#1 Across SXM Road

Rédigé le 16/07/2023
The Hitchhiker's

Me? Hitchhiking? You're out of your mind! Yes, but in Saint Martin it's not the same!
Who hasn't had that conversation? Driving in SXM isn't that easy... and not for everyone. Hitchhiking, on the other hand, we've all tried it at least once around here! We'll all agree that "it's easy!"

As a rule, it only takes a few minutes for a motorist to pull up alongside you and ask where you're going. I'd go so far as to say that it's very likely that you'll be offered a lift before you even know where you're going! Or that the driver takes a detour to get you to your destination!
Not to mention the fact that it's relatively safe... well, of course, there's no such thing as zero risk! But still, in Saint Martin you feel free to hitchhike. 

That's all well and good, and I'm talking about a kind of Care Bear Land of hitchhiking! But when you arrive on the island and you're not used to it, it's not easy to take the plunge!
So we listen to the people around us, and there are a few rules to observe, so to speak! 
First, put on your hitchhiking outfit. In other words, comfortable denim shorts, a simple t-shirt and sneakers! Because hitchhiking in flip-flops is a bad idea! Firstly, the weather can change in the blink of an eye around here, and secondly, walking on the roads of Saint Martin is no picnic... so we opt for our comfortable tennis shoes when we set off on our adventure.
Secondly, we take note of "the season" and "the times" when it's best to stick out our thumbs. Obviously, during school vacations, mornings are immediately more complicated. The same goes for Sundays and public holidays, when the roads will be deserted. In low season, the number of motorists may be somewhat reduced. In the low season, the number of drivers is somewhat reduced, but you'll always be able to find your lift.
In the end, it's like random carpooling at no cost!

Go for it! We're ready, we brace ourselves and we take the plunge!
We take the plunge and stand on the side of the road, our thumbs proudly raised, our smiles worthy of a Colgate ad and we impatiently await our first Stop!
- Hello, where are you going? 
- Hi! I'm going to Hope Estate.
- Hop in, I'm off to the B.O. and I'll drop you off on the way.
Great, let's climb aboard! And so begins a light-hearted conversation. Everyone declares who they are, what they do, why they've come to Saint Martin and how long they've been here. Before you know it, we're safely in port.
Child's play! In the end, it wasn't so bad.

The most striking thing about the SXM Stop is the number of encounters of all kinds. 
Along the way, you'll chat with a business owner, a hairdresser, a fisherman, a banker or a seasonal restaurant worker. People born on the island, seasonal workers who arrived for 6 months but have stayed for 3 years, 10 years, 20 years... There's something about this island that attracts people and makes them stay. 
When you hitchhike on a regular basis, you realize just how diverse Saint Martin is. You even end up making hitchhiking buddies, the ones you meet regularly, who recognize you on the side of the road and put on their blinker as soon as they see you in the distance.

Despite the apparent ease of hitchhiking, it's worth mentioning the disadvantages.
In particular, if you have an important appointment you don't want to miss, or if your destination is off the beaten track, plan your journey well in advance, or don't hesitate to take the bus services (which operate on the island but are perfectly functional).
Finally, if your trip takes place after sunset, the hitchhiker cannot recommend enough the use of cab services. They're numerous, responsive and multilingual (I'm hoping to get our friends from the cab union in the pocket 😉 ).

One last word of warning, and you're all set for the stop:
Some of our fellow citizens with vehicles forget to tell you when you board that you have to pay for the ride. Beware of the surprise on arrival!

I, the hitchhiker in SXM, in no way encourage you to put yourself at risk in any way. Every month in your CoconutKronicle magazine, you'll discover my adventures on the road. If you feel like it, I invite you, readers, to share your experiences across SXM road with the Saint-Martinoise community! 

See you soon in the Hitchhiker's Kronicle...