Winter Escape

The air has turned cold, and my bones with it. It’s this season of the year when I long for someplace warm and tropical. While I’m not picky about where to go, I long to go back to St. Maarten, a Caribbean island shared by two nations. My last visit was only for a day, but I’ll never forget how my feet sunk into the soft sand of the beach. Lounge chairs blanket the beach, waiting patiently to be occupied by sun worshiping vacationers. Bright blue and yellow umbrellas join the chairs in anticipation of winter-weary guests.

I remember the glorious feeling of wading into the clear water as the waves smashed against my winter white legs. The underwater sand was softer than that on the beach, and my feet sank as if I had just stepped into a pool of quick sand. After having enough of the salty water, I collapsed on the beach towel and relaxed, letting the sun soak way down to my sun-deprived soul and taking in as much Vitamin D as I possibly could.

Beyond the restaurants and hotels at the edge of the beach, fancy homes litter the mountains surrounding the town. Walking the historic main street of Phillipsburg sent me back in time when life was simpler. No motor vehicles travel on the brick lined road, because it’s not very wide. Plus, they would be unable to make their way through the pack of tourists. Palm trees and stores of all kinds frame both sides of the walkway: jewelers, souvenirs, candy, clothing, and many others. At one point along the way, there’s a mile signpost resembling the one in the TV show, MASH. This one is painted white indicating the distance to other tropical destinations like San Juan, Puerto Rico (195 miles) and Port au Prince, Haiti (599 miles). Also included were some not so tropical places like Evanston, Illinois (2189 miles) and Halifax, Canada (1843 miles).

And then the rain joined us on the trip. Ducking under a covered doorway, my nephew and I discussed what to do next. Wait to see if it stops? Or head back to the ship? After a few minutes of deliberation, we made our way back to our floating vacation home. Then the sky split open and buckets of rain let loose. This time we took shelter in a tiny candy store that would probably hold only about 8 people comfortably. We spent the time talking with the store owner who had hailed from Canada. He had been living on the island for quite some time and informed us that it was unusual for them to get this much rain at one time.

When we finally made it back to the ship, a steward was distributing warm towels fresh out of the dryer. What a wonderful surprise and treat! They were comforting as we covered our rain soaked bodies where a dry spot couldn’t be found.

As winter encroaches on Northern Ohio once again, the desire to return for a longer visit will be strong. But for another year I will tell myself, “One day.”

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