I needed to clear my head, after a looooooooong semester and indulging in summer school, working almost every day….. I needed a break ( if you know what I mean). So one day I woke up and realized that I had enough skymiles for a round-trip to some island on sale on the Delta Airways website. I booked a trip to St. Maarten just for some tranquility and clarity. It’s easy to understand why this stunning island – known as St-Martin to the French, and Sint Maarten to the Dutch – has captured the hearts of many. A mere glance reveals conical, coolie-hat-like peaks rising dramatically from the depths of the ocean, and gentle cerulean currents that tumble landward to kiss the bleach-blonde sands.

Today, the allure goes deeper than the island’s natural gifts. The arbitrary division of land has given the scrubby island two very distinct personalities, like a set of Siamese twins. Although fundamentally one entity, both sides are engaged in an unconscious game of tug-of-war as they struggle to assert their individuality. At times they work as one, and in other instances they become a caricature of themselves by exaggerating the traits that makes them unique: the French cling to their European roots, as demonstrated by the food and local lingo, while the NetherlandsAntilles side plays up their jammin’ attitude by appealing to the hedonistic pleasures of visitors. But, although neither side likes to admit it, the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.

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