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25 May 2011

April Break Part III - SABA Day 2

Tropical Flowers
Day two on Saba. After spraining my ankle, we were unsure of what we would do this day. We originally were going to hike around the whole island, but decided a snorkeling trip would be less stress on my ankle. However, when we woke up that morning, we could see a lot white caps on the ocean and decided it would be too rough for snorkeling. So after walking around in "town" a bit, including visiting a glass studio that I may take a lesson at next trip (and buying an ornament for our tree), we decided I could walk well enough to do another hike.

This time we packed up our bags, checked out, and headed for the airport via a trail. This trail heads down the mountain to the coast, follows along the coast, over another hill and down to the airport. It was slow going since it was mostly loose rocks and very uneven terrain. The views were beautiful on this hike! Since it was all in the open, you could see the ocean the whole time, the hills and gullies looked like something out of Lord of the Rings, very different hike than the day before. If you haven't been to Saba yet, you definitely need to go! I look forward to another trip there for hiking, scuba, glass sculpting, etc.

Nice landscaping (unlike most of St Maarten)
After several hours of hiking, we arrived at the airport. We checked in and did customs, which is literally a desk inside an open air, two "room" building, one of which is a bar of course. After checking in, you can freely come and go, in and out of the airport. It was kind of nice to experience this, given our hyper security. We had a safe flight back to St Maarten. Once we landed, we decided to complete our trip by walking from the airport back home! It was a nice way to end the trip. Saba was a much needed getaway and an absolutely beautiful island, great change of pace from St Maarten. Enjoy the pictures!

Still more beautiful flowers and fencing. Saba is much more maintained, clean, and cared for than St Maarten

 Better hope those breaks work!

View from first part of the hike, down the mountain

Lord of the Rings anyone? Not as green though, it's still dry season

Gully that we had to hike down. Yes those rocks down the center were our "trail"

Second part of the hike, along the coastline

Mt Scenery (day one's hike) covered in clouds again

We hiked through all that area in the background

View of where we hiked. That hill is the one from a few pictures above

Almost to the airport, one last photo op together

Watching for planes

St Maarten

Back in St Maarten, our view on our hike home

22 May 2011

April Break Part II - SABA Day 1

Mt Scenery - only clouds in the sky were right on the summit all day

Leaving St Maarten   
Coming in alongside the mountain in Saba
During the break we spent an overnight on the neighboring island of Saba. We can see this island on most days from where we live, so we definitely wanted to check it out. Saba is known for its hiking and diving, with some of the top dive sites in the world. This trip we focused on the hiking as I am not yet scuba certified, though we plan to return for diving soon.

We decided to take the plane over instead of the ferry. We've been told it's worth the extra money for the experience and it definitely was!  As you can see from the pictures, the runway is very short and has cliffs into the water at both edges, so the breaks definitely need to work. After landing safely we checked into our hotel and dropped our stuff off. The hotel is about half way up the island. We decided to summit that day. We made a few detours to other lookout points along the way and had some amazing views. Unfortunately the summit was covered in a cloud, so we couldn't see anything by the time we got there. It was still cool though and kind of eery. After having a snack at the summit we headed back down. The whole trip took about 3 hours (added time for a sprained ankle). We then spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool, resting the ankle, taking full advatange of hot showers and cable tv!! It really is the little things at this point. So that was day one. Look for day two soon! Enjoy the many pictures.
Saba's Cliffs

Coming in for the landing, quite the experience!
Lots of different flowers
Much more tropical then St Maarten
Huge leaves all over the hike

Rock walls with moss all over too

View from half way of one of only three towns on the whole island
Half way up the mountain photo op
View of our Hotel from half way

Reflective Moments

St Eustatius
Views from the hike
Summit Photo Op

Most of the hike was like this

Owen with the stats on the climb
View from lunch at our hotel

14 May 2011

April Break Part I

Beautiful Sky
For the semester break we decided to stay on island and enjoy what it has to offer. It is a much different place when you can vacation like a tourist and not have to study all the time. It was also a very relaxing time and gave us a chance to really spend time together having fun. We had some friends that stayed too that we got to hang out with. I'm very glad we stayed this break, I think everyone should take some time to really enjoy the island.

Here are some highlights from our break (Saba will be another post). We said goodbye to some friends who were heading back for clinicals. These sunset pictures of from their deck the last night. Next set of pictures are from the fish market held every Saturday in the French capital, Marigot. This was our first trip and it was very cool to see all the fish, fruits, spices, etc. The last bunch of pictures are from a boat cruise we took from the nearby harbour to Philipsburg to watch the Carnival parade. It was an interesting experience with a lot of feathers. Our last big highlight was a "discover" scuba dive. This was a test run for me to see if I could do it and possibly get certified, Owen already is. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures from the dives since we have yet to get an underwater camera, but definitely by next time we will! It was a great time, we saw 3 sting rays (1 was huge!), 2 green sea turtles which were beautiful, a moray eel, and lots of different types of fish. I will now be getting certified in the coming months, hopefully so we can return to Saba for diving a few of the top spots in the world!
Royal Caribbean in the backgroud, sorry it's so dark
Overall it was a great break. We got to experience a lot of different things, as well as relax on some different beaches. We also got to do some shopping in Philipsburg, catch up on household projects, and spend Easter with a friend and her parents. Though we missed everyone back home, it was a much needed few weeks which has allowed us to appreciate the island even more and go into the new semester refreshed. You should all start planning your trips now! Stay tuned for pictures from our trip to Saba in the next post.

Beautiful colors in the sunset that night

On the way to the fish market at 5:45am, a rare time we're up for sunrise!

Marigot Harbour

We bought one of these for dinner with friends (no I did not eat it)

Most fruit I've seen on the island yet

Tons of local spice blends, sauces, etc.

On the boat to Philipsburg, the wind was crazy

More feathers than I can even say, but very colorful and interesting at Carnival

Boat cruise home with friends