Why the split in St. Martin? | Islands

Why the split in St. Martin?

St. Martin

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“Take the Dutch-side ferry to the French-side beach, back to the Dutch-side airport.” I’m reading my directions, trying not to take sides. This is one island (only 34 square miles) with two names (Dutch Sint Maarten and French Saint Martin). It has two languages, two currencies and a vague border bisecting it all. Nobody can make sense of it, so they all make the most of it. Taxi driver Fevry from Haiti passes Dutch-side Grand Marché and drops me at French-side Friar’s Bay. “To get back,” he advises, “call a Dutch-side taxi.” French-side taxis charge in more-expensive euros. I walk the rugged shore past Happy Bay and all the way to Grand Case. I eat beach-side “lolo” barbecue and follow it up with an unparalleled street-side ice-cream cone with two flavors: passion fruit and salted-butter caramel, the two sides complementing each other perfectly.

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