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Times of the Islands Summer 2022

Presents the "soul of the Turks & Caicos Islands" with in-depth features about local people, culture, history, environment, real estate, businesses, resorts, restaurants and activities.

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TIMES

OF THE

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS SUMMER 2022 NO. 139

TCI BOBSLEDDER

The backstory of “Cool Runnings”

TREKING THE ISLANDS

Human-powered circumnavigation

MAKING ECO-HISTORY

Climate change charter signed

ISLANDS


Comfort Food Just Went A-list.

If your idea of comfort feels like

cashmere, you will find its culinary

equivalent at Almond Tree,

the Shore Club’s deliciously

decadent new eatery.

Golden, crusty wood-fired pizza.

Savory skillets, bubbling over with flavor

and just oozing with temptation.

Salads and sides that give new meaning

to the word “indulgence.”

These days, we’re all hungry

for contentment and satisfaction.

Almond Tree at the Shore Club

simply takes it to a whole new level.

Reservations 649 339 8000

theshoreclubtc.com

ALMOND TREE

COURTYARD BAR

Dinner 6 –10:30pm

5pm – Midnight


contents

Departments

9 From the Editor

15 Looking Back

Wear? Where?

By Jody Rathgeb

20 Eye on the Sky

Weather Warning

By Paul Wilkerson

24 Talking Taíno

Lucayan Ancestry.edu

By Kendra Sirak, Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson

and Michael Pateman

73 About the Islands/TCI Map

77 Subscription Form

78 Classified Ads

Features

30 TCI Bobsledder

Tal Stokes

By Ben Stubenberg

40 Chalk Sound

By Blossom O’Meally-Nelson Stokes

Photo By Ramona Settle

42 Treking into History

Circumnavigating the TCI

Story & Photos By John Galleymore

Aerial Photos By Merinda Duff

Green Pages

53 Making Climate History

By Amy Avenant & Oshin Whyte

59 Birds of the Sea

By Sydney O’Brien

TIMES

OF THE

ISLANDS

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS SUMMER 2022 NO. 139

On the Cover

Master Photographers James Roy and Christine Morden

of Paradise Photography (www.MyParadisePhoto.com)

made the journey to East Caicos to capture this rare

drone view of the remote island. They used their artistic

creativity to enhance the color after the day turned

overcast.

59

Astrolabe

63 Clothed in Mystery

The Origins of Junkanoo, Part 1

By Christopher Davis, Alex Kwofie,

Angelique McKay, and Michael P. Pateman

67 Shaking It Out

The Origin of the Salt Industry, Part 2

Story & Images By Jeff Dodge

SHADES O’BRIEN

4 www.timespub.tc


TurksAndCaicosProperty.com

Mandalay Estate, Long Bay Beachfront

Nestled along coveted Long Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos Islands, Mandalay Estate offers a discerning buyer

an idyllic private retreat with approximately 190 ft. of pristine, white sandy beach and brilliant turquoise

waters. Mandalay features 7 bedrooms and an award-winning architectural design capturing the essence

of open Caribbean living with a masterful layout that revolves around the spectacular multi-level pool.

US$16,000,000

Bernadette Hunt

Cell ~ 649 231 4029 | Tel ~ 649 941 3361

Bernadette@TurksAndCaicosProperty.com

Bernadette has lived in the Turks and Caicos

Islands for over 26 years and witnessed the

development and transition of the islands

into a significant tourist destination. Based

on independent figures her gross transaction

numbers are unrivalled. Bernadette

has listings on Providenciales, Pine Cay,

Ambergris Cay, North and Middle Caicos

and is delighted to work with sellers and

buyers of homes, condos, commercial real

estate and vacant undeveloped sites.

Seascapes Townhomes, Grace Bay

Seascapes Townhomes is the latest contemporary under construction project being developed in the Turks

and Caicos Islands. Located a short distance from Grace Bay Beach and the Palms Turks & Caicos resort,

the exclusive development is composed of 17 three bedroom custom-built townhomes. An excellent buy

with a premium location and all the comforts of home.

Prices Upon Request

Turks and Caicos Property is the leading

independent real estate firm in the Turks and

Caicos Islands with offices located at Ocean

Club West Resort and Ocean Club West

Plaza on the Grace Bay Road.

Bernadette’s reputation and success has been

earned over time through her dedication,

enthusiasm and passion for real estate. Her

personal experience as having practiced law

in the islands for more than 10 years together

with owning and renovating a number of

properties means she is well-placed to advise

her customers and developers on what to

anticipate in the purchasing and construction

process.

Bernadette delights in working in the real

estate industry and her humor and energy

make her a pleasure to work with.

Beachfront Sunrise Villa, Emerald Point

Sunrise Villa is a stunning two-storey 5-bedroom, 6 and a half bathroom beachfront residence located in

Emerald Point, one of the most prestigious developments in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This magnificent

property offers nearly 9,000 sq. ft. of luxury indoor/outdoor living space and just over 100 ft. of beautiful

white sandy beach frontage.

Please contact Bernadette if you would like

to find out more about owning real estate in

the Turks & Caicos Islands.

US$7,250,000


from the editor

MARTA MORTON—WWW.HARBOURCLUBVILLAS.COM

Marta Morton found this version of a TCI “compost pile” at North Beach in Salt Cay, containing shells, bits of shells and coral, and sea glass.

A Compost Pile

My dear father died in April—six months short of 90—and thoughts of him fill my life. We were “pals,” sharing many

adventures over his lifetime, including bicycle and hiking trips, canoeing and kayaking, beekeeping and sausage

making. We didn’t talk much, but because we both valued nature, hard work, organization, persistance and determination,

we understood each other. I spent much time helping him and my mother stay in our family home in Chicago

and I marveled at his knowledge and do-it-yourself skills in maintaining house, yard, and cars.

There is a small garden in their backyard. As I write this, blooming roses, peonies, and iris hide the compost

pile my dad tended for 60 years. Garden waste, fruit and vegetable trimmings, grass clippings, leaves, and anything

else he could think of were thrown on the pile and left in the sun and rain. Spring and fall, dad would use a pitchfork

and “turn over” the pile. Miraculously, all that “stuff” had transformed into rich soil, full of earthworms, ready to be

shoveled into a wheelbarrow and spaded into the once-clay-like soil in his garden.

This magazine is my own form of compost pile. From my first day on the job, I tried to welcome and encourage

everyone who wanted to submit an article or photograph or idea. I would put it all in a folder or on the computer or

in the back of my mind and let it percolate. And lo and behold . . . all those suggestions, prepared by all our beloved

contributors, have made each issue of Times of the Islands a rich, fertile “garden” of material about the Turks & Caicos

Islands. Thank you, Dad, for this and the countless good examples you’ve set for me.

Kathy Borsuk, Editor

timespub@tciway.tc • (649) 431-4788

6 www.timespub.tc


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BUTTERFIELD MOTORS LTD.

Established in 2012, is the authorized Chevrolet Dealership for the

Turks and Caicos Islands. Butterfield Motors provides a friendly, relaxed,

transparent, and ‘no-pressure’ sales experience in helping you select

the best vehicle to suit your needs. We offer a selection of vehicles for

every budget, taste, or preference. We also provide fleet purchases and

company service packages.

Our relationship does not end at purchase. The Parts Department stocks a large

selection of genuine GM OEM Parts for purchase. We are proud of our factorytrained

certified technicians and state-of-the-art Service Center, equipped with

the newest diagnostic equipment. You can trust us to take good care of your car

irrespective of the brand, at a very competitive price. Butterfield Motors strives to

exceed your expectations.

Butterfield Motors is partners with TCI Civil Service Association.

For more information please visit our site: www.butterfieldmotorsltd.tc or call (649) 339-CARS (2277).

1045 Leeward Highway, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands


Building Your Vision, Delivering Excellence, and Exceeding Expectations -

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since our beginnings in 1996.

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Call: (649) 946-4970

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TIMES

OF THE

ISLANDS

MANAGING EDITOR

Kathy Borsuk

ADVERTISING MANAGER

Claire Parrish

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Amy Avenant, Kathy Borsuk, Dr. Betsy Carlson,

Christopher Davis, Jeff Dodge, John Galleymore,

Dr. Bill Keegan, Alex Kwofie, Angelique McKay,

Sydney O’Brien, Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson Stokes,

Dr. Michael P. Pateman, Jody Rathgeb, Kendra Sirak,

Ben Stubenberg, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot,

Oshin Whyte, Paul Wilkerson.

TMW2022.qxp_Layout 1 3/2/22 3:41 PM Page 1

TRUST INTEGRITY

EXPERIENCE

Serving international & domestic clients

in real estate, property development, mortgages,

corporate matters, commercial matters,

immigration, and more.

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Kadra Been-Handfield, Titus deBoer, Jeff Dodge,

Merinda Duff, John Galleymore, Georges Gobet/AFP,

Major Leo Campbell, Bryan Naqqi Manco,

Will and Deni McIntyre, Christine Morden/James Roy–

Paradise Photography, Marta Morton, New York Times,

NOAA/Worldview, Shades O’Brien, Tom Rathgeb,

Dr. Michael P. Pateman, Ramona Settle, Shutterstock,

Kendra Sirak, Denise Stokes, TCI Climate Change Summit,

Turks & Caicos National Museum Collection,

Vintage Bahamas.

CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS

Theodore Morris, Wavey Line Publishing.

PRINTING

PF Solutions, Miami, FL

Times of the Islands ISSN 1017-6853 is

published quarterly by Times Publications Ltd.

Copyright © 2022 by Times Publications Ltd. All rights reserved

under Universal and Pan American Copyright Conventions.

No part of this publication may be

reproduced without written permission.

Subscriptions $28/year; $32/year for

non-U.S. mailing addresses

Submissions We welcome submission of articles or photography, but

assume no responsibility for care and return of unsolicited material.

Return postage must accompany material if it is to be returned. In no

event shall any writer or photographer subject this magazine to any

claim for holding fees or damage charges on unsolicited material.

While every care has been taken in the compilation and reproduction of

information contained herein to ensure correctness, such information is

subject to change without notice. The publisher accepts no

responsibility for such alterations or for typographical or other errors.

TWA MARCELIN WOLF

ATTORNEYS AT LAW SINCE 1982

TELEPHONE 649.946.4261 | TMW@TMWLAW.TC

WWW.TWAMARCELINWOLF.COM

Business Office

Times Publications Ltd., P.O. Box 234,

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, BWI

Tel 649 431 4788

E-mail timespub@tciway.tc

Web www.timespub.tc

Advertising tfadvert@tciway.tc

14 www.timespub.tc


looking back

Catalog shopping was one of the ways to not only get clothing to the Islands, but also to see what was in fashion. Images like this one from

a 1971 Sears catalog influenced young people like Addison Forbes, who would then lobby his mother to place an order.

IMAGE COURTESY TOM RATHGEB

Wear? Where?

Keeping Islanders clothed in “the old days.”

By Jody Rathgeb

There was no Amazon. No Island Bargains. No daily flights from Miami. No family members zipping away

to buy fashions abroad. So how did Turks & Caicos Islanders in “the old days” get the clothing part of

their basic food-clothing-shelter needs?

Look to the women. Their homespun businesses took care of it. Long before any little island princess

posed for Instagram in a fancy dress, there were island women who figured out how to clothe their families.

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 15


Make it sew

Early on, women in the out islands were particularly

resourceful, and sewing was the name of the game.

Doreen Been of Salt Cay recalls that there were several

seamstresses on island, including her own mother. The

women would get cloth and other sewing supplies from

the merchant boats that came from Jamaica. Been’s

daughter, Kadra Been-Handfield, with whom she now

lives on North Caicos, notes, “Their underwear was made

from the bags that the flour came in at the time!”

Addison Forbes of Middle Caicos also recalls the

women who sewed, adding that Haiti and Miami were

other sources of fabric. “There was more trade back

then,” he says of his childhood on North Caicos.

Texas Supply

Some of that trade included large supply companies in

the United States, particularly Texas Supply (based in

Miami, despite its name) and Montgomery Ward. Forbes’

mother, the late Wealthy Forbes, served as an agent for

Texas Supply on North Caicos. “People would come to

Mom and say, ‘I need pants for my boy.’ She would place

an order by mail, and in about a month big boxes came

on a freighter into Grand Turk. Then things would be

shipped on TCNA (Turks & Caicos National Airways) to

Mom. It would come to North.” He adds that mail service

was much more regular and reliable than it is these days.

Three generations of fashion: Doreen Been (left) remembers her

mother sewing for Salt Cay Islanders and wearing underwear made

from flour sacks. Her daughter, Kadra Been-Handfield, and granddaughter,

Nique, have an easier time staying in fashion.

COURTESY KADRA BEEN-HANDFIELD

TURKS & CAICOS NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION

This archival photograph shows two Grand Turk women sewing, circa 1979.

16 www.timespub.tc


TOM RATHGEB

The late Wealthy Forbes served as an agent for Texas Supply, making

orders for Islanders and handling the payments.

In describing how payment was made, Forbes remembers

a man named Fred would make trips every few

months and collect from all the agents in the Caribbean.

Local merchants

Places like Texas Supply also provided goods for the small

stores that began popping up in the Islands in the 1970s.

Doreen Been says that Salt Cay Islanders would visit such

stores on Grand Turk until some popped up at home.

“There were small store owners in Salt Cay who would

take trips to Miami for special occasions like Christmas

and Easter. They would get stuff as well from the Flea

Market, Texas Supply, and McCrory’s and resell them,”

relates Been-Handfield.

And always, everywhere, there was help from family

members abroad, mostly in The Bahamas and the U.S.

Sometimes the goods sent via mail or boat were new, and

sometimes they were hand-me-downs, which Been says

were called “bang yang.” Shoes and hats especially were

sent or brought down by family. “Dad and them always

had nice felt hats,” Forbes says of his father, the late

Aaron Forbes. “Dad lived in The Bahamas a while, and he

would bring back shoes and hats for him and my uncles.

Then the Kangol hats, when they became popular.”

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 17


TURKS & CAICOS NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION

The TIMCO (Turks Islands Importers) warehouse at Cockburn Harbour, South Caicos (1965) was an outlet for dry goods.

Family connections

Family members abroad also brought back notions of

fashion, going beyond simply serviceable clothes. Visits

home were a “show and tell” of fashion in the days before

homes had televisions, and the major catalogs (Texas

Supply, Montgomery Ward, Sears) reinforced what was

“in.” Forbes says he and his friends were particularly

taken by the “Superfly” looks of the 1970s based on the

popular movie, and they would order outfits accordingly.

“We would dress up in those suits, with open collars and

jewelry and the hats, and down in Bottle Creek the girls

would follow us instead of us following the girls!”

Forbes left North Caicos in 1981 and lived and worked

in Miami until the mid-2000s. “I went to Texas Supply

once,” he says. “I found out where it was located and

dropped in.” His mother was remembered there, and he

was offered some free clothing. He laughs. “Hey, I was

in America, I could shop at the malls!” His Texas Supply

days were behind him.

Those days are apparently behind the company, too.

Although an internet search brings up an address and

phone number for Texas Supply, the phone is disconnected

and there is no Web address. As for Montgomery

Ward, the original company, which was founded to serve

Ruthphine Smith was one of the Grand Turk merchants who handled

clothing requests. For her inventory, she would make trips to wholesalers

in Miami and had a friend in New York to send her such items

as children’s dresses.

TOM RATHGEB

18 www.timespub.tc


Midwest farmers in

rural areas, went

defunct in 2001.

It was relaunched

online in 2004

and its brand has

been purchased

by a series of

other companies.

Today’s Wards.com

still sells clothing,

although the boys’

white shirts with

attached ties that

Addison Forbes

remembers are not

available. a

TURKS & CAICOS NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION

These 1960s photos of children provide a look into the clothing that was worn at the time. Top: Children play in the street at Bottle Creek,

North Caicos, November 1962.

Bottom: Salt Cay children welcome a boat at the White House dock.

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 19


eye on the sky

Opposite page: Island residents and visitors hope that the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 to November 30) remains as calm and serene

as this comfortable retreat at Leeward-Going-Through in Providenciales.

Above: This satellite image shows Tropical Storm Elsa on July 4, 2021, when it was over Jamaica. Fortunately, it did not affect the Turks &

Caicos Islands beyond a few squalls, showers, and gusty winds.

NOAA/NASA WORLDVIEW

Weather Warning

Tropical season could spell trouble.

By Paul Wilkerson

The predictions are in, and it appears that the hurricane season for 2022 will likely result in above normal

activity for the Tropical Atlantic. Thankfully, the overall odds of a storm impacting the Turks & Caicos

Islands is relatively low based on historical data. Nevertheless, it is appropriate to prepare and take due

diligence to ensure your safety during the season.

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 21


As we look towards the 2022 season, we investigate

the typical host of resources and markers to help us

determine what this season is likely to become. At the

present time, La Niña is the active ENSO pattern currently

ongoing across the Northern Hemisphere. In this scenario,

the waters of the Pacific Ocean near the equator

between Indonesia and South America are cooler than

average. Historically when these conditions exist, we see

calmer upper level winds across the breeding ground of

the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. For hurricanes

to thrive and become the behemoths that sometimes

develop, they depend on these calm winds in the upper

levels. Strong winds aloft in general will shear apart the

top of tropical lows, which prevents them from growing

large and powerful.

Beyond the wind environment, we have to turn to the

ocean and sea surface temperatures to determine the

quality of the “fuel” available for tropical system development.

At this point in 2022, temperatures in the open

waters of the Atlantic and Caribbean are above normal

and will continue to remain above normal as we head into

the season. Plenty of fuel unfortunately will be available

to just about anything that develops in the traditionally

favored areas.

The final aspect of forecasting hurricane season has

to do with areas of low pressure that form over Africa

and emerge into the Atlantic. Over the last several years,

there has been a greater frequency of Africa-based low

pressure systems/waves—many of which are strong—

moving out over the Atlantic. Whether this is the result

of climate change is still up for some debate, and likely

an area of research that will be needed in the years to

come. These waves, in many cases, are what develop

into hurricanes well east of the Windward and Leeward

Islands. It appears that as of late May 2022, all of the

forecast ingredients are signaling that the 2022 season

will once again be an above-normal one.

Colorado State University released their predictions

in April and called for an above-normal season with a

28–30% increase in named storms this year based on the

historical average from 1991–2020. Colorado State also

anticipates about two more (nine) hurricanes than the

statistical average, with one more (four) major hurricane

than the norm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

(NOAA) released their hurriacane season outlook on May

24, 2022, and are also calling for a 65% chance at an

above-normal season thanks to La Niña. NOAA also anticipates

up to 21 named storms, and 6 to 10 hurricanes this

season, with 3 to 6 of those becoming major hurricanes.

NOAA noted that the presence of La Niña conditions

along with above-normal water temperatures likely lends

to a busy season once again.

For those on island, you generally know the drill. For

those that may be new to the Islands and haven’t been

through a hurricane yet, there are a few things you need

to do in order to weather the hurricane season. It all starts

at home. Take a look at your dwelling and your relation

22 www.timespub.tc


to the coastline. If you live near the coast on any of the

Islands, you need to look at flood maps to see what kind

of inundation would occur to your area should you try to

stay home during a hurricane.

Look at your roof, windows, yard. Think about wind

impacts—what would likely get damaged if caught by

winds. Keep your yard clear of debris. If a tropical system

is headed your way, bring in plants and anything that

could become an airborne projectile. Consider procuring

some resources well in advance that you could use to

hurricane-proof your home, such as plywood sheets for

windows.

Develop your hurricane evacuation plan. It should

include a hurricane shelter in one of your communities.

Think about food and electricity. If you are able, stock

several flashlights, non-perishable foods and bottled

water. A three to five-day supply of each is a good start!

Once you have your plan in place, tell friends and

family, as communications could be severed for days at

a time. Your plan will give friends and family a starting

point to look for you to know you are safe.

Finally, and most importantly, follow TCI’s Department

of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME). The

staff has invested a lot of time and training to be able

to provide the Islands’ citizens with excellent information

when severe weather threatens. DDME is the official

source for information during impending tropical systems

on the Islands. They have a Facebook page that is a

great resource for information. Utilize it.

For tourists, it is advisable that you monitor weather

a week or more before you travel. A couple of go-to sites

include the National Hurricane Center and Turks and

Caicos Islands Weather Info on Facebook. If you do find

yourself on island during a tropical system, take comfort

in knowing that the resorts have plans and protocols in

place for their guests to stay safe during hurricane season.

Stay in contact with the front desk. They will have

important information you need and will work as a team

to keep all of their patrons safe. Make sure you share

your flight and length of stay information with friends

that you trust. That will give them important information

if they need to look for you after a hurricane passes.

Hurricane season can be scary, however, armed with

the right information you will be prepared. You will be

able to move about your day to day plans with confidence,

knowing you are ready to weather whatever

Mother Nature sends our way. a

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 23


SHUTTERSTOCK


talking taíno

Opposite page: Advances in ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis have given scientists new tools for investigating Lucayan ancestry.

Above: This original painting represents the fact that female Tanío Caciques traced their ancestors through the female line to a common

ancestress. Artist Theodore Morris earned a BFA from the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. After decades of studying and painting

Florida’s pre-Columbian Indians, he decided to investigate the Tanío and discovered they both had a lot in common. To see a selection of his

artwork, visit taino-paintings.weebly.com.

THEODORE MORRIS

Lucayan Ancestry.edu

Exploring the origins and interactions of the

ancient Lucayans with ancient DNA.

By Kendra Sirak, Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson, and Michael Pateman

About ten years ago, Tellis Bethel, retired commodore of the Bahamas Defense Force, started a campaign

to name the waters surrounding The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) the “Lucayan Sea.”

Covering 180,000 square miles of the southern North Atlantic Ocean, this is the largest recognized but

unnamed body of water in the world. Commodore Bethel felt compelled to recognize the pivotal role of

the Indigenous inhabitants of these islands — known as “Lucayans” — in the history of the Americas. First

and foremost, they discovered and rescued a lost Italian explorer by the name of Christopher Columbus

(certainly not the other way around). And as we know, they were the first to suffer the severe consequences

of this encounter.

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 25


The name Lucayan is traced to the Arawak words

lukku cairi, literally “people of the islands.” The Spanish

called The Bahamas and TCI “Las Islas de los Lucayos”

(Islands of the Lucayos), and “Lucayan” is the English version

of their name. Referring to this archipelago as the

“Lucayan Islands” is one important step in acknowledging

the vibrant history of the lukku cairi.

So, who were the Lucayans? Until recently, our answer

came primarily from the study of artifacts preserved at

archaeological sites. Radiocarbon dating of carbon-based

materials from these sites indicates there were no people

living in the Lucayan Islands until about 1,300 years ago.

Based solely on geographical proximity, it was first proposed

that the Lucayans came from Florida. However, no

material evidence has ever been found that establishes a

definitive connection, so Florida is no longer considered

as a likely source for the origin of this population.

In fact, all of the cultural practices known for the

Lucayans reflect a more southern origin. The nearest

possible source islands are Hispaniola and Cuba, and

archaeologists have debated for decades which was their

homeland. It has even been argued that there were separate

migrations from both. However, because only one

type of pottery was ever made in the Lucayan Islands, this

unique ceramic tradition is attributed to a single migration.

Until recently, it seemed the question would never

be answered to everyone’s satisfaction.

Fortunately, advances in ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis

have given us new tools for investigating Lucayan

ancestry. Most people are today familiar with direct-toconsumer

genetic testing companies, such as Ancestry.

com and 23&Me. They offer a way to trace a person’s

ancestry, providing millions of people worldwide with

insight into where their ancestors once lived. These

at-home test kits rely on the study of DNA that is extracted

from saliva.

However, saliva cannot be used for aDNA because it

does not preserve in the archaeological record. Instead,

DNA must be recovered from human bones and teeth.

Extracting DNA from ancient bone proved especially challenging

until researchers determined that a particular

part of the skeleton, known as the petrous part of the

temporal bone, preserves a high concentration of DNA.

“Petrous” means “stone-like” in Latin, and it is one of the

densest bones in the human body, located behind your

ear. In 2020, two separate studies of Caribbean genetic

history were published by teams of geneticists and

archaeologists from the Max Plank Institute (Germany)

and Harvard/University of Vienna who studied the DNA

The petrous part of the temporal bone is one of the densest bones in

the human body. It preserves a high concentration of DNA.

preserved in the petrous to provide a new lens into the

past. We are members of the Harvard team.

To fully understand Lucayan ancestry, we need to

know something about the genetic landscape in the wider

Caribbean region millennia before the Lucayan Islands

were settled. The study of aDNA identified two migrations

of genetically distinct peoples from the American

mainland into the Caribbean islands that occurred at different

points in time. Not only were the people who were

part of each migration genetically distinct, but they had

distinct cultures as well. The first group moved into the

Caribbean during the Archaic Age, while the movement

of the second group began the region’s Ceramic Age.

The first migration — that of the Archaic Age —

began about 6,000 years ago and is characterized by

the use of stone tools, the relative absence of ceramics,

and an economy based on fishing, gathering, and simple

farming. Known as “Ciboney,” these first people to

enter the Caribbean settled first in Cuba and expanded

eastward over the next 3,000 years to eventually inhabit

Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and finally, the northern Lesser

Antilles (but not Jamaica or the Lucayan Islands). They

came from somewhere in South or Central America,

although their precise origins could not be determined

SHUTTERSTOCK

26 www.timespub.tc


NEW YORK TIMES

Ancient DNA is extracted from ancient bone samples (the petrous part of the temporal bone) in David Reich’s lab at Harvard.

genetically. Because the Ciboney were living on the

Jardines del Rey islands off the north coast of Cuba 4,000

years ago, it is possible they crossed the 10-mile-wide

Old Bahama Channel to reach the most remote of the

Bahamian islands, and then continued eastward to the

larger Lucayan Islands. However, there is no archaeological

or genetic evidence that they did. In sum, this first

migration provides no insight into Lucayan ancestry.

The second migration — that which began the

Ceramic Age — started about 2,500 years ago and was

accomplished by people who made abundant use of

ceramics and had an economy based on intensive farming

and fishing. The genetic evidence connects this migration

to northeastern South America, and specifically to the

Arawak-speaking societies who live there at present. In

deeper time, the Arawak sojourn began from Northwest

Amazonia where they developed the farming practices

that allowed them to spread rapidly along the rich floodplain

soils of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers. When they

reached the Orinoco Delta at the eastern terminus of

the continent in modern-day Venezuela, some groups

crossed the narrow channel to Trinidad and then traveled

north into the Lesser Antilles, while others turned south

into the Guianas. They northward expansion continued all

This diagram shows the process of extracting ancient DNA.

the way to Puerto Rico, which they settled at an early date

(around 200 BC). For a reason that is still unknown, their

migration paused here for almost 1,000 years.

The groups who resumed the expansion process had

the same genetic ancestry as those who participated in the

earlier migration. In quick order they occupied Hispaniola

(AD 600), Jamaica (AD 700), Turks & Caicos (AD 700), and

finally, eastern Cuba (AD 900). Although archaeologists

have interpreted changes in ceramic styles through time

as evidence for additional waves of migration into the

Caribbean from South America, these are not reflected in

the genetic evidence. Genetically, Arawak communities in

the Caribbean are remarkably homogeneous across space

and time, reflecting a high degree of mobility and interconnectedness

of people across islands.

Furthermore, there is very little genetic evidence of

intermarriage with the Ciboney who were already living

KENDRA SIRAK

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 27


MICHAEL PATEMAN

This Lucayan man was buried in an Atlantic Ocean-facing sand dune on Long Island, The Bahamas. This individual has a distant cousin buried

in Cueva de los Esqueletos 1, Camagüey, Cuba.

in Hispaniola and Cuba. Only a very small number of the

individuals studied had both Ciboney- and Arawak-related

ancestries. All traces of Ciboney culture disappeared soon

after the Arawak arrived. The one exception is western

Cuba where the Ciboney survived in independent communities,

possibly until Spanish contact.

Within the Caribbean Arawak gene pool there are also

subtle differences, called “genetic substructure.” These

result from some barriers — natural, social, or culturally-imposed

— that give some groups a slightly unique

genetic signature relative to others. The Lucayans share

their slightly unique genetic signature with the ceramic-using

people living in Cuba (but not the Ciboney), which

suggests that these communities shared common ancestors

or possibly intermarried. Thus, in terms of regional

relationships, DNA shows that the Lucayans were not

genetically related to the Ciboney; that Lucayans share

a direct ancestral link to the Arawak peoples of South

America who settled the Antilles; and that the Lucayans

and ceramic-using Cubans share some genetic similarities,

possibly because of recent common ancestors.

We’re not done yet! It also is possible to obtain very

specific information about genetic relatedness (think

paternity test). The degree to which particular individuals

are related to others can be estimated by identifying segments

of the genome that are inherited from a common

ancestor, referred to as “Identity by Descent” (IBD).

Comparing the IBD segments on the X chromosomes

from pairs of males (who only have one X chromosome,

while females have two), the Harvard team identified 19

pairs of distant “cousins” who were buried on different

islands. In this sense, cousin is determined by the quantity

of shared genetic material, and not the particular

family relationship for which we use the term. Of the 29

Lucayans included in this study, there were 14 distant

cousin pairs which involved a Lucayan male and another

individual buried on other islands in The Bahamas or at

multiple sites in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and

in one case Cuba. These “cousin” pairs document ancestral

connections to people living throughout the Greater

Antilles, and attest to the remarkable speed with which

the Arawak expansion took place.

A final question concerns the size of the Lucayan population.

How many Lucayans were living in these islands

when the Spanish arrived? The one available Spanish

accounting says that 40,000 Lucayans were enslaved and

shipped to Hispaniola in the early 1500s. But how reliable

is this testimony? We know that early Spanish accounts

were given to grand exaggerations, especially when

potential wealth and local labor was concerned. We need

an independent and objective method for estimating the

size of the population.

Once again, genetics can help. The size of a group’s

effective population (that is, the number of individuals

28 www.timespub.tc


who are potential reproductive partners) is reflected in

the amount and length of “Runs of Homozygosity” (ROH),

which are segments of DNA where both parents passed

down the exact same genetic code. Large sums of long

ROH suggest parental relatedness within a few generations,

while an abundance of short ROH reflects small

mating pools. We can estimate effective population size

based on the amount and size of shared segments of the

genome, and after estimating effective population size,

we can extrapolate to estimate census population size.

Confusing? Think of this in terms of a dating app.

Based on your profile, a number of people are recommended

as potentially compatible dates — this is your

effective “dating pool.” Yet the size of your personal dating

pool is only a percentage of everyone registered on

the app. By knowing the number of people identified for

you, you can then estimate the total number of people

looking for a date.

For the Lucayans, the mating pool is estimated as

between 500 to 900. For humans, the effective population

size is about 1/3 to 1/10 of the census population size,

which gives us a total Lucayan population of between

1,500 and 9,000 people. These numbers are consistent

with values calculated for the rest of the Caribbean. On

the whole, the precontact Caribbean population was substantially

smaller than hundreds of thousands, let alone

millions, proposed from Spanish accounts. Yet, recognizing

smaller population numbers for the Indigenous

Caribbean does not diminish the genocidal consequences

of the Spanish invasion, which forever changed the cultural

and biological landscape of the Caribbean.

Commodore Bethel is right to recognize the significance

of Lucayan ancestry for these islands. While we

may not be able to change the name of the sea, we can

use new technologies to better appreciate the ancient

Lucayan people who once called these islands home. a

Dr. Kendra Sirak is a Biological Anthropologist and

Research Associate in the Department of Genetics,

Harvard Medical School and Department of Human

Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University; Dr. Bill Keegan

is Emeritus Curator of Caribbean Archaeology at the

Florida Museum of Natural History (University of Florida);

Dr. Betsy Carlson is Senior Archaeologist at Southeastern

Archaeological Research (SEARCH, Inc.) in Jonesville, FL;

and Dr. Michael Pateman is former Director of the Turks

& Caicos National Museum and currently Curator/Lab

Director of the AEX Maritime Museum on Grand Bahama.

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GEORGES GOBET/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)


feature

Opposite page: Jamaican four-man bobsleigh pilot Dudley Stokes jumps in as his three teammates push off at the start of the second run

of the Olympic four-man bobsleigh event on February 27, 1988 at the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. This is the first time that Jamaica

participates in the bobsleigh event.

Above: Team Captain Dudley “Tal” Stokes enjoyed his early childhood on Grand Turk with the freedom to explore the beaches and salt ponds.

The family moved back to Jamaica in 1966.

DENISE STOKES

TCI Bobsledder

The real backstory of “Cool Runnings.”

By Ben Stubenberg

“Life is a struggle. Anything worth doing in life is a struggle.

And anytime you enter a struggle, you are going to suffer.

People think suffering is something to be avoided.

No! Suffering is reality.”

— Tal Stokes

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 31


On a windy February morning in 1988, the captain

of the first Jamaican bobsled team stood at the top of

the Olympic course in Calgary and stared down the steep

track coated with fresh, fast ice that glared back in the

bright sun. In the stands to either side, he saw a sea

of fluttering colors from national banners and heard the

ardent rattling of cowbells the Swiss and Austrian fans

had brought to cheer their teams. But this time, the flags

waved and the bells rang for the improbable sight of

four black men from a tropical Caribbean island as they

moved their sled to the start line.

The captain went through a mental ritual to filter out

the frenzy around him and shed all negative thoughts.

With his mind clear and focused on the present, he pulled

down his goggles—the physical signal to execute. And

then, as the world watched, the four men sprinted as one,

pushing over 600 lbs. (270 kg) of steel and fiberglass

down the chute and hurling themselves into history, and

our hearts.

Most of us have seen the lovable, hit movie “Cool

Runnings.” But how did these guys from a country with

no snow or ice really make it to the Winter Olympics? And

what did it take to compete in this decidedly dangerous

and, quite frankly, clubby sport?

As it turns out, the actual story is far more compelling

than the film. Let’s start with the little known fact

that the team captain, Dudley “Tal” Stokes, is from Grand

Turk. Yes, the iconic underdog who nimbly steered the

bobsled speeding through 16 treacherous turns against

the best on the planet is also one of us.

The early years

In 1961, newly ordained minister Dudley Stokes and his

wife Blossom Nelson Stokes arrived on Grand Turk from

Jamaica as Baptist missionaries. Tal was born the following

year. Back then, TCI did not have a Baptist minister,

so every couple of weeks, Pastor Dudley would set off in

a canoe with a small outboard motor to visit the scattered

settlements and minister to the faithful. These trips were

often fraught with peril, as sudden squalls could quickly

swamp and sink small boats, particularly when crossing

the Turks & Caicos Channel. Dozens, if not hundreds,

of Turks & Caicos Islanders had lost their lives during

voyages like this. But Pastor Stokes never wavered in his

commitment to reach out to everyone despite the hazards.

Both Dudley and Blossom had big, generous hearts

and a gift for connecting with people.

At the time, the Turks & Caicos Islands and Jamaica

were colonies of Great Britain, but with TCI by far the less

developed and more neglected of the two. The paucity

of medical services during the early 1960s, in particular,

posed a life-threatening risk to residents if they needed

emergency treatment. Pregnant women who developed

complications during childbirth were especially vulnerable.

Blossom witnessed far too many young women and

babies dying during childbirth. When she became pregnant

with Tal’s younger brother, Christian, she took no

chances and had the baby in Jamaica.

Tal enjoyed his early childhood on Grand Turk with

the freedom to explore the beaches and salt ponds. But

blissful as life was, he could also see and internalize the

anguish on his mother’s face when another member of

the community was taken away too early.

The family moved back to Jamaica in 1966 where

Pastor Dudley became a circuit preacher in St. Mary

Parrish near Ocho Rios. Tal attended prep school and

proved to be a bright student and good at sports, particularly

football (soccer). At age 9, however, his younger

brother Chris beat him in a running race on the beach,

making painfully plain who was the better athlete.

When Tal was 15, the coach cut him from the school

football team and he came home distraught. Blossom,

already known for her irrepressible personality, promptly

marched over to the school with pen and paper and

demanded to speak with the coach. But she didn’t ask

him to reconsider his decision. Instead, she returned

home with a list of 16 weaknesses which the coach had

given her and said, “This is why you are not on the team.”

That was another life lesson that Tal took to heart—break

down your flaws and work on them.

At 18, Tal joined the Jamaican Army straight out of

school and went through officer training—first in Jamaica

and then at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the

UK. Later, he was selected for training as a helicopter

pilot and sent to flight school in Manitoba, Canada.

Military life appealed to Tal, as it gave him opportunities

to build technical skills and work with people from

different countries. Both would serve him well when he

became a bobsledder. While in the military, he met and

dated Denise Muir, also a Jamaican Army officer. She was

a crack shot with both rifle and pistol and, like Tal, fit and

bright. On a lark, she decided to become a competitive

body-builder. They would marry in 1985, and she would

become his biggest supporter.

Creating the bobsled team

In July 1987, two American friends, George Fitch and

William Maloney, stopped in one of their favorite bars in

32 www.timespub.tc


Kingston for rum and cokes. They both loved Jamaica and

felt part of the community. George had recently worked

as the commercial attaché at the US Embassy in Jamaica,

but he dreamed of doing something different, like maybe

make a movie someday. William, a successful businessman

and married to a prominent Jamaican, also yearned

for something unique, like perhaps march in the opening

ceremonies of the Olympics.

The story varies, but after a couple more drinks, they

saw on the TV screen a push cart derby competition. This

was a popular event in Jamaica, and one they were quite

familiar with. And that’s when the preposterous idea hit:

Why not form a Jamaican bobsled team using Jamaica’s

world-class sprinters to compete in the upcoming Winter

Olympics next year? George and William pitched the idea

to the Jamaica Olympic Association and got general support.

They then tried to recruit sprinters preparing for

the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. But none were interested

in bobsledding. The two Americans also reached

out to sports clubs and even posted ads in newspapers

but got little interest.

Finally in August, George approached his friend

Colonel Ken Barnes, who was in charge of sports in the

Jamaican Army, and asked him if the military could provide

athletes for a team. He got a yes without hesitation.

With the Olympics just five months away, Col. Barnes

asked/ordered 30 top athletes to try out for the team,

including Tal. Though Tal was fit and an excellent player

on the Army football team, he was not as athletically

gifted as the others. However, he had something else—

outstanding hand-eye coordination that he had developed

as a helicopter pilot. Indeed, the precision skills to fly a

helicopter were quite similar to the split-second timing of

piloting a high-tech piece of bobsled machinery sliding

over ice at breakneck speed.

George and William found a couple of American

Olympic bobsledders whom they talked into flying to

Jamaica to evaluate the skills of the men Col. Barnes had

brought together. Their task was made easier when most

of the prospective bobsledders dropped out after seeing

videos of bobsleds crashing. Of the remaining 12 military

men, the Americans chose Tal, Michael White, and

Devon Harris with the idea of forming 2 two-man bobsled

teams. Later civilians Sammy Clayton, Freddie Powell, and

Caswell Allen would be added.

Of course, Jamaica had neither bobsleds nor a bobsled

track, making the whole notion of even qualifying for

the Olympics problematic. But they got creative and persuaded

a local company to build an iron sled on wheels.

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 33


DENISE STOKES

Tal Stokes trains in Jamaica with his son.

The idea was to practice pushing the sled fast and get the

timing down for hopping in. In bobsledding, the start is

crucial for a fast run.

“We created quite a stir on the military helicopter

tarmac right in the heart of Kingston, with cars stopping

to see what was going on. But we worked every

day to perfect the start. What we never did, however,

is drive a cart down a hill, as portrayed in ‘Cool

Runnings.’ Steering a cart is nothing like steering a

bobsled, so that exercise would have been pointless.

For that, we needed to go down a real bobsled run.”

Seeing the potential for publicity, the Jamaican

Tourist Board provided some funding for the team to prepare,

but George and William put up the bulk of the cash

from their own accounts. They also talked Howard Siler,

an American bobsledder in the 1980 Olympics, into taking

on the coaching job for free. In September, the team

flew to Lake Placid, New York, where they saw their first

bobsled course. However, the course was not iced, so

they couldn’t even make their first practice run. Instead,

Howard taught the team how to run on ice in an indoor

ice rink and refine their start skills.

Prepping for the Olympics

On October 19, the team and Coach Howard traveled

to Calgary where they were finally able to go down an

iced track. George also decided to fly to Calgary on the

same day, which happened to be Black Monday when the

US stock market took one of the worst nosedives ever.

George was heavily invested in the stock market so by

the time he landed in Calgary, he was essentially broke.

William, too, was forced to rein in his spending. All of

this meant the Jamaican bobsled team was running out

of money fast. Nonetheless, the team forged ahead and

managed to borrow a two-man bobsled to begin training

with the Olympics just four months away.

A new team doesn’t start at the top of the course.

That’s too dangerous. Rather, they begin at the bottom

quarter of the track to get a feel for how the bobsled

moves up and down the banks. Once comfortable, they

practice from the halfway mark, then the 3/4, and then—

when ready to hit speeds of 80–90 miles (130–145 km)

per hour—from the top.

To steer a bobsled, a driver uses two cables attached

to the front runners, pulling to the right or left. As the

sled descends, the driver must find the “pressure points”

created by gravity and G-forces and adjust ever so slightly.

34 www.timespub.tc


Piloting a bobsled has much in common with driving

a Formula 1 race car. The team also had to master

the intricacies of bobsled maintenance and preparation,

such as ensuring that the runners are properly aligned

and sanded and polished smooth to produce maximum

speed.

“It wasn’t much fun and there wasn’t much laughing.

I personally was very driven because I recognized

the kind of mountain that was in front of me. So, I

was not particularly nice to the rest of the team. As

far as I was concerned, I was the ranking officer, and

I needed to get things done.”

The team still had to qualify for the Olympics and

entered a qualifying event in Igls, Austria. They had just

enough money for air tickets and hotel rooms. To pay for

meals, they sold T-shirts emblazoned with the Jamaican

Bobsled Team. The number of shirts they sold during the

day determined the quality of the food they would have

that evening. Both of the two-man teams posted good

enough times in Austria to compete in Calgary.

In January 1988, the team resumed training in Lake

Placid, this time going down the track. After two weeks,

Sammy, the driver for the second bobsled, quit for personal

reasons and Freddie had moved on as well. That

left only Tal’s two-man team to compete. Michael, Devon,

and Caswell came to Tal with a proposal: Why not try to

enter as a four-man bobsled team so that everyone could

complete their Olympic journey? Tal agreed even though

he had not yet driven a four-man bobsled.

George approached the Olympic and Bobsleigh

Federation officials about the Jamaicans competing in a

four-man bobsled. At first, the officials rebuffed them,

but after several prominent bobsledders supported the

proposal, the officials agreed. The team managed to

borrow a four-man sled at Lake Placid, and got in four

practice runs.

Calgary

The TV and print media knew a good story when they saw

one and hyped the Jamaican bobsled team well before

the Olympics. So when the team got to Calgary, fans and

reporters mobbed them—so much so that they couldn’t

leave the Olympic Village. In the village, star Olympic athletes

were asking to take pictures with them and getting

their autographs. Tal struggled to come to terms with the

publicity because they didn’t have a single accomplishment

other than qualifying to get there.

The Americans in Lake Placid lent the team a two-man

bobsled and shipped it to Calgary. But they still needed

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 35


WILL AND DENI MCINTYRE/GETTY IMAGES

This is the Jamaican Bobsled team in Jamaica in January 1988 (from

left): Michael White, Dudley Stokes, Devon Harris, and Frederick

Powell.

a four-man sled. George talked to the Canadians, who

found one they could use. It was not in good condition,

but the team went to work fixing it up.

“Keeping the bobsled in top shape and moving it

around required 24/7 focus for us. It was hard and

gritty work, really a brutal existence because we

had so little time to get ready. Basically, we had to

change our way of doing things—so we adopted the

sledding culture of the Germans, who always fielded

top teams. That’s how we got it done.”

Tal and Michael raced in the two-man bobsled for

Jamaica’s Olympic debut, and came in a respectable

30th out of 41 teams after four runs. Tal then turned

his attention to getting in a couple of practice runs in

the four-man bobsled, as the race was one a week away.

While rehearsing the push and the loading, Caswell fell

off the sled and injured his hand bad enough to drop out.

Once more, the team had a problem of what to do with

one man short.

Tal’s brother Chris happened to be studying for an

MBA at Washington State University in Pullman, a ninehour

drive from Calgary. After getting a call from Tal, he

headed up to cheer on the team. Chris had been a star

sprinter at the University of Idaho and was training for a

spot on the Jamaican Olympic track team in Seoul that

summer. Aware of Chris’s sprinting talent, Coach Howard

proposed that Chris replace Caswell on the team. Even

though Chris had never sat in a bobsled before, he suddenly

became the only chance the team had to compete.

George again met with Olympic and the Bobsleigh

Federation officials, who by now knew him quite well.

After a few hours of back and forth, the officials accredited

Chris to the Jamaican team and made room for him

in the Olympic Village with the others. Chris, who initially

had no intention of competing, stepped up to the challenge.

In 72 hours and only four practice runs, he learned

how to push a bobsled with force and precision and jump

in last as the brakeman.

36 www.timespub.tc


Walkin May2017_Layout 1 5/28/17 5:45 PM Page 1

On February 27, the Jamaicans made their first run

in the four-man sled, and it went badly, partly due to a

technical malfunction of the sled. The second run didn’t

go much better, and they landed dead last on the first day

of competition. But the team still had two more runs to go

the following day and a chance to improve.

Fate was not about to relent. The next morning,

Tal woke up with a temperature of 102ºF (39ºC), having

caught the Olympic flu. Aching all over, he walked over to

inspect the condition of the track, slipped on the ice, and

fractured his collarbone. He shook it off and made his

way to the top of the course where he and his teammates

got the sled ready. First aiders iced Tal’s broken bone

and numbed the pain with a spray. Noticeably absent was

Coach Howard. With literally minutes to go before the

start, George came over with bad news: Coach Howard

had called from the airport to say he was heading back

to New York for work. That hit Tal hard, but he pulled it

together.

Once again, Tal looked down the steep, glistening

track before him and briefly meditated to block out the

sickness, the pain, the rattling of bells, and the coach

gone. He pulled down his goggles, wrapped his fingers

around the handlebar extending from the sled, and

focused as Devon counted “One, two, three, GO!” The

team got off to an excellent start that would turn out to

be the seventh fastest at the 1988 Olympics.

The sled sped down the course faster than they had

ever gone before, so fast that it put Tal’s steering further

and further behind. By the time the sled reached the

midway point at the eighth so-called “Kreisel” turn that

wound around nearly 360 degrees, Tal began missing the

pressure points. The sled went too far up the bank of the

ninth curve and began “porpoising,” or bouncing up and

down. He lost control and the sled flipped over, crashing

into the wall at 85 miles (136 km) an hour.

Tal’s head hit hard against the ice and kept hitting.

His life flashed before his eyes where he vividly saw his

wife, mother, father, and his brother sitting in the back of

the sled. He despaired at the grief his mother would feel

if the crash killed both her sons. After 10 seconds, Tal’s

brain snapped into survival mode, and he went through

the crash drill of trying to protect his head by tucking

under the lip of the cowl in front. But the protruding helmet

“snout’ prevented him, which also made it harder for

the guys behind him to get their heads out of the way.

In the effort to cut expenses, the team made due with

motorbike racing helmets instead of proper bobsled helmets,

and suffered for it.

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The team would continue careening down the course

with the sled on its side and their heads banging against

the wall for another 18 seconds. In what seemed like a

crash that would never end, a calm came over Tal.

“There was nothing I could do except watch the

ice go by as the sled slid toward the finish line. In

those moments of relaxation, it occurred to me that

what we were doing was not correct. That there’s

a right way to do it, and this could not end here. I

went through in my mind what was needed to become

top class in bobsledding. We would need to raise the

money, market the product, get decent equipment,

get more on the ice, travel, coaching.”

When the sled finally stopped, the battered team got

out from under, still able to walk. They righted the sled

and pushed it the rest of the way to the end. They did not

carry the sled as portrayed in “Cool Runnings,” as that

would have made no sense. Spectators still applauded

them, but their debut in the four-man bobsled was over

and recorded as a DNF (Did Not Finish). Tal blamed himself

for not having enough experience driving the four

man bobsled. He would never again race a bobsled unprepared.

Making “Cool Runnings”

After the Calgary Olympics, George contacted wellknown

Hollywood director Michael Ritchie, who had

made “Downhill Racer,” about doing a film featuring

the Jamaican bobsled team. Intrigued, Ritchie bought

the rights from George, William, and the four members

on the team and wrote a script about the fanciful quest

of the Jamaican bobsled team. He sold it to Disney for

$200,000, but nothing came of it.

In early 1991, the president of Columbia Pictures,

Dawn Steel, was unceremoniously forced out of her job

when Sony bought the company. Over the course of her

career at Columbia and Paramount Studios, she had been

a key player in several hit movies. Among them, were

“When Sally Met Harry,” “Flashdance,” “Fatal Attraction,”

and “Top Gun.” Getting dumped from Columbia was a

hard blow for Dawn, but she got it together and formed

her own production company. Thanks to good contacts,

she landed a contract with Disney to see what movies

could be made. While reviewing a stack of trash scripts

Disney had put aside, she came across Ritchie’s script

near the bottom. The story likely resonated because it

reflected her own improbable rise from a struggling lower

middle class family in New York to the first woman to

head a major Hollywood studio. It had that kind of Rocky

and Flashdance feel to it—outsiders with outlandish

ambitions who overcome obstacles and make it to the

big times.

Dawn pitched the renamed script “Cool Runnings”

to the senior Disney managers who gave her the nod to

produce the movie, but on a tight budget. To learn more,

Dawn met with Tal in Calgary where the Olympic dream

had begun, asked what happened, and soaked up the

story.

Actor John Candy was offered the lead role as the

coach and also saw the script’s potential. But the budget

was not enough to cover his usual fee, given his star

power. So John took a pay cut to get the part. This would

be the last movie he would finish before he died in 1994.

When Disney released “Cool Runnings” in 1993, Tal

watched the premiere in Jamaica and didn’t like it. The

film had portrayed the Jamaican bobsledders as hapless,

comical figures. It completely missed how seriously Tal

and his teammates took bobsledding and how hard they

worked to get to the Olympics, as well as those who had

helped them along the way. Indeed, the movie got almost

everything wrong.

Among the many wrongs was the scene where an East

German bobsledder derides the Jamaicans at a bar and

tells them to go back to their tourist island. That never

happened. In fact, all the Olympic bobsledders welcomed

the Jamaican team and applauded their commitment and

efforts. But the movie needed a bad guy, and an East

German from a country that had since disappeared made

an easy target. The movie ended up grossing more than

$154 million at the box office, the highest ever for a

sports comedy.

Tal and the others would get only a tiny share of the

net profits, which did not come close to paying off the

debts he had incurred in pursuit of the Olympics, a common

plight among Olympians.

“‘Cool Runnings’ cast a massive shadow over my

life. There’s a very uncomfortable position of actually

being alive to watch your legacy unfold. Most

people die before their legacy is revealed, but I’ve

had to live it.”

The legacy

The popularity of “Cool Runnings” thrust the Jamaican

bobsled team to even more worldwide prominence.

Ironically, given that much of the movie was fiction, it

attracted more sponsors with deep pockets. With money

came better coaching, more training time, and improved

equipment to compete at the highest level.

38 www.timespub.tc


Tal’s Olympic career would span ten years and

four Winter Olympics, including Albertville in 1992,

Lillehammer in 1994, and Nagano in 1998. At each

Olympics, the Jamaicans showed they could compete

among the best. At Lillehammer, the team came in 14th

place overall out of 30 teams, ahead of the United States,

Russia, and France. On their fourth run, they clocked the

10th best time overall. Some teams even stopped being

friendly, seeing them instead as serious rivals.

After retiring from bobsled racing, Tal went into

entrepreneurial ventures with George and William and

worked to advance bobsledding in Jamaica. He and

Denise had three children, who eventually discovered

“Cool Runnings.” (They loved the movie.) Soon after

COVID-19 hit and locked down the world for part of 2020,

the children, now in their early 20s and isolating in the

UK, came up with a creative idea. Why not live-stream

SEE

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Dr. Guzman and his team are a group of doctors

representing three generations of ophthalmologists.

They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of eye

diseases and those linked to the throat, nose, and

ears. At MD OJOS, we have our own equipment,

with all the advantages of a private clinic. We offer

a fast, complete, and comprehensive response to our

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Tal’s Olympic career would span TEN years and four Winter Olympics,

including Lillehammer in 1994 (shown here). The team came in 14th

place overall out of 30 teams.

To donate or learn more please

email info@foodforthoughttci.com

or visit foodforthoughttci.com

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Times of the Islands Summer 2022 39


“Cool Runnings” and have their dad provide running commentary

of the film from his home on Providenciales? It

worked, and a lot of people watched. For Tal, the initiative

allowed him to see the film from a different point of

view. Though for the most part inaccurate, he saw what

the Hollywood version was trying to accomplish and came

around to accepting it. In so doing, he let go of his misgivings.

Tal’s good friend George, whose persuasive skills

saved the team time and again, died of cancer in 2016

at age 66. Like Tal, he was also born into a missionary

family, one that had served in China. Tal continues to

stay in touch with William, who did get his wish to march

in the 1988 Olympics opening ceremony. The two close

friends sometimes reminisce about the “old days,” but

talk more about future ventures. Dawn, whom Tal came

to admire and respect for her own tenacity in reaching

the top against the odds, died of a brain tumor in 1997

at age 51. Her signature creation, “Cool Runnings,” has

stood the test of time and continues to entertain as much

as it did almost 30 years ago.

Today, Tal travels from his TCI home to Europe,

North America, and the Caribbean as a sought-after motivational

speaker and business management consultant.

He is the author of the inspirational book Advice I Should

Have Taken, and has written several articles about nutrition

and the long-term impact of head injuries.

When meeting Tal, one senses the honest grit, gentle

fortitude, and piercing presence of a man who has

truly lived and has much to share. He never wanted to

be a bobsledder or even thought of being an Olympian.

A sharp turn in destiny’s road, however, created a legacy

that all humanity can relate to.

But make no mistake, that achievement wasn’t mere

chance. It was character and perseverance and talent. It

was crossing hurdles and enduring hardships. In making

that unlikely journey from a barefoot kid running on the

beaches of tropical islands to competitive bobsledder in

the Winter Olympics, Tal stirs within an audacious sense

of possibilities for anyone with a dream.

For more about Tal’s story, go to dudleystokes.com. a

Ben Stubenberg (bluewaterben@gmail.com) is a regular

contributing writer to the Times of the Islands and

a storyteller about TCI’s compelling history. He is the

co-founder of the tour and swim instruction company

Caicu Naniki Vacation Adventures and the annual “Race

for the Conch” Eco-SeaSwim.

40 www.timespub.tc


CHALK SOUND

It’s the silence of the morning that makes you still, before the wind picks up and whips itself to a frenzy, devoid of

all sense and purpose. Before the wind there is the silence, loud and strong, firm to the touch.

The silence waits, as if it expects some vulgar interruption, something that will shatter it to pieces,

something that will expose it, helpless, and broken.

Chains of islets, like some prehistoric herd of rocky mammoths, large festooned mothers,

strong fathers bare and exposed, infants, toddlers, those almost grown stand in lines as if time has stopped

and they await the next catastrophic event of nature to startle them into motion.

The Sound protected by the resistant barricade of the island outline shelters restful waters,

azure blue, green, grey moved by some invisible current in a gentle dance

with seaweed and moss on their bed of white rippled sand to nurture the life it holds.

But yet there is an interruption, it is the intimate sucking and gurgling of the cradled waves

as they gnaw at the shoreline etching away at the vulnerability of the rock

creating disfiguring potholes and edges sharp to the touch.

Waves burrowing under reaching inland through intricate passages beneath.

Here the spirit is at once quietened and revived charged with some new energy

drawn from the pristine stillness, from the pause in time!

This poem was written by Tal Stokes’s mother,

Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson Stokes.

Photo by Ramona Settle.


feature

Above: John Galleymore, Mandy Dakin, and her son Fraser, circumnavigated the entire Turks & Caicos Islands chain using a variety of modes

of transportation. Shown on opposite page and above are the voyagers with the small inflatable float they used to store their packs and tow

behind them when swimming from island to island.

Treking into History

The first-ever, human-powered circumnavigation of the TCI chain.

Story & Photos By John Galleymore ~ Aerial Photos By Merinda Duff

It’s weird how an off-the-cuff comment can plant a seed in your brain that can alter your life dramatically.

Back in 2015, I had just finished a solo walk through the Turks & Caicos Islands from South Caicos to

Providenciales, a four-day journey that I thought was the pinnacle of my adventure trips—until a close

friend said, “Why didn’t you go to West Caicos?”

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 43


That thought would stay with me right up until 2020.

I was having coffee with Mandy Dakin, the TCI Governor’s

wife, when she mentioned that she was relaunching the

FOOTSTEPS 4 GOOD charity event. This was started by the

former governor’s wife Jill Beckingham in 2014 and consisted

of multiple charity walks on various Turks & Caicos

Islands. What better idea than to link all these walks by

undertaking the first-ever circumnavigation of the entire

TCI chain?

So a plan that would eventually go down in history was

born. We spent the next few months not only training for

what would be an arduous physical challenge, but reaching

out to various vendors, suppliers, supporters, and

local charities to see not only who could assist, but who

could benefit from this event.

Our first major decision was how to cross the Turks

Island Passage, a 25-mile-wide stretch of rough, open

ocean that separates the Caicos Islands from Grand Turk

& Salt Cay. It is frequented by cruise ships and migrating

whales. Kayaking was the obvious choice but we felt

something more original was called for. We contacted a

UK company that makes boats for Atlantic crossings and

we managed to secure a two-man ocean row boat, delivered

from the UK.

Over the summer of 2021, we spent time jumping

between fund-raising, registering applicants, training

(walking and rowing), planning, kit purchases etc. and

it seemed our start date of December 2021 was looming

ever closer. And it soon arrived . . .

Day one

We had agreed that in order to complete an entire island

circuit, we should start and finish in the same place. As

this was to be a community event, we chose the Bight

Park. And so it was, at 5:30 AM on December 4, 2021,

Mandy Dakin, her son Fraser, I, and dozens of volunteers,

walkers, runners, and cyclists, set off on the first stage to

Leeward, some six miles in total.

It was a party atmosphere as we arrived at Leeward

Beach, where My Time Tours had arranged for the few

of us who would kayak over to Little Water Cay. Once

landfall was made, we bid farewell to those hardy souls

who had accompanied us and the three of us set off once

more.

It was tough going along the beaches and cliff tops of

Water Cay and onto Pine Cay, and after a short break, we

set off on our first “swim” over to Fort George Cay. For

this we used a small inflatable in which we stored our

packs, while we swam alongside.

It was a repeat of land and water crossings as we made

our way to Dellis Cay and onto our first night stop at

Parrot Cay.

Day two

After enjoying the luxury of Parrot Cay, it was a sunrise

paddle over to Bellefield Landing where we are joined by

North Caicos walkers, members of the TCI Cycling Club

and numerous Provo Road Runners, who would be joining

us for the first FOOTSTEPS 4 GOOD Community walk. Our

Mandy and John prepare to launch the UK-made, two-man ocean row boat that was used for longer crossings.

44 www.timespub.tc


stop would be Mudjin Harbor in Middle Caicos and that

was 24 miles away!

It was a tough trek to say the least! The roads—

although paved and smooth—were hot and relentlessly

long. We were all motivated by District Commissioner

Cynclair Musgrove and various volunteers, who kept us

supplied with water, snacks, and good humor! It was late

afternoon as we were welcomed in a lovely cottage overlooking

Mudjin Harbor, and we could finally rest our feet

and dry our sweat-soaked clothes.

Day three

Today’s community walk drew another great turnout of

walkers and volunteers. It would take us through the

entire length of Middle Caicos and would only end once

we reached tiny, uninhabited Dickish Cay.

Although this stage was “only” 18 miles, after the long

day yesterday feet were getting sore and shoulders aching

from our packs, but motivation and community spirit

were high. We had previously decided to carry the TCI

National Flag along with us and have someone from every

island sign it. This was duly done by the district commissioners

and other prominent members of the community

as we travelled through.

Midway through Middle we were joined by our drone

operator, Merinda Duff, whose skill would be essential in

recording our adventures for the trip. She also brought

with her snacks and gifts to help us on our way.

That night, after a short water crossing from Wild

Cow Run Beach, we camped down on Dickish Cay. Sitting

around a fire, cooking our food, we reminisced about a

fun few days, but we were aware that tomorrow we’d be

entering the “badlands” of East Caicos.

Day four

I’ve been to East Caicos dozens of times, and I always

marvel in its beauty and ruggedness. However, it can be

unforgiving to the unprepared. I wanted to ensure both

Mandy and Fraser were prepared both mentally and physically

for the huge undertaking ahead, as any slip, fall,

injury, or accident would mean the end of the adventure

and a US Coast Guard helicopter lift, for there is no other

way off in an emergency. Luckily, months of training,

often involving beach hikes from North West Point to

Grace Bay, paid off. We made the water crossings to East

Caicos via historic Joe Grant Cay without incident. Now we

faced “only” another 15 miles of beach walking to reach

camp before sunset.

A week prior to our start, we had flown to South Caicos

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 45


The intrepid voyagers prepare to face the “badlands” of East Caicos.


and the wonderful East Bay Resort staff had taken us to our planned campsite

where we had cached food and provisions for our arrival. This proved to be

a Godsend, as we could carry light packs during the day yet still have a feast

once we arrived.

The beaches of East Caicos seemed never-ending and with daylight falling

and five miles to go, we kitted up with head torches and pushed on. Deep

sand, rocky outcrops, wading through waist-deep surf in the dark, brought us

closer to camp and we finally made it a few hours after sunset. The beach fire,

warm food, and a comfortable tent made it feel more luxurious than Parrot

Cay—at least our aching feet and bodies certainly thought so!

From top: Someone from every island community signed the TCI National Flag—shown here

is Salt Cay District Commissioner Almaida Wilson.

When tired enough, a beach fire, warm food, and a comfortable tent can feel more luxurious

than an upscale room at Parrot Cay!

Day five

Awakening to hot coffee and the best

sunrise ever, we were aware that we

were only halfway along the coast

of East Caicos, our next stop would

be South Caicos, and getting there

would involve 20 miles of hiking and

another four water crossings.

Most folks believe East Caicos is

next to South Caicos.However, in

between are three cays (McCartney,

Plandon and Middle Creek) and each

one needed to be traversed. They are

predominantly thick bush, trees, and

deep sand beaches. Again, time and

sunset would be our nemesis today.

Going was slow, as walking the

ironshore of East Caicos was time-consuming

as we constantly zig-zagged

around large rocks and boulders. We

had limited water supply with no refill

until South Caicos. The hours ticked

by but the miles kept falling and we

eventually crossed all the cays despite

nearly getting swept out to sea at one

point.

Wading across the last water

crossing at sunset was magical (albeit

unplanned) and again Merinda captured

the moment by drone. Once

again East Bay Resort came through

with transport back to the hotel where

local dignitaries were waiting to discuss

the next day’s community walk.

Still on an adrenaline high, I packed

my kit into the vehicle and made the

eight-mile run to the resort alone.

That night we reveled in the hospitality

of East Bay Resort and readied

ourselves for the next day when we

would hang up our boots and start

our ocean adventure!

Day six

The 4:30 AM alarm never sounded

so loud! But just 30 minutes later

we were up and looking to prep our

trusty rowboat for its maiden voyage.

Joining us for this stage was

48 www.timespub.tc


The trekkers were met with support from the district commissioner and residents of Salt Cay, shown here in front of the iconic White House.

the Morgan Luker, a watersports fanatic and founder

of SURFside Academy, whose advice and past training

expertise were instrumental in our planning.

While Morgan and I were prepping, Mandy and Fraser

were finishing the community walk and we all met at the

dock for a send-off. East Bay Resort would supply a support

boat for our 25-mile crossing to Grand Turk. The

weather was fine and the ocean calm, however our good

fortune was not to last very long.

Pulling out of the dock, Mandy and I soon got into our

stroke and were making good progress. Our months of

training seemed to be paying off and the support boat

kept a close watch as we headed out into the wide-open

passage. The swells were about three to four feet but

nothing we hadn’t dealt with in training! Something we

noticed early on was that the tide was very strong, but a

crosswind also added to the effort we were putting in.

Suddenly, without warning, a rogue waved crashed

over us and in our eagerness to recover we overstretched

—and the next moment we were underwater! We managed

to release our feet from the stirrups and the rescue boat

was soon on hand. Despite some wet egos and a little

embarrassment, no harm done and we quickly recovered

aboard the support boat, much to the amusement of all

on board.

The rest of the day was uneventful and by late afternoon,

we were sipping cold beers having made landfall

(much to the enjoyment of the guests) on Pillory Beach at

the Bohio Dive Resort on Grand Turk.

Day seven

Today started with another huge turn-out for the community

walk, ending at the cruise port. It’s great that each

community, regardless of size, has come through each

day with such motivation and energy! We all meet at the

port for refreshments and snacks before making our way

to the beach, where our trusty boat is waiting. Blue Water

Divers is supplying the support boat for the 11-mile row

to Salt Cay. Despite some weird currents and tides and a

close call with the reef, we make the uneventful crossing

in just a few hours. Once again, we are met with applause

and support from the district commissioner and residents

of Salt Cay.

We meet at the dock and discuss the walk for the next

day, then it’s time for a superb dinner at Oceanaire Bistro.

Rarely has food tasted so good!

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 49


Day eight/nine

We awake at sunrise with the tranquility only disturbed

by the occasional donkey saying hello. There is a large

crowd at the dock and we liase with Richard from Salt

Cay Divers who will be acting as support boat across to

stunning Great Sand Cay. The crossing is about 11 miles

and the water can be rough. We are hit with a rainstorm

and have to bail out the boat continuously, but no capsize

today.

We see the island getting ever-closer and although we

are tired and aching, we push on, often swapping out

of rowing so one of us can rest. The swells are low as

we make landfall and explore the most stunning beach.

We’ve made excellent time and have the rest of the day

free, so we confer and decide to not camp on Sand Cay

but head directly across to Ambergris Cay. Richard has

to leave (as planned) so we call our trusty friends at East

Bay Resort who send a boat to accompany us across the

passage.

Twenty-five miles to go. The swells are low and we

make good time, marvelling at a swim-past by some dolphins

who seem to be having an easier time than us! As

we close-in to Ambergris, the resort sends out a boat to

“handover” and we bid our East Bay Resort Captain Mateo

farewell. Due to super-low tides and the narrow channel

into the dock, we get towed in and find butlers waiting

with cold towels and champagne. What a welcome! We

are fortunate to be housed in a private home where we

can relax, wash our clothes and enjoy our “extra” night

here.

Day ten

We have been thinking about this day for a long time.

We are 40 miles away from our next stop (French Cay).

Before the support boats were confirmed we had planned

to do this alone and had purchased marine rescue equipment

such as flares, satellite phone, and EPIRB in case of

incident, but we are comforted by the support boat from

Ambergris seeing us on our way.

We set off from the end of the airstrip and once we

clear the shallows we are rowing past Little Ambergris

Cay. Pretty soon, this too shrinks into the distance and we

are surrounded, once again, by nothing but open water.

The support boat stays ahead, leading the way, as the

swells pick up and the sun beats down. We get into our

rhythm once again and swap out from rowing every few

hours. Hands are blistered and legs and backs are feeling

the strain. Each mile feels like five, but we resist the urge

to ask the support boat how much farther we have to go.

As the day wears on, we have some near-miss capsizes

but avoid getting wet again. Eventually we spot a shipwreck

that we know is in the shallows close to French

Cay. We work our way around to the beach side of this

tiny island and pull ashore.

The end of the road: Mandy, Fraser and John are joined by

HE Governor Nigel Dakin and a handful of supporters at

The Bight Park where it all began!

50 www.timespub.tc


We are surprised to see we are not alone; two local

fishermen are collecting conch from the shallows. The

Ambergris boat leaves us and we exchange hellos with

the fishermen. We set up camp for the night. There are

few bugs here so we dine under the stars without issue.

Sleep comes far too easy!

Day eleven

Breakfast on an uninhabited island is magical, and we

are just finishing packing up when our next support

boat arrives. Compared to yesterday, we have a relatively

“short” day over to West Caicos. We will skirt the edge of

the Caicos Banks, then cut in across the “shallows.”

The journey is quite uneventful with low swells and

only flying fish for company. We can see the sand bottom

some 30 feet down, so this is much more comfortable

then the 7,000-foot deep Turks Passage.

We confer where to land. I recall there is an old boat

slip on the eastern side of the island and as we get closer,

we send the support boat ahead to check. Unfortunately,

it’s no longer usable so we have to make our way around

and in late afternoon we are met by Alex at the dock in

West Caicos. Alex packs our kit and we camp for the night

on the beach. He produces a bottle of red wine and we

cook dinner and sleep to the sounds of the surf.

Day twelve

Alex will be boat support captain today on our last leg

back to Providenciales. It’s a few miles from the dock to

the tip of West Caicos, so he tows our rowboat a little

way—no point in rowing the same section twice!

The currents are against us for the 11-mile crossing

but the swells are low. As we near Sapodilla Bay, we are

met by Morgan Luker again, this time on a kayak. She

tells us a crowd is awaiting our arrival.

Mandy and I dig in deep with the last of our energy,

“Never again!,” we mutter to each other. But the pain is

soothed away as we hear crowds cheering just before the

bow digs into the soft sandy beach. We have done it!

The press, supporters, volunteers, and HE Governor

Nigel Dakin greet us and are all in good spirits, as are we

as Mandy, Fraser and I recount the stories of our adventure

to everyone. After, Morgan loads our trusty rowboat

onto her truck and the three of us, along with the governor

and a handful of supporters, make the final walk back

to the Bight Park where it all began. We are welcomed

with a feast supplied by Adam Twigg of The Source, and

it’s quite surreal having world-class food after ten days of

camping fare.

As the party winds down and we say our farewells, I

chat briefly to Mandy as we both hobble and limp over to

our waiting cars. We look at each other, both sunburnt,

exhausted, and near-broken. “Same time next year?” I say.

“Of course!” she replies. a

If you would like to take part in the event this year,

please email info2022fsfg@gmail.com. Special thanks

goes out to: TCI Red Cross, Provo Road Runners, The

Hartling Group, The Agency, Sherlock Walkin, HAB Group,

Amanyara, and all the supporters and volunteers. See

you in October 2022!

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 51


green pages

Newsletter of the Department of Environment & Coastal Resources

Head office: Church Folly, Grand Turk, tel 649 946 2801 • fax 649 946 1895

• Astwood Street, South Caicos, tel 649 946 3306 • fax 946 3710

• National Environmental Centre, Lower Bight Road, Providenciales

Parks Division, tel 649 941 5122 • fax 649 946 4793

Fisheries Division, tel 649 946 4017 • fax 649 946 4793

email environment@gov.tc or dema.tci@gmail.com • web https://www.gov.tc/decr/

The sea wall in Salt Cay is an example of TCI’s material culture and has withstood multiple hurricanes. How will it be affected by climate

change in the future?

TITUS DEBOER

Making Climate History

TCI hosts inaugural Climate Change Summit.

By Amy Avenant, Environmental Outreach Coordinator, DECR and

Oshin Whyte, Executive Officer and Environment Policy Lead, Governor’s Office

Climate Change. These two words have gained traction in popular consciousness since the release of the

first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released in 1988. The IPCC is currently

in its Sixth Assessment cycle where it will prepare three Special Reports, a Methodology Report, and the

Sixth Assessment Report. What does this have to do with the Turks & Caicos Islands culture?

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 53


The first of these Special Reports, “Global Warming

of 1.5ºC (SR15, 2018),” was requested by world governments

under the Paris Agreement. It discussed the

impacts of global warming of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial

levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways,

in the context of strengthening the global response

to the threat of climate change, sustainable development,

and efforts to eradicate poverty.

The findings were alarming, especially to small island

states such as the Turks & Caicos Islands, who were still

reeling from the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria

in 2017. That unprecedented hurricane season had seen

super-storms annihilate whole islands in the Caribbean.

The Turks & Caicos Islands however, did not suffer the

same consequences. This was not merely by chance. In

fact, it was the environmental integrity of our little islands

that allowed “David” to battle the extreme “Goliath” that

barreled down on us on September 7, 2017.

The Turks & Caicos Islands boast a total of 34 protected

areas, covering 300 square miles of land and sea,

protected since the early 1970s. Marine Protected Areas

such as Columbus Landfall National Park, with limited recgreen

pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

reational activities, and the protected mangrove forests

of the Ramsar site, have ensured ecosystem conservation,

biodiversity preservation, and ultimately, a natural environment

that has loyally served us against the (literal)

rising tide that is Climate Change.

Recognising the significance of these ecological services

in maintaining environmental, social, and economic

sustainability of the Islands, the Ministry for Tourism and

the Environment signed the Climate Change Charter at

the Turks & Caicos Climate Change Summit on Earth Day,

April 22, 2022. Under the theme “Only One Earth: Invest

in Our Planet,” the Ministry, through the Department of

Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR) engaged with

public and private sector stakeholders to draft a comprehensive

commitment, the first of its kind in the region.

The event’s keynote speaker, Honourable Walter Roban,

Bermuda’s Deputy Premier, was so impressed by the document

that he requested a copy to inform Bermuda’s own

Climate Change policy.

Climate Change is without a doubt the defining challenge

of our time, and no country is immune to its effects.

We are currently in a critical time period in which global

BRYAN NAQQI MANCO

The mangrove wetlands in North Caicos are not only an important carbon sink, but possess both material and non-material cultural values

for the people of the TCI.

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The iconic White House in Salt Cay is another example of material culture. Built in the 1800s, it has kept its structural integrity and is a

testimony of the fortitude of the people of that time. Going forward, we can examine these structures of the past and build homes that are

equally resilient.

TITUS DE BOER

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TCI CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT

The Turks & Caicos Islands Climate Change Charter was signed on Earth Day, April 22, 2022. Shown here are (from left): Hon. Minister Vincent

Wheatley, British Virgin Islands; Hon. Walter Roban, Bermuda’s Deputy Premier; Hon. Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, Attorney General Turks

& Caicos Islands; Hon. Minister Josephine Connolly, Ministry for Tourism and the Environment; and Cherylann Jones, Permanent Secretary,

Ministry for Tourism and the Environment.

collective action can change the catastrophic trajectory

that we are currently on. We hear about and speak on

the devastating effects that climate change poses to the

social and economic fabric of the Turks & Caicos Islands,

however, the ill effects on our material and non-material

culture is not at the forefront of the discussion. This is

the general trend globally, as culture is largely absent

from most climate resilience and adaptation movements.

The consequences for TCI are severe as our entire

existence, knowledge systems, identity, heritage values,

and amenity services (i.e. recreation, spiritual fulfillment,

aesthetic enjoyment, etc.) are strongly influenced by our

marine ecosystems and coastal landscapes, and ecosystem

change can have significant impact on cultural

identity and social stability. These ecosystems are currently

threatened by rising sea levels, ocean acidification,

loss of biodiversity and intense weather events—all of

which are driven by climate change. What if culture could

be used as a resource for addressing both climate mitigation

and adaptation?

Culture is intertwined with lifestyles and the social

organisations that give rise to emissions of greenhouse

gases. The climate change impacts of these gases are

ascribed meaning through cultural interpretations of

science and risk. From this standpoint, culture and its

analysis is crucial in understanding the causes of, and

human responses to, climate change. Moreover, cultural

heritage, traditional knowledge, and natural heritage support

a community’s ability to respond to climate change

impacts. Intangible cultural heritage practices can also be

beneficial in assisting communities adapt to a changing

climate. This is seen in Bangladesh where rural communities

use inherited local knowledge of water management

to cope with increasing flooding incidents.

In spite of the complex relationship between culture

and climate change resilience, neither the Assessment

Reports of the IPPC nor the Paris Agreement systematically

include culture or cultural practices. Fortunately,

UNESCO is currently calling on countries to integrate culture

into their climate change policies and strategies.

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TCI CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT

This is the visiting delegation at the Turks & Caicos Islands Climate Change Summit on Earth Day April, 22, 2022 (from left): Hon. Christopher

Famous (Bermuda); Hon. Vincent Wheatley (BVI), Deputy Premier Hon. Walter Roban; HE the Governor Nigel Dakin; Premier Hon. Washington

Misick; Hon. Josephine Connolly; Hon. Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles.

Natural heritage is inextricably linked to, and informs

our cultural heritage. If we do not safeguard one we will

lose meaning (and thus reason to conserve) the other.

As such, the impacts of climate change threaten our very

identities. All the more reason why the call to action is for

one and all!

The DECR includes the Protected Areas Division which

manages and regulates Protected Areas, pertinent to conserving

our natural heritage. The Turks & Caicos National

Trust in a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that is

responsible for the management of environmental and

historical significance of some Protected Areas and has

the ability to hold land inalienably for future generations.

The DECR works alongside other departments, government

agencies, and NGOs to ensure that our Protected

Areas are safeguarded from uncontrolled development

and other threats.

The Turks & Caicos Climate Change Summit recording,

which showcases presentations from leaders in

marine and terrestrial conservation, as well as energy and

tourism, is available on the TCI Climate Change Summit

Facebook page (@TCIClimateChangeSummit) as well as

on YouTube. a

The event’s keynote speaker, Hon. Walter Roban, Bermuda’s Deputy

Premier, was so impressed by the TCI Climate Change Charter that

he requested a copy to inform Bermuda’s own Climate Change policy.

TCI CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT

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Eagle rays have a unique patterning that can be used for identification.

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Birds of the Sea

Endangered rays are a piece of TCI’s living history.

By Sydney O’Brien, Waterfront Assistant,

The School for Field Studies Center for Marine Resource Studies, South Caicos

The waters of the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) are picturesquely colored in different shades of blue, green,

and turquoise. and abundantly filled with life. The whitespotted eagle ray, known by the scientific name

Aetobatus narinari, is one of the most beloved residents of the TCI, as well as the entire tropical Atlantic.

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Eagle rays are related to sharks and other ray species

within the class Chondrichthyes, the cartilaginous

fish. Living in the open water over the continental shelf,

these rays can be found from the surface to depths of 60

meters. Much of this area is popular for activities such as

boating, snorkeling, or diving, so a lucky observer may

view an eagle ray passing by the reef, or perhaps even

breaching the surface. When boating, keep an eye out

for moving dark patches. While snorkeling or diving, you

might be able to see groups of these rays up close as they

glide across your path.

Many of the sea creatures calling the Turks & Caicos

region home are facing a number of anthropogenic

threats. The habitats in which they reside are often

degraded by pollution, habitat loss, and high levels of

human disturbance. These activities can have dire consequences

for marine species, especially rays who have

only a few offspring at a time. The whitespotted eagle

ray has experienced vast reductions in population size

over the last 30 years (three generation lengths), estimated

at around 50–79%. Because of this, A. narinari has

been reclassified from Near Threatened to Endangered

by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature

(IUCN), with a population trend of “decreasing” as of July

28, 2020.

Whitespotted eagle rays are often caught in fisheries

both intentionally and as bycatch. Rays are also susceptible

to being entangled in active fishing nets, as well as

Eagle rays are often found in pairs or groups.

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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ghost nets (nets in the ocean that are no longer in use).

In the TCI, there is not a large market for eagle ray meat

or products. Yet, they are still impacted by the seafood

industry, and protecting these creatures now can provide

financial gains from ecotourism for years to come.

Between 2009 and 2015, researchers Aaron

Henderson, Jan Lupton, Kathryn Flowers, and Demian

Chapman from The School for Field Studies on South

Caicos and Stony Brook University in New York, assessed

the movement and behavior of this species using photographic

identification. They were able to identify 165

individuals, many of which were sighted multiple times

over the six years of the study, often near or at the original

site in which they were photographed. From these

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data, they concluded that the eagle rays found around

South Caicos can either be permanent residents of the

area or transient visitors, using the area for part of the

year then migrating elsewhere before returning.

Thus, it appears that within this species there are

both nomadic and sedentary individuals. Another study

based out of Florida came to a similar conclusion using a

method known as passive acoustic telemetry to view the

movement patterns of the eagle rays in their waters. They

attached transmitters to 54 rays in the Gulf of Mexico

and the Atlantic coast and found that the majority of rays

tagged in the Gulf displayed migratory behaviors, while

most Atlantic coast rays were residents.

Whether the rays of the TCI are migratory or Belongers

(the term for a resident of the TCI), it seems much of their

time is spent in local waters. Therefore, local conservation

efforts could be highly effective in increasing their

populations. In order to aid eagle ray recovery, bycatch

of eagle rays needs to be reduced on a global scale, while

harvest and trade of eagle ray products must be monitored

both domestically and internationally to track how

many are consumed each year.

Unfortunately, many global fisheries are unmanaged

and difficult to regulate. This is not likely to change without

a widespread shift in human behavior, but starting

with your own habits can help. Cutting back on seafood

consumption is not necessarily feasible for all people, but

if possible, try to purchase seafood locally from small

and sustainable businesses that make an effort to prevent

bycatch, or catch your own fish with approved gear.

Fishers can help by not fishing in Marine Protected

Areas and by releasing any sharks or rays caught. Release

these animals as soon as you believe you have hooked

one, even if that means cutting the line (the hook will

eventually rust away). Often even the act of reeling in

a shark or ray can be fatal for the individual, and death

does not always occur immediately but sometimes hours

later. If you do catch one, make an effort to keep it in

the water while releasing it to not add the stress of being

lifted onto the boat for prolonged periods. Anyway, a true

fisher gets into the water to take a photo of their catch!

Fishers can also use inline circle hooks which can help

improve survival rates of released fish without significantly

diminishing catch rates. Finally, using hook and

line or spear guns rather than nets can also massively

reduce the likelihood of bycatch.

Tourists in the TCI can help eagle rays too. Supporting

ecotourism such as snorkeling or diving excursions with

the intention of spotting eagle rays can provide local

financial incentives for protecting these magnificent creatures.

There are numerous dive and snorkel operations

spread throughout the Islands, so grab your gear and

explore. Wherever you dive or snorkel, always remember

to respect the local wildlife and encourage others around

you to do the same, keep a generous distance between

you and the rays, and never corner or touch a wild animal.

Valuing the eagle rays and other cartilaginous fish

in the TCI is not a new concept, as many indigenous cultures

have long treasured these species for both their

intrinsic value and their cultural significance. In the

Caribbean, the Lucayan Taínos lived a life in and around

the ocean, catching what was needed to sustain themselves,

and using most, if not all parts of the animal. The

Taínos often encountered sharks and rays while fishing,

and had at least four words for sharks, as well as naming

the Southern Stingray (Libuza) and the whitespotted eagle

ray (Chucho).

Shark and ray artifacts have been found in the archaeological

remains of their communities. As cartilaginous

fish, most body parts do not preserve well in fossil

records, but shark teeth, eagle ray grinding plates, and

ray tail spines are commonly unearthed. Often the barbed

spines of the rays were used for hunting, fishing, and

as weaponry for battle. Shark and ray skin was used as

sandpaper or for grinding cassava into a fine grain. Shark

and ray meat was consumed, and other parts were used

for tools or even decoration.

Today, the people of the TCI occasionally harvest

these species, but with a large market available for economic

growth through tourism, there is an incentive to

shift away from consumption to conservation: There is

often more money to be made catering to tourists that

come to the TCI to see these magnificent creatures than

in their harvest.

Eagle rays are a piece of living history that tie the

people of the TCI to the original inhabitants of this land,

and with greater protection and responsible fishing this

heritage can be shared for generations to come. a

To learn more about the The School for Field Studies’

projects on South Caicos, go to http://www.fieldstudies.

org/tci.

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astrolabe

newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Front Street, PO Box 188, Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands, BWI TKCA 1ZZ

tel 649 247 2160/US incoming 786 220 1159 •

email info@tcmuseum.org • web www.tcmuseum.org

In this image of Junkanoos on Grand Turk, the costumes bear similarities to those in the 1965 Junkanoo Parade in Nassau on the following

page.

TURKS & CAICOS NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION

Clothed in Mystery

The origins of Junkanoo – Part 1

By Christopher Davis, Alex Kwofie, Angelique McKay, and Michael P. Pateman

Junkanoo is the premier national cultural celebration in The Bahamas. It is primarily celebrated on

Christmas/Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, with smaller celebrations on Labour Day, Independence Day,

and Emancipation Day. Junkanoo is also used for the opening of major events and as a funeral procession

for prominent Junkanoos (term used to describe a person who partakes in Junkanoo). Versions of

Junkanoo are also celebrated in Jamaica (Jonkonnu), Belize (Jankunu), and North Carolina (John Kooner)

among others.

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However, the true origins of Junkanoo have been

shrouded in mystery with multiple prevailing theories

and stories. According to oral tradition, Junkanoo was

supposedly named after west-African chief John Canoe

and began as a masquerade in The Bahamas around the

17th century. Enslaved Africans would cover their faces

under a flour paste and celebrate on Boxing Day (the day

after Christmas). Over time, the flour paste was replaced

by masks and eventually face paint.

The most popular legend about the origin of

Junkanoo states that John Canoe, a former African tribal

chief, requested permission from colonial powers for the

enslaved to have a day off to celebrate. Another popular

theory is that John Canoe was a powerful slave trader

and Junkanoo originated as a celebration of the enslaved

mimicking their slave masters.

The story of Junkanoo in the Turks & Caicos Islands

(TCI) is also shrouded in mystery and controversy. The

TCI celebration of Masses or Massin’ is also a masquerade

tradition of African roots, celebrated in islands around

Christmas and New Year’s. David Bowen (“A Celebration

of the Masses,” Times of the Island Spring 2008) states

that Massin’ draws on a combination of West African

ancestry roots and mimicry of former slave masters costume

balls. The celebration of Massin’ is very similar to

the historic accounts of Junkanoo in The Bahamas.

One of the earliest written accounts of this celebration

was recorded in the journal of Methodist Reverend

W. Dowson, who landed on Grand Turk on December 25,

1811. He wrote: “I have never before witnessed such a

Christmas Day; the Negroes have been beating their tambourines

and dancing the whole day and now between

eight and nine o’clock they are pursuing their sport as

hotly as ever.” He then goes on to say, “I mentioned the

dissipation of the Negroes (to a Presbyterian clergyman)

as a thing which greatly pained my mind; but he made

light of it and apologized for them saying, ‘The week of

Christmas is the only time in the whole year in which

to be merry and I am pleased to see them enjoy themselves.’”

Despite the celebration of Massin’ in the TCI,

Kitchener Penn was hired to organise the first Junkanoo

festival in the TCI in the 1980s. However, the celebration

that was organized was a Bahamian-styled festival. This

is probably based on Penn’s time spent in The Bahamas

and his membership in the Junkanoo group The Saxons.

This vintage photo shows a Junkanoo Parade in Nassau circa 1965.

For more fascinating images, go to vintagebahamas.com.

The origins of Junkanoo in The Bahamas, as well as all

the commemorations throughout the Americas, have been

a long-debated mystery and by the mid-19th century the

namesake was lost in translation. Bahamian Researcher

and founder of the Sankofa Flamingo Organization,

Christopher Davis, says that most Bahamians never truly

bought into the proverbial paternalistic and bigoted

accounts of Junkanoo. Accounts on the origins of these

inextricably connected commemorations around the

African Diaspora are typically tainted by the overtly racist

way of life and opinions of the authors. This ranges

from recorded accounts in personal diaries like plantation

owner Charles Farquharson’s account in 1832 on

Watlings Island (today’s San Salvador), Bahamas, to genuine

attempts of the documentation of African traditions

as seen with 19th century accounts by Dr. James Sprunt

in North Carolina.

Prevailing theories on the origins of Junkanoo in

The Bahamas are often credited to a European influence;

Junk Enough as said in an 19th century Scottish dialect

or I’cconnu, a French term for unknown people. Other

accounts differ, like Ira B. Reid’s description of the crown-

COURTESY VINTAGE BAHAMAS

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ing of a John Canoe, or Edward Long who stated in the

1740s that Jonkonnu in Jamaica was in commemoration

of a great African king. Contemporary researchers have

also opined the origin, or at least the namesake of the

commemoration to have firm origins in Africa. Davis

knew, that with the virtually endless pantheon of leaders

in West Africa’s historiography, that if the parade was in

fact named after an African figure, it would have had to

have been one who was very profound and influential.

As we searched deeper for the origins of Junkanoo

or John Canoe, we discover the name Jan Conny

(Dutch), a former Chief of Pokesu—today’s Princess

Town in Ahantaland, Ghana and the site of Fort Gross

Fredericksburg. The Ahanta are an Akan people residing

today in southwestern Ghana in a province known as

Ahanta West. Princess Town sits near the southwestern

extremity of Ghana, where empirical data and oral history

places the man known to the British as John Canoe.

In Princess Town, Sankofa Flamingo were graciously

received by the resident chief, Abusuapanin Augustine

Yaw, and the Traditional Council, where they were given

preliminary information on the history of Pokesu. On

Davis’ first research visit, they were amazed by a detailed

presentation and tour by oral historian Alex Kwofie.

Kwofie not only showed them John Canoe’s mansion,

palace, and fort, but also revealed his real name in

their language, Jan Kwaw. According to the oral history

in Princess Town, Jan Kwaw was never a slave and was

certainly not a slave trader and in fact, he and his warriors

fought vigorously against the Trans-Atlantic Slave

Trade, particularly the Dutch, the Danish and the British.

Jan Kwaw was the catalyst of several military actions in

defiance of slave trading since at least 1712, when he

invaded the British stronghold of Fort Metal Cross on

Christmas Day. Is the tradition of Junkanoo on and around

Christmas Day an unconscious celebration of this victory

by the descendants of the Ahanta in the New World?

Additionally, in 1717 when the Prussians attempted

to sell Fort Gross Fredericksburg to the Dutch, Jan Kwaw

occupied the fort in defiance and used his political and

military acumen to beat back European slave traders until

1725. John Atkins, a surgeon in the British Royal Navy,

whose ship was anchored off Princess Town in 1721,

notes that a dispute between the Dutch who claimed

the fort as their own resulted in Jan Kwaw paving the

entrance to his palace with their skulls. Also, sailors from

Atkins’s ship who landed in search of fresh water received

“cracked skulls” for refusing the tribute demands by Jan

Fort Gross Fredericksburg, Poksesu (Princess Town) was built between 1681 and 1683. In 1717, when the Prussians attempted to sell Fort

Gross Fredericksburg to the Dutch, Jan Kwaw occupied the fort in defiance and used his political and military acumen to beat back European

slave traders until 1725.

MICHAEL P. PATEMAN

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Kwaw. When they made payment, he provided them with

water and hospitality. Empirical data not only shows that

no slave ships left the fort while under his occupation,

but also shows that the Ahanta people in general dedicated

much of the resources and resolve to maintaining

African autonomy in the region. From the late 1680s to

1725, there are consistent complaints and reports about

Ahanta warriors invading European-held slave trading

posts as far east as Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle.

Many sources have relegated the Ahanta General to

a Prussian ally and the lynchpin of Prussian business in

what was then the western Gold Coast. He is often erroneously

referred to as a so-called “Prussian Prince.” Many

sources also claim him to be a slave trader, typically without

tangible evidence like trading records or the names of

the vessels he supplied with captive Africans.

What is interesting however, is the failure of

Brandenburg Prussia to establish themselves in the Gold

Coast as seen by some of their European counterparts.

With so much military might and influence in the region,

why did the Prussian’s slave trading operations fail? What

the oral history of the Ahanta as well as their historical

records shows is that they had a consistent run of

anti-slavery leaders, with Jan Kwaw representing a quintessential

example of an African hero, still ambiguously

commemorated throughout the African Diaspora in the

Western Hemisphere. If Jan Kwaw was indeed a Prussian

ally, his efforts and unprecedented influence in the area

would have established Prussia as a major slave trading

force in the area. It is no coincidence that approximately

60 Prussian slave trading voyages took place on the

opposite side on the eastern Gold Coast at the behest

of their allies the Danish. The Ahanta Traditional Council

identifies Jan Kwaw not only as a great and wealthy warrior,

but the Minister of Defence for all Ahanta people and

even later the early Ashanti Empire, settling at Kwadaso in

the late 1720s after the Dutch were able to reclaim Fort

Gross Fredericksburg.

Part 2 will continue with how commemorations of

Jan Kwaw came to the New World. To learn more about

the research on Junkanoo and Jan Kwaw, follow Sankofa

Flamingo on Facebook. a

Christopher Davis is a historian and researcher at

the Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation

(Bahamas) and founder of the Sankofa Flamingo

This “modern day” celebration of Junkanoo in Grand Turk bears elements

of the new and old.

Foundation; Alex Kwofie is an Oral Historian and Tour

Guide from Pokesu (Princess Town), Ghana; Angelique

McKay, also known as the Junkanoo Goddess, is the

founder of the Junkanoo Commandos, a group who is

dedicated to bringing the celebration of Junkanoo to the

world by way of presentations, workshops, and performances;

and Dr. Michael Pateman is former Director

of the Turks & Caicos National Museum and currently

Curator/Lab Director of the AEX Maritime Museum on

Grand Bahama.

TURKS & CAICOS NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION

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This 1964 photo shows the “salt raker” on the left using a toothed rake to break up salt crystals, while the man on the right is raking salt

into piles using a solid rake.

Shaking It Out

The history of salt production in the Turks & Caicos Islands (Part II).

Story & Postcard Images Courtesy Jeff Dodge

Salt was the most important industry on the Turks & Caicos Islands for almost 300 years. Salt was of

critical importance, not only for culinary purposes, but to preserve meat and fish. Since salt production

involved so many people and occupied so much land, it would be a photographer’s obvious subject.

Consequently, picture postcards made from early photographs of these islands included pictures of the

salt production process. All the postcards included in this article were printed from photographs taken

between 1905 and 1933.

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Synopsis (part I)

Bermudians began systematically

collecting salt

by solar evaporation on

Salt Cay in 1673 and on

Grand Turk in 1678. There

were naturally occurring,

low-level depressions on

these islands—especially

on Salt Cay—that flooded

at high tide. Sun and wind

evaporated the water in

these depressions, leaving

salt behind. Bermudians

improved and expanded

these “ponds” in the late

1670s and salt collection

by solar evaporation

became an organized

enterprise.

Initially, Bermudians

occupied the Turks

Islands on a part time

basis—working the salt

ponds during the hot summer

months from March

to November. By 1764

they occupied the Islands

on a full-time basis.

Salt collection began on

South Caicos (Cockburn

Harbour) about 1848. By

1908, Cockburn Harbour

(a.k.a. East Harbour) had

400 acres devoted to salt

ponds, Grand Turk had

230 acres and Salt Cay

120.

The solar evaporation

process to produce salt

typically entailed moving

seawater through four shallow ponds until the water was

evaporated by the sun, leaving salt crystals behind. The

process ended in a salt “pan”— so named due to its small

size and shallow depth. This entire operation took 70 to

90 days. Salt was then ready to be raked.

Top: This postcard, circa 1905, shows workers raking salt at a salt pan and loading it onto donkey carts.

Bottom: This postcard depicts the salt shed owned by Frith Brothers & Co. on Grand Turk. The notation

“Burnt Down” was written on the card by George S. Frith. He mailed it to his brother Arthur G. Frith who

lived in Vancouver in 1906.

Salt production (part II)

From the salt pans, salt was transported by donkey carts

or wheelbarrows to outdoor storage piles near the shore

called “deposits” or to salt sheds.

Normal rainfall on these islands was 24.5 to 26

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This postcard pictures a steam-powered salt grinding facility on Grand Turk. There would eventually be three such grinding operations on

Grand Turk Island and two at Cockburn Harbour.

inches a year, but when rainfall was significantly above

normal, as it was from time to time, vast quantities of salt

stored at outdoor deposits wasted away and salt forming

in the ponds was ruined. For example, in 1904 and 1905

annual rainfall exceeded 40 inches.

The best way to prevent salt loss from rain and hurricanes

was to store it in a salt house or shed. Though

expensive to build, by 1897 there were 8 such sheds on

Grand Turk, 2 at Cockburn Harbour and 15 on Salt Cay.

In total, these 25 salt sheds could store 542,000 bushels

of salt.

Josiah Frith and Jeremiah Murphy imported the first

steam engine for grinding salt to South Caicos in 1874.

The following year Grand Turk was also grinding salt

using steam power. A single steam-powered salt grinding

operation could process 10,000 bushels of salt a

week. Ground salt, called fish or fishery salt, commanded

a higher price than coarse salt because it was in great

demand by the fishing industry in the New England

States and Nova Scotia. For example, in 1906 coarse

salt brought 6 cents a bushel while fishery salt sold for

7.5 cents a bushel. The Harriott brothers introduced an

Aermotor (windmill) powered grinding machine to Salt

Cay in 1894.

Coarse and fishery salt was shipped in bulk to the

New England States and Nova Scotia. A few thousand

barrels of salt were sent to Jamaica and the Dominican

Republic each year. A barrel held about 3 bushels of

ground salt and weighed 280 pounds. (A bushel of salt

was equal to 1.13 American bushels.) A few barrels of

ground salt for domestic use may have been shipped to

the United States as well.

Salt was bagged next to the salt storage deposits

or storage sheds just before it was carried to lighters

(small sailing craft) waiting at the beach for delivery to a

freighter anchored off-shore.

A 1/2 bushel bag of salt weighed about 40 pounds.

(A 1/2 bushel bag of ground or fishery salt weighed 45

pounds.) Men typically carried 5 bags of salt at a time,

weighing 200 pounds or more, from the salt deposit to

lighters at the beach.

The operation of bagging salt, carrying the bags to a

lighter and operating the lighter required about 22 people—10

men including the captain aboard the lighter, 6

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Above: This color postcard pictures men barreling salt. A barrel holds three bushels of salt.

Below: The postcard shows workers (women!) filling bags with salt next to an outdoor salt deposit. A bushel of salt was equal to 1.13

American bushels.

women holding the bags for the 3 men who shoveled salt

into the bags, 2 men to carry the bags to the lighter and

a shore captain.

A lighter could carry 400 to 500 bags of salt. Loading

a 200-ton freighter usually required 4 lighters and took

one day. Staging was set up on

one side of the freighter being

loaded with salt. Crew from the

lighter passed bags of salt from

man to man until it reached

the deck of the vessel. The

bags were then emptied into

the freighter’s hold. An assistant

Revenue Officer, posted

onboard during the loading

process, counted the number

of empty bags to tally the royalties

owed the government—the

empty bags were then taken

back to the salt deposit to be

refilled. In 1909 the royalty was

70 cents per 100 bushels.

The number of bushels of salt exported varied from

year to year depending on the weather, the political situation,

and the price salt commanded. For example:

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Year Tons Exported Year Tons Exported

1872 65,393 1955 13,817

1894 77,203 1960 31,717

1935 28,950 1964 8,271

1939 50,256 1970 2,650 (Salt Cay only)

1950 9,553

NOTE: There are approximately 28 bushels of course

salt in a ton. A ton weighed 2,240 pounds.

Competition from lower cost producers having larger

solar salt operations, mechanized processing techniques,

and salt extracted from underground mines all contributed

to the demise of the salt industry on the Turks &

Caicos Islands.

At the end of 1964 it was decided to end salt production

on Grand Turk and Cockburn Harbour. The

government subsidized salt production on Salt Cay for

the next 10 years because there was no other form of

employment on the island. Salt operations ceased on Salt

Cay in 1975.

For 300 years, salt was the primary industry on the

Turks & Caicos Islands. When salt production ended in

the 1960s, there was nothing to replace it. Hoping that

tourism might replaced some of the jobs lost, the government

opened the Turks Head Inn on Grand Turk in 1965.

Prior to 1967, Providenciales was a quiet island

made up of three small settlements with a total population

of around 600 to 700 people. Tourism on “Provo”

got its start in 1967 when a

development company called

Provident Ltd. leased 4,000

acres from the government

for the construction of an airstrip

and terminal building

as well as roads and a hotel

(Third Turtle Inn). However,

tourism really took off on

Providenciales in 1984 with

the construction of Club Med

Turkoise. Tourism continues

to be the economic driver on

the Turks & Caicos Islands

today. a

Top right: A postcard showing men

loading a lighter with bags of salt.

Bottom right: This postcard depicts

workers off-loading bags of salt

from a lighter to a freighter anchored off shore. Staging is set-up to allow the crew to hoist 40 pound bags from man to man up to the vessel’s

deck.

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 71


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Museum Matters

Building fire in Grand Turk

In January 2022, the Museum was a victim of an arson

attack. We were extremely lucky that the fire did not

spread and was limited to damage on the north end

balcony and wall. The fire was spotted by a police officer

in the early morning hours of January 31. It had been

smoldering for several hours but had not spread any

further than the original site of ignition.

Thanks to the assistance of many local businesses

and supporters (see below), we were able to quickly

make repairs and improve security with the installation

of better cameras and alarm systems. The building was

protected internally with a fire extinguishing system

that was not activated or needed. We do not feel the fire

was a personal attack, but a continuation of an ongoing

issue on Grand Turk. If there is anything positive

to come of this, it was the show of support and concern

received from the community. The 200+ year-old

Guinep House continues to stand as a symbol of our

history and culture.

Thank you to local businesses and supporters who

provide special pricing or assistance to the Museum:

• Turks & Caicos Island Government—Special grants

and donations to help in various aspects of Museum

operation, security, exhibits and events.

• Turks & Caicos Banking Company—Assisted with

increased security at the Grand Turk location.

• Olympic Construction—Timely repairs and donated

their profit back to the Museum.

• Construction Advisory Services—Valuations recently

completed.

• LIME Turks & Caicos—Additional bandwidth provided.

• WC Security Services Ltd.—Installation of new security

system on Grand Turk and donated a new alarm

system for the Providenciales location.

• NW Hamilton Insurance—Quick resolution of claim. a

Grand Turk community projects

Botanical Garden

The Museum, in collaboration with Her Majesty’s Prison

on Grand Turk, created a work crew to clean up and

maintain the Botanical Garden. It was overgrown and

in need of major clean-up and attention. After several

weeks of hard work, the garden is ready for visitors and

locals alike to enjoy.

The plan is to have the work crew come as needed

to keep the garden maintained. Research has shown

that work projects can significantly reduce the risk of

re-offending, develop good work habits, and expand

skills. We thank the members of the work crew and HMP

administration for their assistance. It provides a service

to the community resulting in a win-win partnership for

everyone involved. a

Spay & Neuter Clinic

The Museum hosted the nonprofit group 4 Leaf Rover

who performed a five-day spay/neuter and medical

clinic, made possible with the help of the TCSPCA, local

volunteers, and 4 Leaf Rover volunteers. The group

worked all day and into the night to take care of as many

animals as possible. The final count exceeded 300, and

included cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, and a turtle.

We were delighted to see several children who were

on spring break come to the clinic to observe. They were

educated on the importance of animal care and spaying/

neutering their pets. There may even be a few future

vets or volunteers in the group.

4 Leaf Rover was created with the goal of improving

the lives of dogs and cats that are lacking necessities.

For more information and photos from the clinic, visit

www.4leafrover.net. a

Current Days & Hours of Operation:

Grand Turk (Front Street): Hours vary daily, but in general

open on all cruise ship days 9 AM to 1 PM. When a

ship arrives on or after 11 AM, we will open one hour

after arrival for three hours.

Providenciales (The Village of Grace Bay): Open

Tuesday and Thursday, 10 AM to 2 PM.

Both locations include exhibits and artifacts related

to the history and culture of the Islands. Visit our gift

shops for souvenirs, history books, and locally made

products such as baskets, jewelry, salt products and

more. Days and times of operation are subject to change

so please check our website or email us for updated

information:

www.tcmuseum.org• info@tcmuseum.org

72 www.timespub.tc


about the Islands

Map provided courtesy Wavey Line Publishing. Their navigation charts and decorative and historic maps of the Turks & Caicos Islands, The

Bahamas and Hispaniola are available in shops throughout the Islands. Visit www.amnautical.com.

Where we are

The Turks & Caicos Islands lie some 575 miles southeast

of Miami — approximately 1 1/2 hours flying time —

with The Bahamas about 30 miles to the northwest and

the Dominican Republic some 100 miles to the southeast.

The country consists of two island groups separated

by the 22-mile wide Columbus Passage. To the west are

the Caicos Islands: West Caicos, Providenciales, North

Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos and South Caicos. To

the east are the Turks Islands: Grand Turk and Salt Cay.

The Turks & Caicos total 166 square miles of land

area on eight islands and 40 small cays. The country’s

population is approximately 43,000.

Getting here

There are international airports on Grand Turk,

Providenciales, and South Caicos, with domestic airports

on all of the islands except East Caicos.

As of May 1, 2022, all visitors ages 18 and above

must be fully vaccinated but are no longer required to

apply for travel authorization nor provide evidence of a

negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival nor present evidence

of travel insurance nor wear masks/face coverings.

Proof of vaccination in either a digital or paper record

must be presented on arrival. Visitors are fully responsible

for the cost of quarantine/isolation, hospitalization,

or medical repatriation in the event they test positive

during their stay. For more information and details, visit

www.turksandcaicostourism.com.

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 73


The TCI has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity in

response to testing requirements implemented for travellers

entering the United States and Canada. Many resorts

offer on-site testing, along with numerous local health

practitioners.

Language

English.

Time zone

Eastern Standard Time (EST)/Daylight Savings Time

observed.

Currency

The United States dollar. The Treasury also issues a Turks

& Caicos crown and quarter. Travellers cheques in U.S.

dollars are widely accepted and other currency can be

changed at local banks. American Express, VISA and

MasterCard are welcomed at many locations.

Climate

The average year-round temperature is 83ºF (28ºC). The

hottest months are September and October, when the

temperature can reach 90 to 95ºF (33 to 35ºC). However,

the consistent easterly trade winds temper the heat and

keep life comfortable.

Casual resort and leisure wear is accepted attire for

daytime; light sweaters or jackets may be necessary on

some breezy evenings. It’s wise to wear protective clothing

and a sunhat and use waterproof sunscreen when out

in the tropical sun.

Entry requirements

Passport. A valid onward or return ticket is also required.

Customs formalities

Visitors may bring in duty free for their own use one carton

of cigarettes or cigars, one bottle of liquor or wine,

and some perfume. The importation of all firearms including

those charged with compressed air without prior

approval in writing from the Commissioner of Police is

strictly forbidden. Spear guns, Hawaiian slings, controlled

drugs and pornography are also illegal.

Returning residents may bring in $400 worth of

merchandise per person duty free. A duty of 10% to

60% is charged on most imported goods along with a

7% customs processing fee and forms a major source of

government revenue.

Transportation

A valid driver’s license from home is suitable when renting

vehicles. A government tax of 12% is levied on all

rental contracts. (Insurance is extra.) Driving is on the

left-hand side of the road, with traffic flow controlled by

round-abouts at major junctions. Please don’t drink and

drive! Taxis and community cabs are abundant throughout

the Islands and many resorts offer shuttle service

between popular visitor areas. Scooter, motorcycle and

bicycle rentals are also available.

Telecommunications

FLOW Ltd. provides land lines and superfast broadband

Internet service. Mobile service is on a LTE 4G network,

including pre- and post-paid cellular phones. Most resorts

and some stores and restaurants offer wireless Internet

connections. Digicel operates mobile networks, with

a full suite of LTE 4G service. FLOW is the local carrier

for CDMA roaming on US networks such as Verizon and

Sprint. North American visitors with GSM cellular handsets

and wireless accounts with AT&T or Cingular can

arrange international roaming.

Electricity

FortisTCI supplies electricity at a frequency of 60HZ,

and either single phase or three phase at one of three

standard voltages for residential or commercial service.

FortisTCI continues to invest in a robust and resilient grid

to ensure the highest level of reliability to customers. The

company is integrating renewable energy into its grid and

provides options for customers to participate in two solar

energy programs.

Departure tax

US $60. It is typically included in your airline ticket cost.

Courier service

Delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices on

Providenciales and Grand Turk, and DHL. UPS service is

limited to incoming delivery.

Postal service

The Post Office and Philatelic Bureau in Providenciales are

located downtown on Airport Road. In Grand Turk, the

Post Office and Philatelic Bureau are on Church Folly. The

Islands are known for their colorful stamp issues.

74 www.timespub.tc


Media

Multi-channel satellite television is received from the U.S.

and Canada and transmitted via cable or over the air.

Local station WIV-TV broadcasts on Channel 4 and Island

EyeTV on Channel 5. People’s Television offers 75 digitally

transmitted television stations, along with local news

and talk shows on Channel 8. There are also a number of

local radio stations, magazines and newspapers.

Medical services

There are no endemic tropical diseases in TCI. There are

large, modern hospitals on Grand Turk and Providenciales.

Both hospitals offer a full range of services including:

24/7 emergency room, operating theaters, diagnostic

imaging, maternity suites, dialysis suites, blood bank,

physiotherapy and dentistry.

In addition, several general practitioners operate in

the country, and there is a recompression chamber, along

with a number of private pharmacies.

Immigration

A resident’s permit is required to live in the Islands. A

work permit and business license are also required to

work and/or establish a business. These are generally

granted to those offering skills, experience and qualifications

not widely available on the Islands. Priority is given

to enterprises that will provide employment and training

for T&C Islanders.

Government/Legal system

TCI is a British Crown colony. There is a Queen-appointed

Governor, HE Nigel John Dakin. He presides over an executive

council formed by the elected local government.

Hon. Charles Washington Misick is the country’s premier,

leading a majority Progressive National Party (PNP) House

of Assembly.

The legal system is based upon English Common

Law and administered by a resident Chief Justice, Chief

Magistrate,and Deputy Magistrates. Judges of the Court

of Appeal visit the Islands twice a year and there is a final

Right of Appeal to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.

Taxes

There are currently no direct taxes on either income

or capital for individuals or companies. There are no

exchange controls. Indirect taxation comprises customs

duties and fees, stamp duty, taxes on accommodations,

restaurants, vehicle rentals, other services and gasoline,

as well as business license fees and departure taxes.

Times of the Islands Summer 2022 75


Economy

Historically, TCI’s economy relied on the export of salt.

Currently, tourism, the offshore finance industry and fishing

generate the most private sector income. The Islands

main exports are lobster and conch. Practically all consumer

goods and foodstuffs are imported.

The Turks & Caicos Islands are recognised as an

important offshore financial centre, offering services

such as company formation, offshore insurance, banking,

trusts, limited partnerships and limited life companies.

The Financial Services Commission regulates the industry

and spearheads the development of offshore legislation.

People

Citizens of the Turks & Caicos Islands are termed

“Belongers” and are primarily descendants of African

slaves who were brought to the Islands to work in the

salt ponds and cotton plantations. The country’s large

expatriate population includes Canadians, Americans,

Brits and Europeans, along with Haitians, Jamaicans,

Dominicans, Bahamians, Indians and Filipinos.

Churches

Churches are the center of community life and there

are many faiths represented in the Islands including:

Adventist, Anglican, Assembly of God, Baha’i, Baptist,

Catholic, Church of God, Episcopal, Jehovah’s Witnesses,

Methodist and Pentecostal. Visitors are always welcome.

Pets

Incoming pets must have an import permit, veterinary

health certificate, vaccination certificate and lab test

results submitted at port of entry to obtain clearance

from the TCI Department of Agriculture.

National symbols

The National Bird is the Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).

The National Plant is Island heather (Limonium

bahamense) found nowhere else in the world. The

National Tree is the Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea var.

bahamensis). The National Costume consists of white cotton

dresses tied at the waist for women and simple shirts

and loose pants for men, with straw hats. Colors representing

the various islands are displayed on the sleeves,

sashes and hat bands. The National Song is “This Land

of Ours” by the late Rev. E.C. Howell. Peas and Hominy

(Grits) with Dry Conch is revered as symbolic island fare.

Going green

TCI Waste Disposal Services currently offers recycling

services through weekly collection of recyclable aluminum,

glass and plastic. Single-use plastic bags have been

banned country-wide as of May 1, 2019. There is also a

ban on importation of plastic straws and some polystyrene

products, including cups and plates.

Recreation

Sporting activities are centered around the water. Visitors

can choose from deep-sea, reef or bonefishing, sailing,

glass-bottom boat and semi-sub excursions, windsurfing,

waterskiing, parasailing, sea kayaking, snorkelling, scuba

diving, snuba, kiteboarding, stand up paddleboarding,

mermaid encounters and beachcombing. Pristine reefs,

abundant marine life and excellent visibility make TCI

a world-class diving destination. Whale and dolphin

encounters are possible, especially during the winter/

spring months.

Tennis and golf—there is an 18 hole championship

course on Providenciales—are also popular.

76 www.timespub.tc


The Islands are an ecotourist’s paradise. Visitors can

enjoy unspoilt wilderness and native flora and fauna in

33 national parks, nature reserves, sanctuaries and areas

of historical interest. The National Trust provides trail

guides to several hiking trails, as well as guided tours of

major historical sites. Birdwatching is superb, and there

is a guided trail on Grand Turk.

There is an excellent national museum on Grand

Turk, with an auxillary branch on Providenciales that

includes the Caicos Heritage House. A scheduled ferry

and a selection of tour operators make it easy to take day

trips to the outer islands.

Other land-based activities include bicycling, horseback

riding and football (soccer). Personal trainers are

available to motivate you, working out of several fitness

centres. You will also find a variety of spa and body treatment

services.

Nightlife includes local bands playing island music

at bars and restaurants and some nightclubs. There are

two casinos on Providenciales, along with many electronic

gaming parlours. Stargazing is extraordinary!

Shoppers will find paintings, T-shirts, sports and

beachwear and locally made handicrafts, including straw

work, conch crafts and beach jewellery. Duty free outlets

sell liquor, jewellery, watches, perfume, leather goods,

subscription form

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Times of the Islands Summer 2022 77


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WE ARE LEADING THE CHANGE

FOR A NEW ENERGY FUTURE

Our executive team: (L-r) Senior Vice President of Operations Devon Cox; Vice President of Corporate

Services and CFO Aisha Laporte; President and CEO Ruth Forbes; Vice President of Grand Turk and

Sister Island Operations Allan Robinson; Vice President of Innovation, Technology and Strategic Planning

Rachell Roullet and Vice President of Engineering and Energy Production and Delivery Don Forsyth

The energy landscape is changing.

And at FortisTCI, we are leading the transition to cleaner energy with

innovative solutions, and the highest level of service to customers.

With sustainability as a guiding principle, we are strategically investing

in new technologies, people and processes to deliver least-cost, reliable,

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economy moving forward.

At FortisTCI, we are powered by a team of energy experts, who are proud

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