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.

Island car Kathy_WWLOR 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.

island dog Tess_WWLOR All hail.

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

St. Maarten

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:

St. Louis, Missouri

Kathy lives on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. She arrived by boat after completing a tour of the Caribbean. Starting in Chattanooga, TN and working her way down to Trinidad and back up to St. Maarten again in 2007 where she has lived for the past 9 years.

During her Caribbean sailing time, she stopped in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the BVI, the USVI, St. Barths, St. Martin, Antigua, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Iles des Saintes, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, Bequia, St. Vincent, Carriacou, Petit St. Vincent, Petit Martinique, Grenada, and Port of Spain Trinidad. All of this has given her a broad view of island life as well as all of the quirky things unique to the different islands.

When she started her travels, she wrote a monthly newsletter to all of her friends and family and the boaters she met along the way. It included all the stories and incidents that occurred while they were on their adventure. She also has a website with pictures of the trip posted there. They are currently living on their boat which is on the hard for repairs (like living in a tree house) in the Simpson Bay lagoon.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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