Sunday, May 31, 2009

Waiting in Vain

It is officially four hours and fifteen minutes until the 2009-2010 hurricane season. It it also nine months to the day of the two hurricanes that struck Grand Turk last year.

Today I was interviewed again for a documentary looking at Grand Turk one year after hurricane Ike. I am still preaching the same message and none of the vacant historic buildings have been stabilized. The old prison, which was a major tourist attraction, still does not have roofing. We have had two major rain storms. This is just too much water for a building to take.

This weekend I was in Provo. On Friday night I sat in with a band whose singer had to go to back home to Jamaica at the last minute. I received several comments from people after the show. But they sum up to this: its sad when you live in the Caribbean and I front the only reggae band. But alas, this is true.

I had a day to learn the lyrics to several songs. The cool thing of the night was that during Knockin on Heaven's Door, a guy came up off the dance floor and started free rappin old school Jamaican style. When I was going over the list, I saw this song as going south real fast, but it turned out to be the closer. Oh, except for the Marley's Waiting in Vain, which I proceeded to butcher, cut short, and bail on.

I have been working all day today on the lyrics and guitar tabs. Deneen should google the words...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dinah Has Left the Building

Dinah left the TCI today. In fact, I just watched her plane fly over as I was standing at the Department of Culture. She has been on Grand Turk for seven months with no break. That is as long as Deneen and the boys were here before the hurricane.

Dinah has been running hurricane relief programs. After the hurricane, the museum received several small grants to run relief programs. The After School Homework Program and and the Community Mural program became our two most successful programs. Dinah ran the after school program every day from 3:00 to 5:00 for college and high school students. We had a total of 67 students come through the program. This is about 24% of the target student population on Grand Turk. 59% of the students returned to the program regularly. Our goal was to have three students a day in the program. We had over 300 visits during the six months the program ran. But we used 200 report covers and over 5000 sheets of paper.

Dinah also started and ran a new cruise ship tour that was picked up by Princess Cruise Lines. This week we were going to come to Provo all week and eat at good restaurants and relax. But we got a call that Carnival has picked up the tour. On Dinah's last day on Grand Turk she had to give three tours of the museum. That was yesterday.

What happens now? I don't know. We will just have to see.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Update: The Day Julian Drowned - 4 people read this blog

Julian drowned yesterday. You don't know him. He was just a 19-year-old young man who came into the museum looking for a job a couple weeks ago. I don't really remember him. Joseph said he was wearing a tie.

He drowned yesterday, Memorial Day, while fishing in North creek with some friends. He was swimming across the mouth of North Creek when “adverse conditions” caused him to cramp.

This is becoming a common theme isn't it. But it makes the blog about Denzel the other day a lot less funny.

Update: I was wrong, someone did know him. Julian was Martin and Lucas' friend from school. Maybe thats why he came to see me about a job. Now the story is a bummer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

No One Can See You Cry Underwater

This is Dinah's last weekend on Grand Turk. We went diving this morning. This was the regular Sunday second dive at 11:00 that Andre and Oran are always on. This is also Oran's last week on Grand Turk. He is a lawyer from Ireland who has been here for three years. He dives every Sunday.

We were hoping that this dive would be amazing, as this might be Dinah' last dive ever. We did see a 200 pound grouper. That was cool, but then on on the boat ride back we saw four dolphins who swam right up next to the boat. OK, that was cool. My first. Dinah's first.

Tonight, we had a staff goodbye dinner at the house for Dinah. Aliatte and Lina came over and made a traditional Haitian dinner. This was great. We ended the night watching movies on the porch, but only Joseph and Raphael stayed. I said, "we could watch IRobot and then I am Legend." 30 minutes into the first movie Lina said she wanted to go home. All the other girls went with her. Raphael said, "I'll stay for both movies." Now, here we are. I think I will get out the ice cream now.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Water, Water, Everywhere

Last night was the first storm we have had since last September. I know we have had rain, and it has gotten really windy on occasion, but last night we had thunder storms for about three hours. You quickly forget what this is like. Then again, this storm was not bad, by any means.

With the new roof system, our house is very different that it was last year. In the past, when it rained, it sounded like a train coming through the house. This was because all we had was a thin sheet of zinc on the roof. Now, with the plywood and metal roof, you barely notice.

On the drive in to town today, it was obvious that it has been dry for a long time. Everywhere there is a build up orf mud across the streets where runoff carried soil away. In many yards there is standing water. There are 11 days left until hurricane season, but evidently the rainy season has already begun. This also means mosquito season.

We had gutters installed on our roof last week. Yesterday afternoon, we had just over two feet of water left in the cistern. This morning, we have over six feet.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Playing at the Bohio

I have found several things out about myself in the last year. Two of them are that my hearing is not at all what it used to be, and my throat hurts now when I sing.

That said, I still played one of the best shows I have ever played, tonight. When I was looking at coming to Grand Turk, I came across the website for the Bohio resort. On their website they advertised a BBQ with a live band. I thought, "wouldn't it be cool to be that band." Well, now I'm that band. For the last three Fridays we have been playing the weekend BBQ at the Bohio. Tonight, we had four percussionist playing, myself, and Don on bass. It was so loud that I can't hear anything now that I am home. My ears are ringing.

Even though I can't hear, my throat is sore, and my back hurts, I can still play through adversity. This week I cut my pinky with my super, ultra-sharp kitchen knife, and today I drilled the palm of my hand trying to fix some drawers. So, add to the list of ailments a throbbing hand.

But our set tonight was jammin.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

Dinah, not totally excited about the last blog when I had her read it, keeps reminding me that I cried twice on Sunday. Once during the Mother's Day service at church and then during the Amazing Race. But in my defence, it was Mother's Day... and they were manly tears that I quickly choked away. Besides, did you see Margie and her son Luke, who is deaf, come across the finish line? Needless to say - both of these events remind me of Deneen and it was a very emotional day yesterday. So Boo Hoo.

On Sunday we were going to do a two tank dive for free with a dive master whose parents are here for the week. But at 8:00 we were bumped in favor of paying customers. Dinah decided she wanted to go to church.

Everything is slow in the islands. And most Sundays it takes two hours to preach a 20 minute sermon. This Sunday was no exception. We stayed for a dinner after church. I have had not ever stayed before and I thought it might be fun.

Earlier I had decided to have Denzel spend the Sunday with us. I thought this would be good for reasons I won't go into. But this was also cool.

Anyway, church was two hours long - lunch was two hours long. Though church was packed. Less than half stayed for lunch. They sat Dinah and me at the head table with the pastor. I told Denzel to come join us, but then someone came and told him he could not sit at a table and made him move. Strike one.

The Baptist church I attend on Grand Turk was founded as a missionary church in 1838. The pastors have been typically called from Jamaica. Though I met the previous pastor, Reverend Woosley, when he visited on a cruise ship. He was English. The current pastor, Reverend Hall, is the first local pastor. He has been pastor for 32 years. At one time, thirty years ago, he was THE Baptist minister in the TCI and served all 13 Baptist churches. I learned all this at lunch.

After lunch we took Denzel snorkeling with us to Chief Minister's beach. My intention was to snorkel all the way to the wall on Mother's Day. we have not done this before either. I thought this would make a good blog. About half way to the wall, the one thing that could become a problem, became a problem. Boats.

When we were just over half way, two boats appeared on the horizon bearing down on us. We turned back to shore and swam out of the way. This was no easy swim. Fast and into the current. The swim exhausted Denzel and I had to assist him. Evidently, I am use to swimming with very strong swimmers. This has been an unknown blessing to me here. I nearly drowned Denzel. Strike two.

After spending the rest of the afternoon at the beach, we returned home and Denzel stayed for dinner. The evening turned out a little better for Denzel. No strike three. We watched one of the new James Bond movies and he anniliated me on Halo. I think he enjoyed the day. He came back over for dinner tonight.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crying in Paradise

I have discovered I have no filter to deal with crying. There is no crying in the Hitch household. In fact, that is not true. I cry during movies. In Shallow Hal, a movie where Jack Black only sees people's inner beauty, there is a short scene where Jack Black realizes that the young girl he saw as beautiful is actually severely burned on her face. I cried at that last night. Come on, if you don't cry at that you must have a heart of stone. Well I've seen the movie before and in the Hitch household if you cry at this you get made fun of by your wife and children. Evidently, if you are watching this with Dinah and Denzel, you get made fun of too. Enough said.

In fact, the Hitch household is a cauldron of testosterone. The first night I was home in Columbus in April I went to see Lucas fight three black belts in a row at his karate class. In the fight before his, a guy had his arm broken. The next week I took Lucas to the Olympic Training facility in Lake Placid, New York. During the week of his Luge camp one of the participants had her arm broken. There is no crying. You only gain through pain.

For the last six months I have been living with one or two Samuelson sisters. Evidently, in the Samuelson house crying is a past time. As I said, I have no filter to deal with this. I don't know what to do.

On my first day living with Leah a flood of tears erupted from the accidental stepping on of a small lizard. Then there was the crying about the disparaging remarks made about a new friend. Occasionally, I have had to witness Dinah crying because she "misses her family and friends," or because "she is too slow at work." Or perhaps understandably when she was pulled over by the police for driving while being too young and pretty.

But crying never makes any sense to me. I don't get it.

This last week Dinah slammed her knee into a sea urchin while snorkeling. For the last few days she has had to cut open nasty, pusy keloids with an Exacto knife to remove the tips of urchin spines from her flesh. Pus by definition is a yellow-white, more or less viscid substance produced by suppuration and found in abscesses or sores. No crying. A couple weeks ago she ran into fire coral while snorkeling and got a severe burn on her hip. No crying. When she first arrived here she had two hundred or more mosquito bites all over her legs. Ok, I think she cried about this. But you get my point.

I just don't have a filter to process it. If you can take a potentially toxic sea urchin sting, I think you ought to be able to man-up to missing your friends.

Anyway, Leah Samuelson graduated with a degree in Urban Studies: Arts and Transformation from Eastern University today. The murals that she painted on Grand Turk in February and March formed the core of her masters thesis. Yesterday, I finished editing an article that we are publishing on her theory of transformational community art. During the graduation ceremony, today, she had to draw a picture on stage while another student was speaking. I know from experience that finally graduating from a graduate level program is one of the biggest days in your life. All my congratulations go to Leah. But I am wondering, did she cry?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hurray for FedEx

Hurray! When I left Ohio two weeks ago and came back to Grand Turk, I accidentally left the charger to my laptop. Well, $126 later Fed Ex brought it to my door.

I find it hard to believe that Aaron was here for 10 days and now he left one week ago. I did not write a single blog about his visit.

The weather was awful his whole week here. This was probably good, because we just worked all the time. It has been a week and we are still not cleaned up from his visit. We got about 80% of the trim up in the house and about 90% of the shelving up in the museum.

I was hoping his visit would have been more eventful. Though I think we tried to make the most of it. He did get in the water to snorkel his first day here. He says he saw a shark...but no one else saw it. I have been snorkeling here now maybe 200 times and have only seen a shark once. Someone asked what kind of shark he saw...I said it was probably a parrot fish shark.

I think we went snorkeling four times - twice at our beach, once in front of the museum, and then down at the White Sands reef the day he flew out. We also ate hamburgers with the Harrisons when they were in for the week. That was actually really cool. The next night we ate dinner at the Bohio with the Harrisons.

Other than that we worked. And we have been painting everyday since. Here are a couple pictures of Aaron working with Joseph and Raphael, all posing like they are actually working.