I had read that the remoteness of Pic Paradis has led to some problems with crime – locals hiding in the bushes and breaking into vehicles – so I didn’t even bother locking the car door or putting the windows up. I parked in front of Loterie Farm and left nothing of value – have at that map and sunscreen, boys.
I’m currently sitting at the top of the mountain, the highest peak in St. Maarten (1391 ft), looking out over the eastern side of the island. I can see from Phillipsburg all the way to Orient Bay, although from up here I cannot see any naked bodies.
The beads of sweat have stopped coming down my forehead and dripping off my nose, but I can feel the shirt sticking to my back, drenched in sweat. The cool breeze is pretty consistent, and it makes me feel refreshed and accomplished as it blows against my damp skin and clothes.
It was by no means an easy climb, which is why most people drive up to the summit, only walking the five minutes to the lookout from their cars. I decided I wanted a workout, and I didn’t think the experience would be as rewarding if I drove. I trekked up the road, people waving, laughing, and flashing their thumbs as they whizzed past in their jeeps and compacts.
There are several places to catch views once you reach the top, and you can essentially get a glimpse of the entire island, from the planes landing in Maho to the parasailing at Orient Beach. I can also see the hill I climbed the other day near Cole Bay. I said in the video it was one of the highest peaks in St. Maarten, and I humbly retract that statement.
It’s so peaceful up here by myself – just me and the pen and the pad – and that breeze is blowing the tall grass, the sound of the brush moving equally as calming as the views. To my surprise, I haven’t seen another human in quite some time, yet I can clearly see St. Barths in the distance, a place I so thoroughly enjoyed two days ago. It looks a hell of a lot closer than 21 miles.
I did meet one couple earlier that I decided to chat up. I had never seen anything like it – the man was hiking through the brush carrying a five-month old baby in a car seat. Later, when I saw them again, he was holding the kid in his arms. They were from Curacao and I rather liked them. Should I ever procreate, I will certainly consider a similar upbringing for my little wanderer. Cheers Curt, beers on me when I visit Curacao.
I’m on the other side of the hill now, and I can see the planes landing in Maho at Princess Juliana Airport. It’s time for me to start my descent – I have friends landing soon and I have to go pick them up. If I have time I’ll post this tonight, otherwise tomorrow morning before coffee and breakfast.
Well, I figured out the other reason people drive to the top: The walk down the mountain is probably more difficult than the climb. It’s so steep – I could only keep myself at a walk’s pace for so long before I had to stride out, start running. The concrete road is far from smooth, and ankle twisting is a realistic possibility.
If I did it again I’d still walk – it’s just an FYI for the non-athletic types.