Is it possible to run from the Netherlands to France? Oops, let me clarify one small thing. Is it possible to run from the Netherlands’s Antilles to France? And all before breakfast? It depends on where you start of course!
Yes it is possible if your on the Island of Saint. Maarten/Sint. Martin in the Caribbean. The Island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is the shared territory of France and the Netherlands. One of the few bodies of land that is essentially owned and controlled by two different countries.
I have written about some aspects of St.Maarten/St.Martin before, more specifically about their International Airport on the Dutch side of the Island. Princess Juliana International Airport is the largest of two airports on the island. I am sure most of you out there have seen pictures from this Airport the planes come in for landing right over the beach, they are so close that you feel like you can touch them. There is basically about 40-50 feet from the runway to the beach. It is awesome to watch those huge planes take off and land.
A little history lesson about St.Maarten/St. Martin
Saint Martin has a land area of 35-1/2 Square Miles, 20-1/2 Square Miles of which is under the sovereignty of France and 13 Square Miles under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.The main cities are Philipsburg (Dutch side) and Marigot (French side). While the city with the highest population, Marigot, lies on the French side, the Dutch side is more heavily populated.
The highest hilltop is the Pic Paradis on center of a hill chain (French side). There are no rivers on the island, but many dry guts. Hiking trails give access to the dry forest covering tops and slopes.The average yearly air temperature is 80 degrees F. And sea surface temperature 79 °F. The total average yearly rainfall is 40 inches, with 99 days of thunder.
The island is located south of Anguilla, separated from the British territory by the Anguilla Channel. Saint Martin is northwest of Saint Barthelemy, separated from the French territory by the Saint-Barthelemy Channel.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus embarked on his second voyage to the New World. According to legend, Columbus sighted and perhaps anchored at the island of Saint Martin on November 11, 1493, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours. In his honor, Columbus named the island San Martin. This name was translated to Sint Maarten (Dutch), Saint-Martin (French) and “Saint Martin” in English.At Columbus’s time, St. Martin was populated, by Carib Amerindians. The former Arawaks had been chased by the Caribs coming from the North coast of South America a short time before the arrival of the Spaniards who followed in Columbus’ wake. The Arawaks were agricultural people who fashioned pottery and whose social organization was headed by hereditary chieftains who derived their power from personal deities called zemis.
The Caribs’ territory was not completely conquered until the mid-17th century when most of them perished in the struggle between the French, English, Dutch, Danes and Spanish for control of the West Indies. The Dutch first began to ply the island’s ponds for salt in the 1620s. Despite the Dutch presence on the island, the Spaniards recaptured St. Martin in 1633 and, one year later, built a fort (now Ft. Amsterdam) and another artillery battery at Pointe Blanche to assert their claim and control access to Great bay salt pond.
The Spaniards introduced the first African slaves to the area in the 16th century but the main influx of African slaves took place in the 18th century with the development of Sugarcane plantations by the French Protestants and Dutch. Slavery was abolished in the first half of the 19th century, whereupon on some of their territories the British imported Chinese and East Indians to take the place of slaves. Thus, St. Martin and the other islands are populated by a mixture of Amerindian, European, African, Indians and Asian peoples. West Indian cultures such as in St. Martin are, consequently, exceedingly rich and varied.
On March 23, 1648, France and the Dutch Republic agreed to divide the island between their two nations, with the signing of the Treaty of Concordia.
Folklore surrounds the history of the once ever-changing border division between St. Martin and Sint Maarten, and a popular story among locals narrates that “to divide the island in two sections, [in 1648] the inhabitants were told to choose two walkers, one chosen by the French-dominated community and the other one by the Dutch-dominated community, who were put back to back in one extreme of the island, making them walk in opposite directions while stuck to the litoral line, and not allowing them to run. The point where they eventually met was set as the other extreme of the island, and the subsequently created line was chosen as the frontier, dividing Saint-Martin from Sint Maarten. Seemingly, the French walker had walked more than his Dutch counterpart (each one earned his land, respectively, 21 Square miles and 12 square miles). As the first man chose wine as his stimulant prior to the race, while the latter chose Jenever (Dutch Gin), the difference between such beverages’ lightness was said to be the cause of the territorial differences by French locals, while Dutch locals tended to blame the French walker for running.”
In 1994, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France signed the Franco-Dutch treaty on Saint Martin border controls, which allows for joint Franco-Dutch border controls on so-called “risk flights”. After some delay, the treaty was ratified in November 2006 in the Netherlands, and subsequently entered into force on August 1st, 2007. Though the treaty is now in force, its provisions are not yet implemented as the working group specified in the treaty is not yet installed.
St. Martin’s Dutch side is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, jewelry, exotic drinks made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors and plentiful casinos.. The island’s French side is known for its nude beaches, clothes, shopping (including outdoor markets), and rich French and Indian Caribbean cuisine. English is the most commonly spoken language along with a local dialect. The official languages are French for Saint Martin, and both Dutch and English for Sint Maarten. Other common languages include various French based creoles (spoken by immigrants from other French Caribbean islands), Spanish (spoken by immigrants from the Dominican Republic and various South American countries), and Papiamento (spoken by immigrants from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao).
Because the island is located along the inter-tropical convergence zone, it is occasionally menaced by tropical storm activity in the late summer and early fall. The island is widely known for its hundreds of gourmet (and more moderately priced) restaurants on both sides of the island. Neighboring islands include Saint Barthelemy (French), Anguilla (British), Saba (Dutch), Sint Eustatius “Statia” (Dutch), Saint Kitts and Nevis (Independent, formerly British). With the exception of Nevis, all of these islands are easily visible on a clear day from St. Martin.
Well let’s not delay, back to my story. In the U.S. there is a place called the 4 corners, it is essentially a location where you can stand and be in 4 different states at the same time. Here on St.Maarten/St. Martin you can be in two different countries at the same time, in fact you drive around the whole island in about 40 minutes or so. It’s a small island.
My Partner decided to go for a run in the morning, where to run, where to run. Why France of course. In about 40 minutes he ran to France and back all before breakfast.
Here on St. Maarten/St. Martin the world really does feel like a small world. make plans to visit this beautiful, diverse island and when your here don’t forget to strap on your shoes and hit the road, the Netherlands and France are just around the corner waiting for you.
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