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.