The Deck Week 30

This week, I’m off in Sint Maarten on holiday, so I have quite a selection of photographs to choose from for this week’s addition to the Deck.  It was a hard choice, but I selected one that epitomizes the week I’ve had so far.

It has been a week of goodbyes and departures, of hello’s and discovery, of family and of friends, I have shed tears of sadness and tears of joy; in life there is light and darkness, the sun and shadow, deep blue heavens and golden sunsets.  Life is about change, and as day changes to night, there is beauty to be found, beauty in the day that is ending, in the time of change itself and in the night to come.

So I give you this week’s Photo for the deck of the week.

Changes - Sunset at Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten

On Her Majesty’s Sovereign Soil

Leaving Sint Maarten (St Martin actually, since that's the French side you're seeing)

Couldn’t help the James Bond reference in the title, it just sounded better than “We went to Anguilla”.  I suppose, like most Caribbean islands, it is a nice place to visit, the people are nice and friendly, the weather is a mix of sunshine (Boom Boom) and some rain, the beers are cold and the beaches are gorgeous.  You walk off the ferry and you feel you’ve stepped out of the current century and back into the latter half of the last one.  That’s not to say that they are backwards, far from it, it’s just the “feel” of the place, with some of the older type architecture, the local accent that has a lyrical beauty to it, and the sun and palms trees do carry you back to when most movies used tropical settings for their “exotic” feel.  If I had stepped off of the ferry in a white shirt, fedora and rugged briefcase, I might have expected to be met by Felix Lighter.

The dock/pier at Blowing Point, Anguilla

We went across by “ferry”, not the normal name I would use for a boat the size we went in.  A nice small twelve passenger boat that I would more call a Water Taxi than a ferry, especially with 450 horse power pushing it.  The captain and crew (well only one on board, but also those at the ports) of the GB Express were the epitome of island friendliness, making the trip across the small stretch of sea very enjoyable.

In true island fashion, when you reach port and ask about a car to rent, you are not reffered to an agency, just simply “go ask for Andy” 🙂  And Andy delivers, a nice enough car (with a few dings and dents for character) and a map of the island, and some advice, like – remember to drive on the Left.   If you are in town, the capital being called The Valley, and you ask someone about an establishment for eating, they tell you “go to Lisa’s”, well, we didn’t get the opportunity to go to Lisa’s but I am sure that the advice would have paid off.

At the Golf Club

We took a little drive around the Golf Course, and admired all the nice work being done there, it is still being developed,but you can still book your Tee time and play a round of 18  🙂

A Bridge in the Golf Course

After the Golf Course, we drove on around the western tip of the island, or the West End and along the norther coast, where we stopped to take a photo of  the Road Bay and Sandy Ground from Back Street.

Road Bay, as seen from Back Street

From there we drove into the, capital “The Valley”, it has some nice quaint places.  The whole island has a laid back feel to it, no hustle, no bustle, no major traffic, just nice and relaxing.

Wall Blake House, The Valley, Anguilla

Even though there were many places I would have loved to have seen, there is no way you can really see and enjoy an island in one day, no matter what anyone says, and I just had to see and experience the beach at Shoal Bay East, my brother-in-law swears it’s the best beach in the world, and it was so good, we really didn’t want to leave.

Shoal Bay East

Shoal Bay Beach

And a brief stop at Scilly Cay to allow me to snap this photograph…

Scilly Cay with Scrub Island in the b ackground

I took some more photos along the way back to the ferry, but it was time to go home and enjoy another day’s end.  Click on the photos to get all 36 images from this day.

The Celebrity Solstice sails into the night

Church and Front Street

First order of the day was morning Mass at the Catholic Church in Simpson Bay, the church of Mary, Star of the Sea.  A very nice little church, and when we walked up to it I thought that it was closed, but the door opened to us and it was cool!  Air-conditioned environment at church!!  It will never happen in Guyana 🙂  Mass was short (most people had to rush to work after),but the service was very nice.

Mary, Star of the Sea

Then it was back home for a non-tourist morning, stayed home, checked mail, etc.  🙂

Then after lunch, back to Philipsburg, this time we took our daughter along, shopping.  After spending some time on Back Street, we ventured onto Front Street, that’s where the Casinos and Jewellery Shops are, but that’s not the kind of “scene” I was looking for, I was looking for the “older” Sint Maarten, and a walk along Front Street rewarded me with a few nuggets.

I’ll just post a few here, click on them to jump to the site with the album, 17 new images added for the fifth day here in Sint Maarten.  I’m hurrying because I’m off to Anguilla!

Check the rest on the site… and another day ends in Sint Maarten…

Go to France!!!

Growing up I frequently heard the expression “Go to France”, it is an expression of disbelief, and equates to the more popular Guyanese expression “carry yuh rass”;  when you tell someone in Guyana something that they instinctively and emphatically believe is untrue (without copious amounts of proof), that’s the phrase you are most likely to hear.  So if someone tells me that the sun rises in the west, I will tell them “go to France”, or the more colourful alternative already mentioned here  🙂

Sint Maarten is commonly and correctly referred to as the “Dutch side” of the island, but only the residents of the Dutch side and other unsuspecting foreigners like myself would ever refer to the second half of the island as the “French side”, to the residents and especially the Gendarmes (police) and other officials, when you cross the border point, you are in France!  The province of St. Martin, France; not the French side, but France!  So today I got to “go to France”, finally.  Well, we actually didn’t visit a lot of places, but we did a bit of driving to the scenic spots.  No offence to the French, but I like the Dutch Side better, it’s more Caribbean and has more character.

I also went back to Back Street, Philipsburg; and then to a swim in the ocean and another chance to see a gorgeous sunset, both of the latter done right from the back of the house.  I will miss this most, I think  🙂

Catholic Church, St Martin.

St Martin (Radison Resorts down below)

Flying French Side

Baie Orientale

View from Pedro's, Baie Orientale

And this is only a fraction of the new images  🙂  see other “French Side” photos and more from Philipsburg and the Beach at Simpson Bay at the site, just click on any of the images above.

Just one more image… end of the Fourth Day in Sint Maarten 🙂

Sunset at Simpson Bay

Back Street

In Philipsburg, Sint Maarten there’s a street called Back Street, my wife was so excited to go there I was all but dragged along on the first “working” day of the week down this particular street.  It is the second street after the waterfront in Philipsburg, the first street has Casinos, Jewelery shops and the like, but Back Street has the deals. Philips burg is so picturesque, I could stroll it for hours, actually we did stroll Back Street for hours  🙂

I got a few nice ones and more on the site.  Click on the images to go to the site with the Sint Maarten Collection, as of this blog-post, there are 20 new images from yesterday’s walk.

Backstreet looks to be part of the “Old St Maarten”, the road is actually asphalt cobbles, not laid asphalt like most roads, some of the architecture is new, but you can still see the older architecture in some of the buildings of Philipsburg.  I could try to describe things, but I’m no architect, and even things on the roads and pavements may defy my descriptive powers, and I certainly don’t know the names of some of them.

I’ll let the photographs do the talking.

After all that walking in Philipsburg, I’m afraid both my legs and shutter finger were tired, so that’s it for the third day in Sint Maarten.

Click on the photos for the while album, I couldn’t put all the nice ones here  🙂

Philipsburg and the Bays

Sunday, we were taken on a “crash” tour across some of the island… It was quite comprehensive, but everything was so amazing, I was left dazzled half the time  🙂   The capital of Sint Maarten is Philipsburg, and I want to see how much more of it I can see while I am here, very interesting place!

A view down to the beach from in front of the Philipsburg Courthouse

It would have been nice to get a reverse view of this, but some people parked their hideous cars in front of the courthouse  🙂  Click on the photo and you’ll see some more of the photos, including the courthouse,and a view down one of the picturesque streets of Philipsburg.

And there is just something about these “clocks” that begs to be photographed.  I saw at least two of them in the streets of Philipsburg so far…

Clock on a post, in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

And the Bays!!! Who knew there were so many?  I still haven’t tagged the images properly simply because I can’t identify them myself (don’t worry, I’m on the case! they’ll be tagged shortly).  The have Simpson Bay, Mullet Bay, Cole Bay, Oyster Bay (I think), and I do believe the list goes on further.

Click on the photos to go to the site and see a few others.

And of course, we have the obligatory seaside people photos…  I tried a few things different for these two, so they ended up in my sepia and black & white collections.

One of my daughter Miriam and her Uncle Darren, that is more of a warm tone photo than a sepia, but I put it in the Sepia album just the same.

And the other is the black and white, of my wife Maureen and daughter Miriam,  I rather like this one, not big on details, but it captures the “feel” rather nicely.

And there ends the second day of my stay in Sint Maarten.  Don’t forget to click on the Bay or Philipsburg photos to see other photos  from the trip.

Welcome to Simpson Bay

I figure that for the time I am here, if I do get a chance to upload and post, it will be a very brief blog, but hopefully with a few photos.

So, welcome to Sint Maarten, and welcome to Simpson Bay, that’s where I am staying while here.

I have begun by uploading the images to my site… the Collection is called Sint Maarten 2010, click on that link to go to the page.

I’ll just ink the first of the six images here.

Again I blame Nikhil’s influence on my photography for my first image being of an old boat instead of the beauty of the island  🙂

Sunset at Ogle

Sunset at Ogle

I had just decided to upload this, and then I gave it a title…  Giving it a title brought forth a torrent of emotion.  Yesterday I said farewell to my sister-in-law and niece, Areza and Ariel, and in a few months I will be saying the same to my brother André.  They have lived at Ogle for all of Ariel’s life and as soon as I titled that image “Sunset at Ogle” I realized that their family is having their sunset at ogle all too soon.

Ariel is my first niece, Areza is my first sister-in-law, André is my first brother, it is strange how those things happen.  My parental family may not be the perfect family, but we grew up together, had and have our differences, but at day’s end we are family.  I count myself fortunate, in that my brothers and sisters are not just my siblings, they have grown to be my friends, André and Nicholas are the closest of these, but that’s because we grew up like the Three Musketeers, inseparable, always fighting, always in mischief.

If you click on the image and see it at the site slightly larger, you’ll see three figures walking towards the sunset, two adults and a child.  Serendipity.  This photograph is not of them, but I dedicate it to them, as the sun sets on Ogle.

The Deck – Week 29

This week was a poor week for photography for me, didn’t take too many photographs  🙂

The deck photo is not the best photo that I’ve taken all week, but it is unusual for me, so that’s the reason for its choice.  Aesthetically, it may not be pleasing to everyone, or as we say, not everyone’s “cup of tea”.  I went to accompany Nikhil again, and not having too much time, we took a short visit to the Promenade Gardens again.  I wasn’t in the mood for photography, but Nikhil said I couldn’t go and not take something, so after shooting a few things; a flower here a leaf there, I followed him to a spot where he would eventually get his photo of the day for his 365 Project, and the sun coming through the fabric of some leaves caught my eye.

When I put the camera to my eye, there was a spectrum of colours in the light rays that showed in the viewfinder and I was just hopeful that it would also appear that way when I snapped the photograph, to be sure I tried a few different exposures.  When peering through th eyepiece of the camera directly into the light it does appear more vibrant, but I think I caught the nice effect that grabbed my attention in the first place.

Promenade Gardens, Georgetown, Guyana

Nelumbo Nucifera

Budding Lotus Flower

Padma or Lotus, a flower native to India has spread throughout the waterways of the world.  This is the Lotus Flower, scientific name Nelumbo nucifera, a flower that I grew up thinking was a water-lily, until I was recently corrected.  Water lilies come in a variety of colours, but the Lotus is only found in tones of pink and white, the petals that is, the central seed pod is yellow when the flower is in bloom.

The flower is supported by a very thick stem that elevates it above the water and the leaves, the leaves are very large and though are sometimes seen above the waterline, they generally float on the water.  It is hard to walk the length of Guyana’s coastline without seeing ponds or other waterways (yes, the trenches and canals) filled with these flowers.  With a strong Hindu culture, these flowers / plants are a part and parcel of the Guyanese heritage.

These are often used decoratively, as live plants for their colour and size and even as dried arrangements, especially in the case of the central seed pod (which resembles a watering can) which is the part most often used in dry arrangements, I seem to remember seeing it painted gold in a dry arrangement once when I was a child.  In Guyana (and parts of Suriname and Trinidad) the tradition of using the leaf at functions is very common, this too is a tradition handed down through the Hindu religion brought from the far east.

Across the coastal regions of Guyana there is not a weekend that goes by without a Hindu Wedding or Jhandi, at both functions there is the traditional Hindu ceremonies conducted by a Pandit and when the time comes for the sharing of the meal, it is served in a leaf from the Lotus plant.

Jhandi actually means flag, but has come to refer to the ceremony that culminates in the planting of that flag, the ceremony is an offering of thanksgiving to Hanuman (a Hindu deity).  Over the years both Nikhil and I have taken photographs that either include or centre on the Jhandi flag.

This highpoint for us non-Hindus at the Weddings and Jhandi ceremonies is usually the meal eaten in the Lotus leaf, notably the “Seven Curry” , where rice is served with seven forms of “curry” dishes (and achar, don’t forget the achar!).   Before some of you get excited, its vegetarian, no meat.  Usually there’s Aloo (potato) curry, Dhaal, Mango curry, Channa (Garbonzo or Chickpea) curry, Catahar (breadnut) curry, Bajee (Calaloo or spinach) curry and Pumpkin curry.  When catahar is not available the breadfruit curry is usually a good substitute and sometimes the Potato and Channa are a combined curry.  This is usually washed down with a cool drink, like Kool-aid or swank (lemonade or lime-aid :-).  Of course, most of us don’t like to hear “Kool-aid” since it brings to mind images of Jonestown, so we can now use Mak-C  🙂

A fascinating plant, and there probably isn’t a Guyanese who owns a camera who hasn’t taken at least one photograph of it.