Monday, December 19, 2016

Snorkeling off Tintamarre Island

I did it! I finally fulfilled a resolution I made back in 2011 and I dream I've always had: to learn to swim.

I took the first round of classes in 2015 and it was okay, just okay. I faced my fear of drowning and drank tons of sea water, but I was no murmaid at the end. I must say that the instructor was great at teaching adults with a healthy fear of dying how to swim.

This year I took and intensive refresher that culminated in one of the best days this year! Snorkeling off Tintamarre island! Different instructor but again great with adults who don't want to die in this here water!

I'm proud to share some video I took of the whole new under water world that has opened up to me.
disclaimer: this shot of the turtle from the sea floor was taken by my instructor. I'm not at that mastery level just yet! 

But this one shot up at the surface was all me baby!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Parasailing over Orient Bay St Martin

I always watch the chutes flying high over Orient Bay on my way home from work - and say to myself or whoever is with me: I have to try that!

Somehow something always got in the way, be it life or pain or the weather. A few Saturdays ago It all came together nicely, the Saharan dust lifted the skies were blue, no rain on the horizon and I was feeling well and shopping in Marigot when I decided to drop everything and just do it! I took the groceries home, a quick change and I was off to orient bay.

Parked and decided to pick the first watersports I came upon and it happened to be the Kontiki watersports.

Although I had my GoPro with me I paid the supplement for Photos and video.

All let the photos and video tell the rest of the story:


and awaaaaaayyyyy

Way up there

Birds Eye view of Orient Bay

Birds Eye view of Cul de Sac and Pinel

Coming in for a smooth landing.

And here's the video. It was way too short. 
I got super high because I went out alone, that made it all the more thrilling. 

Despite what I say in the Video, Sky diving is still on!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gluten Free Caribbean Food: Accras de Morue

In my never ending quest to replace wheat flour in my favorite local recipes, I have had many horrible fails. I'm still working on the perfect GF dumpling recipe for my crab or conch and dumplings. I have a couple that are good but not quite there yet. But I digress back to the Accras. You can find traditional Accras recipes all over the net. This is the GF version.

This weekend, I decided to try Accras again, and I must say they turned out great. Unfortunately I didn't take any pics of the process, it was a mix of 'i'm not sure they would turn out well' and 'I'm hungry so better get this done'.

One of my Facebook peeps from Israel asked for the recipe so here goes:


400g salted cod, desalted, skin and bones removed and shredded  with a fork
300g of mix of  = white rice flour, brown rice flour, cassava flour (I used a coarse rustic flour from Dominica(Farine) – commercial tapioca flour is finer) and potato starch *
250 ml of  milk (lactose free for me) **
1 teaspoon baking  powder
1/2 onion minced
1 large clove garlic minced
Parsley fine chop
Chives fine chop
1 season pepper (not a hot pepper –used for flavoring)
1 Half of a yellow pepper – I love colors in my cooking
1 celery stalk
1 hot pepper seeds removed- finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and Pepper – salt if needed. I taste the cod first – I aim not  to desalt it completely so as to not have to add salt here.
fresh thyme minced
herbes de Provence not traditional to this dish but i find it gives a nice sweet savor. If that makes sense.
bit of all spice

Oil for deep frying - I used Canola

*For the flour: mix, add equal amounts of the flours and starches. I eye balled it. 
** I felt the milk would give it a thicker consistency than water or a water blend, given the rice flours i used which are fine.

Mix flour – baking powder – milk –S&P - thyme - herbes de Provence - all spice in a bowl
In another bowl add everything else to cod, mix well.

Add the wet mixture to the dry until you have a nice thick mixture ready for frying

Drop tea spoon fulls into hot oil and Fry until golden brown

Remove and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil and there you have it. 

I just ate the last of the leftovers, they reheat well in the toaster oven.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

On the March 9th and 10th Protests

There are lovers of St Martin that are trying to piece together what is going on in Orient Bay, this post is for you.

And there are others who are posting about forcing their way through the blockades on their way to their beach chalet. And who are making disparaging statements about the protesters and people of St Martin. This post is for you.

And the guy who would have totaled my car and Ignored the Gendarmes order to yield on his way to an area that is obviously blocked. You are just a …….. jerk.  Let’s keep it PG shall we?

This is my understanding from:
1.Talking to 2 of the 3 local business owners involved long before it got to this boiling point (when they still had a business to operate)
2. listening to both sides on local talk shows
3. reading the French and English press.

Get a cookie or some of that madoudou, This will be long.

Last summer I was at one of the local businesses involved. I like to give my patronage during the off season as they have to survive then as well. After the lunch rush the owner came and sat with me and the other local owner saw us and came over and we discussed the impending demolition of their businesses (which was news to me at the time), they had seen no plans at this point and the Collectivité (local gov) could not even tell them:
- the size of the new structures (how many they can seat is essential for a restaurant)
- whether or not there would be a rent hike.
- when the new structures would be delivered
-when they could see sketches
Whether it was because the Collectivité did not know at this point or chose not to disclose….. It is very frustrating knowing that structures they re-built only a few months earlier (after hurricane Gonzalo), would be demolished and they had no idea when the new ones would be delivered. How can they plan ahead for what would be needed to outfit? Or give their input as the end users? How long their employees would have be laid off? Communication was very sketchy from the beginning.

The 3rd local owner’s structure was cement and his was sublet fully equipped and furnished. (this will come back later) The other two operated their own businesses.

Cut to 8 months later:
*The project went longer than expected, it’s grossly over budget, unfinished and not up to code. Letters were sent to the Collectivité that remain until this day unanswered.

Anyone else wondering how these tenants survived without income from their businesses for 8 months? Their employees?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Caribbean Cruise - part 3

Our next stop took us to the first of two ports of call in the Dominican Republic: Santo Domingo and La Romana. As the group gathered that morning there were many grumblings about how unsafe Santo Domingo is. My response 'we all live in St Martin and it's not safe' - time to ditch the group don't you agree? 

The old city or Alcazar de Colon was within walking distance from the port and there were Police stationed along the way. It occured to me that we could do more to insure the safety of our cruise passengers at home. I never felt unsafe in Santo Domingo, and not because of the police presence either. I haven't felt unsafe during any of my travels within the caribbean thus far.

The Alcázar de Colón, or Columbus Alcazar, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is the oldest Viceregal residence in America, and forms part of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo World Heritage Site.

We wanted to spend an hour and a half exploring the city center before heading over to Los Tres Ojos. There were many walking tour guides offering their services and given the time crunch there was no time for wandering aimlesly, We hired Gorge who told us 'pay me whatever'-that is such a Caribbean thing and can be annoying when you employ someone to do work for you any type of work.

I loved these Iron sculptures there were several around town