Ok, so here is the REAL TRUTH on our lovely island of St. Maarten – St. Martin. About 9 months later after our catastrophic events, times have been the roughest most of us have ever had to work our way through.
We have had to rally together as a local community, as the the Frenchside and the Dutchside, as the timeshare owners, the Canadians, the Americans, the Boaties and Yachties, the families and the single bartenders. Irma had no judgement, she was destructive to anyone is her path and we the people of SXM were directly in her path. She blurred the lines between the rich and the poor… understanding how we are all connected and how we were all hit by her that was the key to the bouncing back.
At this point there is no need to dwell on the past. But understand this, it is not a case of only the”strongest” survive… because there was a stroke of luck if you were one of the few that was not left roof-less, car-less and/or job-less. It is pure resilience with combination of hope that has helped many of us to pull through up on til now.
We have watched as some of our favorite venues were not fortunate enough to rebuild and re-open. We have joined our friends, the business owners in support of each business as they re-opened. We had no real certainty of our own financial security and no real plan how we could pull back the pieces to our own homes and our careers / businesses to what we consider as “normal life.” We dipped into our savings account to go out to dinner, to cheer on the live bands, to sing along with the karaoke hosts and bought a few beers along the way.
One thing to really try to comprehend… we could have all volunteered more and done even more fundraisers, pulled together to organize distributions even better and more frequently. We could have ask for more assistance and even rallied if we felt we were not getting enough. This would have been an adaptation to a lifestyle of living inside the issue. There was only one way to “Bounce Back.”
The only way a young mother got her waitressing job back was if the business owner was able to re-open, the only way they could reopen was if the local community came out to support them. This is the only way the performers were ever going to have a chance at getting just one gig, which would help them to support their family just one more week. The delivery trucks would once again be making deliveries. The Photographers, Graphic Designers, Newspapers, Editors, Writers and Advertisers watched and promoted the “re-openings” at no charge (or minimal) since they hung onto to hope that small business would one day pick up again and the need for their services would return.
We the people will fully recover once TOURISM does. So it was the utmost important step to our future economy, to need to show the world that St. Maarten – St. Martin lives on, the party continues, the culinary arts flourish with a variety of tastes and even new restaurants have popped up! That nightlife is active through many dining options, the several casinos and nightclubs. The beaches are clean, the water is crystal clear and the resorts are re-opening one by one.
Many of our friends evacuated and are now re-establishing themselves elsewhere. We the remaining Survivors do get to enjoy the paradise of SXM each day… this doesn’t mean there isn’t a struggle ahead of us. We head into what we call the “low season” of tourism, a dip in business is always projected, staff is reduced to minimum… and to make matters challenging it is now Hurricane Season.
It’s time to get prepared properly, to always hang on to hope, we are the SXM survivors!