It's been so long since I posted my own thoughts that I feel like I should introduce myself. I'm not going to do it. This is my blog; I started it, and it's still on my web page ... I think.
The crews of Vengeance and Diamantista are busy, so I have a chance to say hello. Charter season is in full swing here in St. Martin. This weekend, the 35th annual Heineken Regatta is taking place. That's a big deal in the yachting world, and in St. Martin in particular.
Several hundred boats show up to vie for space in the already crowded anchorages and marinas. Many of them are medium sized, bareboat charters, hired for the race by groups of refugees from winter. Those are the ones that provide the entertainment; they aren't serious racers, and their antics are always amusing. Then there are the big, crewed charter yachts that are in it for the publicity. They're fun to see; they're sailed by professionals and immaculately maintained -- real showpieces, like this big, dark blue ketch.
There are even a few hardcore racers; they're in it for the competition. And then there are the crewed charter yachts of all sizes that are hired by people who just want to watch, to be close to the excitement. The Heineken Regatta is to St. Martin as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans -- a big party and a major but welcome disruption to life on the tiny island. Leslie and I have been watching the buildup over the last few weeks.
The chefs from the crewed charter boats have been swarming like locusts around the two gourmet grocery stores, cramming multiple shopping carts with all kinds of goodies to feed their guests. Grocery shopping can be a challenge in the islands under normal circumstances; Heineken Regatta must be a tough time for charter boat chefs like Liz Chirac and Paul Russo.
We haven't seen Paul, but we've had numerous sightings of Liz over the last week or two. In fact, Leslie referred to the shoppers in one of the two big grocery stores as a "swarm of Lizzes" the last time we were there. There were several of them in every aisle: trim, pert-looking young women, their shopping carts overflowing with luxury foods.
They're easy to spot, because they look like Liz Chirac. They're well groomed but not heavily made-up, with moderately short hair. They're in uniform: T-shirts or polo shirts with a line drawing of their yacht on the back and the vessel name over the breast pocket, and those tennis skirt things that are a cross between shorts and skirts. The colors of their uniforms vary, but not much. White, blue, and khaki dominate. They aren't all young, but most are; we suspect that like the infantry, these jobs require the stamina of youth. They aren't all female; there are some male chefs sprinkled through the scene, and they're attired in similar fashion -- with plain shorts, of course -- at least the ones we noticed. But they get lost in the swarms.
We were in a checkout line behind one Liz the other day. She was probably from a smaller luxury charter yacht; she was by herself, with only one overfilled shopping cart. The Lizzes from the bigger boats come in pairs, usually. She was chipper and pleasant to the cashier as she rang up the bulk purchases, as our Liz would have been. She was laughing as she stacked five cartons of cage-free eggs on the conveyor belt with choice cuts of flash-frozen meat, poultry, and seafood. And we mustn't forget the quail eggs. She had a few dozen of those, too.
I'm sure she wondered why the crusty old man (Guess who?) behind her was giving her the eye, especially since his wife was, too. When she turned toward us and I saw the name of her boat, Voodoo, I was tempted to approach her, but she looked too harried. I almost asked her to pose for a picture; I would have offered to make her famous -- given her a starring role in one of the the movies based on my books. It's a good thing her boat wasn't named Vengeance. Then I wouldn't have been able to restrain myself. Leslie would have probably come to visit me in jail, but I'd rather not have first-hand experience of incarceration in the islands.
It's been fun to visit; I'm not sure when I'll get the chance again. Connie and Paul are busy dealing with some terrorists, but I think Dani and Liz are probably having one of those peaceful trips that Liz mentioned. I'm sure we'll hear from one of them soon.