Thursday, April 15, 2010

Never Underestimate the Dangers of a Butterfly Farm

On Monday, March 8th we packed up the car and headed out for a day of discovery. We took our laptop with us as there was no internet in the apartment, this laptop is our working laptop with our navigation programs, current documents that we are working on and photos and movies of our trip.

Our first stop was at the was at Pic Paradis, the highest point on the island. A short walk through the woods brought us to some spectacular views of both sides overlooking the greens of the vegetation, black of the rocks and the bright blue waters of the bays. Our drive continued to cross the border into St. Martin where we stopped at a butterfly farm seen advertised from the roadway. The farm itself was small, located on a rather remote lagoon and consisted of one large screened area the size of approximately four tennis courts but containing over 55 different sorts of butterflies. A very knowledgeable guide talked us around the farm and just as he finished, while Emma and I were busy trying to coax one of the enormous blue morphos to sit on our fingers, we heard a voice say “Who is the owner of the grey Toyota van parked outside? Your vehicle has been broken into. We've already called the police.”

The gendarmerie arrived and handled the situation surprisingly efficiently and appeared to take the case very seriously. Three of the five cars parked outside the farm were broken into, although only we had been silly enough to leave anything behind. Three bags were stolen from our car containing our bathing suits, favorite toys for the kids and of course our working laptop with some photos and films that we had not yet copied. As the rather surrealistic process continued, including fingerprinting of Seb and his Dad (for exclusionary purposes) it slowly began to dawn on us what we had lost and how horrible and violated we felt about it. On top of this we felt incredibly stupid for leaving so many valuable things in a car in a place where we knew theft was rampant. The butterfly farm just looked so innocent. And theft is a very nasty thing to have to explain to a three-and-a-half year old who has just lost her new snorkel and swimming mask.

We were all determined not to let this incident spoil our time with Opa and Omi. That evening was a little gloomy and Seb and I spent much of the following afternoon making a statement at the police station. The rest of the week we referred to the theft only sparingly and really enjoyed ourselves. We bid goodbye to Opa and Omi on March 14th and although difficult as always the goodbye was a little easier as we know we will see them again in May.

The week after Opa and Omi left we stayed in Sint Maarten to finish some small repairs and of course to fix the engine and replace the start battery. We were lucky enough to meet up with Kees and Mart from the big Pjotter in time to celebrate her 60th birthday. As we were puttering about in the lagoon one morning Emma suddenly pointed and said “Look, the Zilvermeeuw!” As Zilvermeeuw is 'seagull' in Dutch we just patted her in the head and said “Good Emma, a seagull”. Then we noticed the sailboat Zilvermeeuw disappearing around a bend. Amazing that Emma recognised Jeroen and Babette's boat more easily than we did. It was thus a good Dutch reunion and we had some very welcome help with our 'klusjes' and good company for our 'borreltjes.'

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