Saturday, 16 February 2013

Salt Cay Continues

Sunday afternoon we had some great fun, while one friend and I were diving, the other three rented bikes to explore the island.  They met us back at the cottage where we were having a light lunch and some wine.  That turned into mimosas with strawberries! Delicious!

I wanted to do some exploring too, so one of the girls went biking with me. We headed east across the island.  We rode past the airport - and donkeys, chickens and cows!  A large part of the middle of the island has a saltina where they used to produce salt.

At the end of the road was the islands water cistern, there was a nice view of the ocean on all sides. Salt Cay is very flat with just a couple high points so the views can be spectacular.  On the ride back, we found the ruins of a little resort. Now when I say ruins, they are very recent. Windmills was sold to a big developer. Almost immediately after the place was torn up by a hurricane.  Since the new people were planing on bulldozing it anyways they told the locals to take anything they wanted so it was stripped of the fixtures.  Nothing has been done since but it still has a very bright paint job so it was a fantastic place to take pictures.

On Sunday nights Coral Bar does BBQ ribs, we were booked in and looking forward to it. Just as we were all getting ready to leave, a massive downpour hit. This lead to some hilarity as everyone rushed to get jackets or garbage bags to cover up with.  Of course by the time pictures were done being taken the rain had stopped.  Which is a good thing as the cafe was almost entirely open!

The ribs were delicious and we chatted with another tourist who was travelling alone, she had come for the diving.  We met a lot of people, everyone was very friendly there and exchanged a lot of email address so we could all trade whale pictures!

Monday was the last day, :(  We had a bit more relaxing morning and after breakfast went to sit by the beach.  There were still a lot of waves, which made for some cool photo opportunities, but our little spot on the beach had some high rocks about 20ft out so there was a little calm spot to relax in the water.

After more Mimosas at lunch it was time to pack up and head back to the airport.  As we boarded our little plane back to Provo I was reminded that you can never really escape work for long, my boss was waiting in the plane!  He'd actually been in Grand Turk for meetings and just happened to catch the same plane back.  Who new I'd run into a familiar face while visiting an island with so few people on it!

Sadly the vacation was over, but I got to remember all the fun we had as I sorted through the 900 pictures on my cameras that night.  It took a while!

Welcome to 2013

A new year in the Caribbean! 2013 started out great for me, I landed back in Providenciales on Dec 31st, just in time to go out celebrating with some friends. We started out at Somewhere, a great cafe on the beach and then went to Flamingos for fireworks and a bonfire. Everyone was out celebrating and it was great fun.  It was an interesting holiday for me, Christmas on the ski hill and New Years on a beach!

But then it was time to get back to work, we've been slowly getting busier and busier here on Provo.  Despite doing almost no calls during the previous two months night shifts, now we were getting a couple calls a night. Always at about three am.  Thats the worst time, really breaks up your sleep!

Nothing too exciting happened during January, life moved along as normal. But if February I got to take a great little vacation with some friends. We went to the island of Salt Cay for a couple nights.  Now Salt Cay is to the east side of the TCI chain of islands, a little bit south of Grand Turk.  It took 25 minutes to fly there in a little eight seater plane - my first time in a plane that small! I was nervous but it was great, with lots to take pictures of as we flew along the islands.

We arrived on Salt Cay Saturday morning, and were met at the airport and got a golf cart ride to where we were staying. The island is so small, that there are only a few cars. Most people just use carts or bikes!  Salt Cay is only about 2.5 square miles with a year round population of less the 100 people!

Saturday was just about perfect! It was sunny and flat calm, no wind which made the temperature gorgeous and hot! After a lunch and some beach lounging we went out in the afternoon on a whale watching excursion. Salt Cay is one of the ideal places for it as the humpbacked whales pass it when the head to and from the summer breeding grounds around Silver Bank.  It was a bit early in the season, but we were lucky and found a mother and calf in the area.  The calf was very playful, leaping and breaching for us, and when they got used to the boat floating near by we were allowed to slip in the water with them and snorkel.  The water was clear to about 60ft so the visibility was fantastic.

Our guide is actually a marine biologist who is living on Salt Cay to study the whales and their behaviours, which includes how the react to having humans around.  I was just thrilled to be able to be near such amazing creatures, though Mama was a bit skittish. She didn't seem to want to stick to close when we where in the water, but never went too far from the boat so we were able to watch them all afternoon.  I think I took about 500 pictures.  Had to sort out between whale shots and just water.  I did manage to get three or four incredible pictures of mama and the calf together.

We had dinner at the Coral Reef Cafe, then had a few drinks under the stars.  I love being able to sit out and stare are the stars when you are outside of the city. They just go on forever.

Sunday was my dive day. One of my friends and I went out. The wind had picked up and it was a bit rough on the water, but its always nice under the surface.  Our first dive site was nothing special. It was a pretty place along the wall. We did get to see the most laid back turtle, this guy did not care at all when everyone swam up to him with the cameras.  I did have a little frustration with one of the dive guides.  They knew that I was a fairly new diver and tried to baby me along, even encouraging me to surface after only half an hour.  I'm paying a lot of money for this dive and I wasn't going to surface early! In the end I was one of the last ones up and still had 1000psi in my tank!

We went back to the shore for our surface interval, and I mentioned my issue to the guide, so my next dive was more relaxed.  And easily the most beautiful place I've see yet.  It was this massive coral garden, and as you are swimming along you suddenly appear at the edge of the wall and its just breathtaking! I love swimming off the wall, feels like jumping off a cliff when everything drops away and you are soaring!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Christmas In Canada

December passed pretty slowly, as I was anxiously waiting for my Christmas holidays to arrive.  I had settled into my new apartment, unpacking and exploring the area.  I knew it fairly well already, but enjoyed walking down to explore the new beach.

It really is a gorgeous spot, I can see the ocean from the balcony. The best view is from the front door, its an open stairway with a fantastic view of Grace Bay.  When the sun comes up in the morning the water almost seems too perfect.

Eventually the weeks passed and on December 21st I got to fly home to Toronto, I'm so glad the apocalypse didn't happen - I was really looking forward to going home! It was a direct flight, and I landed in Toronto without any troubles.  No one was able to meet me and I was a little sad as I made my way through the crowds in the arrival areas, only to notice a group of people holding a sign with my name on it.  My confusion only grew, when after I identified myself, they broke into song singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Pearson airport had carolers greeting travelers and my mom had found them on twitter to meet me on arrival.   It was wonderful, and embarrassing, as I started crying as hundreds of people looked on!

After my greeting, I made it safely home to my grandmothers where I was thrilled to see my kitten. Guinness has been living with my grandma while I have been away.  I was happy that she came right to see me, but she then spent the rest of the evening staring suspiciously at me from under furniture.

Saturday was a busy day for me, I had a limited amount of time in Toronto so I headed out early to meet a few friends for a yummy brunch downtown.  I spent a few hours shopping then met some more friends for dinner before heading back to Oakville.  Then we quickly turned around and drove back to the city to pick up my sister from the airport.  Once we found her, my grandmother, uncle and I drove on to my mothers house for the evening.

Sunday we kept on our travels and headed east for a Christmas in Mt Tremblant.  Montreal had just gotten a dumping of snow so it was perfect weather for some skiing!  We met my mom and another sister at the resort for a small family vacation.  We had three days of skiing, the weather was unbelievable for the first too.  Absolutely clear and beautiful. The last day was cold and windy but we still had a good time- instead of skiing we just enjoyed the apres-ski.

The family also had lots of yummy food and drinks, opened presents and just had a relaxing week. But every holiday has to end and we had to head back to Toronto.  We spent the night again at my moms home, a nice half way point for our trip.  My sisters left very early the next morning for their flights out, and I headed out that afternoon to go back to Toronto.  We had a bit of a rough drive as it started snowing again.  But everything was so pretty and white I didn't mind!

I got to spend one more day in Toronto visiting friends, running errands and cuddling with my little Guin before I had to head back to the islands.  It was really sad to be leaving home again, I'd had such a wonderful time in Canada!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Moving Day

Back in May when I moved down here to Provo, I was apartment hunting while staying at the Reef Residence hotels.  I was lucky enough, that they offered to let me stay in my room for the low season for a very good price. 

Well the low season has come to an end and I had to move on. It took a lot of time but I found a nice place that balances between really expensive and really crappy.  I got a Junior One Bedroom at the Queen Angel Resort overlooking Turtle Cove. Its very nice, just not quite as close to the beach as I was before!

The actual move went fairly well, I don't have much stuff here so I packed it all up pretty quickly. I had to work on my moving day, but luckily I was able to get someone to cover my shift.  I also had friends who offered to help, but the manager at the resort let me use his truck so everything went quickly.

Of course nothing can ever go perfectly for me! It was bright and sunny when I headed over to the resort to pick up my keys, and when we drove back. But when all my boxes were loaded in the back of the truck, they sky decided to let loose a torrential downpour. Great. So we went racing back, and the staffer who was helping called everyone to come help. Everything got pretty damp but the boxes were double walled so nothing was ruined.

At that point I had to go back to the Reef for my last couple things and to turn in my keys and the rain keeps coming. And I don't think there is a city in the world where you can get a cab in the rain. I ended up trudging most of the way before I got a sympathetic ride.

The rain had eased up by this point, until my friend and I went to load the last few items in her car. They skies just opened up again and didnt ease up for about an hour. Though once we got to my new place, my balcony is a good place to sit and watch the rain with a cup of tea!

My bad luck with the rain didn't end there either.  That night I was walking down to Turtle Cove to meet a friend for dinner when, yup, it started to pour again. Luckily I was wearing my rain jacket but its the first time I've ever gone to a restaurant and been given a towel by the manager!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Jitney Experience

So, a couple months ago it was anounced that the ambulance would no longer be picking anyone up for shift change due to excessive milage abuse. Seriously, its a talent to be able to rack up over 150 miles a shift on a 37 square mile island. With out any calls.

So I had to find a new way to work, Don't have a car, and can't really afford to buy one right now. Taxis are so expensive - about $14 one way. So I settle on taking Jitneys. These are the illegal cabs that populate the island. They are a cross between hitchhiking and buses. You stand on the side of the road and wait for someone to honk at you, and it cost $2 to go just about anywhere.

Now I am sure all of you can guess how sketchy this is. And it gets worse. The illegal drivers are quite often illegal themselves. So no licence, cars aren't highly maintained either. My favourite is the cars with no door handles on the inside. Usually just a little string tied to something in the door.  And for some reason, no seatbelts. They are tucked behind the seat so you can't use them. Delightful!

I've also had some interesting drivers, occasionally someone will stop to pick you up who doesn't run a jitney- I've had some kindly good samaraitan, and some guys who gave me their phone numbers too! But its all in all an interesting experience, and I keep a giant maglite tucked in my backpack whenever I go anywhere!

I will note as well, I am sure many of you remember the Toyota commerical that says that 80% of all cars sold are still on the road. Well, its very true. This is the place where corrollas come to die. Almost every older car is a Toyota! I have to admit, when I see a red corrolla I wonder if it might be mine! ;)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Guests in October

Ok, well we are almost caught now!

October was a good month though still pretty hot. You break a sweat thinking about doing something. Which, let me say, is not conductive to activity. If it was more strenuous then lifting a book or a beer I wasn't interested.  Work did get a bit interesting. We had an EMT come back from a leave so he spent two weeks working with me for a bit of remediation.

We did have one exciting night where there was a serious car accident. We were siting in the ER hanging out with the nurses when a car came screaming up and two guys fall out all covered in blood. While we are helping to get them inside dispatch radios us about the accident, where another guy is trapped in the vehicle.  And our truck won't start. Luckily my boss likes me, or he would have really hated me when I called at 11:30 on a Saturday night. So he raced out to grab us and the three of us went to the call.

It turned out to be great to have the extra hand there, the Fire Department was still extricating the patient when we got there and he was pretty bad off. So while my boss and my partner dealt with him I checked his passenger who was ok, though pretty shook up. We put her up front in the front then got the patient into the back and rushed him to the hospital. In EMS three isn't a crowd!

We also finally got a new driver! I had been without a partner for half my shifts for months. Which sucked! He's a hilarious guy and we have a lot of fun working together.

The next good thing was my mom came for a visit. It was a great visit and I was so happy to see my family again. We went on a snorkling adventure. It was amazing, there was a long boat ride out to West Caicos, and we saw a couple dolphins along the way! We stopped at this reef along the south end of the island and did three different snorkels.  There were several sharks, barracudas and even a huge eagle ray!  I think the craziest part was the massive storm to the north of us. You'd be paddling along with the sun on your back and here a hugh boom from the thunder!

The rest of the visit was mostly relaxing. Went snorkling of my beach, which wasn't as good because the waves were pretty choppy. One day we went for a long walk into Grace Bay for some shopping then met a couple of my friends for dinner. The teachers were all thrilled to meet an author and I had mom bring down several books which she autographed for them.

At the end of October we had the threat of hurricane Sandy. That bitch (it makes me giggle saying that, anyone from my childhood knows why!) swept up through the Caribbean before it rained distruction down on New York.  But she was actually considerate enough to give us a miss! Again just had a few grey days.  Though we did get the storm surge! Crazy high tides and waves just pumled the beaches. A lot of hotels lost beach chairs and umbrellas and at my spot the water erroded the sandstone so much the stairs were washed away.

So I sat by the pool for  a week!

Then at the end of the month I got my crazy day again. This time a busy morning was capped off with a shooting, actually my first gunshot wound call. While responding to another call the amblance was flagged down by a Police Officer who told us a suspect had been shot. While assessing him, they decided to let us know another suspect was still at large so we quickly got him on the stretcher and got the hell outta there!

If nothing else, this island certainly is interesting. Well, I guess that is the last five months of my life. I'll try to keep these more regular again. If for no other reason then to save myself from having to type for a couple hours to get it all down!

Adventures in August

After my trip to Tampa, August settled into a simple month. Many of my friends had gone home for the summer so there wasn't too much to do. Work stayed steady, had a few more interesting experiences including another cardiac arrest. I have started to notice a trend on the island. I am usually not very busy at work, but one day towards the end of the month all hell breaks loose  and I get some crazy stuff.

I also got to finally go diving again. It was my first dive since I was certified in January. I was happy that my dive instructor was also the dive master that day. It was comforting to go in the water with someone I was comfortable with. My first dive went ok, had a few boyancy issues and my breathing wasn't as great as it could have been. I will boast that I still outlasted most of the other divers for bottom time - except the nitrox divers. They are quite advanced and can really control their air!

The second dive was even better. We saw lots of cool things, several sharks, a huge turtle and of course lots of fish!

I also had my first hurricane. Issac swept by in late August. Luckily it stayed far enough east that we just had three grey rainy and windy days. I was off work so I hid inside and watched tv. Not much to do when the sun is gone!

As the summer ended, man it got hotter! September was terrible as the rainy season moved in and so did the humidity. On the plus side the teachers came back so I was going out a bit more. But with the rains came the REALLY slow season and most of the hotels and restaurants shut down for a month so things were a bit boring.

This did help as I took the opportunity to do a detox diet. It was hard since I had to eliminate a lot of my favourite foods. Sugar, caffinee, dairy. And worst of all, alcohol. For three weeks! It worked well though, I got through the challenge with out and withdrawl rages and have cut back a lot of my sugars and am drinking more water! Still love my beer though. That'll never go!