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?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Small Exhibits are Big Projects

Well, yesterday we finally installed the panels on the Salinas Kiosk at the Town Pond on Grand Turk. And today, I flew to Provo and installed the Island Wise exhibit case. The Salinas Kiosk has been a project we have been working on since before the hurricane. It has taken forever...but that is a whole other story about the frustrations of working in the Caribbean that only a few people can ever really know.

The Island Wise case is part of a plan I have been working on to get museum exhibits in places around Provo in order to raise awareness of the museum and the types of collections we have. Though the case is small, with just a few archaeological artifacts, it very nice. Limited, but tasteful.

This is all in anticipation of fund raising for the new Provo facility, which begins on March 20th. The first press release for this event also came out this week. A lot of what we have been working on here is finally coming together. Just with a year-long interruption called Ike!

weekly news article

Monday, March 1, 2010

Work, Work, Work, Work

Did I not already write this blog?

Jessica "spoke" to me today. It seems that we have been working too much.

"I am not a work-a-holic," say I. "I am a goal achiever!"

This week, among everything else we do in a normal week, we had the Endangered Archives grant due to the British Library, as well as the AASLH award nomination for the book Where is Simon, Sandy?

We worked all day on Saturday with a Children's Club program and with the nomination. On Sunday we were only going to work until 3:00, but we left at 7:30.

Today, we finished the AASLH nomination, at the last minute I must add, and got it to Fed Ex. On top of this stress, now that Rory is gone, Jess did four tours off the Holland America Eurodam and ran the after school homework program for nine students, which was three too many.

Donna Seim, the author who wrote Where is Simon, Sandy?, flew into Grand Turk last night. We ran into her at the Osprey. Today, she came over to the museum and helped us get the AASLH award nomination together. I am very hopeful we will win. Check out Donna's website at