Pictured: Tropical Paradise with my breakfast...
1. I was nearly murdered before I even landed
I want you to think about how scary the whole flying experience can be. White knuckles, gum chomping, the whole nine yards. I considered myself a bit of a veteran when it comes to plane rides, so imagine my shock when I suffered cardiac arrest during this landing.
Not Pictured: Passengers peeing themselves
The Princess Juliana Airport can be found on many lists, none of them soothing for the traveler. "Dangerous," "Extreme," and "Hazardous" are just a few of the adjectives. With its incredibly short runway and jigsaw-looking buildings, I can honestly say that I was frightened. And don't forget about the mountain range at the other end of the runway....
2. They let M.C. Escher design the stairs
After surviving that terrifying landing, I firmly planted both feet on the ground, knowing that the true danger had passed. JUST KIDDING!!! I tripped and fell and nearly died. Apparently stairs just aren't the same here...
The inspiration for Crazy Stairs
I watched my Dad grumble about building codes when he refinished the basement, but never did I think such seemingly unimportant statutes could be so important. In the United States there are specific requirements when building stairs because people will (obviously) hurt themselves. Evidently I've been spoiled by such rules that require uniformity and safety.
I feel a broken ankle coming on...
Here's the walk from the living room to the bathroom!
3. All that is Lush is Evil
After surviving the first few hours (my beloved fiancee might have to carry me around), I poked my head out of the apartment to see a wonderful sight! Bright flowers brought a fragrant, deliciously sweet taste to the air. Out of curiosity I approached the greenery, convinced that someone might offer me an apple that I would eat without question. That could never be a problem, right?
Naive Kristen admires the plant life
She steps closer, hand outstretched
Her fiancee watches in horror...
...as she gives blood sacrifice to the satanic blooms
Again my spoiled self got owned by St. Maarten. In Michigan, such dreadful plants are obviously ostracized. Here, they are celebrated and planted along most of the walkways into buildings. The take-home message here is to not touch anything, especially pretty things. Because they will kill you.
If I see a snake, I'm going to lose it
4. Big surprises come in tiny packagesAs our dangerous trek continued (about 100 feet away from the apartment), I felt an itch. With my non-bleeding hand I felt a small bump rise on my thigh, itching worse than an elementary school with a lice outbreak. As the earth swallowed more of my precious blood, my medically inclined fiancee informed me of the delight that is chikungunya.
Oh look! More of Kristen's blood! Yum!
The virus was first discovered in Africa in the 1950's, and has spread to much of the world. Mosquitos carry the infection to each host, leaving behind an adorable present. A feverishly arthritic gift just for me! Oh thank you island gods!
I'm in bed #5
While chikungunya is not fatal, it leaves behind an ugly rash with possible long-term joint problems. The pain is agonizing, somewhat disabling its victims. My fiancee had the unique opportunity to survey the St. Maarten population during the December 2013 outbreak (check it out on Wikipedia). Between the hours of 3 and 7pm, everyone here pretty much agrees to throw caution to the wind and put themselves at risk. Bug spray is definitely the island scent!
5. The Shower of DeathBy nightfall I knew I was suffering from some sort of post traumatic stress. Every step was calculated, every plant avoided like the plague. I wore more bug spray than a teenage boy wears Axe. As I prepared to wash off the blood, sweat (and more blood) from the day, my fiancee warned me to be careful. I wondered at that statement, since we were in the safety of the apartment. Silly me.
I was lulled into a false sense of security by the warm, gentle water: my greatest mistake. As I reached to adjust the temperature, I felt the pain of a thousand bee stings jab my palm. After staring at my angry red hand, I realized the culprit. Apparently, the piping for the shower head gets incredibly hot on one side. Like satan eating peppers hot. With my good hand I turned off the water and limped to bed. Crying. My salty tears stung the wounds on my fingers, but I didn't care. I had earned a good cry.
Overall, I'd say it has been an exciting vacation. I'll let you know what finally kills me.