Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 6:

 Philipsburg, St.Maarten is a fairly wealthy island (for a change).  We have a Tiki-Hut snorkeling adventure here.  The water is clearer so it should be pretty good.  The Duty Free outdoor mall is upscale, and the locals are more Hispanic, Dutch, and French (at least, it's said so in the northern part of the island), but almost no Africans (unlike the others we've been to so far).  It's a shame it's nicer.  I feel bad the Africans can't win for losing, as every African majority island is nearly devastated by poverty and unkeep.  Ralph Bakshai made a few animated commentaries on that matter in the mid-1970s, always stuck behind the 8-ball.
  Still, we're water-taxi'ed (as is seemingly the way of travel on the island for $4) to a Tiki-hut region owned by, Africans!  We're allowed to purchase a lunch of grilled fish and burgers (both very very good and seasoned expertly).  The Tiki Hut was in a shoal/bay.  The owner explained that a local "agriculturalist" was transporting some "smoking products" by way of helicopter but crash-landed nearby and encouraged us to find the wreckage.  He also explained the cargo was removed. 
  Snorkeling around, indeed, we find the wreckage of a vintage World War I submarine and the farmer's helicopter, surprisingly intact!  Very cool to see a submerged helicopter amongst Sergent Major Fish a-plenty, schooling.  On the 3-part hut, there was a lavatory of sorts, a center area that had some chairs surrounding a "pool" which was really just a sunken-floor into the sea with a grate-bottom (but no walls inside as it was all open underneath) down about 4 feet.  It was for kids who were scared of snorkeling but might want to try it, so they could put their feet down if they got scared instead of standing on rather-dangerous corals (microbes will cut your feet and get really infected, depending on the species).

  The African owner was clever to keep feeding the sergeant-majors bread so they stuck around, making the snorkeling spot teaming and interesting.  Nothing else by-way of danger like when I was in Nassau and had to deal with a sea-snake.  Lots of wrasse again, and.. an adult barracuda!

  Nearly freaked-out when I saw that guy.  Really a no-joke critter.  Waits around, not moving.  Luckily well-fed (by the teaming other fish).  They tend to attack suddenly and at random.  People went to go pet it, which they sort of didn't, and later it took-off, as it wanted to rest from the noonday sun and be left alone.  They mostly feed at night.. mostly.
  Nice tunes on the hut, except for one Becky noticed might not have been appropriate for the kids onboard, "I Wanna Get You Drunk and F*ck" might not have been internationally acceptable for age 8.  The second owner was chastised and it was changed to some more rated PG stuff, apparently.  At least the artist was likely sincere.
  We returned to the Duty Free Mall and I bought some rather rare Appleton's Estate 21-year Duty Free rhum for Jeff Howell (and myself) as well as a Montecristo #2 Cuban cigar for myself, some Guavaberry Liquor that looked pretty cool with an old guy with a hat.

 Later, we boarded the ship and decided to watch an unexpected presentation of Bowser from ShaNaNa in his own band, "Bowser and the Stingrays" which was a delight!  1950s style music on-stage including a hoola-hoop and dance competition against a 68-year-old lady and a redhead 24-year-old.  The granny won, which was pretty freakin' awesome as she was doin' jumps.  Now, I used to watch the variety show of ShaNaNa back in the late '70s.  Rush opened for them in 1974 (who were boo'ed off-stage, Rush, that-is.)  Anyway, Bowser was quite a performer and my favorite growing-up.  He wrote and performed the "Hand Jive" in the movie Grease.  Anyway, Bowser was the bass-singer.


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