Column, Movie Diary

Returning to form

A week ago, I explained how I was sitting on the deck of a beautiful boutique hotel overlooking the pristine waters of the Caribbean while writing my column. This week, unfortunately, I’m back to my living room chair.

It’s hard returning home after any vacation, but this one was especially difficult. The weather, people, food, experiences, and ease of travel made this trip epic in so many ways. My wife, son and I all agreed that we wished it could have lasted longer — and it almost did.

While waiting at the airport for our return flight, the ticket agent announced that they were looking for three people to give up their seats in exchange for three $800 vouchers and a free night in a local hotel with a complimentary taxi to and from the airport.

We looked at each other erratically while doing our own internal equations about whether it was feasible given our various schedules. Finally, my wife said, “Let’s do it.”

Now, you have to know my wife to understand that she’s famous for agreeing to things quickly and then regretting whatever she got herself into. And this scenario, while tempting on the surface, looked to me like an opportunity to just get more exhausted from traveling.

I argued that point while also reminding her that the restrictions on vouchers tend to be more trouble than they’re worth and that we would have to get re-tested for Covid due to the travel restrictions.  She eventually conceded, but not before reminding me that I have a long history of not taking risks (which is true).

The fact was, we had a great vacation, and it was now time to get back to the real world. Thankfully, we had the memories and photos to remind us of the experience.

With that said, if you’re ever thinking about a visit to the Caribbean, I can’t recommend St. Martin enough. It’s an interesting and beautiful island with much to offer the adventurous traveler.

One of the most unique aspects of St. Martin is that the tiny island is home to two countries — the Netherlands and France — with France controlling the northern half of the island and the Netherlands controlling the southern half. However, it’s hard to tell the difference since there are no restrictions when driving around.

St. Martin is also home to a huge port where luxury ocean liners dock for island excursions. While we were at the port, we could see four massive ships sitting in the harbor; however, none of them had tourists onboard. We were told that the ships had been docked there for months due to the pandemic.

Many of the shops and restaurants we visited spoke about the difficult year they’ve had, with travelers only recently being allowed to visit due to Covid-19. The economic devastation was evident with many businesses looking permanently closed.

But the most shocking thing we saw was the utter devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, which hit the island in late 2017. The Category 5 hurricane completely destroyed the infrastructure of the island, with 90 percent of the buildings being damaged. Within two days of the storm hitting, most people were left without basic necessities, which caused massive panic and looting. And then, the unthinkable happened: another hurricane hit the island (thankfully that storm was much less serious).

All told, it would take a year to clean up. However, the area we were in was hit especially hard and three years later you could clearly see the remnants of the weather onslaught. Half the buildings near our hotel still had no roofs.

And yet, the people were happy and joyful and delighted that we would visit their tiny island. I probably ordered more food than I needed and bought more souvenirs than I could ever use, but everywhere I went I felt compelled to help out the resilient island inhabitants.

It felt good to go on vacation for the first time in a year. And you know what else felt good? Going to a movie theater for the first time since last March. I had to drive quite a while to find an open cinema, but sitting in front of the big screen sure made it feel like normal life again.

And what better movie to return to the theater with than a true Hollywood blockbuster: “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

This action-packed monster mash was a special effects extravaganza with the two classic characters engaged in a never-ending fight scene for three-quarters of the film. The other quarter contained a flimsy storyline that attempted to piece things together, but it only succeeded in confusing me.

Check this one out if you’re a teenager or have a soft spot for these classic characters. Just be prepared that, outside of the grandiosity, there’s little left to chew on.

A monstrous “C” for “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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