SXM1Today’s opening number was a quick squall passing through and pounding a loud tattoo on our villa for about 20 minutes. Then it was an oh-so-French continental breakfast around the pool at the L’Astrolabe, quite a contrast to my typical morning ritual at home. After a frustrating trip to Phillipsburg (it was Sunday and a big bike race had hijacked the main road) and a drive through Marigot, we went to Grand Case for a restaurant scouting trip. Having spotted some promising candidates we headed back to the villa. It’s beach time, baby.

Orient Beach curves from north to south in a gentle crescent that opens to the Atlantic trade winds. The narrowest portion is at the top and the surf here is much stronger than the lower part, which is in the lee of an island. The clothing optional portion (Club Orient) of Orient Beach is at the southernmost end. Guess where we headed.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Well, just stop it. “Clothing optional” is not the same as “nudity required.”  Being French, Orient Beach is commonly, though not universally, topless. It was my impression that the younger crowd tends to frequent the northern end, which is narrower and crowded. Bathing dress ranges from tacky sequined bikinis clearly not designed for actual immersion in saltwater, to the occasional man-thong. (Note to self: instruct spouse to shoot me if I even contemplate a man thong.) Mostly though, visitors are normal folks and families enjoying the beach.

The yellow umbrellas at Club O shield people at all levels of undress and they come in all shapes, sizes and ages, although they tend to be middle aged. The 20 and 30-somethings congregate north of Pedros, where you can have a fine lunch.  Club O’s beach is remarkably quiet. No thumping music, not even much surf sound. People snooze, stroll the beach, read, drink a little wine, and chat. Visitors expecting a bacchanal will be very disappointed. By 4:30 people begin to pack up and head for home. The Caribbean sun can be brutal and many people have body parts that are turning pink.

We trudge back to the villa and wash off the salt and grime. The hunt for a viable wi-fi signal finally pays off at the villa, but requires sitting on the porch of the reception area. All things considered, that’s not a bad place to check email and surf the web a bit. Beats the hell out of my office at home.

Then it’s off to Pancho Villa’s Mexican Restaurant in Cul de Sac. The proprietor is very French and dresses the part of the bandito, complete with bandolero filled with shot glasses, a toy pistol, and a bottle of tequila in a holster. After a very good meal of fajitas he serves us tequila mixed with sprite. This was his idea. Neither of us care for tequila but it’s free alcohol. Hers finds it’s way into a nearby cactus but I manage to drink mine.

Tomorrow, off to Marigot.

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