SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS SUMMER 2022 NO. 139
The backstory of “Cool Runnings”
TREKING THE ISLANDS
Climate change charter signed
Comfort Food Just Went A-list.
If your idea of comfort feels like
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Golden, crusty wood-fired pizza.
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Salads and sides that give new meaning
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These days, we’re all hungry
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Dinner 6 –10:30pm
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9 From the Editor
15 Looking Back
By Jody Rathgeb
20 Eye on the Sky
By Paul Wilkerson
24 Talking Taíno
By Kendra Sirak, Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson
and Michael Pateman
73 About the Islands/TCI Map
77 Subscription Form
78 Classified Ads
30 TCI Bobsledder
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
53 Making Climate History
By Amy Avenant & Oshin Whyte
59 Birds of the Sea
By Sydney O’Brien
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
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
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Bernadette’s reputation and success has been
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Bernadette delights in working in the real
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Please contact Bernadette if you would like
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from the editor
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
email@example.com • (649) 431-4788
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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).
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Sydney O’Brien, Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson Stokes,
Dr. Michael P. Pateman, Jody Rathgeb, Kendra Sirak,
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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,
Theodore Morris, Wavey Line Publishing.
PF Solutions, Miami, FL
Times of the Islands ISSN 1017-6853 is
published quarterly by Times Publications Ltd.
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under Universal and Pan American Copyright Conventions.
No part of this publication may be
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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
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.
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.
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.
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,”
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 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.
Midwest farmers in
rural areas, went
defunct in 2001.
It was relaunched
online in 2004
and its brand has
by a series of
still sells clothing,
although the boys’
white shirts with
attached ties that
remembers are not
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 27
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
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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Times of the Islands Summer 2022 29
GEORGES GOBET/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
“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
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
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.
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
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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Times of the Islands Summer 2022 37
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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
Ophthalmologist Dr. Sebastian Guzman is now available
for consultation in the Turks & Caicos Islands.
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
patients. We are trained in the application of the
latest technological advances for the correction of
different visual dysfunctions.
NOW OPEN IN REGENT VILLAGE
CALL 809 880 2020
Food for Thought provides free daily
breakfast to government school students.
A donation of $300 will provide breakfast
to one child for a whole school year.
MAJOR LEO CAMPBELL
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
or visit foodforthoughttci.com
Food for Thought Foundation Inc. (NP #102)
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 (email@example.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.
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.
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
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 . . .
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org • 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?
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.
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
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
TITUS DE BOER
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 55
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
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
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.
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 57
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
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
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
Eagle rays have a unique patterning that can be used for identification.
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.
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 59
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
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
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.
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
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
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 61
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
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
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.
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 email@example.com • 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
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)
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 63
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
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
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
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
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 65
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
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
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
TURKS & CAICOS NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
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.
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 67
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
Synopsis (part I)
Bermudians began systematically
by solar evaporation on
Salt Cay in 1673 and on
Grand Turk in 1678. There
were naturally occurring,
low-level depressions on
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
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
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
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
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
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
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 69
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
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
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:
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
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)
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 &
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
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
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 71
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
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
• 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
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
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
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.
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
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
Eastern Standard Time (EST)/Daylight Savings Time
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.
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.
Passport. A valid onward or return ticket is also required.
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
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.
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.
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
US $60. It is typically included in your airline ticket cost.
Delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices on
Providenciales and Grand Turk, and DHL. UPS service is
limited to incoming delivery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
Tennis and golf—there is an 18 hole championship
course on Providenciales—are also popular.
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
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,
SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS
One year subscription
$28 U.S. addresses/$32 non-U.S. addresses
crystal, china, cameras, electronics, brand-name clothing
and accessories, along with Cuban cigars. a
VISIT WWW.TIMESPUB.TC TO VIEW CURRENT ISSUE ON-LINE!
E-mail address (not required)_____________________________________________
r New Subscription r Renewal
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Mail with payment to:
Times Publications Ltd., c/o Kathy Borsuk,
247 Holmes Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514
Please allow 30 to 60 days for delivery of first issue.
Times of the Islands Summer 2022 77
Community Fellowship Centre
A Life-Changing Experience
Sunday Divine Worship 9 AM
Tel: 649.941.3484 • Web: cfctci.com
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FOR ALL YOUR
649-941-8438 and 649-241-4968
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