There was simply no time to react. The wind inflated our umbrella like a randy gust blowing up a lady’s skirt. The table pitched, launching our meals and I felt uncomfortably like Wile E. Coyote when he realizes the Road Runner’s releasing the anvil…again. Two Red Stripes and our cheeseburgers sailed in the direction of the pirates seated in the corner of Le Select’s courtyard. Those cheeseburgers! From the single bites we’d eaten, they were, as Jimmy Buffet had promised, paradise.
I scurried over and knelt down to collect the debris scattered at the pirates’ bare feet. Hooves would actually be a more appropriate noun as they were blackened and gnarled from years of scampering about the decks of the yachts that dock daily in Gustavia Harbor. They were inhaling Gauloises and making what I suspected were disparaging comments about me in their native French. At that precise moment, the skies erupted with a monumental thunderstorm. Before I could squeal “Coquilles St. Jacques!” I was swept from the ground and elegantly deposited on the bench beneath their still intact umbrella. I surrendered and was transformed for that very small moment from American tourist into kidnapped princess, held hostage by brigands on the Jolly Roger.
And I liked it.
Le Select is one of the very few inexpensive dining options on St. Barts, one of seven territories that comprise the French West Indies. The bar, immortalized in Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” features an outdoor grill; it’s sizzling scents perfume the air on the Rue du Général de Gaulle. On a recent visit two cheeseburgers, a large plate of pommes frites and two beers set me back about 17 euros. It’s not uncommon to see 75 euro lunch bills on the island, so when I say Le Select’s a bargain, I really mean it. The wait for food can be long, but drinks are available continuously through the Dutch door festooned with bumper stickers slapped on by visitors. There’s no better place to people-watch on the island, or to get up close and personal with some pirates.