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My drive of shame

Dear Editor,

Please allow me some space in your newspaper to address the Government of North and South SXM.

Governments, over the last few months I have heard more and more comments from tourists visiting the island that St. Maarten is dirty ... ugly ... overdeveloped ... unfriendly ... busy, etc etc.. And after defending and defending and explaining and defending some more, I finally reached my boiling point last week and advised an “arrogant” young couple that they visit somewhere else. I felt irritable and angry for the rest of the day but decided to enjoy the last few days of my kids’ summer holiday and take a drive to Orient and then continue around the island for a lime.

When one is in a bad mood, our image of the world can come across through negative eyes, and what may have seemed colourful and artistic on a good day, becomes tacky and hateful graffiti on another. So, needless to say, I set out seeing all of the ugly along my drive.

Within a kilometre of leaving home, I come to my first eyesore. On the side of the main road in Terres Basses just before the much visited Baie Rouge and on the route to many high priced, luxurious rental villas in sight of our high end tourists, sits a vandalized white car, missing wheels, doors, etc. that has been sitting in plain view for two months. Numerous calls have made no difference and there she sits in all her glory.

Continue along Baie Nettle and voila, you will see garbage upon garbage piled up at the entrance to the once beautiful Belle Creole. Huge pieces of plastic, metal, etc..greet any joggers and walkers who use this route every morning. Tourists staying at the many hotels that line this road.

Graffiti on the walls in St. James along the main road, derelict unpainted buildings along Rue de Hollande which happens to be the main entrance way to Marigot, more graffiti covering street signs, and on and on, all the way to Orient. Now bear with me people, I do have a point to this aimless whining.

So, passing the turn off to Pinel, continuing along the main road to the most visited (by tourists) beach on our island, and look at that; metal containers litter the side of the road, interrupting the view of the once beautiful pond. Rusted metal siding and heavy equipment lines the road for almost 300 metres before the turn off to Booboo Jam at Orient. First site, the ruins of the Paint Ball place, with broken cars, overgrown bushes and garbage upon garbage. Continue past the Angelo Marble business which has piles of garbage and broken marble at its’ entrance (picture provided to the paper), and this is at the entrance to a tourist destination. Why is this allowed?

I can go on and on, as this tour from hell lasted my entire circumnavigation, including the broken washing machines that litter the side of the road in Sucker Garden, a route used by guests of the Westin, the muddy “sidewalks” of Simpson Bay, the abandoned and broken down shack on the Airport road that used to be Taco Macho. I became so angry that I decided that something had to be done about it.

We are a tourist destination and have no other economy besides tourism. Do you, our government on both sides understand what this means? Without visitors, we have nothing. Nothing.

I would like to see both sides of the island create a paid position for a caring and diplomatic individual to concern themselves with cleaning up our island. You have graffiti on your wall, paint over it. Haven’t done it within a week of being told to by this appointed individual, we gon’ fine yo’ ass! Still haven’t done it after another week, we put the prisoners or the community service recipients to do it and fine you again. Same goes for garbage. Who owns the land? Fine them. Clean it up and fine them again. Fine them until they leave or the 2016 budget is balanced.

I would happily take on this job and take great pleasure in cleaning up my island, the only home I have. Two good citizens who need work could make a huge difference, the difference between a future of poverty for St. Maarten or sustainability.

 

Susy Maidwell


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