Friday, 17 December 2010

What's wrong with that?

I met a man yesterday in St. Maarten who seems to have found the secret to life. Seriously! No religious platitudes, no proclamations of eternal love or angst. He was simply happy. Marty is a transplanted Canuck who is blissfully living in the port city of Phillipsburg peddling candy. We searched Marty out because he is a friend of a friend and he was aware of our arrival. When the Social Butterfly had sent him an email before the cruise to ask his address, Marty had simply replied, "Don't worry. You won't need an address. Just ask for the Candy Man. Everybody knows me!"

After a day touring the island, we found ourselves back in Phillipsburg but with limited time before the ship was to set sail. Driving and parking in these Caribbean islands is a young driver's worst nightmare, (an entire world of nothing but parallel parking that goes on for miles) so an excursion to "The Candy Man" was beginning to look a tad optimistic. I am so glad that we made the effort. We parked the car and simply asked for the Candy Man! Marty was right. Everybody knew him. Within minutes we were in front of a sun-yellow coloured shop about the size of a mini van. Marty greeted us like long-lost relatives. He was floundering at home in Toronto, unable to find his place or his purpose, until he discovered his island paradise 2 years ago. He got some advice, borrowed some money I would suspect, and headed down to live in St Maarten full time. He works hard. 7 days a week, from 8 in the morning until 10 at night, but he is well-known, well respected, well loved and blissfully happy. He has everything he could want. He works his business, chats up the locals, has some close friends, and when it all gets to be a bit too much, he closes up his shop for a couple of hours and goes floating on his raft in the ocean and soaks up the sun. What could be wrong with that?

Marty is lean, trim, very tanned and was decked out in white linen draw-string pants and a white cotton dashiki. The only thing identifying him as a Canadian is the bright red Roots hat he sports. I would venture a guess that he has put socks on his feet since his arrival, and business suits and ties are a thing consigned to his past.

Marty did everything he could to make our short visit a pleasant one, even offering to pay for our candy purchases. (an offer we firmly refused) I was in awe of Marty. He seems to have found bliss. It may be off the beaten track, but it is genuine and seemingly lasting. Would that all of us could discover our purpose and passion as has Marty.

A quick postscript. We are actually leaving St Lucia as I complete this post. A beautiful island that deserves it's own post, but a ride through the islands has left me feeling a tad equilibrium-deprived. Think Space Mountain meets 24 hours at Le Mans and you might just get an idea of my headspace right now. More tomorrow.
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