I work for Index Data, the world’s tiniest multinational, where fourteen people of seven different languages work together from twelve locations in six different countries. Although we work well by email, Skype, bug-trackers and so on, it’s important that we all get together for a week once or twice a year. Here’s where we got together last week:
This is the view from my room at the Sonesta Great Bay Hotel, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, a small Caribbean island. I know, I know: it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
We spent much of the week squeezed into a conference room discussing software projects (including The One Repo, yay!) But we did have plenty of time to lounge around on the beach and in the pools, too — in fact, we conducted several of our more productive break-out sessions in the hot-tub, with cocktails. True.
We also took a day-long tour of the island. One of the highlights for me was the roadside wild iguana station. Here I am, hand-feeding one of twenty or so iguanas which have got into the habit of hanging around this patch of roadside dirt because they expect to get fed.
And here I am, up close and personal, with one of the iguanas. (Others were much bigger than this one, but this is the one that was available for smooching.)
Another highlight on Sint Maarten is that it has a unique stretch of beach that is overflown by landing aircraft — sometimes amazingly big, and amazingly low. (The linked picture looks photoshopped, but it’s real.)
The beach itself is very narrow — maybe only four or five meters from roadside to ocean. Then the road, then a meter-wide strip of ground, and then the airport itself. Here’s how close together it all is:
And here’s that warning-sign in close-up:
It is helpful to know that severe bodily harm can result in extreme bodily harm.
During the time that I was on the beach, no very big planes came in. That’s a shame, not only because bigger planes are inherently more awesome, but also because they need to come in lower so they can touch down nearer the start of the runway and use its whole length to come to a halt. But I did get a few pictures of this prop-engined plane coming in:
It’s quite an experience. Here’s a (low-resolution) photo that my colleague Wolfram took of a plane that came in over my head. (You can’t see me, but I am directly beneath it.)
My flight out of Sint Maarten wasn’t until mid-afternoon on the Saturday, so I spent my lunch in a nearby hotel that overlooks the descent path of the landing planes. Mostly, I just enjoyed the experience rather than grabbing for my phone every time one came in, but I did get this one of a tiny plane approaching the runway — probably the least impressive plane I saw the whole time I was there!
Still, it’s a great experience to be lying on a sun-lounger in the Caribbean sunshine, with a cold beer, watching planes coming in to land. I had a great time.