Last night as I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep my thoughts kept turning to my children, and I found myself thinking of ways I can do better as a dad while we’re going through this adventure. I started forming little mental tasks lists in my head. In particular, I kept thinking about Andi. I’m not sure why. But the impression that seemed to weigh on me was that in the four weeks since we’ve been on the island I have felt a certain distancing between the two of us.
It hasn’t been anything drastic or terrible, it’s just that for all of her life she and I have been friends and pals. This is the girl who, at the age of 13, still comes and plops herself down on my lap and tells me a joke she had made up or shares a funny story. We chat together, laugh together, and just spend time being friends together. Lately, however, it seems to me that there’s been less of that. And that thought made me a little sad.
All this was tumbling around in my head as I drifted off to sleep last night.
(Temporary subject change…)
Ever since we’ve known we would be moving to St. Martin, I’ve been looking at maps of the island trying to learn as much about this place as possible. And while looking at the maps, I’ve been plotting out places I would like to visit. Actually, doing what I just described (looking at maps and planning adventures trips) is somewhat of an addiction. Maybe even an obsession.
This morning after breakfast, Cari went to school and Michelle took Piper along on a babysitting job. And so naturally I figured Andi, Tanner and I should do the obvious: Rent a car and drive to the highest point on the island, of course.
Pic Paradis is the highest peak on St. Martin at 424 meters (1,391 feet) above sea level. And there is a road which takes you right to it. I’d spotted that road the first time I’d ever looked at a map of the island, and I knew it would be one of the first places I’d want to check out.
So this morning I walked the quarter mile to the car rental agency, took the last vehicle in their inventory, and then went back home to rally the kids into an adventure. Tanner had a friend over and they had been sucked into a PS3 game. I tried to encourage them both to come with, but they would have none of it. And it wasn’t a battle I felt like fighting.
So I turned to Andi and said, “Looks like it’s just you and me. Do you still want to go?”
Andi is almost always up for an adventure, and when I showed her the road on the map and told her it’s the highest point on the island, she said, “Yeah! I wanna go!”
Off we went.
It wasn’t until we were in the car and driving that my thoughts of the previous evening came back to me, and while I was still a little disappointed that Tanner and his friend had not come along, I found myself feeling grateful for the one-on-one time with Andi.
(pronounced: “Peak Par-a-dee”, with a throaty French r)
|The road up to the peak can barely even be called a road, but driving up it was a blast! Steep, rocky cliffs were on one side and impressive drop-offs were on the other. About half way up the vegetation became much like a jungle complete with hanging Tarzan vines, and it felt like we were in a rain forest. Later, a bit of research confirmed that this one small part of the island gets enough rain to be considered an actual rain forest. Cool!|
|The road ended rather uneventfully at a locked gate labeled France Télécom, but a sign reading “Scenic View 1 Minute” pointed us down a trail. Without hesitation we headed down the path, and true to the sign’s promise, a minute later we came out of the jungle into an open field of grass with a stunning view of a valley below, the ocean, and cluster of islands near the horizon. (I learned later that these islands make up St. Barts.) A nice Dutch couple who was also walking the trail with us took our picture, and then Andi asked me to snap a few pics she could use on her Facebook profile. I happily obliged. We walked a little further down the trail, but the vegetation became so thick and entangled that we opted to head back to the car.|
|At about the half way point up the road, there is a small wooden platform that looks down towards the town of Marigot. It looks like this platform is also the launching point for a series zip-lines that run down the side of the mountain.Definitely got to get more info on that.|
If you’re on the island and looking for a fun, beautiful and adventurous way to spend a morning or afternoon, I’d recommend getting yourself up to Pic Paradis. Fun little day trip! The trail we were on continued much further in both directions, but we hadn’t come equipped for a long hike. I look forward to the day when I can get back up there when I *am* equipped for a long hike.
In Search of a Crêpe:
On the way to Pic Paradis we passed through the French town of Marigot (pronounced: MAR-ee-go). And in Marigot we had spotted several places advertising crêpes. As we were driving back down the mountain Andi said, “One of those crêpes sure would be fun to eat.”
I admit, I had to agree.
And that’s how we ended up in the wonderful establishment known as Sarafina’s. Words don’t do this place justice, so I’ll just let you enjoy the pictures.
Morning out with Andi: Tons of fun!
Next up: Tanner.