Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pirates of Salt Cay

Pirates over ran the island on Friday night, March 27th as the Salt Cay Women of Action sponsored a Community Pirate Party and Dance for the diverse Salt Cay community that includes Turks Islanders, Dominicans, Haitians, Americans, Canadians, St. Lucians, Filipinos and a number of others countries.
A "finger food" buffet filled two large tables with BBQ chicken, fried chicken, cracked conch, deviled eggs, and numerous other wonderful dishes provided by many Salt Cay residents.  
Festivities began about 7:30PM - actually a little later than that - they started on island time (which is always about 1/2 an hour later than scheduled).
Pirates  of all ages arrived by bicycle, on buggies, trucks and on foot at the Salt Shed Community Center.

We had a great time standing around eating, drinking and visiting with each other for about the first hour while Papa Newt (aka Newton Bassett) got the music started and we waited for the Salt Cay Rake 'n Scrape Band to arrive.
After a few warm up songs with the Women of Action dancing the electric slide and the Cha Cha Slide, the Salt Cay Rake 'n Scrape Band got started and the "serious" dancing began.  Unfortunately we had no microphone and missed a lot of the words to some of the great songs!  And the one brief video that was taken really didn't show the great job the band did on Pirate Night.  
Rogue's Gallery of Salt Cay Pirates include:
Vershina, Anna, Pirate Queen Roxanne, Yvonne, Shiela and Ann
Pirate King Mike
Don and Ms. Rosalie share a laugh
Vershina, Anna and Pirate Queen Roxanne
Little Pirate Gierdy 
Heather, Cynthia, Sharon, Ann and Bobbi 
Ann and Carolyn 
Nurse Barbara and Shiela 
Bobbi and Sharon
Clyde and Kim
Nic and Sharon
Pirate King Mike 
Pirate King Mike's wife
The first Pirate Party on Salt Cay was a number of years ago at Mt. Pleasant Guest House sponsored by Candy Herwin (Pirates Hideaway) and Tim Dunn (Salt Cay White House) - a few years later Porter at Island Thyme Bistro hosted a few great Pirate Parties... and thanks to former Pirate Queen Sharon Herwin, the event has become a fun community event!  We can't wait for next year... and look forward to the children's Pirate Party too!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Salt Cay's Education Week 2010

Among the many activities marking Education Week earlier in the month of March in the Turks and Caicos Islands is Career Day on Salt Cay.  On March 4th, students of Salt Cay's Mary Robinson Primary School walked from the school to the Salt Shed carrying placards and singing songs about the islands at the start of Career Day 2010.
Arriving at the Salt Shed, students, teachers and community members were welcomed to Career Day 2010, by Mary Robinson Primary School Principal Shyvonne who introduced Salt Cay's District Commissioner Carolyn Dickenson.
DC Ms. Carolyn read an address from HE Governor Gordon Wetherall stressing the importance of education, thanking the teachers for the fine work they do with the students who are the future of the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Ms. Carolyn went on to encourage the students and reaffirm the importance of the theme for Education Week 2010, "Rebuilding the TCI through Commitment and Education."

The next portion of the program was the introduction of various members of the community to talk about their jobs and encourage the children to start thinking about what field they will be interested in when they grow up.  With over 18 years experience, Nurse Simpson from Guyana works as a Staff Nurse, Midwife and Nurse Practitioner and she noted that one of the nice things about being a Nurse is that you can live anywhere!
Next on the program for Salt Cay's Career Day was a couple of songs by the students.  They sang a song about the Turks and Caicos Islands and another that was a cute spelling song. 

Police Officer Jeremy Spencer was a popular speaker of the day talking to the children about the various jobs in law enforcement including lawyer, judge and police officer.  When he asked who wanted to see how the handcuffs worked, every hand went up!  Raynard hammed it up as the officer showed how the cuffs went on - and he looked a little relieved when they were finally removed.  Raynard's father, Fireman Newton Bassett got a few good pictures and laughs.

Richard, the divemaster, and Ollie, co-owner, of Salt Cay Divers were the most popular career of the day.  Richard explained the equipment to the children and got volunteers from the audience to try breathing through a regulator.  He explained to the children that they can start learning to dive at 8 years old and asked how many would like to learn.  About four or five hands shot up!

Richard asked them to identify some of the fish shown in the book he had.  When they identified the shark he asked if they knew what to do if they saw a shark, one child yelled, "Run!"
The children (and members of the community who attended) learned the underwater hand signals for "up", "okay", "down", "boat", "turtle" and "shark." Students were also able to come up and try on a mask and snorkel and try breathing with it on.

Ollie and Richard stressed the importance of helping the protect the underwater environment by making sure that all garbage, especially plastic bags and other things that can trap sea life are disposed of properly.
Next on the program for Career Day were interactive activities presented by Island Thyme Bistro and me.  Haidee Williams, co-owner of Island Thyme Bistro had all the children crowding around to learn how to bake pizza and how to figure out how much to charge for that pizza if they had a restaurant.  She reported that the actual making and eating of the pizza was more popular than figuring out the cost. :0)

I brought my computer to the Salt Shed and with the built-in web cam took each child's picture, let them pick some graphics to decorate their pictures and talked about the importance of learning computers in any job they might want in the future.  It was a lot of fun getting each child to type in their name and select graphics to add to the picture!

The next day I took my thumb-drive with the photo graphics to the school to be printed and the Principal is going to laminate them and hang them on the wall until the end of the school year when the children will be able to take them home.

Ms. Heather Floan got the children thinking about saving money and working with money by asking "who likes money?" She went on to explain that if you have fun with numbers and like counting money, there are lots of jobs in accounting all over the world. 

Best for last - the Salt Cay Fire Department.  Fireman Newton Bassett and Ranfly Been demonstrated the proper use of a fire extinguisher and explained how to remember the steps for the use of one.  P.A.S.S. = pull (the pin), aim (at the base of the fire), squeeze (the handle) and sweep (the flames).  
Next the children went outside to get up close and personal to the fire truck and have it explained to them.  And the firemen showed them how to hook up the hose.  Screams of delight and lots of jumping around accompanied the water spray!
It was a fun day for students, teachers, demonstrators and community members - we look forward to next year's Education Week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Octopuses Garden

Morning on Salt Cay dawned with blue skies, not too much wind and fairly calm Seas... Heather rode her bike over and we took a kayak paddle toward the South tip of Salt Cay, hoping to spot a whale or two. No whales during our paddle... and as we turned back toward home we made plans to get together later that afternoon to kayak around Point Pleasant, beach the kayaks and do a little snorkeling.

By 2PM, the wind was coming out of the Northeast and had picked up enough that going around the North point of the island didn't look like a very good opportunity for snorkeling. Instead Heather, her Mike and I brought our kayaks onto the beach just South of the Lighthouse for a little snorkeling.

A quick snorkel showed off a trumpet fish, schools of blue tang, yellowtail snapper, a few butterflyfish, a big parrot fish, and lots of little fairy basslets among lots of little fish. Beachcombing turned up a few nice shells and a little bit of beach glass - and Mike Floan made the best discovery of all... an octopus in a tide pool in the rocks!!

We thought it was one octopus, but as Mike bent to touch it, the octopus squirted ink and moved to the other side of the little pool revealing another octopus under it. The first octopus then slithered over the rocks into another pool and immediately changed color to blend in the with bottom of that pool. It was incredible! Meanwhile, the smaller octopus moved up along side of Mike's foot (covered with a dive boot) and changed color to try to blend in with his foot.

Mike was keeping his foot very still and bent down to touch the octopus - it squirted him with water! Every time his hand would get close to it, the octopus would send a stream of seawater into the air toward him. Heather made her way over to the larger octopus to try to touch it and got the same treatment. I just watched. :0)

Luckily, Heather had an underwater disposable camera with her in the kayak and used it to take a few pictures of the octopus. The following picture is similar to what we saw and will stay here until she gets back to the States, can develop the film and send me a copy! Watch for that sometime in April.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bullies on the island

I walked with my friend, Marilyn, to a beach on the East side of Salt Cay on Saturday, we had to walk through a crowd of bullies... Armed with just my camera I took a picture of one of them. He didn't move and just glared at me for disturbing his peace and quiet.

We escaped unharmed and had a great time beachcombing. :0)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Salt Cay is for fishing and reading

Sunday on Salt Cay is always a good day for fishing or hanging out with a good book. On a beautiful Sunday in February, Mike packed his fishing stuff and I grabbed a book and a couple of bottles of water for a few hours fishing, reading and of course some photos. We started out on North Beach... the water was a hundred colors of blue, turquoise, and aqua with no one in sight.

Years ago I visited a Salt Cay friend, Janet Onnie, and caught her relaxing in her hammock. We sat on her breezy outside porch and talked about a lot of things. What I remember the most is her telling me that when she has trouble sleeping she thinks of the Sea and Sky off of North Beach and tries to count all the different colors of blue.

Mike grabbed his stuff out of the back of the buggy and walked down the beach to try his luck in the surf. I sat up on the bluff, spread out a blanket and spent so long looking at the water, the islands in the distance, the beach and the waves that I never did get my book out. Mike walked back to join me at the bluff and we moved on to another spot for him.

Back in the buggy, we drove north past the Grey Salinas to the Northeast side of the island. There is an inlet from the Sea that is made of cut stone and allows water from the Sea to fill the Salinas on that side of the island. This channel was built over 200 years ago and is about 6 feet wide and about 600 feet from start at the Sea to the end that empties into the Salinas.
Following the inlet channel to the East, we watched crabs scurrying about, little fish swimming against the current, birds doing a little fishing and a gecko basking in the sun. Notice the incredible cut stone along the sides of the channel.

Walking along the wall of the channel, we arrived at the opening, a small opening in the rocky cliffs - a great place to try a little fishing.

It was mesmerizing watching the water flowing in and out of the channel, the waves crashing in to fill the little "bay" and spraying foam upon the rocks. Not much beachcombing to be done at this part of the island, but so many beautiful natural treats.

The skies were a bit overcast on Sunday with the sun breaking through from time to time and casting its rays down through the clouds. The Sea on the West side of the island was rough but on the East side it was fairly calm with a few good sized rollers from time to time. The sparkling brightness of the day was incredible.

Mike grabbed his bucket and pole and walked to the end of the small rock cliff to try his luck in the surf. The rocks can be pretty uneven at the end of the small cliff, I chose to stay back and take a look around with my camera.

Any vegetation on this side of Salt Cay has to be pretty hardy. The trade winds blow fairly constantly throughout the year from the East showering the plants with salt water and salt spray on a regular basis. Plants that would normally have a little height are more of a low growing ground cover or bush height.

The tangled branches of this Mosquito Bush (Strumpfia martima) have little barnacles growing attached on one side and beautiful fragile looking pink flowers on the other side. In folklore, when the leaves and branches of the mosquito bush are burned, the smoke is said to repel mosquitoes. I've tried transplanting a small plant and have not been successful getting it to grow on the West side of the island.

A large brain coral with a whole in the middle and another coral lodged inside of it rests next to the channel. I have to believe that a few people spent some time dragging it to this spot, although there doesn't seem to be any place that it could have come from. I enjoyed the contrast of the sun bleached, curvaceous white coral and the dark, sharp angles of the cut stone walls of the channel.

(Don't forget that by clicking on a photo you will be able to view it larger but you'll have to click the back button on your browser to come back to this page.)

I had a book in my bag and fully intended to sit down to read a bit... after a few more pictures.

... the bend in the channel right before it meets the Sea.

... the waves crashing on the cliffs.

... three Haitian islanders fishing a little further north along the same cliff with hand lines.

Mike enjoyed fishing for rock hinds or strawberry grouper along the East side of the island, moving from the spot at the end of the cliff to a place a bit further North in search of the elusive fish.

The wind-smoothed rocks on the top of the cliffs are very different from the razor like rocks of the cliffs further South on the island. After about 1/2 an hour, Mike returned to try his luck by the cliffs again. Caught by a wave or two, his shirt and shoes were soaked and he was ready to try something different on the end of his line.

I do not know the name of this little lure... and I don't suppose it really matters because it did not work! Relaxing on a rock with his (empty) bucket, Mike changed his lure hoping to attract a strawberry grouper or two...

The sounds of the sea crashing on the cliffs and echoing through the channel were a perfect accompaniment to the peace of fishing, relaxing and enjoying a little quiet time together.

I did actually read about four or five pages in my book before heading back after a day of fishing and exploring.

And no, Mike didn't catch anything that day. (Hmmmm, Mike read this and reminded me that he did catch a little sand fish - not worth eating or keeping - so he threw it back... does that count?) Heeheee.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Salt Cay's Annual Valentines Party

Valentines Day on the island is a special time... The Salt Cay Valentines Party on Friday night was a success again this year with the dedicated work of District Commissioner Carolyn Dickenson, Salt Cay Secretary Vershina Forbes, members of the Salt Cay Women in Action and numerous other members of the community!We were greeted at the front door of the Salt Shed by the lovely Ms. Carolyn and escorted to one of the festively decorated tables to visit with friends, neighbors and island guests as more and more people joined the party! Wine, sparkling cider and conversation flowed as we waited for the festivities to begin.

Mike has fun table hopping and visiting with some of his favorite Salt Cay ladies. He took this opportunity to sit with our friend (his island mother) Mrs. Ella Hamilton and share a few laughs. It's always entertaining to watch the two of them banter!Ms. Ella was at the party with her two sisters, Mrs. Rosalie Glinton and Mrs. Melvina Simmons. A number of people took this opportunity to take a photo of "the sisters" and I hope that someone will pass one of the photos along to me to add to this blog.

Ms. Carolyn and Ms. Vershina started the festivities with a few Valentine games... the first game involved pulling a number our of an envelope and performing whatever action was written on a list. Mike and I pulled #11 - and had to stand up and kiss romantically. Hah, you know Mike... it was a little goofy but hey, that's part of the fun. (Again, no picture... email me if you have one!)

With much prompting, Ms. Rochelle pulled a number and stood up to read a romantic poem to her husband...

Mr. Mike Floan treated his wife, Ms. Heather, to a list of three things that he loves about her...

Mr. Porter Williams said a few special words to his special valentine Haidee...

Mr and Mrs. Sean Forbes were celebrating their 1st anniversary and Sean presented his wife, Kayla with a beautiful basket full of valentine treats...

Mr. Maurice Simmons elegantly spoke words of dedication and love to his beautiful wife Mrs. Barbara...

Don and Donna Shope joined in the fun with Don whispering sweet words of love to his lovely valentine...

And many others stood and celebrated the evening of love and friendship!

Following the Valentine games, we enjoyed a wonderful meal that included glazed ham, turkey, baked chicken, macaroni & cheese, sauteed vegetables, garlic potatoes and much more. The food was plentiful and very good!

Enrique Dickenson provided music for us during the evening with a mix of romantic and lively music for dancing.

The first dance was a special valentine dance (and I don't have pictures of that because I was dancing with my special valentine, Mike!)

During a pause in the dancing, the Salt Cay Rake 'n Scrape Band played a selection for us. And then on to more dancing and partying!

A special area was set aside for pictures... following are pictures of special valentine couples, beautiful single women, and good friends. Remember that you can click on a picture to view it larger and then right-click on the larger picture to save it to your computer!

Valentines Day on Salt Cay was a lovely evening filled with laughter, love and friendship!

Mike and Ann Hawkins

Vershina Forbes and Enrique Dickenson

Mike and Heather Floan

Carolyn Dickenson and Ann Hawkins

Vershina Forbes and Delphine Simons

Ed and Cathy Doyle

Kevin and Rochelle

Nic and Sharon Herwin

Rochelle Gray and Anna Dickenson

Ray and Cindy Cyr

Noyal Hamilton and his valentine

De Temes and her son, Sam
It's his birthday!!

Bernard Parker

Sandy and De Temes

Anna Dickenson