If you’ve ever been on a cruise or taken any kind of trip to the Caribbean, you’ve likely spent some time on the island of St. Martin. It’s your typical island. Fruity drinks, nude beaches full of fat people, Rastafarian guys with long dreads selling Ganja to tourists, duty-free shopping, $.50 Heineken, and gambling. Yep, typical tourist trap.
However, anyone who’s ever been to “The Friendly Island,” will tell you there’s something odd about this island. And I mean odd like a football bat, not strange. The island is roughly 36 square miles and is divided into two halves. The fun side is owned by our favorite weed-loving Europeans, the Dutch. The other half–the bigger half–is owned by the French. Yes. The French.
So how did the French dupe the Dutch into giving them the bigger half of the island? No, the Dutch weren’t always a bunch of stoners. Before the first clog wearing, tulip planting Dutchmen ever rolled the first funnel-shaped joint, they were alcoholics. And Gin was their drink of choice. What the hell does this have to do with the division of an island? Calm down. I’m about to give you your first Drunk Pirate history lesson.
Anyone who has studied the history of the Caribbean, or has at least watched all three “Pirates of the Caribbean,” movies, knows that the second the first European explorer set foot on the first Caribbean island that shit essentially hit the fan. It was all pretty much downhill from there. The islands became essential in one way or another to supply North America with booze, slaves, etc. They were in a sense a commodity, and like any commodity, people fought over them–for hundreds of years.
St. Martin was no exception. This is how it all went down in a nutshell.
First, the peaceful Arawak Indians from South America pull a Jimmy Buffet and island-hop all the way to St. Martin thousands of years ago. God only knows why. Maybe on a dare. A short time later the cannibalistic Carib tribe, who the entire Caribbean was later named after, came down from North America and wiped out the Arawak. Assholes.
Fast forward a few thousand years when Columbus “sailed by” the island on the day of the feast of St. Martin, spotted it, dubbed it St. Martin, claimed it for Spain and proceeded to accidentally discover America. During all this discovering Columbus forgot the tell the Dutch that Spain had dibs on the island. So the Dutch settled there. In 1633 Spain found out about the squatters and summarily kicked their asses off the island.
Over the next 15 years the Dutch and their buddies the French regularly tried to overtake the island to no avail. Finally, the Spaniards got tired of the pestering and left the island. Since the French and the Dutch had spent 15 years working together to drive Spain out, they decided to take a more civil approach to determine ownership of the island. They pulled a chapter right out of the Bible, pulling a King Solomon, and decided to split that baby [island].
There was one problem though. No one could decide where to draw the division line, so some guy who must have been drunk or high or both came up with a plan. Take a Dutchman and a Frenchman and stand them back to back on a beach. Let them walk in opposite directions until they meet on the other side of the island. The line would be drawn from the point they left from to the point they met on the other side. They could only carry with them a walking stick and a flask. The Frenchman had a big flask full of wine. The Dutchmen had a big flask of Gin. By the time they met on the other side, the Frenchman was right as rain and the Dutchman was shitfaced. Needless to say, the sober Frenchman had covered almost twice the distance as the Dutchman.
What’s the moral of this story? Drinking and walking are just as bad as drinking and driving. You may get to where you’re going, but chances are you’ll screw up somewhere along the way.