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On March 27th STINAPA organized a march from Colombier to French Quarter. It was announced on LBC-TV, as letters sent through the Saint Maarten mail service usually do not reach the members till after the event. The ones who answered the call and participated had an enjoyable time.

The excursion was a strenuous exercise, but also showed an interesting part of Saint Martin very few people know about.

The gathering time was set for 8 am at the site of the Mangouste restaurant in Colombier.
At 9 a.m. about twenty people had gathered, amongst whom several visitors to the island.

We set off under the guidance of Dr. F.van der Hoeven, crossing the road and entering the old path to the Laiterie Estate. Now rather neglected, the mango orchards and some of the meadows of this cattle estate are slowly being overgrown by shrubs and the path is falling apart, but the land is still as restfull and lovely as ever.

Arriving at the great house, rebuilt in concrete in the 1920's, the cattle yard and milking shed were pointed out and some information on the Estate's workings were given. Then the excursion proper began and we climbed up through the ravine of La Laiterie with several rest stops.

This part, of the march was a total revelation to most participants. A running stream, huge trees, pools of water between the rocks in the shade of what is a virtual forest, with hummingbirds drinking there. That this still exists on Saint Martin_!

Higher in the ravine was the source of the trickle, with a well and two large sugar pans to able the cattle to drink.

To reach the watershed we had to climb further through meadows with shrubs and when we reached the top a beautiful view of *Marigot and the *Low-lands presented itself to us.

After another rest, the walk continued to the other side of the hill range, from where we could see all of French*Quarter, Dutch*Quarter and all the land to the East. Standing just under the summit of Pic Paradis, with the house of Dr.Gerard Vialenc at the left, with its fantastic view, another pause was made before descending into a ravine leading to the MOHO spring which also has a continuous small stream of water. As on the other side, the land is still being used for cattle.

Hopping and climbering over great rocks down a narrow path, we passed a few Mammie-apple trees, so rarely seen nowadays.

Here was the island in its original form, as it was before the denudation of the land for cultivation, as the indians had known it. Down the MOHO ravine we reach the MOHO water hole too often used as a laundry.
A few steps further down, lays a large rock used in indian times for the sharpening of stone, bone and shell tools. When these small mortar worn into the rock were deep enough, they probably also served for grinding down herbs for medicine. On one side of that rock a face like precolombian petroglyphs is carved, giving some magic to the site.

All together the trip had taken about three hours, most of which was spent climbing.

All of us tremendously enjoyed the sights of the beautiful land, including two 7 years old boys and some visitors to the island.

This trip was explored and maintained by Frenchman named Eric Dubois, who cut several other trails that can be walked.
Thanks to STINAPA and Eric Dubois we can hope to soon have another interesting excursion.

I hope the description of this wonderful excursion will make more people on the island interested in seeing the beautiful spots we have on St.Maarten/St.Martin and become members of the STINAPA, which needs every support it can get.

By A.M. van Spanje

( Tuesday, April 12, 1988 )

©  [ SXM-RANDO ]