Our flight out of Panama City was miserably early, 5:20 AM.  We were up at 3, and called for a cab to pick us up at 4.  I opened the garage door, turned on all the lights, and set the luggage in the driveway so the cabby would have no problem finding us.  So, what does he do?  Drives right past the house, runs halfway down the block, and creeps along, checking house numbers, and waking every dog in the area.  I wasn't very impressed.  He FINALLY backed up and pulled in the driveway.  He made some comment about it being hard to read the house numbers, and I said "Why do you think I have all the lights on and the garage door open at 4AM"?  All I got was a blank look.  I was kind of crabby from my short night's sleep, and this guy wasn't helping matters.

Being the first flight of the day, security was a breeze, we boarded the plane, and I promptly dozed off.  I remember being vaguely aware that we were late taking off, due to some mechanical problem.  As we were coming into Atlanta, we overhear the conversations of a group of Air Force guys who were headed to Vegas.  They had scheduled a tight connection to begin with, and we landed 45 minutes late...they missed their flights.  Well, at least there are plenty of flights to Sin City every day, I am sure that they made it OK.

We had a long layover, so the delay didn't bother us.  Breakfast was Burger King, and we boarded the 10:05 flight for St. Martin without incident.  Lana took the window.  The guy next to me was a very pleasant fellow from Macon on his 7th trip to St. Martin.  He liked it so much that he bought a timeshare on the Dutch side, and goes back every year.  He has made a lot of friends on the island, so it is kind of like going back home to him.  He gave us some "local knowledge" on eateries and car rental.

Our flight landed on schedule, and customs and immigration was a breeze.  We were a little confused at the baggage area, because there were two baggage belts and no indication of which one the bags from our flight were going to be on.  However, we got our bags after a little milling around, hailed a taxi, and took a $25 cab ride to Grand Case, driven by a quiet local woman.  As we were checking in, we noticed an Internet kiosk in the lobby.  It was $5 for 38 minutes, and you could add time in $1 increments after that.  A couple was finishing up and had plenty of time left, so they let us use their remaining time to check our email.  It was pretty slow, probably dial-up, but it did the job.  We noticed a sign at the desk that advertised free car rental for your entire stay!  Well, it was too good to be true...I asked the receptionist, and she rolled her eyes...  The on-site rental company will rent the car for "free", but the insurance and tax comes up to $25 per day!  It turns out that this was pretty much the going rate, anyway, and it sure was convenient to have them right there....plus, the daily charge was the same as our one-way cab fare from the airport!  We decided to pick up a car in the morning.  After that we checked into the room.  We had gotten an oceanfront room with a loft, and it was quite roomy.  It was nothing fancy; white tile floors, white ceilings, and creme colored walls.  There was a king bed downstairs and a queen upstairs, a full kitchen, and two full baths.  But the best part was the view.  The room has two large sliding glass doors leading out onto a balcony that was probably 30 feet long, and since we had an end unit, we had view in two directions.  The resort actually sits on two beaches...the north end of Grand Case beach, where we were, looking back on the town, and Petite Playa, which stretches off to the north about a quarter of a mile and overlooks the island of Anguilla, about 6 miles away.  The south quarter of Petite Playa is hotel property, the rest is public beach.  The two beaches are separated by a rocky outcropping, where the small pool and the hotel's restaurant, the Sunset Cafe, are located.  The cafe overlooks Petite Playa, and that is where the beach service is.



Grand Case Beach

Petite Playa

After check-in, we were both tired, and a tad hungry.  We headed down to Sunset Cafe, where I had Mahi-Mahi on a bed of stir-fried spinach, which was good, and Lana had lamb en crute, which was EXCELLENT (she couldn't finish it and i had the rest for lunch the next day, YUM!).  I had the best Cosmopolitan I had ever had...the bartender said she threw in a little lime juice and Grand Marnier to spice it up.  Toward the end of dinner, a couple walked in and sat behind us.  She looked like she weighed about 80 pounds, but must have been wearing her weight in perfume.  I could not help but overhear her as she ordered.  She kept saying "No butter" for this and "No butter" for that.  I wondered if she was heading to the kitchen to keep an eye on the cook!  Come to a good French restaurant and tell them how to cook?  You might as well stay home!


We finished up and were ready to leave when I saw our waitress head towards us with a couple of bottles and some shot glasses in her hand.  Folks, that is a beautiful sight!  She brought two bottles of rum infused with fresh fruit, one mango, the other pineapple.  She set it all on the table and said "Knock yourselves out"!  We dug in, and a few minutes later she brought over a third bottle, this one with rum and coffee beans.  We drank our fill, then staggered off to bed.  It was a great day!

Day Two