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BellaOnline's Caribbean Culture Editor

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You say St Martin, and I say Sint Maarten

Guest Author - Deborah Barocas

St Martin(French) or Sint Maarten(Dutch), is one of the same. This island was named for the holy day of St Martin by Columbus who claimed it for Spain. The Island of St Martin, was first occupied by Arawaks, who named it Sualouiga, which means,“The Land of Salt,” due to its abundant product. After the Arawaks had been there for a while, Carib Warriors migrated, took control, and claimed the land as their own. After the Caribs, came the Europeans. Then the Dutch invaded and began exporting salt for their own financial benefit, leaving the Spanish no choice but to return in full warrior mode, and eventually driving the Dutch off. Years of war between the Dutch and the Spaniards took quite a toll, thus clearing a path for the French colonists to take over. This left the Spaniards no choice but to depart for good. Finally, the settlers were now the Dutch and the French who peacefully divided the land between themselves. Hence the difference in the spelling of the names for the divided territories.

European indentured workers farmed lucrative commodities such as cotton, salt and tobacco, and were later replaced by African slaves under the direction of the Dutch and French. Sugar plantations shot up over the Islands only to eventually fail leaving St Martin in perilous years of depression. But like a well-seasoned woman, this Island de beaute emerged with international trading and tourism. The diverse nation of many cultures who call St Maarten home has made this Island a steamy melting pot of reckoning and a rival of many of its neighboring islands when it comes to tourism.

Naturally one can imagine the food culture as a whole, with Dutch and French influences, along with the abundance of seafood at their disposal, cooked island style to tease and tantalize the taste buds of settlers and tourists alike into a culinary frenzy. It no wonder folks clamor to this haven. St Martin is known as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.” One of the many practices is the growing of organic vegetables, and preparing it with fresh caught seafood by many top chefs who use innovative ways in preparing terrific fare for visitors and residents alike. When you visit, be sure to experience the famous Gauvaberry Liqueur while you listen to folk lore and folk songs of this island de tropique. Other aspects of interests include casino gambling, kayaking, horseback riding, biking, hiking, sailing, resorts, art shows, and duty free shopping to further enhance your vacation making it a time well spent.

While on your visit, remember to breathe deeply and slowly so that you may inhale this wonderful environmental display of nature’s beauty at its best. For the architecture is quaint, and infused by Dutch, French, and Caribbean influences. Beaches are pristine, the water clear displaying a turquoise hue with scales of gold flecks contributed by the sun, and its white sand generously decorated with sea shells, coral, and topless sun goddesses who are sometimes gawked at, or worshiped by blokes from foreign lands. But like many Islands, the common ground here is sunshine and fair weather conditions. Yet if you look a little deeper for its unique trait, you will not only see but hear the voices of the ghosts of slaves, plantation owners, and drunken pirates in song camouflaged as wind chimes. It is a lure of sorts to further entrap tourists like magnets to steel imploring them to remain on its island paradise... forever.

For Caribbean recipes and food blog, click on the related link below.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Deborah Barocas. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Deborah Barocas. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Nick Marshall for details.

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