I turned to my best bud, Mr. Google :-), for directions because I’m off to Fort Amsterdam. Fort Amsterdam is one of the two historic forts in St. Maarten (Dutch colony). It was the first fort to be built by Dutch settlers in the Caribbean, in 1631. It was then captured by the Spaniards and made it an important stronghold east of Puerto Rico.
It remained under the control of the Dutch after the Spaniards left the fort in 1648. Fort Amsterdam is the nearest attraction from the terminal aside from the Boardwalk. It rests atop of a hill keeping an eye on the enormity of Great Bay and Little Bay and this is where the tides had brought and stirred me to pen another page in my biking diary.
I hopped on my bike and started to pedal. But I haven’t gone too far yet when I was beckoned by the terminal security to stop, the officer said “No Riding”. What?! Was he serious when he said that? I told him why would they let us rent the bike if we cannot use it? And there were others behind me with a bicycle.
Again, he said “No riding, I’m not kidding”. I went back and asked another officer if it is true that biking in St. Maarten is not possible. He concurred to what his colleague had said that I cannot ride the bike…but ONLY while at the terminal, he added. I was so relieved when I heard that! I thought that my journey had already ended even before I get to start.
So, I walked with my bike going past the officer who stopped me and he was smiling at me. He said, “that’s right, no riding when on the terminal”. On my mind, I wish you had said that the first time. Lesson learnt, know the rules, don’t panic and clarify things when you’re confused. 🙂
As soon as I got out of the terminal gates, I got anxious because of the “what ifs”. I was very far away from home and what if I get into an accident? What if I don’t get back on time? Those were the worries that were running through my mind. So, I collected myself, took a deep breath and went on my way.
From the terminal, I turned left going to the boardwalk; I kept right because some of the vehicles were driving too fast. When I have reached the boardwalk, I stopped for a moment. There was no rush of tourists yet so I was able to get some decent shots that were not too cluttered. A sundry of flamboyant umbrellas were set up on the beach adding a vibrant feel to the place.
In the distance were some orange reddish-roofed villas at the foot of a hill and I have a hunch that that is where I was supposed to go. After confirming it with a local, I squandered no time and forged the road under the Caribbean sun. I went past the villas and straight up the hill.
I got off the bike and started to walk up the rock-strewn path. As I got closer to the top, I had a peek at a huge canon on the edge of the cliff. I went further up and before me were the remnants of the past, a few of the stone walls still stand from what was left of the Southeast Bastion that used to watch over the bays.
Unfortunately, the rest of the vintage canons were dismantled from the carriage and were to undergo repairs.
At first, I was a bit disenchanted with what was left to see; I thought that there was nothing special. I have decided to go around and I have found some interesting areas. I guess, just like anything in life, I just have to look at it from a different perspective to appreciate it more.
There was no one else on the hill and all I can hear were the roaring winds and the crashing of the waves. I saw brown pelicans gliding in the air and diving to the sea. I have set eyes on the expanse of Great Bay and Little Bay like a huge playground for tourists with all the different water activities.
Biking and hiking in a foreign land was another one of the many firsts that I can take off of my bucket list. With this trip, I came to fathom that even if it was too much of a burden for me go to these high places (I’m not a professional hiker so everywhere I go to was too high for me 🙂 ), I am still pushing forward because there is a different sense of fulfillment every time I get to the summit.
I have been to St. Maarten a few times but I only usually went to the stores downtown and the nearby beach. I have never really dared to go further to see what was beyond those imaginary walls. Maybe it is because of the limited time that I have on land or of the notion that it might cost me a fortune to go and take on an adventure.
But then I realized that it was an opportunity for me to get to know other cultures or meet other people. Not anyone can have this chance at any given time or maybe even in their lifetime. I just have to take that leap of faith and live in the moment.
Have you been to St. Maarten?
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