On our Saturday drive around the island, we drove through the narrow streets of Philipsburg (the main city on the Dutch side of the island) scouting out the service times for SS Simon and Jude Anglican Church. The websites of the churches in the islands are usually hit and miss and often do not have service times listed. After weaving our way through town several times on one way streets, we found the church with a sign out from informing us that Sunday morning mass was at 8 a.m. So, bright and early on Sunday morning, we made our way back to Philipsburg, found a parking spot within a block of the church, and enjoyed a great morning of worship with the fine citizens of Sint Maarten. It was good to be in church again.
Our plan was to stick around town after the morning service for the big Carnival parade which was to make its way down Front Street along the water front. We were told by the car rental guy that it would start between 10 a.m. and noon. We were told by the security officer on the street on Sunday morning, that it would be through town at around 1 p.m. We were told by a Front Street restauranteur that it would be there around 3 p.m. We’ve come to understand that this is fairly typical of island events. And, of course, there is no official advertising or web information regarding times. So, we spent the morning relaxing on the town benches, walking the boardwalk along the harbor’s edge, and grabbing a bite to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, while waiting on the Carnival parade to commence.
Around 2:45, the leading edge of the parade passed by our bench. We had been to Maskanoo and Junkanoo festivals in the Bahamas and on the Turks and Caicos. While they were nice, they were relatively small. Not so with Sint Maarten’s Carnival! Wave after wave of 18-wheelers with flatbed trailers filled with bands and vocalists followed by dancing men and women in elaborate and festive costumes made their way through town. It was quite a celebration! Carnival is an almost month-long festival that concludes here on May 3rd, this year. This was one of the concluding grand parades.
After having our fill of festivities, we made our way back to Simpson Bay Marina and Beatitude for a relaxing evening aboard. We had neighbors from S/V Tenacious over for some drinks and conversation. We enjoyed spending time with Rich, the owner of the vessel, and Patrick, his friend. They will be leaving Sint Maarten a couple of days ahead of us on their southward journey toward Grenada. It was really cool to find out that Patrick, who we had never met in our lives, has been following our blog for the past several months. He stumbled across it while googling information on some passage and has been keeping up with us since. He actually recognized Rich’s boat on a recent blog post that we put up since arriving here. He then knew that we were neighbor’s with his good friend. Small world! We write this blog primarily for ourselves and our close friends and family. We don’t advertise or promote it vigorously outside of those who are our friends on Facebook. So, it’s pretty cool when we encounter people in our travels who have been following along with our adventures.
Tonight, if we’re not too tired, we will attend the closing festivities of Carnival. Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave St. Maarten for St. Barts.