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Good Friday on St Maarten


The Caribbean takes Good Friday very seriously.  The islands basically shut down for the day.
On St. Maarten it is one of the days where it is forbidden to open anything, even if there are 6 cruise ships in.  Actually I think there is one in today.

It is also a day where people do not go in to the sea. It used to be considered bad luck to do that because you could turn into a fish. I am not sure anyone thinks that any more but traditionally they still don't go to the beach.
People go to church or just stay home and have a quiet day.

The meal of the day is salt fish, which I hate and have no idea how to prepare. So the gardener will have to make his own if he wants it. Oh wait, we didn't buy any and super markets are closed, so no salt fish today.
Does that mean I can eat a steak maybe?

Good Friday, St. Maarten Day, Christmas are the three days of mandatory closings. On other holidays retail stores can open if they choose but have to pay employees holiday pay.

Government law states:

"Friday, April 18, 2014, Good Friday, is an official holiday. In keeping with the Law on Shop closure, Government reminds the public that all places of business must be closed on Friday. In accordance with Article 3 of the Law on Shop Closure, the following businesses only can remain open on Friday: Pharmacies, as far as it concerns the sale of medicine and medical products; Bars and restaurants; Hotels and guest houses; Stores located in hotels and on airport and harbor premises; Funeral parlors; Gas stations; Bakeries selling pastries, milk, and milk products. No dispensation has been granted for stores to be opened on Good Friday, April 18, 2014."

So let me understand this. I can go to the pharmacy if I need medicine. OK, that's good. I can get gas. I also can go to a bakery for milk, bread, or a croissant.
That sounds good too.
And if I need to, I can go to the funeral parlor.. Hmm, scratch that one.
I can also go to a restaurant or bar. I can go buy an ice cold beer. I like that.

And then there is this.. I can go to a hotel and any store there is open. We cannot totally close down I guess becasue what would the tourists do then.
And best of all, the casinos at the hotels can be open too.
So on Good Friday on St. Maarten I can gamble too.
Nothing wrong with that! Or is there?

 So St. Maarten is closed for Good Friday, but not completely I guess.

Then watch out for tomorrow and Sunday and Monday! Traffic jams! Everyone will be out on the road. The super markets will be open and packed but by Easter Sunday I doubt there will be much left on the shelves.

And Easter Monday on the beaches? Packed! Picnic time! Party time!

Please be sure leave the beaches clean, people! Take your garbage with you!

Easter in the Caribbean! You gotta love it!

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My blog is linked to Facebook. Within seconds I received responses to what type of seed pod this is.

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Here is the gardener opening  it up to see what is inside.

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The answer to the question is it is in the milkweed family and is a variety called Apple of Sodom.
Interesting name, no? Turns out it's an old plant first described by a Jewish scholar when found growing near the city of Sodom.

It is native to   North Africa, Tropical Africa, Western Asia, South Asia, and Indochina but grows throughout the tropical belt and is common in the Caribbean.
In Jamaica it is known as pillow cotton and is used for filling pillows in Jamaica.

The sap from the tree is poisonous.

Read about the plant at this link. The plant has a fascinating bibical history.

And now the gardener is happy for the day. Tune in soon to see what other plants he finds in the garden or on the road.

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New day, new plant!


Does anyone know what this is?

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I think the gardener is losing his touch because now he found another plant he does not know the name of. This is not growing in our yard but was found along side the road on the French side.
It looks like a christophene if you know what christophenes look like.
But this is not edible and seems to be some kind of pod.  The gardener says when it opens up there is a flower inside.
He also says the leaves of the plant secrete a mily sap like a frangipani..
When you touch it,  it is soft and spongy..feels almost like a balloon.
strange things of nature!

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Yes, it's Sapodilla


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Sapodilla, commonly called Mesapple here by the locals. I wonder where they got that name from.
That is another question maybe someone can answer for me.
My sister in law brought these for us yesterday. They have a huge tree in their yard. The gardener has two in the yard but no fruit yet. They are slow growing and take a long time to 5 to 10 years.

The Sapodilla can grow to be a very large tree. The tree produces chicle,a natural gum used traditionally to make chewing gum.
If you read this Wikipedia article. it gives a lot of information about the sapodilla.

Actually in the article, it states that it is known by many names and that in the Virgin Islands and Dutch Caribbean it is called mispel.
But in St. Maarten I think mispel got changed to mesapple somehow.
I always thought mesapple was actually a kind of apple until I actually saw it.

The fruit is really good. It tastes to me slightly like pear. The unripe fruit actually secretes chicle so its sticky then but when its ripe it does not release chicle.
and I'm going to go eat another one right now!

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It's a test! What is the fruit of the day?


I woke up this morning, and decided I wanted some fruit. I took a peek in our fruit bowl. Lots of goodies in there. Most of these unfortunately are not from our garden.

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But wait! What are those brown things that look like potatoes? Are they fruit?

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I think it's time for another test! Who knows what these are? Lets see how many guesses I get.


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It's all Happenin' at the Zoo!


As many of you might know, I have been working with the St. Maarten Zoo for over 20 years. Since I have been off island for awhile, I finally got the chance to run over to the Zoo and have a visit.
The Zoo looks great and is a fun place to spend an hour or two now and then.
There is always something interesting happening there.

Did you know the capybara is the world's largest rodent? The capybara at the zoo has  a new exhibit to live in and seems to be resting comfortably and chilling out.

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There are always iguanas roaming freely.

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You might see a few chickens running around too. This one is fearlessly  guarding her chicks.

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The goats are always hungry.

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So are the macaws. They love animal crackers.

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The monkeys look through the wires like they are unhappily penned in when in fact they have huge exhibits to run and jump  around in. When people pass by they are curious and look for food.

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And if you don't watch out, there will be a  peacock sitting on your bench.

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It has come to my attention that Government has decided to alter the “St. Maarten Vending & Beach Policy of Jan 2012” without consulting any of the relevant stakeholders. Allowances have been made for “A maximum of three (3) motorized water activities for Mullet Bay Beach”

This is the amendment:

Our Minister of Tourism just did this? Without consultation?

I was told there was a notice in the newspaper in February but as I was off island I did not see it.
There currently is an uproar on Facebook about this.
One longtime, frequent visitor to our island wrote:

"That's one of the saddest acts they've enacted in a long list of others. The usurping of the best section of beach by the chair concessions was bad but this is ridiculous!!"

Another person wrote:

"Don't destroy mullet bay it is the most amazing beach on the planet. Memories from my childhood greet me there. Someone pls start a petition to stop this"

Mullet Bay is one of our most beautiful beaches, frequented by locals and tourists. It's a family beach for our residents.

SXM is overdeveloped, with very few peaceful areas left on the Dutch side, and now they want to allow this on one of our peaceful beaches.
If you are upset about this, please express your opinion by writing to

Perhaps we can find the email address of our Minister of Tourism and send him emails too.

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