Written by: KATHY BLASBERG
We have been living on St. Maarten for about 9 years now. When we first got here, we had no pets. But the island seemed to know something was missing in our lives, so shortly thereafter, we were adopted by a dog and a cat. I can say without a doubt that these two rock rescues have been the highlight of our lives here.
Tess is a beach dog through and though – she loves the sand, the water, and swimming to her heart’s content. After each dip into the sea, she comes out and rolls in the sand until she looks like a corndog (a culinary delight one should not miss). Because it brings her (and of course, me) so much delight, we find ourselves at the beach at least 4-5 times a week.
My island dog and I have found our perfect island car match – a 1995 Suzuki Sidekick that has seen better days, but it runs and suits our lifestyle, as we do not have to worry ourselves about the copious amounts of sand and dog hair that have completely taken over the backseat. It matters not how much you vacuum, it is always there, so we do not even bother. With a dent on every fender, door, side panel, and even a coating of fiberglass hiding the rust underneath a patchwork fix, it’s a no worries vehicle and we sure do love it.
One of the things I appreciate about the islands is that they all have different cultures and histories. St. Maarten has royalty in the Monarchy of The Netherlands. Whenever Beatrix the Queen would visit (before she abdicated the throne to her son), the islanders would go all out and clean up the entire route from the airport to Philipsburg so everything appeared as pristine as possible for our royal guest. The roads would even be cleared – true island magic – to ensure she had a smooth arrival experience and didn’t get caught fighting local traffic like the rest of us.
On one bright and sunny afternoon, Tess and I set out for the beach. I, of course, always unaware of the schedules of the island, assumed it was a day like any other. We live off of Airport Road, the busy route from the airport heading towards Philipsburg. Getting out into traffic is always a problem in this spot, and I have become accustomed to frequently waiting 5 minutes or more to even find an opening on busy days. So imagine how gloriously lucky Tess and I felt when we pulled out onto Airport Road with unheard of ease, finding it completely devoid of traffic.
We pulled out onto the empty road and started chugging along when, out of nowhere, a motorcycle cop came rushing in our direction. Pulling up next to me, he yelled through my open window, “Don’t Stop! Keep driving!”.
Confused by the superfluous instruction – continuing to drive towards my destination was exactly what I had already planned on doing, thank you very much – I told him, yes, of course I would keep driving; I was taking my dog to the beach.
He remained alongside of us, puzzling me with his attention. Then, we turned the corner at the end of the airport runway and found ourselves in the midst of a crowd of people, all waving enthusiastically at Tess and me and our motorcycle escort. Keeping in the spirit of things, I waved back and smiled while Tess stuck her head out the window, gazing upon her loyal subjects who had come to wave at her.
Our beach of choice was right at the end of the runway, so I slowed to make the turn, and just as we were rounding the corner, I spotted the other Queen – the human one – behind us with an escort of her very own. I gave a final wave, then made a right to take my Dog Queen to the beach.
I have no idea what the islanders or their Queen were thinking that day, but I can only assume that they were a bit bewildered at the sight of us – rusty Suzuki and all! Tess and I will always remember that day – she’s had a royal air about her ever since – for that was the day she made the switch from Tess the Island Rescue Dog to Tess the Island Dog Queen.