need to fly home and see about a pin?  Or is it fine as is.  We picked Mike up as soon as he left class at 3:00 and headed out.  The appointment was at 3:45 - not gonna say it but we should be fine - all fingers crossed.  Afternoon traffic on the island is always tricky so we just hoped for the best.

Well - everything was fine until we got just past the airport and traffic stopped - DEAD STILL.  We looked at the curve at the end of the runway - well it kinda looks like it is fine after that hmmmmmm - the traffic coming the other way is fine.  Is it the bridge?  What the heck - who knows.  We sat for 20 minutes and did not move - ok - decision time again - call the office and see what the options are.  If they (the Dr.) will stay we can turn around and go through the French side - possibly.  After discussion of  a new appointment (it would be another week - not possible) and then finally talking to the nurse who said keep coming  - he will be here (the receptionist was ADAMANT he was leaving at 4 on the dot) - we turned around and made our way to Marigot - well of course we get to Sandy Ground and we SLOOOOOOOOOW to a crawl - hmmm guess what there is nothing we can do but try - right.  Meanwhile Ronan in the backseat declared I dont want to go  - cant you guys leave me with Karla too? (Dillon was hanging out with Karla and her boys)  I said -  but Ronan  - we need your arm - haha - oh just let us get there please.

Now - as you come into Marigot there is a little crazy spot - right after the bridge (this is the other bridge on the French side) - you drive past a super market - it is on the left and parking is on the right - so there are always people and bicycles crossing the road.   There is a decent size work truck in front of us - of course at this moment he decidde to pull half off the road - I had a feeling of what was coming next.  Right as I try to squeeze past (there is line of traffic coming the other way) - he opens his door all the way - of course.  This is when the obstacle course begins - ahh door - person - oh watch bicycle  - kid - middle of the road  - oh ok  - made it through that section.  Dodging humans - always fun when driving right?  We have come to the conclusion that on the island the reason more people are not dead or injured due to car incidents is because we all have to drive so slow. As we creep into Marigot, Mike made the observation - did you notice the dead guy in front of us?  WHAT  - there was a small work truck in front of us that has an open bed in the back - there was a guy laying perfectly still - hat on his face.  HMMMMM - we will assume he is napping while in traffic - right?  We wind our way through Marigot and make it through one more chaotic intersection - 3 lanes of traffic - different directions and a motorbike pulling wheelies in the middle - I mean what else would you expect.

On our way out of Marigot to Cole Bay - we observed some Gendames on the side of the road  doing checks - sometimes they are looking for people - sometimes just checking to make sure plates are in order - either way sorry guys we don't have time today - they must have understood - as I looked straight ahead and went right by - OK - so this is good - it is 4:00 on the dot - we just need to get through Cole Bay and up the hill and down.  We can do this - AND what were we thinking - as we slowed through Cole Bay (as expected) we noticed a small white car - there was a local driving and two caucasions (presumably tourists) in the back - no one in the passenger seat.  We also noticed it was a rental car (the plates have an R on them) - so we gathered by the SLOOOOOW driving and the pointing out the windows these folks were on a tour - really  - today - right now?  Of course they went the same way - slowly through the roaundabout, slowly up the hill, slowly around the roundabout on the top of the hill - tic tic tic tic - my watch is going - and yes they went down the hill to the hospital (not the common way for most folks down to Philipsburg).  Finally they went right at the final roundabout and we went left and arrived at 4:15 - Mike and Ro jumped out of the car and ran in - with once again all fingers crossed - WE MADE IT.

After some running back and forth to different windows to pay for the office visit and the x-ray - which you have to do before they will see you.  Everyone closes at 4 so it was a little tricky.  But we finally got the x-rays and in to see the Doc.  It was good news - his fracture was healing and the angle was not so bad it needed a wedge or a pin - great news - the cast would be coming off on June 6th.  The Dr. had understood our driving predicament as he spent an hour is traffic that morning - he flew from Curacao and then getting from the airport to the hospital took an hour.

OK - now a deep breath and we can head home alot more relaxed.  As anyone on the island knows there has to be more - we are not home yet.  The plan was to stop and get Mike some food so he could go right back to school for studying  - it was block week after all.  We got to Simpson Bay and the traffic going the other way was still bumper to bumper - we figured out the culprit was a back road to cole bay was closed - so all traffic had to go up to the roundabout.  We stopped to get cash and food - of course Mike had to go to 3 ATM's before he found one that was not empty.  Back on the road and just to add a small bit of humor and to show that in all of the driving insanity there is always a lighter side.  We were driving behind a police car - making our way by the runway - looking at all the people sitting in line just waiting to get where they needed to go - the police car slowed down - pulled up beside a "bus" (large vans that are public transportation) - the driver had his head in hands - he eyes closed - a few passengers in the back had their heads hanging out the windows.  The police got on his speaker and said "WAKE UP" - right next to the bus driver.   He slowly looked up - just shook his head - the passengers in the back just smiled.  Tell me - where else would we have seen this.  All in the island adventure - our plan was simply to run to the check up and back - we did not plan on seeing or experiencing anything that we did.  That is part of experiencing another country - you can get grouchy or complain - the traffic is bad, why are they doing this or that?  Guess what  - there are traffic jams at home - but not near the entertainment while in them.  They do what they do and the way that they do it here because it is their home and that is how it is - it is not the U.S. and it is going to be different and I expect that and want that - we did what we needed to do and with a little spice added to it.  Another memory from the island that will not soon be forgotten.

PS - one of these day we will bring a camera in the car and photograph our driving experiences.

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