My Post-Irma Trip to St. Martin: Part 1 – Anticipation and the Thrill of Returning to SXM

This post is the first in a series of posts I am writing about my first post-Irma trip to Saint Martin. I hope you can join me for all of them.

December 26, 2017 – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive about this, my first trip to Saint Martin since Irma tore it apart. When I started tweeting out using my newly created @SXMStrong twitter handle on the morning of September 6, 2017, I never could have anticipated what I was actually starting.

And to be completely honest, I still don’t really know what it is I’ve started or where this is all going. My background is in strategic finance and accounting. I’m a planner by trade. I like to think that by looking at numbers I can anticipate and prepare any business, big or small, for their future. Those skills don’t necessarily translate to this situation though.

When I was very young I always had an innate desire to help others. I don’t know if that was ever translated into action, you’d have to ask my parents about that. I just know how I felt at that very young age. I’d stay up all night watching telethons on television, fighting a burning desire to help them, knowing I could not, but vowing that one day I would.

As I grew and found myself in a position to finally start to do some good, I volunteered to be on the board for the Arizona chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation. I served on that board, representing my employer US Airways, in a variety of roles over my six-year term. I’d like to think I played a role in helping that organization turn around, from a quickly failing statistic to one of the most successful chapters in the entire Make-A-Wish organization.

I learned a lot from that experience, not the least of which was that it takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication, far more than those words convey, to really help others.

I left US Airways in the Spring of 2014, after the company merged with American Airlines. Content to stay at our new home in Phoenix, Arizona, with my wife and our two sons, both under two-years-old at the time. We chose to take some time to travel and enjoy our little family.

Over the first few months of 2014 I carefully planned a three-month trip of a lifetime. An adventure that would begin with one full week at our favorite place in the world, Saint Martin.

My wife and I had been to Saint Martin several times, but never for a full week. Our trips were usually three or four days. Our oldest son, Wyatt, had been to the island once before, when he was just eight-months-old. This would be his second trip and our youngest son, Sawyer, would be making his first trip…at eight-months-old.

Traveling with two boys, as some of you likely know, can be a dynamic challenge. But once you get to a beach that all changes. The time we spent in Saint Martin during this trip, irregardless of the other times my wife and I had visited, was really the foundation, the moment we realized that this special little island was always going to be a part of our lives. It was the moment we committed to Saint Martin.

And now, here I sit, typing away at gate E8 in Miami International Airport as I prepare to board the flight to Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport. I’m not sure what to feel. But the one thing I know is that it’s a much different feeling than I’ve ever had in any of my prior trips to the island.

It’s a strange thing not knowing what to expect from a place that I and my family have spent so much time at. And yet as I step up to the gate the one sensation I have more than anything is knowing that this is going to be a great trip. I’m going to meet some amazing people and see some incredible things. And I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Please help rebuild SXM and give today. Click here to visit the SXM Strong donate page.

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Jon Ferlise

I fell in love with the island of Saint Martin the first time I visited to celebrate my 40th birthday in May of 2009. Since then, I've spent most birthdays there, and have visited countless other times getting to know this wonderful place and the friendly locals that make it so special. I adore the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this stunning island. SXM Strong is a website that I started to support humanitarian relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. There was no plan, it just evolved as I witnessed the devastation that Irma caused the island and the huge need to communicate and disseminate information about what had happened and how people could help support this island and its people.

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