I found a baby frog swimming in our pool today. It was frantically kicking, just trying to get somewhere. My heart went out to the little fellow, but, unfortunately, the minute he hopped into that clear blue water, his fate was sealed. Either I must help him out or the skimmer’s sucking action would take care of the situation.
I am betting a lot of us are feeling a whole lot like that little frog — and, for those of us in the travel business, the hits just keep coming! Why only last week, the 27 countries in the European Union voted again to not allow Americans into their countries. Ok, ok. I am a travel agent at Monroe Travel Service, and, of course, I know we can get travelers to Paris or Rome if we send them via Croatia, Serbia, or Turkey, but who wants that hassle?
Canada, Japan, South Korea and China made the EU’ s cut, but the United States can’t? How does that make any sense? It seems we certainly should be intelligent — and caring enough of our fellow man — to at least take the advice of science and wear a mask. It is such a simple effort. Why not at least gamble on it working?
I just don’t get all of this obstinance when it comes to our health, especially when the proof is in the pudding, right? Once again, must I repeat: the Canadians, Japanese, South Koreans, and Chinese are free to go, do, and travel the world again, but not us! Mask wearing, immediate isolation, and social distancing obviously is working for them, while we, the citizens of one of the most advanced countries in the world, have been banned by nations all over the world.
What an embarrassment! We’ve dropped the ball, and now we are being sidelined from the games we love to play. Like that little frog in my pool, so many of us are kicking as hard as possible to stay afloat, but, unless we all care enough to change our ways, we, too, might be circling that drain soon!
Honestly, I sometimes shake my head in total dismay, but, then, I read about the little Caribbean island of St Maarten and St. Martin. Deep in the Carribbean, about 200 miles south of Puerto Rico, this tiny island is one of the most popular getaways we sell at Monroe Travel Service, simply because it is like a 2-for-1 deal: a 37 square mile island owned by both the Dutch and the French!
Not only do our travelers get to enjoy two very different governments, languages, cuisines, currency, and cultures in one place, but they can do it surrounded by pristine turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. Plus, the night and day difference between the Dutch and French owned sides of the island makes it really cool.
The French side of St. Martin is much larger than the Dutch owned St. Maarten. Travelers who like to eat well, party hard, and shop duty-free French products between trips to the nude beaches often favor St. Martin, but St. Maarten, which also has its share of casinos, bars and clubs, is known for its more relaxed fun vibe and excellent shopping. This shopping is why so many cruise ships include it as a port of call on their eastern Caribbean itineraries.
St. Maarten – St. Martin has long been recognized as the smallest and most peaceful undisputed jointly owned landmass on the planet. Even though vastly different, the islanders co-exist easily, and, in fact, it was they — not their governments — who decided how their island would be divided some 350 years ago.
According to legend, to determine who got what, a race was held. The French racer followed the coastline to the north and the Dutchman had the southern route. Once they had covered the entire island and met up again, a line would be drawn between the starting point and the next meeting point between the French and Dutch runner. Whoever had covered the greatest distance would claim the land for their respective country and, thus, define where the border would be.
To keep themselves hydrated during the race, each man was allowed a beverage of choice. The French runner took a bottle of red wine; the Dutch racer carried a bottle of Dutch gin. Needless to say, this proved to be an error of judgement, because, when he finally met up with his very sober French competitor again, it was too late to rectify his costly mistake for his government. So, for this reason, the French enjoy 2/3’s of the island’s 37 square mile land mass.
I have no idea the historical accuracy of this story, but it does explain how this island was divided, so, imagine my surprise, when this past Saturday, St. Maarten, the Dutch side, announced it would now be opening its borders to American tourists. I was astounded. Not because the Canadians and Europeans have been enjoying the crystal white sandy beaches and cute little stores on both sides of the island since early July, but because St. Martin — or the French side of the island — is not!
Now, folks, do not for one minute think we are talking a Trump-South Texas-Mexico style wall that is separating the Dutch from the French side of this tiny dot of land in the Caribbean. There is literally only a sign by the side of the road announcing your departure from St. Maarten into St. Martin, so what’s the deal? Does anyone really believe a declared "do not enter" warning is a COVID-19 game changer? What ever are they thinking?
If we are not following the mandates and protocols in our every day life in our own country, why ever would Americans follow rules on vacation and just stay put on the Dutch side — especially if there is a party or a nude beach to check out in St. Martin and it’s just up the road?
How I do love the fact that we are being invited to the party, but I so wish we could just get our heads in the game, figure out a plan with some hard-fast rules that we all understand, and unite behind them. Sadly though I figure if this tiny Caribbean island cannot agree on a unified COVID-19 policy, there is certainly little hope for us as a nation!
Certainly makes me wonder if our world will ever be well again. Suppose all we can do for right now is wear a mask and just keep on kicking!
Dianne Newcomer is a travel agent at Monroe Travel Service, 1908 Glenmar, Monroe. Per Covid rules, we are working from home, so for all your travel needs, please call 318 323 3465 or email INFO@monroetravel.com. We look forward to sending you away!