"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Landing on the beach, almost, and 107 countries

No, this isn't "photoshopped," but a real jumbo jet landing at Sint Maartin
"Sint Maartin" read the statistic of a country of a new reader of the blog this month. I thought it was a typo. It wasn't. It's less than half an island in the West Indies, owned by the Netherlands, and someone on that island clicked on this blog, marking the 107th country to have readers here.
The photo above, that I pulled off the Internet, is meant to catch your attention, because the runway is so short that jets actually are this close to the beach landing and taking off. I read somewhere that people have been blown off the beach by the jet blast, but I haven't confirmed that.
Sint Maartin is the smallest and southern portion of the island known as Saint Martin, and French is spoken on the other side. Dutch and English are official languages here.
The island has a long history, discovered by Columbus on his second voyage in 1493. Since then it's gone back and forth between Spanish, Dutch and French control, the Dutch settling in 1631, a base for its trade between Brazil and New Amsterdam (now New York). After the abolition of slavery on the plantations by the French and Dutch in the 1800s the island dwindled  until the mid-Twentieth Century saw the boost of tourism as a duty free port.
Sint Maartin became an "island territory" in the 1980s, part of the Netherlands Antilles, and in 2010 a "constituent country." Today about 40,000 people live in the country, and 36,000 on the French side, and tourism is the major economy. On the French side naturally, the flag is the French Tricolor. But Sint Maartin has its own flag, bearing its coat of arms.
The Princess Juliana International Airport requires the low approach over the Caribbean, and it handled more than 1.6 million passengers and 100,000 aircraft in 2007. There have been no accidents. I'd like to land there and blog away.  Another view:

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