SXM1Pinel Island is a tiny island a mile or so from SXM, accessible only by ferry unless you have your own boat. Ours being 2,000 miles away, the ferry is our only option. Other tourists show up at the dock at Cul de Sac and at 10:00 we all clamber aboard for the 5 minute trip. Upon arrival a beach boy (yes, that’s what they’re called) begins collecting money from people as they choose their beach chairs and umbrellas. Not surprisingly, we choose the chairs furthest from everyone else. Not surprisingly, we are immediately joined by a family with three girls, two of whom are busy bickering with each other. They turn out to be nice kids. Not so the hooligans behind us. OK, they were normal too. Just be normal over there, please. Thank you very much.

The two (or three when all are open) beach restaurants generate their own electricity and employees must ferry in and out every day. There’s a small, but neat boutique where a number of tiny birds called “bananaquits,” that look like, goldfinches dart in and out of their homes under the canopy. They are captivating. I purchase gifts for friends at home, but would rather have the bananaquits.

Soon the tiny beach is full of people. And music. And more people. We snorkel and swim, cooling off from the stifling heat. Because we are in the lee of Pinel, the breeze is unpredictable at best and nothing like Orient. At last, it’s lunch time. Great food, stunning prices, but that’s the law of supply and demand at work. We decide to return to the Big Island and we stop at La Bounty in Grand Case, which has quickly become our favorite deli. Friendly French proprietor and outstanding food. Best of all, they do not serve Bud Light. We see it offered almost everywhere and we see otherwise normal-looking people drink it. Why would someone come to a Caribbean island and drink Bud Light? I’m not a beer snob, well maybe I am, but does Bud Light even qualify as beer? (Bud Light Drinkers, please forgive me this conceit. Enjoy your Bud.)

Tomorrow we hope to sail to Tintemarre Island with Captain Philippe and his crew if enough folks sign up. If not, it’s back to Orient Beach where our favorite yellow umbrellas await.

I’m in the mood for a new tattoo. Maybe a small yellow umbrella.