The View
from Here:
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barts film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.
    January '04
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    NO ROOM AT THE INN
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    Everybody knows the story of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve to find that there was no room at the inn. Had they arrived in Saint Barth on their motor yacht or sailboat anytime between Christmas and the New Year, they would have found that there was no room at the dock either, and their famous baby would have been born someplace out in the harbor. Had they arrived by airplane, helicopter, or the historically correct donkey, they wouldn’t have found much room at the proverbial inn, although the ranch in Flamands might have been happy to lend them a manger… (just consider the press coverage they would have gotten!). So with the annual traffic jams clogging the roads, this island was once again “the” place to be for the holidays. And for Hong Kong-based David Kong, the owner of the lovely 78’ sloop, Amity, the Chinese New Year came early as he clocked the fastest time around the island in the December 31st New Year’s Eve Regatta. With mega-yachts lining the docks and shopping bags full of holiday treats, 2004 came roaring into Saint Barth. The winds were roaring at least, and more than one of us reached for a sweater or scarf on New Year’s Eve. Then it seemed that without even taking a deep breath, it was time for the 20th anniversary St Barth Music Festival to get underway, starting with two evenings of dance under the stars on the tennis court at AJOE. Local dance students were the opening act for some pretty fabulous stars of the Paris and Hamburg ballet companies in a program of 20th century works. Considering that this has been an extremely rainy season, the muse of dance (would that be Terpsichore in tennis shoes?) was smiling upon the festival, and the rains held off until after the concert. The muse of painting was also in a benevolent mood at a special art auction held at the Guanahani Hotel for the benefit of the Music Festival. Organized by painter Jean-Pierre Ballagny, and the association St B'Art, this auction of 22 paintings brought in just under $30,000, of which 70% was donated to the festival. Three of the paintings, those by Stanislas Defize, Antoine Heckley, and Ballagny brought in almost half of the total amount (the most expensive was the beautiful oil painting by Defize that was chosen as the festival poster this year; it sold for $8,700 to Faustin Ledée, a native St Barth businessman). A few hundred people gathered around the hotel’s pool on a beautiful moonlit night, drinking champagne as the paintings fell one by one to the auctioneer’s gavel. With my credit card safely tucked in my wallet (the paintings I had my eye on were of course the most expensive), I went home with visions of an auction like this to benefit our Caribbean film festival dancing in my head. A glittering crowd in a fabulous four-star setting… but as I leaned over to turn out the light a little after midnight, our local rooster let out a healthy cock-a-doodle-do, offering a strong dose of reality as to what Saint Barth is really all about.
    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
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