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Sep 16, 2003

WHAT MAKES AN ISLAND SEXY?

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About a dozen people must have called me by now to ask if I saw the recent article in USA Today about "Sexy St Barts." So I looked it up on the internet. After all, I'm always curious to see what people have to say about my favorite island. It's always interesting to read what first or second time visitors write about. Invariably they mention the steep landing at the airport and the short runway that ends right on St Jean beach (does that make it a sun-way?). And of course they all mention the steep hills, narrow roads, hairpin curves, and difficulty of driving a stick-shift jeep or moke. Then they launch into the prices: this most recent article has villa prices soaring as high as $37,000 for a week at Christmas or dipping as low as $1000 in the off-season. Then comes the litany of restaurants with expensive salads and fine French food and wine adding up to meals of $100 and more. But to give credit to writer Kitty Bean Yancey, she does offer alternatives, such as the juicy cheeseburgers at Le Select (but Kitty please note: the Jimmy Buffett song came first and was not written about Le Select...not according to Buffet anyway!) Then there are the beaches, inevitably described as long white stretches of powdery sand, or sugar-white sand, fringed with palm trees (another note to Kitty: you took the wrong path the Colombier beach; the easy way is to drive past the end of Flamands Beach and park beyond the rock in the middle of the road. The walk from there is rocky but pretty flat and easy to negotiate). And many writers mention that there's no crime on the island and that the locals (mostly descendents of French adventurers who showed up three hundred years ago and survived tenaciously on a dry rock unsuitable for agriculture, ergo no slaves) don't hassle you. Sounds like the perfect paradise, a great place to live? Well, as they say about New York it's a great place to visit, but living there can be another story all together. Hundred dollar lunches and dinners are not for the locals, and even the supermarkets full of French imports can be pricey. Local fish is seasonal. Hurricanes have their season as well. And on a normal day you might discover a tiny crack in your cistern, just as your car starts leaking oil in the driveway. And I've yet to meet anyone who actually rents a villa for $37,000. And I wonder if the nude sunbathers at Saline are actually sexy? Maybe it's the thought of brushing shoulders with the rich and famous that make the island seem sexy? Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about this small slice of paradise. I love it. And something about it is sexy, I'll admit. But as I always say, there's a big difference between being a tourist and an immigrant.

More to come,

 

Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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