The Island With 8 Names: Adventures in St. BartsBy Eric Green | Jul 27, 2017
Anyone who travels frequently or has
travelled before knows that heading to a new country or destination for the
first time can be a little bit daunting in a number of ways. Unfamiliar
surroundings, new urban layout, new people, places and things! It can be a lot
to handle for some people â€“ thatâ€™s the main reason why PVR has such an in-depth
and dedicated concierge service as well as on-location representatives: to
remove as much of this stress as humanely possible for our guests.
I learned the value of this aspect of guest
care first hand during my maiden voyage to St. Barts, after a brief but truly
alarming time when I believed that I had somehow wound up getting myself to the
wrong island completely! It might sound extreme, but believe me, it would not have
been the first time Iâ€™d managed to find myself in the wrong place.
On this particular trip I opted to take the
ferry ride across to St. Barts from St. Martin as opposed to the eight-minute
plane ride. Now, I have nothing against flying, itâ€™s just that I have a soft
spot for the sea and have always loved travelling across the water by boat. I
embarked from St. Martin and thoroughly enjoyed the trip, standing on the rail
and catching the spray off the bow, working on my suntan and basking in the
happy snatches of conversation from my fellow guests â€“ English, French,
Spanish, etc. Many different languages were represented on that ride and I took
comfort in their pleasant and carefree nature that seemed to bridge the
language barrier. Surely I was en route to somewhere wonderful!
It was only as our destination grew nearer
that I picked out a snippet of conversation that planted a small seed of worry
in my mind. I couldnâ€™t tell you the context, but I distinctly heard someone say
something that sounded like "Sam BarthelAHmeâ€¦â€ and point off towards the island
that was rapidly engulfing the entirety of my view off the ship.
Now itâ€™s worth mentioning that my Grade 9
French is, at this point in my life, VERY rusty. Canada is home and, though
weâ€™re encouraged to learn French in school to adhere to Canadaâ€™s bilingualism,
it isnâ€™t, strictly, mandatory and I didnâ€™t, strictly, take French class any
longer than I absolutely had to. In all of my preparation for this trip Iâ€™d
been told I was going to St. Barts. Iâ€™d packed for St. Barts. Iâ€™d planned for
St. Barts. I expected St. Barts. Hearing the island referred to by another name
â€“ a name Iâ€™d never heard before â€“ scared me witless.
Was I in the right spot? Had I hopped on
the wrong ferry in my excitement to get to sea? Did they have democracy in â€˜Sam
BarthelAHmeâ€™ or was it an anarchic society of lawless brigands where Iâ€™d have
to fight for survival until I could get a working connection on my satellite
These questions and more swirled through my head as we
docked and began to disembark. From the sound of the name I thought maybe Iâ€™d
somehow arrived in Southern Europe or perhaps Central America, though how Iâ€™d
travelled so far in 40 minutes on a ferry was beyond me. Perhaps some kind of
â€˜Bermuda Triangleâ€™ phenomena was at work here.
"Enjoy Sam BarthelAHme,â€ the ferry captain
implored me as I hopped ashore!
There it was again! Where in the hell WAS
I? More importantly, how much was it going to cost to get to St. Barts â€“ where
I was actually needed â€“ and MOST importantly, would that come out of my end?
The feelings of dread and confusion mounted
as I wove my way through the line towards the customs official. I was vaguely
aware that sometimes St. Barts was spelt St. Barths, with an "H,â€ but at this
point I had become so neurotically nerve wracked that I was unable carry that
thought to itâ€™s logical conclusion in my mind.
I was only vaguely aware of my surroundings
as I thought on what a mess Iâ€™d gotten myself into. Perhaps â€˜Sam BarthelAHmeâ€™
was a person and I could ask him where I was?
I approached the customs official: a tall,
muscular and mustachioed young man wielding his stamp like a hammer, eyes,
brimming with hostility, narrowed in suspicion at me. He knew. He knew I didnâ€™t
My mouth was sandpaper as I presented him
my passport and answered the usual customs pleasantriesâ€¦
"Here for business.â€
"Five night stay.â€
"Iâ€™m a writer.â€
"No, you wonâ€™t know any of my work.â€
His eyes, narrow already, narrowed further
as he worked them through every single pore, line and contour of my face, and
he said something that took my breath away.
"Merci, Monsieur Green, enjoy your time in St. Barts!â€
I could have kissed him. He smiled and
ushered me through the gates. His eyes, I noticed, were simply narrowed against
the sun, not at me. To that point, also, his mustache, it occurred to me, was
much more authoritative and pleasantly Magnum, P.I. than cold and indifferent Josef
Stalin. He was beautiful. He was my new best friend, to put it frankly.
As I strode through the gate onto the
harbor walk, sure enough, there was my local contact and the rental car
official waiting for me with papers to sign, my car, a handshake and a smile. I
was in the right place after all. All was well and, thanks to the concierge
representatives, I was settled into my villa and enjoying the sunshine, sand
and sights of St. Barts â€“ you know, "working!â€ â€“ within the hour. As I would learn over the course of the trip, the island itself can be equally mysterious
in its' titular labeling, as you can pass a sign with "St. Bartélemyâ€ on it at
one end of the street, only to turn at a sign emblazoned with "St. Barthélemyâ€
â€“ including the â€˜Hâ€™ â€“ at the other end!
SO, in order to make sure that nobody else
has to ensure this momentary fear paralysis, let me put this to bed right now: Saint
Barthélemy or Saint Barths, Saint Bartélemy or Saint Barts, Sam BarthelAHme:
youâ€™ll hear it called a number of different things but that doesnâ€™t matter. It
is the same island. Thereâ€™s only ONE St. Barts, it just happens to have eight