Posts tagged ‘Turks & Caicos’

September 8, 2008

The ultimate melting pot.

 

Though my intention is to write a bit about the Caribbean as a region I must say today was not a shining example of what most people would expect from us in terms of sun, sand and rum punches. It was a work day so that pretty well puts paid to the alcoholic beverages and being at the office pretty well eliminated the sand thing though my office desk was feeling a tad  gritty. 

 

It is my custom to walk straight to one of my Macs upon waking to check my newsfeeds and check the weather satellite images at the lovely NHC site. Today I was faced with an inadequate level of info about Turks and Caicos and how they fared and with what appeared to be an ugly red weather system about to descend on Trinidad. By the time I rounded the Queen’s Park Savannah on the way to the office I could see ugly black clouds emerging over the tips of the Northern Range. While disturbing it was also possessed of a terrible beauty that almost led me to crash the Mondeo ( well, that and some interesting human sights on the savannah). I phoned Mookish the cameraman as I was about 30 seconds from work and told him to catch the clouds as they would make useful archive shots for any storm coverage we might want to do. As I parked I met up with him and we managed to capture some great shots including lightning bolts in action. 

 

It turned out that that was just the beginning of a day of extreme weather for us. It poured to the point that much of Port of Spain was underwater  and our offices turned into an island of sorts as flood waters reached all the way up our driveway. After that it poured some more and didn’t stop pouring for several hours. Apparently we had the lead story for today and, as it turned out, we got off easy as roofs blew off houses in some parts of the country. I must say our crew got some amazing shots of submerged cars, flooded streets and, yes, our shots of black clouds sneaking over the Northern Range complete with lightning. It was still a pretty hectic day and I only got the news script finished four minutes before I had to run into studio to read. Thank heavens for Wong who can view a tape and write a story faster than most people can deny having viewed porn in their browser.

 

I came home looking forward to a quiet evening of quality Food Network programming only to discover that Alton Brown has a new programme called Feasting on Waves. It is an interesting programme for several reasons not the least of which is that Alton Brown, for all his annoying foibles and smugness, has an amazing knowledge of food. The programme has him and his crew sailing the Caribbean ( at least it seems to be based on our region) and investigating the foods of each island. It was fascinating to see him investigating the foods we take for granted such as soursop, lemongrass, dasheen and salted cod. His first programme was set primarily in St. Kitts which is an interesting island that manages to bridge the dominant influence of Jamaica with the rest of the Caribbean …just hearing their accent was a treat. There is something remarkably pleasurable about watching a food expert like Alton drinking something as Caribbean as bush tea made from lemongrass ( also called vetiver or fever grass here) and enjoying it. I love being reminded that the things we take for granted are considered exotic by much of the rest of the world.

 

Alton said an interesting thing. He described the history of our region and the various races and ethnicities that make up the wondrous pastiche we call home and he noted that we are probably the first part of the world that understood and embraced fusion cuisine. I don’t necessarily agree as I am pretty sure Southern Europe beat us to the punch but he has a point. The food of our region is spectacularly diverse. We think nothing of dining on a mixture of African, Asian and European cuisines. Many a time I find myself ordering lunch at a nearby fast food establishment and having a container full of curry, creole root vegetables and macaroni pie. To be honest, one of the reasons I moved back here was that I missed the food and the amazing ingredients.  One of my greatest joys is turning classic French or Italian cuisine on its head by substituting local ingredients. I draw the line at screwing with some dishes such as cassoulet but many other things are fair game.

 

I am happy to hear now that Turks and Caicos did not suffer as badly as they might have and I am hoping that Cuba ( despite my normal distaste for the Latin world) escapes with minimal damage. I have to say that floods, hurricanes and corrupt politicians notwithstanding we are still an incredible part of the world and I am happy I live here.

 

Now when will Anthony Bourdain deign to come here and make my life complete?

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September 7, 2008

Guess who doesn’t like Ike?

 

Hurricane tracker that I am this is an exciting season for me as I take in all the disturbances sweeping across our region. Sometimes, though, my intellectual fascination with hurricanes leads me to forget that they are a terrible destructive force. Today Haiti discovered close to another 500 bodies drowned by the passing of Hanna ( according to AFP) and now we are looking at the full force of Ike about to be unleashed on the Northern Caribbean.

The US National Hurricane Center has just released their 11pm update and it seems that the Turks and Caicos islands are about to feel the full brunt of Category 4 Ike – complete with winds in excess of 200 kmph. My Northern friends, unused to the scale of the Caribbean might be forgiven for not realizing how horrifying such a storm is for the tiny territories in our region. The islands that make up Turks and Caicos are home to 30,000 people and the highest point on the islands is 49m. That means they are basically at the mercy of hurricanes. I can only imagine what they are going through right now. The other day we had unusually heavy rains in T&T and the main highway was under 2 metres of water and many people lost all their possessions. With our larger landmass we might fare better in a hurricane but heaven help us if it does since we were thrown into chaos with a few cms of rain.

 

I don;t know too much about the Turks and Caicos except for the fact  one of my friends who worked there for a few months fled lest he go out of his mind. I also remember being in Toronto and reading  some nonsense about a gay cruise causing a national scandal there. The quote from the illustrious Chief Minister at the time says a lot about the level of thinking that goes on there:

 

Whilst as a government we respect civil liberties, the freedom of choice and we do refrain from discriminating, we are in no way supportive of or encourage the alternative lifestyle of these individuals. We regret that our people and especially our children have been exposed to this type of activity and express concern in this regard.”

 

The frightening thing was that the Chief Minister was actually sounding like the voice of reason when compared to the opposition which was saying that the islands were going to suffer the wrath of god as a result of the travesty. For all I know they probably think Ike is an emissary from the other world sent to punish them for their transgressions. I find such things ridiculous in 2008 but the Caribbean is no stranger to stupidity and superstition so I try and take it in stride. I still hope that they are spared a complete catastrophe but I guess I will find out tomorrow when I get to the newsroom.

 

Speaking of news while working today Melissa passed me a news release  faxed to us which was causing her much mirth. Upon examination I noted that the release which was sent by an almost moribund political party ( rhymes with FAR) was so riddled with misspellings and bad grammar that it seemed to have been typed by a primary school student with a muscle twitch. I examined it…red penned it ( about 25 circles) and faxed it back to them….why do people think I have a bitchy side?