From the port I took a taxi downtown for $3. The terrible downpour turned to sun shortly after I got there. Most of the taxi’s dropped passengers off near the courthouse, which was also where you could go to hail one for a ride or tour. Many of them stood with signs offering tours calling out to passersby in the courtyard area.
The streets were lined with everything from clothing and jewelry stores (with exquisite jewels just as in St. Thomas) to a church and casino. Store owners/workers stood by the entrance of their businesses greeting and calling people to come inside. While looking for gifts to bring home I noticed that all prices were listed in both dollars and guilders; I also found a unique souvenir I just had to get- a peacock.
The downtown area appeared to be divided into two sections. From the beach to the middle of downtown seemed to be geared toward tourists with the shop owners/employees standing at their doors and independent sellers approaching people on the beachfront to sell visors, handbags, and other items.
The further that you got from the beach the fewer tourists there were. The area quickly changed from heavy tourist traffic and tons of trendy vibrant stores to one that resembled more of an industrial area with banks and businesses. St. Maarten residents appeared to be in the middle of a workday, dressed in business attire quickly traveling between businesses. In comparison to the lively crowded beach area, this part of downtown could have been considered deserted with the exception of people getting in and out of cars and taxis or quickly walking from one place to another. As I rounded the corner by the bank a mural caught my eye by the bus stop.
While in the “tourist” section of downtown, I came upon a unique looking store Guavaberry Emporium where I learned about the cultural and historical significance of the Guavaberry in St. Martin.