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Our 20th Anniversary of "being on the road" in Saint Martin/Sint Maarten in the Northern Antilles (Caribbean)

 

click a picture to see details

 

Cole Bay and Simpson Bay seen
from our favorite viewpoint
Funny Bar and Restaurant
at Great Pond in Philipsburg
Tourism at its fullest
 

Looking back...

October 18, 1984 - Chaotic departure


On this rainy autumn morning, our long cherished dream finally becomes reality - our big adventure, our new independent life is going to start. We intend to explore the world for at least one year. Our Toyota LandCruiser, which will also be our home in the future, has been containerized two days ago and is already moving over the Atlantic towards another Continent - America. As a last step, we store our mattresses - where we slept for the last few days on the floor of an empty room - in our rented depot in Wallisellen, where also our whole household of the last 15 years is accumulated. Then, the padlock closes definitively. We are exhausted from the hectic of the past days and weeks. Giving up our rented 3˝-room apartment, seemed to be a no-ending task, followed also by the bureaucracy involved in such an adventure and of course the farewell parties with families and friends. Additionally, we had to change our travel plans from one day to the other, because our initial idea was actually crossing Africa. But due to the closure of Nigeria's borders shortly before our set departure, we shipped the car to Canada instead and decided to explore the American Continent first.

It is 6.30am on this memorable day, as we jump into our rented car and head in the early morning rush hour for the 10 km from our home village Wallisellen to the Central Railway Station in Zurich. It does not take long until we get stuck in a huge traffic line, which is hardly moving at all. We get more and more anxious, nervous and worried and can think just of one thing: "Will we manage to catch our train at 6.57am to Luxemburg from where we have a booked connection flight with Icelandair to New York? And will we still have time to bring back our rented car to the Avis counter?" A race against time begins! Finally, five minutes before the train's departure, we arrive at the Railway Station. A glance to the departure board drives us crazy. Our "Arbalčte" is leaving from track No. 14, the very last and most distant one. It looks very much that only a miracle can help us now that we shall catch the train. Totally stressed, we leave the car at a no-stopping sign. While Emil rushes to the Car Rental Company to return the key, I work myself with the whole bunch of luggage the long way to the last composition of our train. The friendly conductor has pity with me as I arrive running totally worn out and gives me a helping hand in shifting all our bags into the carriage. At the same moment, the loudspeaker announces: "Attention, attention, immediate departure of the train to Luxembourg - the doors close automatically". Where is Emil? Panicking, I shout at the conductor: "I need to get out of the train again, my husband is not yet here". He shakes his head and helps me to unload our luggage again, only to throw it back into the compartment the next second, as Emil comes rushing breathlessly and jumps onto the departing train. "Sit down, mother", says the comprehensive conductor as I show him our tickets. "But if we think now, that we can lay back and relax in our comfortable seats to enjoy the Swiss landscape passing by, we are wrong, as apparently the rear part of the train is going to be disconnected in Basle. Thus we will have to work ourselves with the whole bunch of luggage (we never manage to travel lightly) still through numerous carriages. Only when we finally reach the right train composition shortly before Basle, the tension and the hectic of the last hours, days and weeks give slowly way to a totally new feeling: The anticipated joy of the start of our big journey!

 

Another milestone: Our 20th anniversary of exploring the world

 

October 18, 2004 - 20 years later...

Beautiful formations of white clouds are sailing through deep blue skies; palm trees are swaying in the wind. We are listening to the eternal play of the waves which splash on the edge of the turquoise waters of the bay of 'Le Galion' in the French part of the Caribbean Island of St. Martin in the Northern Antilles. Our camping table and chairs are just beside the crystal clear water of the Caribbean Sea on the fine white sandy beach under a shady palm tree. We are in a very high spirit, enjoying life at its fullest and looking forward to our special menu of the day: Paté de Fois Gras, a tender pepper steak with Rösti (a kind of hash browns), Italian Gorgonzola cheese, rum cake (with a lot of rum!) for desert and a bottle of good red French wine: We celebrate a big milestone in our adventure - our 20th anniversary of touring the world. And all we wanted in 1984 was to escape the daily routine for at least one year. From one year it became two, then four, then eight, and now we are looking back to twenty indelible, wonderful years. Did our dreams, expectations and hopes come true? In general, we can answer with a happy YES. Of course, there were also ordeals and obstacles to overcome, disappointments and depressions to fight. But triumphs, highlights, happy moments and the outstanding experiences outweighed - and we never regretted to have done it. The countless encounters with wonderful, warmhearted people, the uniqueness of the animal world, the wonders of nature and untouched landscapes, the thrill of adventure and our curiosity, how it might look "around the next corner" - all added that our love for traveling is as fresh and unbroken today as it was in the past. Traveling became a new way of life for us. To live means travel to us! Therefore, we cannot stop already after 150 countries and 364'000 miles (~586'000 kilometers) - our big journey will continue!

 

Waterbirds are found
all over the many ponds
The natural beauty of
David Hole on the French side
A lonely sailor in a Caribbean Sunset
Leap in time forward to the 25th Travel Anniversary in Tahiti/French Polynesia
Leap in time forward to the unusual 30th Travel Anniversary in Angola