I just went on a well-deserved vacation and spent time with myself. While planning my trip I was so excited about the possibilities. Visiting a Caribbean island should be one of adventure. However, for me it was always about making sure that I visited as many relatives that I could while I was there. I have been going since I was a child but never got to see it from the perspective of solely being a guest.
Before this trip, I feverously checked the internet for horseback riding excursions, parasailing, scuba diving, windsurfing and a whole bunch of other things. I circled the glitzy casinos, duty free shops and nightspots in the slick magazines I had collected from over the years. I had a whole lot of things planned. When I arrived, I realized in an instant I was planning to do no such activities that had anything to do with moving around. My primary activity was lounging at the beach in the sun.
Sint Maarten/St. Martin is an island that shares the culture of the Dutch and the French. It is the smallest land mass shared by two countries and is only 37 square miles. It is not that easy to get lost. The two sides are distinctly different. Dutch side is quite developed and the French side uses Euros.
I was primarily on the French side during this visit. It was quieter than the Dutch side. I got on the plane wishing that I knew French. Everyone was speaking it and they all sounded so great doing it. The French cuisine was spectacular and I even tried frog legs for the first time.
When people tell me that they are too old or learning another language is too hard, it is very difficult for me to believe. Anyone can learn a language in their life. Dedication is key and a little hard work and practice go a long way.
I was practicing the few sayings that I learned online before I visited. I do not think I did an amazing job but they were amused. A little Dutch and a little French went a long way. It did help that I had family on the island, a little discount on items never hurt.
My trip was pleasant and restful. There was something really beautiful about being there for myself. The hummingbirds greeted me on my first day, flitting about from flower to flower. Their vibrant wings moving so fast that if not for the knowing that they truly did exist, they would be a blur. I had become accustomed to them visiting me on every trip that I take to St. Martin.
During my last day, I had a very interesting interaction with a hummingbird as I contemplated my last few hours on the beach. I went into the ocean and did my ritual of splashing my face with the salty water and feeling the wet sand beneath my feet. Change is good I thought because it forces you to really look at what is working and what is not. I reminded myself that this was a good rest and joie de vivre is the motto I should live by. One more hour, as I walked back to my beachchair, which was right next to a palm tree.
I lay back down putting things in order in my head, especially the fact that when I arrive in Michigan it will be bitterly cold. My emotions of joy fluctuated until I thought it is not likely that people are on permanent vacation. The clouds covered the sun and I opened my eyes and above me was a hummingbird with a bright green crown. He was just hovering for a very long time. He was not zipping around physically but he was mentally sharp as I watched him move his head to and fro but not deviating from his original spot. There was something archaic and primitive regarding this experience that I was having with this hummingbird. He was still for at least 15 minutes. I could not believe I was standing so close to it. My arm got tired and I put my camera down, the hummingbird was gone just that fast.
I smiled and thought, “Even the hummingbird knows that there is a time to be still and rest before going back to work.”
I am still allowing that thought to permeate my mind and hope I will be able to bear witness to changes that may come as a result of taking the time to recharge. I can feel the oncoming changes and I am ready.
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This was printed in the January 27, 2013 - February 9, 2013 Edition