Thursday, December 30, 2010

CRM Work

Ah, back in the field this week. My goal after all, is to be outstanding in the field.

Cultural Resource Management is the term given to the practice of managing historic, or potentially historic, sites and structures. Normally this is a term and process associated with government agencies and their management of property and permits. Any federal project or any project receiving federal funds or needing a federal permit must be evaluated for the project's impact to any historic building or archaeological site. There is a very detailed process for this. But...Basically, this means that any building fifty years old or older that is going to be affected by a government project has to be documented and evaluated. The same goes for archaeological sites.

When I talk about this, I say that the process is meant to insure that Lincoln's log cabin is not bulldozed for a new highway.

My first job after graduating with my architecture degree was working for a CRM company. All of the museum work I have done has had lots of components similar to CRM work. So, if you look at the blog, I have been doing CRM all month.

Anyway, this week I have been working on a large project evaluating 61 architectural sites which are mostly nineteenth century farmsteads. I like this work, but after about ten minutes out of the truck my hands get so cold that I can't sketch or write.

I have a goal, or a dream maybe. For the next ten years I want to work in an area that is a vacation destination. Then, everyday is like a vacation. Though there are hunting cabins and hunting stands everywhere we have been looking for historic structures this month, the woods of southern Ohio is not the recreational area that I am thinking about...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why Oh Why Oh Did I Ever Leave Ohio

This week I am in Cambridge, Ohio, all week helping a friend of mine, Dr. Keener, with an archaeological survey of about 2500 acres for a coal mining permit. I have probably walked 6 to 8 miles a day. IN THE SNOW!

When I get back to the hotel every evening I have to take off all the cold weather gear and hang it over the room heating so that it will dry. This is just like hanging out a wetsuit to dry, with the exception that it is awful.

I had nothing but sandals when I returned to the US in September. Dave Horn begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting gave me a pair of tennis shoes so that I could do some roofing. I have been wearing these to work in everyday. Dr. Keener stopped on the way out here so I could buy a pair of boots. All this is great. But I think I would rather be somewhere where I only had to own sandals.

Oh, by the way. It is really cold in Ohio.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

To Blog or not to Blog,That is the Question

I want to thank all the people who have read this blog over the last three years. I have been amazed how many friends I have run into that have said they read it regularly. I appreciate that so many of you have enjoyed the adventure. I only ever looked at the numbers during the first year, but was surprised to have had over 58,000 hits to the site. That is just crazy to me.

Since I have been back to Columbus, many people have asked about the blog and the fact that I am not writing anymore.

"Why can't you look for the adventure in everything you do and just keep writing?" asked my brother.

Thanksgiving weekend some friends from out of town came over to see us. They complained about there being no closure. Just a last blog three months ago that was not even that good.

The intention was to continue writing. And yes you can just find adventure in regular life. I have had many things happen in the last few weeks that I wrote blogs about in my mind. Actually, you would probably find some of my stories hard to believe. Every time I sit down at the computer, however, it just does not feel right.

I re-read the first dozen blog entries today. They seem like a lifetime ago. Grand Turk was such a new and different place. But our experience there over the last three years was so extreme that nowhere seems that different now. I had a discussion with Lucas and Stephanie this week about how your idea of normal can change. It is actually a floating bar based on widening your expreiences. I am holding on and would like to move the bar a little more. We will see what the future holds.

Heck, today I stood on the border of Mexico...and that's a whole other story.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Evidence of our Strategic Plan in Action

At the Turks and Caicos National Museum we had a very specific strategic initiative to use news and information to raise the profile of the institution. We had a specific agenda of maximizing the coverage of even small projects that we completed. I am including a news item here about a project we completed in July. This article ran in the local newspaper. When it appeared online I copied it and put it on our museum blog at:

Today, I found the same article on another blog where someone else had posted it.

I am posting it again here. It took a while to get off the ground. But the strategic plan is now working and it is widening our audience and building viability.

Restored Photos Featured at Cockburn Medical Centre Grand Turk

Article below was issued by The Free Press Newspaper, written by FP Staff, in the August 19, 2010 Edition.

Soon an air of nostalgia will fill the empty walls of Cockburn Medical Centre in Grand Turk.

Pioneered by the National Museum through its intern Shalomar Forbes, new life will be added to the hospital as it features restored old photos of the capital’s first formal facilities which date back to the early 1960s.

Shalomar, who will be completing a degree in graphic design this year at Barry University in Miami, spent many hours restoring 14 old black-and-white prints of the Grand Turk medical facility.

She scanned the historic images, which are part of the permanent collection at the National Museum, and cleaned them up using special software.

“The original pictures were so small, about 2 inches square, and enlarging them proved very difficult,” Shalomar said. “They are over 50 years old, and every small scratch or spot became huge once we scanned them in.”

However, her hard work was not in vain, and the photos were enlarged more than five times their original size. Some of the restored images show the Grand Turk hospital, nurse Bailey and images of the probationary nurses’ class which were all photographed by Allan Bishop in the early 1960s.

Brian Hogan, NHIB’s chief executive officer, said it was an appropriate way to pay tribute to medical pioneers that laid the foundation of the modern medical system.

“We felt that incorporating a bit of TCI’s healthcare history was the best way to demonstrate our appreciation to healthcare professionals and remind people how TCI’s healthcare system has evolved.”

National Museum Director Neal Hitch said medicine has come a long way since the first facilities.

“Medical facilities were at a minimum in the Turks and Caicos during 1960s with a 16 bed hospital on Grand Turk, a small operating theatre, an X-ray machine with limited capacity and a rudimentary laboratory,” Hitch said.

“Medical staff included two medical officers, one on Grand Turk and one in South Caicos. The staff at the Grand Turk hospital consisted of a matron, four staff nurses, three probationary nurses and one nurse working as a midwife.”

During 1960, eight women from the Caicos Islands were recruited and trained in Grand Turk to be midwives, he said. They were considered settlement nurses and were provided with a nurse’s bag, dressing, scissors, and a stretcher on which to evacuate very ill patients.

Prior to that, many local settlements were without any trained medical help. By 1967 the Grand Turk hospital was aided by four medical clinics in the islands, in Grand Turk, Salt Cay, South Caicos and Bottle Creek on North Caicos. Much changed by 1970 when medical staff included two doctors, one dentist, one matron, seven staff nurses, nine settlement nurses, nine probationary nurses and two public health inspectors.

Hogan said they showed current staff members the historic prints before they were taken for framing, and one recognized a family member.

“We hope that persons visiting our offices will take time out to look at the amazing prints; who knows, you might see yourself, a family member or a friend,” Hogan said.
Anyone who owns black-and-white prints showcasing the health sector, hospitality or utility sector is encouraged to contact the museum.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Last Day on Grand Turk

This morning was busy. We had planned on having everything done with nothing left but to get into a truck and get to the cruise center. We were up at 7:00. I thought we were all packed up. But I was not. Still loose ends. A couple things to drop off at the Harrison’s house. A couple more files to get squared away. I still had a closet full of clothes. Final goodbye with Denzel our neighbor. I had one minor meltdown trying to keep Davis on task.

We hoped to get to the cruise center by 9:00 and have breakfast aboard the Destiny. I think we left for the museum to drop off keys and say goodbye to Maya by about 10:00. Saying goodbye has been harder than I thought it would. I gave a quick hug to Joseph. He is already busy working for someone else.

We have been praying that Tropical Storm Danniel would stay far north. My worst fear was that the ship would be cancelled today. No. Even early, while we were still at the house, we saw cruise passengers riding scooters and golf carts down by us. Our ship was injavascript:void(0).

We were able to pull the truck all the way down the pier to the ship. We came with 25 suitcases. We left with 22.

“Is this all for four people,” asked the security guy.

“Well, we have been here for a while,” I said.

It took a while to get unloaded, get on board, get into the room, and get the truck back off the pier. As an extra vote of friendship, the cruise center invited us to ride the Flowrider one last time. We made the 12:30 excursion time. We had a great fun last hour and a half at the cruise center, got on board at 2:00, and sailed away into the sunset.

Lucas, Davis and I all got haircuts. It has been a few months and Deneen said we were starting to look a little “castaway.” We just finished dinner. Davis is running around with an unbelievably cute young lady. We are now far from Grand Turk. And not just by distance.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last Evenings with Friends, Tuesday

On Tuesday it took most of the day to load our stuff into the shipping crates and get everything packed into suitcases. With everything in order, we left our “north bound” goods with Tropical Shipping. By late afternoon we had cleaned out the house, got the hurricane shutters out of the attic, and gave a few more things away to friends.

On Tuesday night we had dinner at the Bohio with the management of the Carnival Cruise Center. Another great dinner with people who have become pretty good friends. The visit was nice. I appreciate the help and support the cruise center has given to me and the museum, especially with our Children’s Program. I also appreciate being appreciated, and this dinner was meaningful. We were able to make arrangements for our departure on the Carnival Destiny on Wednesday.

After dinner I had to run over to the museum to complete some last minute filing and get some emails out. Joseph and Kenlove showed up and we had a spontaneous for-old-times-sake hang out party. Though this one became a little tearful and extremely sad. With all of the work to leave and the transition of museum staffing, it has been very hard to say goodbye to some of the people that have been the most important.

Tuesday night we sat in the museum house. It no longer looks like our house. Don’t get me wrong. We have left it fully furnished. But all of the things that made it ours are gone. We hooked the computer up to the TV and watched a downloaded episode of the Bachelor Pad. By the time it was over, everyone had fallen asleep on the floor. Maybe this seems like a boring last night. But it is fitting. We came as a family. We leave as a family. The last two years between have been a little different. But the last night on Grand Turk we spent together. Not happy about going. Not sad about leaving. Just together.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Last Evenings with Friends, Monday

Well, our last two days on Grand Turk were spent in unbelievable stress, and unbelievable relaxation.

Since Friday, I have been trying to get a shipment of our goods out of Grand Turk and into the states. In one word, paperwork. In another word, packing and building shipping crates. We only shipped two crates back. It is stuff we thought was important, but its probably all junk.

On Monday, I finally connected with a US customs broker and began our US paperwork. Monday late afternoon I actually gave my last tour of the museum. Dan from Blue Water Divers has never been through the museum. On the dive boat Sunday he asked if I would give him a tour before I left. I said it was getting down to it and he better get there quick.

It wound up being pretty cool. Dan and Amber brought a couple people. Joan and Hedley showed up. I made Deneen and the boys do the tour as well. I think there were twelve of us. Joan, who has had the Chinese restaurant, is leaving Grand Turk at the end of the month, this may have been the first time she has been to the museum. I did a tour of the museum and a behind the scenes tour of the lab.

We ran over to the Bohio for sunset. Deneen and the boys have been hanging out there for a lot of the last two months. We had to settle our account. It was crazy. If this is any indication, one evening a couple weeks ago Davis bought five cokes while he was swimming in the pool. The Bohio has been our resort away from home. Not the least of which, it has been an incredible place to shore dive. I think we did shore dives five weekends in a row there in July and August.

On Monday night we ate dinner with Dan and Amber at the beach bar on Mitch’s house. This was a great evening with some great people that I have really liked. Mitch and Audrey were there. We had a few really nice steaks left in the freezer. Dan scored a bunch of lobster. Grand Turk is a crazy place. You can’t get a cup of good coffee, but you can eat lobster until you are sick. A good dinner turned into great stories and a lovely evening.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Last Dive

Today, Lucas, Davis and I did our last two dives on Grand Turk. We went out on a Blue Water Divers boat with Dan. As these were our last dives, he let Davis choose our two dives sites.

Davis has been talking about diving the Amazing Abyss for weeks. We did this dive first. This dive site is the farthest dive site south of Grand Turk. About half way to Salt Cay. The site is very lush with lots of soft coral. As we came over the wall, we dropped down the wall and could see a large ledge below. Lucas and I dove to about 110 feet and looked at an 19th century anchor stuck in the side of the coral wall. Dan dropped to 135' and killed the largest lionfish that I have seen on Grand Turk. I killed a lion fish at about 90 feet.

We took the fish home and cleaned it. The large one measured 15 1/2 inches. The other two lionfish in this picture are really big lionfish. Thats how big the big lionfish is. Its huge. These are probably the last lionfish that I will clean on Grand Turk.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Last Children's Club

On Saturday, we held the final Children's Club day of the summer. This was our long anticipated trip to Gibbs Cay.

Gibbs Cay is a small cay off the east side of Grand Turk. It is where the "swim with the stingrays" excursion takes place. When stingrays here boat motors, they swim up to the beach and hang out. When we got the boat up to the beach you could see a half dozen small stingrays swimming around. We got the kids unloaded and in the water. This was a great day for many of the kids this was the closest they had ever been to large marine life.

Today was no exception, as far as adventures go for me. When the kids came out of the water for snack I swam over to the reefs that were off to out south. A very large stingray was sitting under one of the reefs, he was probably four feet across. HE saw me came up and then came up to where I was swimming. I think he was expecting me to feed him. He swam beside me for several minutes and let me touch him. By the time I got back to the beach, it was just about time to go back to Grand Turk.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Last Tour

This evening I did my last behind the scenes tour. Laura and Camerron are diving all weekend with Blue Water and they set up a private tour of the Molasses Reef Wreck and the Conservation Labs. One of the things that I have always thought was missing on Grand Turk was some kind of visitor services bureau or something. A couple years ago, right before the hurricane, I met two divers at the museum. It was their first day on Grand Turk. I told them of three events that were going on during the week and told them they needed to eat at the Osprey on Sunday night where Mitch would be playing. I saw them at all three events and had dinner with them on Sunday. When they left they came to tell me that this was one of the best vacations that they have ever had and that Grand Turk was an amazing place.

The next day I met three divers at the museum. It was their last day on Grand Turk. They said the diving was great, but that there was nothing else to do and they just stayed in their hotel the whole week. They hated Grand Turk.

Ever since that day I have tried to go out of my way...

Anyway, I took Laura and Camerron up to the Bohio after their tour. The Bohio has the best chef on the island. They had dinner. They also did not have a car. I ran back, picked them up, and took them back to their hotel. It's Friday night. They need to go to the Saltraker to see Mitch play. Thats where everyone will be. But I went ahead and gave them a heads up on a couple guys they were going to run into. Like always.

Visitor services engagement. That has become my expertise. I have gotten very good at it, just as I have one more weekend on Grand Turk.

Oh, it is also Deneen and my 22nd anniversary.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ok, This is Crazy

When we were shark diving the other day Jesse was telling a story about a guy who caught a 6 foot tiger shark on the north reef of Grand Turk.

Well, he came by the museum today. This was Amdeep, he has been in the TCI for the last two years completing a turtle study. In April he was out with a local fisherman catching and tagging turtles. They came across and began following a tiger shark in shallow water. Amdeep thought he saw a large hook in the fin, so they decided to catch it.

The tiger shark is a very aggressive and very dangerous type of shark. It is what you are suppose to stay away from. Amdeep showed me several pictures. They followed the shark. Caught the shark by the tail. Roped the shark. Brought the shark up on the boat. And then took off what was an ID Tag. The shark had been tagged in Bimini, Bahamas. The tag assumed that the shark had been caught and killed. But no, Amdeep actually caught it alive. They removed the tag and sent it back to the organization that tagged it. Then stuck a turtle tag back in the fin and let it go.

Now that is crazy!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blog about Childen's Club Mosaics This Week

By Davis Hitch

This week's Children's Club at the National Museum introduced mosaic art to the children of Grand Turk.

It started as a walk down to Sea Breeze, a small apartment building. We walked down from the museum - a long hot trip. Once we arrived at our destination we split into two groups: boys and girls. The girls entered fist to take a little tour of some small mosaics. Then the boys entered. We walked along listening to Dr. Neal Hitch, the museum director, give a speech about the different ways to make the tiled art work. Then we looked at some examples; walls with mosaics embedded into them, tables with pictures of fish swimming - even the chairs where colored with tiles.

After the tour we made the long hike back to the museum. Once again we split into three teams and sat with a counselor who was in charge of each table. We started by coloring sketches of what our teams mosaic would look like. We then edited some parts and took out some things that wouldn't work when we made the picture with broken tiles. By the time we finished the club had ended and we all went home looking forward to cutting the tile next week.

When at last the next Tuesday arrived, again we broke back into our groups and used pieces of tile we cut up or smashed to fill in our sketches. When our groups were done, we sent them to the museum director to lay out and set in mortor that had been put on concrete slabs. When they where set to dry we got a little snack and went home imagining what our art work would look like set up in the museum garden.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

If Your Mama Only Knew

Ok, Yesterday was crazy. In fact the whole week has been crazy. A very good friend and patron of the museum came in this week. I promised him some unusual and great dives while he was here.

Yesterday evening we did two dives way up above the lighthouse looking for sharks.

Yes, you heard that correct. There is a level of comfort that keeps expanding as I have snorkeled and dove here. Well, we were on these great reefs with high cliffs plunging into 70 foot valleys. So after getting in with Lucas and Davis I saw a three foot reef shark. This small shark swam in front of me twice, but though I tried to get their attention, Lucas and Davis did not see it. We had other divers in our group. They were in the next valley over and I could see their bubble to my left.

The valley we were in opened up into a sand bottom canyon at about 120 feet. This dive was one of the most spectacular I have seen on Grand Turk.

On our way back to the boat we had to swim across and over several of the large coral heads. I turned around to check on Lucas and Davis. They were swimming right next to each other. As I watched them come over the top of the coral I saw that there was a six foot nurse shark swimming right with them, probably six inches from Davis' flippers. It was as if the shark was trying to figure out what they were doing and where they were going. Davis could have touched it had he just turned and looked. I thought for sure it was going to swim right under them.

I should have waited for that - for the shark to swim under them. But I tried to get their attention so that they would turn around. As soon as the shark saw me do this it did a 180 and took off. They did not even see it!


The other three divers saw a seven foot black tip reef shark, which circled them several times before moving on. When we got to the surface and back in the boat, I asked the boys if their mom would be happy if she knew where we were.

There was a very loud chorus in unison...NO!

This was probably the best dive I have had on GT.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Losing Stuff

This has been a hard month. Evidently the breaking point. The mop has broken, two snorkel masks have broken, we had a 5 gallon water container crack this week, the mower broke today, I broke the shovel, my computer stopped booting up a few days ago, too.

Last week Pounder did not come home for dinner. We figured he would be back the next day. He has had a tough time with the new puppies in the yard. He just has no patience for them.

Well, it has been five days and we have seen no sign of him.

This afternoon when we came home from Children's Club, Gratey, the new puppy, was sitting outside the fence to Corktree Beach. When he saw the car he picked up something in his mouth. Deneen said, "Oh, look its like he wants to play fetch."

He followed us in and came over to the car door to give me what he had in his mouth. It was half of Pounder's collar. Evidently, Gratey found him today.

Deneen has been talking about it all evening. It is very sad, and weird how Gratey was waiting for us to come home.

This is also very typical of Grand Turk. I have said over and over that the island is a hard place for dogs. We had a fun three years with Pounder. This is my favorite picture of him, taken on the beach when he was about six months old. He was a great swimmer and came out snorkeling with us all the time. He was from the first litter of puppies that was born in Corktree Beach the month we moved here. He was a great dog until the month we are leaving. I am not sure what happened to him, but we seldom do around here anyway.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. Yesterday was also the first day of Lobster season. Today is Emancipation Day, a public holiday celebrating the reading of the Emancipation Act in 1835, which abolished slavery throughout the British Empire.

This was the third birthday I have spent on Grand Turk. The first, in 2008, I was alone and I went down and sat in with Mitch at the Salt Raker, last year the boys and I went diving as part of a television show called Turquoise Morning. This year, we have just been cleaning all weekend. Cleaning out closets and drawers. Trying to remove the junk that you accumulate in three years. Its a lot of junk.

We dove on Saturday with some new friends we met last week. Mike and Edie and their two kids are staying on Grand Turk for two weeks getting their dive certs. Yesterday evening we went over to the East Side of Grand Turk and caught two lobsters and killed a lion fish. We grilled hamburgers, lobster, and conch over at the apartment they are renting.

Last weekend was the lion fish tournament. There were 146 lion fish caught on Grand Turk. Lucas and I went out with Mitch from Blue Water. We were in the water for three hours and did not see a single lion fish. I was hoping to win the tournament! We did not register a single kill.

It was a Bummer.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Last Astrolabe

I have just completed the copy edits on my last issue of the Astrolabe, the National Museum's popular history newsletter. I am including the text from the Director's Log here. I have served as editor of the newsletter, which is issued four times a year as part of the Times of the Island magazine, for the three years I have been in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I have tried to theme every issue so that the articles have reinforced our collections and fundraising initiatives. I have had a strategy that everything we have done has had three legs; a program component, that moves into a pubic relations component, that moves into a fundraising component. The popular history articles have been well researched and received by the public, but it is the additional support they have provided to this strategic initiative that I am proud of.

Director's Log

This will be my last issue of the Astrolabe and my last Director's Log. I have been on Grand Turks for three years already. That is hard to believe. It has been my pleasure to serve the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Though more than half of my tenure here has been dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the time spent has not been without its accomplishments.

I have had a strategic goal of raising the profile of the museum and that has been very successful. We have completed major projects such as the Search for the Trouvadore, the Fort George Archaeological Survey, and the GT4 Taino Site Archaeological Survey. We have made an effort to mount short term exhibits on Provo, such as the 1999 “Our Islands, Our Heritage” Children's Art contest entries, the display of the Fort George artifacts at Island Wise, and the Community Art Mural project. These can all be read about in past issues of the Astrolabe. We have reached out to the people of Providenciales to move forward with Museum's plans to build a museum there. I believe this has been embraced, and we now have our first fundraising/development committee established on Provo.

The museum operation on Grand Turk has grown from 2,671 visitors in 2007 to a projected 14,000 visitors in 2010. We have trained an engaging staff and have developed engaging cruise ship excursion tours. Part of this dramatic increase is owed to new positive reviews in Frommer's travel guide, the Lonely Planet travel guide, and The development of a new $20 behind the scenes tour has expanded the visitor options at the museum and has created a great experience for people who really like museums.

The Children's Club program, established by Nigel Sadler, has been expanded and is now funded from the sales of the award winning children's book Where Is Simon, Sandy? One of our signature programs has been the Afterschool Homework Program, a program funded for the last two years by a Pine Cay Project grant. Through this program we have had 28% of the upper level high school and community college students on Grand Turk come to the museum to complete research and work on school projects.

Through a variety of grants, we have also been able to augment our professional staff and have been able to spend a year focused on cleaning, housing, and cataloging our archival holdings, as well as implement a new museum software database, create an organized, searchable library, and a new electronic membership database.

My time here has not been without its sacrifices. Owing to the damage to Grand Turk, we made the tough decision to move my wife and children back to the United States after the hurricanes of September 2008. This became a two year commitment to live separated in order to get our oldest son through high school and into college. And though I think he never listens to me, he is following in my footsteps and will be attending a school of architecture outside of Chicago.

We have enjoyed our time. I hope that we have made a difference. I hope that the programs we have started are sustained and that the museum continues to move forward. I hope that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands continue to support the advancement of the museum and fund a new museum for Providenciales. It will be your greatest legacy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Plein air

Today we did plein air painting for our Children's Club program. This is French for painting outside. We had a visiting artist come lecture briefly about this technique and then we walked down the street with 30 plus children to paint on the beach.

I could not believe how attentive our kids have been to the art programs we are doing this year. We are focusing every week on a local art. We had 30 children age 8to 14 sitting on a beach sketching and then painting with water colors. For nearly an hour there was not a sound.

And then...

Well we are on an island and it has been extremely hot this month. What to you want, a little plein water swimming?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Diving on the Bohio Wreck

For the last three weeks Lucas, Davis, and I have been shore diving out to the Bohio Wreck to measure the wrecking site. This, I guess is one of the perks of running a maritime history museum. You can make your children measure shipwrecks.

I think this was our last time, we should have enough info to make a drawing.

This certainly is not my expertise and we have not documented the site perfectly. it is way, way, way harder to measure out an underwater wreck. I can do historic buildings like nobodies business, but underwater is a totally different skill set.

The CAD drawing will be no problem at least.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chillin in the Pool

We are back on GT and at the museum today. But we are still thinking about our weekend on Provo. Nice pool.

The Grace Bay Club is supposed to be one of the nicest hotels on Provo. Guest services was wonderful when we checked in. The room was very nice with a large complimentary fruit plate and champagne already set up in your room.

The restaurant has an infinity bar which is advertised all over as being one of the coolest places to hang out on the island.We had a great weekend, spent mostly in the room.

I have tried to stay at a variety of resorts on Provo in order get an idea of facilities and to meet people. I had thought that a series of small teaser exhibits might work well at these facilities and that there could be some kind of program between the hotels and a new museum on Provo. My conclusion, however, is that this proves to be more difficult than I had originally thought and that the systems of management and personnel do not lend themselves to outside partnerships.

I have developed conclusions about the hotels here, though. Nikki Beach was the best hotel, it had the nicest staff, the best pool, and best restaurant on the island. We are very sorry that it is closed. I also preferred the Veranda as far as the room and amenities. The beach bar at Seven Stars is the nicest small bar on Provo. The best stretch of beach on Grace Bay is probably right outside the Royal West Indies.

So goes our stays at the various resorts on Provo. I don't know if we will ever be back. We had this conversation at the museum today. But if a friend hooks us up with rooms at the Veranda again, I think I would be back in a heartbeat!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grace Bay Club

This weekend Deneen and I are staying at the Grace Bay Club. This was a package that we bid on at the Museum fundraiser on March 20. This is in all likelihood our last visit to Provo.

The intent was to spend a nice weekend, but I have been running around saying goodbye to some friends here and taking care of some projects. I have taken down two art exhibits that I have had up for the last few months.

Before we left Grand Turk I scanned and printed several large format images from the Molasses Reef Wreck archaeology project which was completed in 1982. I used our very, very nice room as a makeshift workshop and mounted these images as one last temporary exhibit if it is needed.

Wrapping up will be wrapped up tomorrow. And then back to Grand Turk.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sailing Trip to South Caicos Last Month

Last Month I caught a ride over to South Caicos with Bob Gascoine. This is us sailing off into the sunset.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Booby Rock

Yesterday evening we went down to White Sands Beach and Booby Rock, the southern most point of Grand Turk. This is a nice stretch of beach not visited by many people. This reef was one of the first places that we snorkeled on Grand Turk.

Deneen got totally freaked out has not really ever snorkeled here since then. Lucas looked out at the reef and commented, "It's hard to believe that mom thought this was scary, its nothing compared to what we do now!"

That is kind of the truth, seeing as we just swam to the wall with Jacob a couple weeks ago and we have gone all the way to the wreck of the Harold three times now.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th

Today is July 4th. Now, this should make sense, but July 4th is not celebrated in England or in any of the existing overseas territories, which are basically colonial possessions.

July 4th is a celebration that I would say is uniquely American. But this is not correct. We are in the Americas. It is unique to the United States of America.

Today, we did nothing. Deneen has not felt well. We got up late. Then we took a nap. Then we sat around watching videos.

I actually even wish I could write more, but alas, I can't even really tell you what I have done. And the day is over.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Contest

I love my children. They are like small versions of me. Usually this creates tension and conflict. Like two positively charged particles repelling each other. And normally when I ask them to do something unusual it is met with consternation and dissension.

But occasionally not.

Last evening no one could think of anything fun to do so I suggested that we have a contest to see who could write the best 300 word essay in twenty minutes or less. You would think that this would have gone over like a lead balloon.

Davis chose the topic: Fun (wink). That is Davis saying the word fun and then winking like Barney on How I Met Your Mother, Season Two, Episode 19, Bachelor Party.

These are the entries. It's fun(ny) because there was a clear winner.

Fun (wink), by John Andrew Davis Hitch

Fun. What is fun. Its the thing you do to pass time. The types of fun vary from adventure to relaxation. You can have fun doing anything, basically. Adventure gives you the rush and excitement that people go mad for.

Fun is love and hate. Fun is an argument or a debate. Fun can be happy or sad. Fun can be writing a paper for your dad. These last few lines have been fun. I’ve been using a poetic diction and been having fun with it.

Anything you set your mind to can be fun. Fun to me is playing a kindhearted game of bang! Striving to beat and kill my that’s fun.

Lucas for instance loves to discuss Lost.

I love to write and make up stories.

My dad thinks having fun is having a writing contest within your house, hence this

My mom thinks going to the beach and swimming is fun.

Doing what you love is fun. And loving what you do is fun. People have different views of fun. It varies from who you are and where you come from. Any one can have fun. Fun can be anything you set your mind to. I could have chosen to write about a story I heard or a rumor. But the fact that I chose to write about such a variable topic proves that this is fun.

Fun is life. Fun is love. Fun is happiness. Fun is friends. Fun is what I do and don’t do. Fun is what I choose to do. Fun is nothing and everything. But most of all fun is FUN.

Fun (wink), by Dr. Neal V. Hitch

What's fun. What's up. Washcloth.

This last couple of weeks my brother's son has been visiting us. As we sit in the living room listening to jazz fusion I am reminded of when I moved into the apartment with my brother when I was 13. This memory, as we sit eating a light appetizer of cheese and olives, is pleasant. It has been a long time since jazz has held my subconscious. The movement of music through the room strikes me in a place that makes me want to write. To me, jazz has a way of creating creativity, while to others it is nothing but noise. But jazz is history and future at the same time. It is something and nothing.

I listened to a song today that my nephew wrote. I listened to it nine times. The guitar riff reminded me of another song. But I could not place it. I listened over and over again trying to recall a distant melody lodged somewhere in my memory. It was not recalled.

This exercise to me is fun. Not traditional fun like going to a theme park. Something different. A mind game. Stretching to make connections between points in your memory that only align when something triggers the synapses.

Jazz? Is jazz the trigger? I think that jazz is the trigger that reminds me of a day when I was 13. This is the same age as Davis, who is also sitting in this room listening to jazz. Maybe its more than a memory. It is a memory that I also see in the present. A moment when you see your past placed over top of someone else's present. This is the same feeling listening to Jared's song. My past placed over his present.

Is that fun for me? Yes, in fact it is. A pleasant moment now gone as we get ready to put on a video.

That's fun. That's up. Washcloth.

Fun:, by Neal Lucas Hitch

“F” is for friends who do stuff together: What's the point of having fun if you can't share your joy with anyone? So ever after it is, when two friends sit down and say those three magic words, “Hey remember when?” You would look crazy if you sat down with your friends while they were reminiscing and said to yourself hey I remember when we did that really fun thing the other day. Nobody cares! Its only fun when you share your fun.

“U” is for you and me: There is another way to have fun, but you share this fun with a different type of friend. A “girl/boy” friend. In this day and age romance is the new fun. Just with this friend your gonna have to find a little more to talk about. You can't just say, “Hey, remember when we made out in my truck for like an hour?” No, with this type of friend there is a new three magic words: “I love you.”

“N” is for anywhere at anytime at all: It doesn't matter if you are in math class or writing a three-hundred word essay if your friends are there. “Hey remember when we put that whoopee cushion under Miss Collin's seat in math?” As long as you've got your buddies or your babe you'll have a butt load of fun.

Do you know who won?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

No Wall, No Barriers

"The Turks and Caicos Islands played a historic role in the launch of a new program, “No Barriers No Walls,” which is aimed at enhancing the awareness of the transatlantic slave trade."

This was from the Turks and Caicos Free Press last week. The article went on:

"Hundreds of adults and youths celebrated the momentous launch on June 14 of the program that is focused on keeping the memory of the slave trade alive in the hopes of preventing it from every happening again"

OK, so my quick blog worthy story.

During the session there was a sing along with a local Praise band leading "This Little Light of Mine." Out of the corner of my eye I saw this camera guy come up to take a picture of the Governor. I decided that I should start clapping and smiling just in case I wound up in the newspaper next to the Governor. I have seen this before here, a picture of someone looking totally bored and not participating next to a local official. Good thing, this is the picture that got published.

I spoke last at this event. Don't ask me why. When I was asked to participate I thought I was just doing a greeting. But everyone else read a prepared statement. This included the Governor, the Chairman of the Education Board, and some other dignitary. Then I got up and basically lectured on the importance of saving your heritage and then came up with a great catchphrhad to some everything up:

"When you understanding your past, you can understand your present, and with an understanding of your past and present you can plan for the future."

When I sat back down the reporter sitting next to me said, "That was great!"


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shark Mait

Do you know what would be a great. If all the guys with shows on the Discovery Channel had to go out to track wild animals with their mothers!

This evening we went up to North Creek to watch the nurse sharks mate. We got a heads up that yesterday there were a bunch of sharks right off of the shore at the mouth of the creek.

We went at high tide and there were in fact several sharks swimming around near the shore in very shallow water. Though I told everyone to bring snorkel gear. Only Davis and I did. Deneen thought I was joking.

Have you ever tried to watch sharks mate with someone yelling, "That's too close."

"There's one coming right toward you."

"Davis, you are too far out."

"Davis, I said you were too close."

Well, it is very cool to see nurse sharks mate. Davis and I were able to get within a couple feet of two. The nurse sharks come into very shallow water where their fins are sticking out. Then they flip over upside down. When they complete the process they swim off very fast as if in a frenzy.

It was so cool that we are going back tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grand Turk Community College Graduation

Last night Aliatte and Rueben graduated from the Community College on Grand Turk. Deneen and I went up. It poured rain. But that did not put a dampener on the event. The auditorium was so packed that we could not get in, but we stood in a back room and listened.

Aliatte graduated with an associates degree in elementary education. She was recognized for having the highest grade out of her class for her teaching practicum. She has been working at the museum for six years and has been indispensable to me for the three years I have been here.

Aliatte has grown in her abilities to work with children through the museum's Children's Club program. She actually told me once that her work in the Children's Club is why she wanted to go into teaching.

Rueben graduated with an associates degree in Electrical Engineering. He was the only one in this program to graduate this year. I knew Rueben from when Martin was at HR Robinson High School, but when we began the After School Homework Program after the September 2008 hurricanes Rueben began coming to the museum almost everyday.

I worked with him extensively on preparing a college application, I helped him with his essay, and wrote a recommendation for him. He is a good guy, and I really want him to succeed. He was accepted to the engineering program at Leicester University. He is waiting to see if he will be one of the few from the TCI to get a scholarship this year.

One of the issues here is that there was not enough accountability in the government scholarships that were given out in the past. An article in the paper a few months ago suggested that many students simply took there scholarships to the US but failed to complete their degrees. Now there is only a hand full of scholarships available and it is young people like Ruben who will be bearing the brunt...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Area "B"

Air travel this last few weeks has been awful. The day I was to leave for the states there was a huge lightening storm on Grand Turk and the airport closed. I was out on the first flight available at 2:30pm.

When I touched down in Provo I could see my US Airways flight loading.

Of course I missed it. After 30 minutes of arguing I was able to rescheduled the flight for the next day. I got on the next flight back to Grand Turk. I did catch the flight the next day. Home for 6 days for Martin's graduation. Then we picked up a rental car and drove to Pittsburgh. The one-way flights out of PIT were $285 compared to $560 out of CMH in Columbus. With four of us flying this is worth driving to Pittsburgh. We stayed the night at a Holiday Inn Express and had our room upgraded to a suite which was nice.

The next day Deneen, Lucas, Davis and I boarded a flight to Charlotte. Here we are under the "B" This has been a tradition whenever I have come through Charlotte since the March 31, 2008 blog.

This will be the last time. The family will be down all summer. When our contract ends in August we will be returning to the United States. One last summer of adventures.

This past Monday Jacob Hitch was to fly in to spend three weeks with us. I had to be in Provo for the kick off of the No Barriers No Walls program. A United Nations sponsored initiative to teach the Atlantic slave trade. Jacob had a passport issue and did not make his flight.

I flew back to Grand Turk and made hasty arrangements for Jake to catch his own flight from Provo to Grand Turk. Though we were a little stressed about it, the next day Jacob got here fine. We got him in the water to swim immediately. That is the rule. You have to swim on your first day here. And we did.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Martin's Graduation

OK, I have not written a blog in a long time. I have had plenty to write about. I have just been busy.

Last weekend I flew home to attend Martin's graduation. I did not think that I would be able to go, but as the graduation got closer and closer, Deneen became more adamant(utterly unyielding in attitude or opinion in spite of all appeals)that she wanted me to come home. One thing is she was afraid that 100 people or more were going to come to his graduation party and she wanted help with the food. In fact, I got home just in time to go grocery shopping. On Sunday I grilled 104 hamburgers and 48 hotdogs.

Martin graduated from the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, a fine arts high school in Columbus. The graduation was as much a performance as it was a ceremony. The Metro Choir sang, the orchestra played, there was a performance by the dance company. And then 115 graduates walked across the stage and the child that I brought to Grand Turk three years ago picked up his diploma and set a course for his own life.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jessica's Birthday

Today was Jessica's birthday. What she wanted to do today was swim. I think she also did not want to hear any sarcastic comments about her age or getting older. I told her we could probably accomplish one of those things.

This day has been absolutely calm and still. And unbelievably hot. I had a first today as well. We swam all the way to the wall.

We decided we would swim off the Bohio and then swim down the beach as far as we could go. We swam out over the Bohio wreck, which I finally found last weekend.

Visibility was about 40 feet. Past the Bohio wreck the bottom became sandy. A few minutes later small clumps of rock and coral began to appear. I swam along these until until I was in front of Mitch's house. I looked out of the water and could see the mooring float marking the Black Forest dive site. As I swam out to the marker the water moved from teal blue to a very deep blue. With visibility at 40 feet the bottom moved out of view.

About fifteen yards passed the marker the color of the water began to feel ominous. Actually a little freaky. It was hard to tell if this was the wall, at the edge there is usually large coral outcroppings that rise to 20 or 30 feet below the surface. At Black Forest the reef just drops over the edge about 50 feet. I swam down about 30 feet, and sure enough there was the edge and out passed that just the blackness of 1000 feet ocean.

That was enough. Been there done that.

I turned around and swam back down the beach and came out of the water in front of the Mitchel's. They invited us in and we sat on their porch until sunset.

In the water today 2 1/2 hours. I think we swam over 2 miles. Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Elaine the Dog Lady has Left the Building

My last two days have been spent helping Elaine pack up and fly out. Most everyone on Grand Turk knew Elaine as the Dog Lady. I knew her as a friend.

Elaine was the subject of my third blog. One of the early characters that I met on Grand Turk. My blog read in part:

"I just met Helene. She is French Canadian and runs a makeshift animal shelter on the island. She is about 65, the size of Lucas, and was a concert pianist. The museum works with Helene to provide an animal hospital twice a year. Veterinarians come from Canada and use our conservation laboratory to spade and neuter all of the animals they can."

In fact, she was older. And the French "Helen" is Elaine in English. And she and her vets completed over 300 animal surgeries at the museum since I have been here.

Elaine ran the animal shelter on Grand Turk as part of United Humanitarians, a non-profit organization based in Florida. Since the hurricane it has been very difficult for Elaine here. Her funding kept getting cut and was often late. Though she still had to feed 50 plus animals at the shelter. As people have left the TCI, Elaine's volunteer and support base shrunk to less than a handful of people. In fact, maybe three people. A couple months ago her program was cut all together.

The museum is one of the few really functional NGOs on Grand Turk. As such, I have really tried to support the work of other non-profits. I have tried to help Elaine with almost anything it took to help her through the stress of the emergency she found herself in.

For the last year or more, she has been working on an animal rescue plan to try and get the sheltered animals off of Grand Turk and into the states. Finally, this happened yesterday. We started moving animals at 4:00am. By 7:00am we had 49 dogs and cats assembled at the airport. At 8:00 a chartered rescue plane landed. It took forever to get everything together, but a couple hours later they were off. We put a few additional animals on a plane this morning.

Elaine and her animals are now in a Florida shelter built to take animals after Hurricane Katrina. This never happened. But the shelter now holds 53 animals rescued off of Grand Turk after Hurricane Ike.

I spent all weekend helping Elaine fill out customs forms and creating packing invoices. So much work, is now just a sigh of relief. In a few days, it will just be another friend gone from Grand Turk.

So many...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Little Bear, the Puppy Who Ruined Christmas

Doesn't that sound like a great title to a children's book. Last Christmas, we, evidently from the memories that my children keep of the event, had an episode. When we went to pick up Davis up from a party at Tuvol's house, he announced that he had won a puppy and tried to get in the car with a tiny dog. Really? Is there anyone who would be cool with this? Thats what you think you need on a three week “vacation” is to dump a puppy on your estranged father.

Needless to say, this did not work out well for anyone. Davis was not happy, which makes Deneen not happy, which makes Neal not happy, who then “ruins” Christmas. The dog did not wind up happy either. He died several weeks later under a tree at Tuvol's house.

Deneen sent me a text reminding me of this story today. This, after someone sent her an IM on Facebook to ask what she thought of the new puppy, after having read about said “new puppy” on Jessica's blog (read the last blog entry).

“New puppy?” you ask.

Three nights ago I was sitting in the house when after about three hours I said to myself, “That dog has been barking for a long time.”

I went outside with a flashlight and found a tiny little puppy stuck in the cattle grate of our housing compound. I was able to rescue the puppy and get it out of the pit. I brought it into the house and got it to eat.

Next to swimming, saving puppies has been the most consistent thing I have done here. Actually, this started with the first week I was on Grand Turk. You can read this in the third blog I wrote, September 11, 2007, entitled “Saving Puppies.” That is when I met Elaine.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Art Imitating Life, or Something Like That

If you ever wondered what it is like to have to live with me, this explains it better than anything ever could: or you could just want an art history lesson:

Read This Blog

Jessica has been volunteering at the museum for nearly five months now. She once told me once that I never leave the classroom. She keeps a blog of her adventures here, too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saturday Snorkel Trip

On Saturday we had our last Spring Children's Club Program. Evidently, everyone decided this was the event they were all going to come to. We planned for 20 children. We had 30 show up.

This program was a snorkel lesson and trip to the Cruise Center historical snorkeling park. This is another one of the successes here. The snorkel park is a project worked out between the museum, the cruise center, and the DECR to protect some large underwater artifacts that have been found or recovered in the last couple of years. The artifacts have been moved to an area where they can be protected and monitored. They can also be seen by countless cruise tourists.

Oasis Divers assisted us during the Saturday program. We went down to Oasis South Base and picked up 15 sets of gear. We walked the few hundred yards down to the cruise center. The boys all put gear on, had a snorkel lesson and then went on a 20 minute swim around the cruise center swim area.

The girls went second. It is not typical for kids here to swim. In fact, I think the museum programs are probably the only organized lesson there is on the island to try. Out of the 30 children we had, eleven actually were able to snorkel through the park.

While staff took most of the kids back to Oasis for a cookout on their beach deck, I took the eleven snorkelers back into the water for another 20 minute swim. This was cool as we came across very, very large barracuda sitting very shallow in the water. I tried to point it out so that everyone could see it. But it wasn't a problem. When I stuck my head out of the water we had eleven snorkelers all bunched up swimming on top of one another.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't Let the Adventure Be Over

This is an email I got this week. Have I let the adventure be over? This has not been an easy few weeks. This last trip was home was the first time that I really did not want to leave Deneen, Martin, Lucas, and Davis. The emergency of the hurricane is over. We are back on track at the museum trying to move the new development on Provo forward. But things that were adventures two years ago have become all too common and now are just extremely frustrating.

The day I returned I had a flat tire on the way to the museum. The owners and shakers of tour companies have been on GT over the last couple of weeks. New tour excursions plans are due, as this is the end of the cruise season. Oh, this is the end of the cruise season. It is also the end of the community college semester as well. We have been limping all season with staffing, and now everyone wants to work -all the time. I am working on a new plan where staff are paid from earned revenue. This is hard concept here. We have had half the guests as in March. Staff hours have dropped accordingly. And this has gone over like a lead paycheck.

This week the condensor pan on one of the new AC units rusted through (not a new pan) and we had water infiltration into the new library shelving. I deal with this all, but it just gets in the way of the work that I woul dreally like to get done.

Today, I met with the heads of every government department about the Salina Master Plan project and a UESCO World Heritage proposal that another NGO is putting forth.

There are some bright spots though. The first week I was back we had a couple stop by looking who wanted to see the maps they had left on loan with the museum in 2004. They were not in the new PastPerfect database and their paperwork is not in the file. Because of all of reorganization in the library and archives that has been completed by Tyffany and Jessica over the last 8 months we were able to find two of the maps right away. The third was located shortly after.

The couple wanted to know how their maps fit into our collection. I explained to them what we had. One of their maps is actually the oldest map in our map file. I talk to them about the hurricane and how the museum came through with out a loss to our collections. I talked at length of the cost associated with long-term preservation and how hard it is for museum's to justify taking things on loan. When they returned a couple days later to pick up their new paperwork (we gave their items new numbers with locations tagged to the database) they asked us to prepare new paperwork and gifted the maps to the museum.

I would love to take credit for this. But this was a shining example of how effective Jessica and Tyffany have been as visiting archivists. Professional staff make all the difference in the world.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Taxes, Teeth, and Tracks

I have been home in Columbus this week. One of the hidden benefits of US citizenship is that no matter where you go in the world, you can't get away from filing taxes. This week I made my annual April sojourn to tell Uncle Sam where I can be found if he needs me.

I also had Deneen make me an emergency appointment to see the dentist. I have been having a terrible pain in my front canine and have been paranoid that I have an abscessed tooth, or something worse. The dentist made me a two hour appointment on Friday with a follow up the next Friday just in case I did have an issue.

Well, in much politer words, the Dentist said that my problem is that I am a baby. It seems that because I have never had a tooth problem before(I only have ever had one cavity), I don't really know what a tooth ache feels like. It seems that the two and a half years of brushing my teeth with rainwater and without toothpaste has taken its toll and I have sensitive areas where my gums have receded from brushing to "vigorously." Prescription toothpaste with ultra fluoride should do the trick. No surgery.

Tracks? Yes, it seems that a raccoon found its way into our storage. Not only did he leave tracks all over the boxes, he chewed through two boxes of US history books. After a thorough cleaning and rearranging this is back together. Both I and the raccoon are smarter for the experience.

Whats left of the week? Martin had a CD release party with a band he plays in. I got to watch Lucas teach karate. Last night I chaperoned an all night lock-in at Davis's school. And today, the day I flew out, was Martin's prom.

This was a quick trip, but a good trip. I am very sad to leave.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dave and Harold

Every time Dave has been here we have done some of the most adventurous stuff that I have done here. I don't know why that is. Dave thinks that I feel responsible for everyone else, but he is too big for me to be responsible for. Maybe it is that he is just an adventurous world traveler.

None the less, on Saturday, Dave and I snorkeled way out to a reef on the northeast of Grand Turk in front of the lighthouse. I have always wanted to follow a pipeline that you can see going out to sea from North Base. This may just have been a salt water intake, but we followed it to the end, and then we went on to a large reef. It was very cool.

On Sunday, we snorkeled the Harold again. The Harold was a steamship that wrecked in 1890 on the northwest reef of Grand Turk. We went out with Dave and Karen on their dingy.

We snorkeled this wreck with Dave and Joel a few weeks ago, but conditions were even better today, and the dingy saved us a 45 minute swim. The wreck can be seen from shore where the bow and stern stick up out of the water. This time, I followed a debris field behind the larger parts of the wreck. After several minutes of swimming, I came across the bottom of the hull and the boiler. This must have been where the ship came to rest after hitting the reef. This is a very cool site, but it is only accessible under perfect conditions.

I was talking to Sean at Oasis Divers about it and he said they dove this wreck about six weeks ago. Now, I have to find someone to dive it with.

Dave and the Lion Fish

Friday evening we would have not been late for dinner...

but Dave got stung by a lion fish.

I am sure that when he retells this story it will be my fault. But it was very cool. I have always wondered what the lion fish sting is actually really like. Now I know.

Evidently, it feels like getting stung by a bee the size of a lion fish, and the hardest part is getting out of the water while you are cussing at your friend(OK he was not really cussing just muttering things under his breath). Then your hand(or wherever you were stung) swells up. There is a very deep burning sensation where the barb entered your flesh. This continues for about 12 hours, according to the experts. In Dave's case it lasted about four hours. We used the suggested remedy of immersing the sting in really hot water to break down the toxin. The burning sensation is replaced by joint pain and a stiffening of the muscles in the effected area. Within 24 hours there is light swelling and the muscles are still stiff. But dexterity begins to return. Within 72 hours there is minimal swelling but the area around the puncture wound is still stiff. It is suppose to be fine in four days. We will see tomorrow.

He should be glad it was a small lion fish.

Here is Dave's lion fish nigiri about two hours after it stung him.

Kind of cool, I guess, was that Dave said he saw a shark on his swim back in, but he was too concerned about his hand to enjoy it.

Dave and Karen

I met Dave and Karen at the museum walking through the exhibits. They are in Grand Turk off a tri-maran sailing vessel and are sailing around the Bahamas for four months. They were just going to be around for a couple days, but they seemed very interested in what we do as a museum. I invited them to our Thursday night Spring 2 Collections event.

The event, the last of three events focused an what the museum does "behind the scenes," was very successful. Jessica walked people through the archival work that she is completing. She had several documents out and we talked about conservation practices and about how various documents have come to the museum.

I love this kind of stuff. We had out an 1888 report on the families who applied for assistance after the September 2, 1888, hurricane. It was fantastic. It listed head of household by name, occupation, number of people in household, and damage to house. One of the great things about the archival project we have been doing is that every once in a while a real gem emerges.

After the program they joined us for a very late dinner along with Bion and Colleen at the Bohio.

Dave and Patricia

Dave came to Grand Turk to visit this week. And Patricia came in to visit Jessica on the same plane.

They were suppose to come in on the late plane, but they were able to catch the afternoon plane into Grand Turk. By the time I got Dave's message, we were running late. Jessica was concerned that her friend was going to be waiting at the airport having no idea what was going on. I tried to reassure her that if Dave had gotten my message he would be with her at it would be no problem.

Now, having never actually met Patricia, my description of her to Dave was somewhat general. He, evidently only had to inquire four times to young women on his plane, "Are you Patricia?"

Though this may have been a little creepy, it was effective and she managed to get here with him with no concerns.

Right from the airport I dropped them at the cruise center so that Dave could get a sunburn on the top of his head. This is always my plan for people who visit. If you get into the water immediately on your arrival the whole miserable process of traveling here is forgotten.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Testing, Testing One, Two, Three

I have been trying to put into practice my theoretical beliefs on visitor experience in museums. The 20th century museum is dead. Something has to change. Museums need to focus on the experience the visitor has. In the future, successful museums won't be based on artifacts or exhibits. They will be based on experiencing history, or experiencing art, or experiencing culture.

Last week we tested the shipwreck snorkel tour. Dave and Joel were here and the Barnes family from Columbus were visiting off the Carnival Liberty. The ship board printed material about Grand Turk tells cruise passengers that this stop is the best destination for snorkeling. To miss this, is to miss a huge opportunity for visitor engagement.

The shipwreck tour is a new behind the scenes tour that we have been working on. It takes visitors through the the conservation lab where they see several artifacts recovered from around Grand Turk, they get a discussion of the issues surrounding the conservation of underwater artifacts, and we set up a new video of the Endymion shipwreck site, one of the most pristine wrecks in the Caribbean.

This is followed by thirty minutes of snorkeling in the "wrecking yard" where Turks Islanders brought wrecked ships to be salvaged. Within the yard you can see the remnants of the David Morris, a three-masted schooner that was driven up in front of the museum during a hurricane in 1926, as well as a couple other pieces and parts of wrecked ships.

The testing went great. The comments on our evaluation forms were excellent and indicated that the experience of snorkeling in the wrecking yard met the expectations that visitors had after hearing about shipwrecks in the museum.

You know, its not the Harold. But we have a hidden asset in front of the museum and I am truly hoping that this tour will be picked up by one of the cruise excursion companies on Grand Turk.

We will see, new tours are due to Carnival this month, and I hope we don't miss the boat on this one.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dave and Joel have Left the Building

Dave and Joel flew out on Sunday. While I worked this week they completed their dive certs with Blue Water Divers. On Friday I joined them for an early morning dive and then a night dive. The morning dive with Dan was great. Among many other things, we saw a Lemon Shark out on the reef.

On Friday night we dove off of Library with Jesse. The moon was nearly full. This dive was very cool. My first night dive. We dove with a flashlight down to about 55 feet. Diving at night is kind of surreal.

On Saturday we all snorkeled out to the Harold. This is a shipwreck on the Northwest reef that is only accessible about twelve days a year. Saturday was one of the few days. We were just going to snorkel north of the house. But as we went out, it became clear that we could make it to the Harold. This is one of the coolest sites on Grand Turk. Almost as cool as the Harold is a second shipwreck just to the south. In this area you always see sharks. Yes, in fact a small reef shark.

This was a swim of more that two and a half hours. It was also one of the best snorkel days I have ever had on Grand Turk. We all saw a spotted Eagle ray eating and not paying any attention to us. I finally saw a spotted sea snake. We saw a spotted moray eel. Then, we all saw one of the biggest sting rays I have ever seen here. Later, we were on the reef looking for lion fish. We found a nurse shark. By five o clock my feet were bloody from too much swimming in fins.

Saturday night we had Dan and Daniel over for dinner. This was Dave and Joel's last night here. We had lion fish sushi and dog snapper that we bought at the fish market.

The week has gone very fast. We had eight cruise ships in and I have had to deal with a major issue concerning the new National Health Insurance Plan. I wish I could have spent more time with Dave and Joel, but in the end they were on a dive boat almost six hours a day. So their week was good by all report.

They were able to meet a few people a little younger than me. And we had a few great dinners. So all and all, I think they had a good time. And the distraction for me was not working a 70 hour week. So I enjoyed it too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Whole Day of Laughter

I meant to take a picture at dinner, but all of a sudden dinner is over. Dave and Joel remind me so much of hanging out with my brothers. They laugh all the time. Every ridiculous situation becomes a laugh riot. Do you remember the night trip home from Chicago in that tiny car?

They are so sunburned it is not funny (not 84' Port St. Lucy sunburned). OK, actually I guess it is funny. They both have lines where they put suntan lotion on the first day. You can see the hand prints on their shoulders. Now everything is an issue. Shirts, dive suits, aloe lotion. Everything is an issue. But also constant laughter.

We had a good day. I was in the water twice today. This is a real change from the last 21 days of constant work. Seven days a week. Twelve to fourteen hour days.

This morning I made arrangements to do the Aqua Boat excursion, but at the last minute...literally when the bus was pulling up to the beach...the boss called to say that Holland America is funny about non-cruise passengers on their excursions. So they cancelled us. The only thing I could think is that I have never told someone I would not do a private VIP tour of the museum. Maybe that is the key to making something valuable. Next time I should say no...we have cruise passengers in the building.

So, at lunch we snorkeled on White Sands Beach. This was cool. We saw a huge barracuda, an Eagle ray, and a turtle. A pretty good day. Visibility has finally recovered and the choppy seas that we have had for nine weeks seem to have subsided.

This afternoon, while Dave and Joel completed their first confined water dive, I snorkeled in front of the museum, preparing for a new tour we are testing on Thursday. I only saw anchors and shipwreck sites, but what do you want for nothin.

Anyway, dinner was great. Chinese night. We are all tired, burned, and now watching Lost. What will tomorrow hold...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jamey's Comment

I had a good day today. Was it the swimming in the Margarittaville pool? Or the snorkeling out to the Oasis BioRock? Or getting caught in the current and coming out on the beach way down by Jack's Shack? Or the confirmation that we will be doing the SeaDoo Adventure and Snorkel Excursion tomorrow because of that? Or the unbelievable BBQ we had tonight?

How about because we had four cruise excursion tours today. Or that I completed the CAD drawings of the "armory" at Ft. George Cay.

No, in fact it was something very simple. A discussion if you will, at lunch, while trying to order nachos without cheese sauce, which did not work out. OK, here is the
play by play:

"So, you and Jamey are brothers," Says Dave. "I know how old he is," he continues.

"Yea," Say I, with a curious raise of my brow.

"You must be...35?"

"Exactly!" I agree. "Jamey was always a little older and a little wiser. But, that's why he is where he is and that's why I am where I am. But I guess I can live with that."


So, I guess I got that going for me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Guests

Dave and Joel arrived today. We met them at the airport as we were leaving Provo and all flew over together.

This was after a day of tearing down and cleaning up from our fundraising event. It would have been easy had all the volunteers from yesterday shown up today. But cleaning up after an event is a little less exciting than setting up for an event. But with four of us there it was at least possible.

Anyway, on the way to the airport Jess, Maya, and I played a game. It was called who can spot the IT professional, and his brother, who would be Jamey's friend. Though I won, they were the only two guys in the airport wearing ties and they looked exactly like narcotics officers coming to the Caribbean to investigate locals, I was very surprised.

In my mind, I was picturing one of Jamey's friends as being much older, in their late 40s or 50s maybe. But Dave and Joel are a lot more like my friends and are in the 20s so it is working great.

As soon as we got into the house, everyone changed out of their shirts and ties and we went swimming on our new reef. Not that it was a great swim, but we dis see a spotted moray eel, a slippery lobster, and then a fairly large stingray.

I said,"Not a bad first hour on Grand Turk. Much better than 3 hours in the Provo airport."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 20 Fundraiser

29 months ago I arrived in the Turks and Caicos with a list of objectives so long that it seemed ridiculous to take this job. Then twelve months later, we suffered the devastation of a category 5 hurricane.

Tonight, we held our first major fundraiser on Provo and we unveiled plans for a new museum. Over 300 people attended the event at one of the nicest resorts on Provo. From every account,it was a spectacular success. I think we achieved everything we could have hoped for, from connecting to the right people to meeting our fund raising goals.

In less than two and a half years we have increased attendance at the Grand Turk museum by 250%. We have trained the best guides on the island. We have increased museum income by over 300%. We have created viable programs that have raised the profile of the museum. We have had commercial property donated for the museum on Provo. We have had a new facility designed. And now we have engaged the population with the message that now is the time to build on Provo.

We have also rebuilt everything on Grand Turk. Lived on nothing but canned tuna for 22 days. And lived without sanitation or power for nine weeks. But that's last years story.

I look back after tonight's event and cannot believe the accomplishments. I really can't believe what has been done here.

Has it been worth not teaching two of my sons how to drive? Has it been worth not seeing Martin go to prom? Has it been worth living without having Deneen to come home to every night and talk about how sucky my day has been? Has it been worth not yellin at Martin when he wrecked the car, or taking Davis to the hospital when he broke his arm? Has it been worth not being held or hugged or snuggled, or even touched, for weeks and weeks at a time?

No, it has not.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Everyone Who Comes has to Bring a Can of Haggis

I had dinner tonight with the Scottish Optometrist. Well, not really dinner. During dinner I was speaking at Rotary about the upcoming museum fundraising event, and the Scottish Optometrist was receiving a Paul Harris Fellow award. So lets say I had after dinner dinner with the Scottish Optometrist.

Anyway, we talked alot about his January 25th Burns Night party celebrating the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Evidently, this very important night of revelry consists of eating haggis drenched in Scotch whisky while each attendant recites a Burns poem. I am truly sorry I was not invited. Seriously.

During the conversation someone said, "You can't get Haggiss on Provo."

At this point the waitress, who had overheard, said, "Yes you can, it is carried at the new Gourmet IGA."

"No," said the Scottish Optometrist, "that is not haggis, that is nasty."

Then, talking about his upcoming wedding, where he will marry the young divemaster he has met since coming to the Turks and Caicos, along with 70 family members in attendance, while evidently wearing a kilt, which tradition states that every 70 year old grandmother will lift at the wedding to look at his bum, and more to the point of why it is relevant to this story, he said...

"I have been very clear in letting people coming to the wedding know that...everyone who comes has to bring a can of haggis."

Ah, very interesting, thought I. Deneen and I had a discussion today about this. A discussion because I don't think you can have a fight on Skype instant messenger, unless technically everything is in all caps.

She does not think that I should ask people to bring coffee when they come to see me. Evidently that appears rude, or maybe she said weird. In the normal world she might be right. Asking someone to bring a bag of their favorite coffee, or possibly a few oranges when they leave the cruise ship, may seem strange in your world of I-can-get-anything-I-want-24-hours-a-day-at-Walmart. But here, life is a little different.

And I have found that when people ask what they can bring first you just say "nothing." Go on, "I am fine, great, have everything I need."

Then sometime during the second year of life on this small sand bar in the middle of the ocean you say, "Everyone who comes has to bring a bag of coffee, preferably Starbucks, but you are welcome to bring your favorite kind of coffee as it is kind a a game we play."

OK, is this out of line? I don't know. But really, the idea of a surprise bag of coffee that is different than the Dominican Republic coffee we have every day is evidently enough to put up with someone staying at your house for several days, or in some cases weeks.

So, what I take from tonight, and will pass on to all of those people who have come and might come in the future.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stuff is Getting Done, Finally!

These are images of two projects that have taken forever to complete. It is so hard to get anything done here. Every part of a project takes a super long time. When all the parts each take so long, the entire project then gets dragged into literally years. This week we finally finished the Salinas kiosk. This project was part of a couple larger projects that are not being completed now. But it still works as a stand alone interpretive panel. The kiosk was contracted to be completed in September 2008. The hurricanes put us back a year, and then it still took five additional months.

We also finally received our archive conservation materials after waiting nearly four months for shipping. Jessica should have started on this project when she came in January. We had anticipated everything being here sitting ready.

The archive project is very cool though. We are finally beginning to look like a functioning museum. At least now if you asked for "Dispatches Received, 1899" we could go down, pull the box, and let you look through the archival records. Can you imagine that?