Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Photographing it up...

So my google stats tells me that our little travel blog has reached over 1000 page views as of today! I know that over half of those were my Mom, thanks Mom! but I'm glad everyone else is enjoying reading about our Island living! 

I will gloss over rather quickly (because it's still painful) the fact that these crazy micro ants may just slow down my cupcake baking after all! I was assigned to make cupcakes for Josiah's sister's birthday last week.  I know that ants invade our kitchen worktops and even our cupboards, and putting cupcakes in the fridge is just not an option unless you want them to be inedible and so I decided putting them in our airtight oven overnight would do the trick...I wrapped them tightly in clingfilm and awoke at 6am ready to frost only to find that the ants had taken over and thoroughly devoured all my cupcakes! Sad times indeed...they were needed that morning at school so I had to and buy store bought ones! which was not cool...but I have signed up to do a cupcake stall at an Arts & Crafts Expo on the Island at the end of November so I will have to do some major ant defence before then!

In other news Byron has been making big plans to take over the Island with his photography skills! He is going to be doing alot of wedding photography through an acquaintance we made at church, and so he decided it would be a good idea to set up his own website to get his name out there.  He has been hard at work on it all week and it's looking pretty good! My coworker Alyssa and her boyfriend Brandon threw a wedding together in 2 weeks just before they moved down here from Pennsylvania and so they didn't have time to take any engagement photos since it all happened so quick! They had asked By if he would do a little 'post wedding' shoot with them and so I wanted to share a few of the pics he took.  He is building up his portfolio so expect more soon as well.

I love these super cute coloured huts.  They are down in an area called Blue Hills.  Most of them are little huts selling local food, there was even a barber as well.  Just next door to here is 'Da Conch Shack' which we really want to go to but it only opens again in high tourist season.  I don't know why I'm so excited about it since they only sell conch and I'm not adventurous enough to try any, but it's one of those tourist spots that everyone talks about so I feel like I'm missing out if we don't give it a try! 


Alyssa and Brandon were really pleased with all their pics and I thought By did a pretty good job too.  His next venture may also be school photography and my employer is arranging possibly sometime this month to set that up so he is sure going to be busy soon, my days of coming home to dinner on the table and the house cleaned and laundry done may soon be over! 

He also has been offered some photo editing work by a photographer on the Island who he met with yesterday, and this is something he really enjoys.  She wanted to see some of his work so he took along quite a few of the shots he took at my sister Mel's wedding last summer.  He even made this cute little slideshow and I thought it would be fun to share it on here! 

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The definition of Turquoise: Chalk Sound

I knew that on this 3 day long weekend we had I definitely wanted to check out some more of the Island.  We live in Leeward, which is in the South East of the Island and all the places we go - School, Grocery store, Church are all in the East of the Island so we never really venture out of this area much.

I had heard alot about Chalk Sound and knew it would be worth a trip.  It is probably as South West as you can go on the Island and it was the furthest we've driven since we've been here (funnily enough it was only a 20 minute trip so not far at all but when you're used to only driving 5-10 mins everywhere you go suddenly 20 minutes becomes a 'far' away place!)

Chalk Sound is actually a National Park consisting of a 3 mile long bay of vibrant turquoise water studded with countless tiny islets.  It actually took my breath away when we arrived because it is so beautiful and I'm pretty sure you will agree when you see these pictures:

This was the view that greeted us as we drove down 'Picturesque Lane' and the street lived up to it's name!

We had read you could hire out paddle boats down there so were excited to do that! but unfortunately the place where you rent them from was closed.  Most tourist things on the Island are closed right now as it's Hurricane season, even alot of the hotels close down for September and October and then everything springs back into life in November ready for the heavy tourist season to begin again so we will have to go back and rent a boat another time.  

A lady we bumped into told us that there were some jet skis on Sapodilla Bay available for rent.  This was another place we had wanted to visit so we drove down the dirt road leading to the secluded bay and we found the jet skis.  She had told us the number for the guy who rents them was on the side of them so By waded all the way out only to find there was no number! So we didn't get in on any water action today...maybe next time:

After our morning of sightseeing it was time for lunch, and I've been wanting to check out Mother's Pizza for a while - apparently it is the best pizza on the Island! 

...and it's located down at Times Square! I bet you didn't know there was more than one!
It was quite cool inside, their speciality is Conch pizza which I am definitely not brave enough to try but it certainly sounds fun! 

They also had a part of their wall dedicated to currency from around the world.  I guess tourists sign their names on their notes and then stick them up on the wall, they had Zim dollars, Bank of Bahamas, Mexico, China...all kinds! They even had a £5 and £10 UK note.

Their topping of the month is Lionfish! which By would have been very keen to try had I not been with him! Apparently Lionfish eat lots of other fish (which I didn't know) and so they're trying to get rid of as many of them as they can to save the reefs of Turks and Caicos...hence Lionfish pizza! 

The pizza was HUGE! I'm pretty sure we will be eating it for days to come! Since it's the only pizza I've tried on Provo so far I'm not sure I can comment as to whether it was the best or not but I thought it was pretty tasty nonetheless and a can of root beer always adds to the enjoyment! 

Volleyball with a view!

Here is where we play our Friday night volleyball, down at Lower Bight Park.  It is right on the amazing Grace Bay Beach, and I love that you can see that turquoise water right behind us as we play! 

There was a pretty awesome sunset as we played last night, and so I just had to share some of these pics with you!

By is going in for the winning shot here! His team actually beat my team this week by 3 games to 2, I'm hoping at some point soon we might even get to play on the same team! 

Ignore my crazy volleyball face below, I hope you can see in this picture that I am working on my tan...slowly but surely! 

This is the playpark just behind where we play, and there's some pretty cool vegetation which you can see here.

We ended the night with a group shot.  Elder and Sister Herbert (who are on the left) wanted to take this picture since they just found out they are leaving and going back to Jamaica at the end of the week where they will finish out their mission.  We're sad they are leaving, and I know they are too.  They were basically overseeing and running the branch so we are getting quite nervous now as they said that is obviously the reason the Lord called us here (because they are going) I'm pretty sure we will have some callings on the cards soon! 

Monday, 20 September 2010

M is for Mexican Monday

Our Mexican Monday tradition has continued over on this side of the Atlantic too.  Tonight By cooked us up some fajitas with homemade guacamole and in the shops here you can even buy Mexican Taco Cheese - how cool is that! so we had a little sprinkling of that too! We popped to the IGA to pick up some salad for our fajitas and I was super excited to find a 12 pack of Mug root beer had dropped by 50 cents! (prices are so ridiculous here that yes a 50 cents reduction gets me excited!) and what made me even more excited was what I stumbled upon in the frozen section.....CORN DOGS!!

Our first trip to the supermarket when we arrived was a great adventure and I was loving finding all my favourite American foods here...but there was a distinct lack of one in particular - corn dogs! I was sure I would find them and I was pretty disappointed when I didn't! There has also been a lack of regular Oreos on the Island...I've seen plenty of golden Oreos but no chocolate Oreos so on saturday when Alyssa and Brandon popped round with a 'present' for me, I definitely wasn't expecting it to be Oreos! It was so sweet of them to buy some for me...and I can't wait to start baking up some Oreo cupcakes now I have the goods! They informed me that the supermarket was looking pretty stocked up so they must have had a new shipment of stock arrive.  So tonight although we had just gone to IGA to pick up some peppers and tomatos, I said to By let's just check out the frozen aisle in case they have any new fun stuff...and you should have heard my gasp of excitement when I saw the corn dogs on the top shelf! 
Yes Monday has been good to me! 

I thought I'd take a picture of the School where I work, it's called The Master's Academy:

You saw Josiah yesterday but today he was definitely ready to pose! In fact every time I held the camera near his face he'd say 'cheese' and he'd continue saying it for about 20 minutes after too...which led to me having to take about 50 photos of him! Here's the cutest one of the bunch:

And here are his cheeky counterparts.  This is Shomari, hard at work concentrating on something here! I found it pretty hard to get him to look at the camera! 

but my co-worker Alyssa got a good shot of him smiling, I think I was doing 'round and round the garden' with him here to get that cute smile.  He sure does love that little rhyme, he is non verbal so every time I stop doing it with him he uses the sign language for more to get me to continue doing it!

and last but not least we have Burkley...who I have a serious soft spot for! He is our youngest at 2 and a half and has never had therapy before, he is an absolute surge of energy just running around all afternoon long...we call him the Tornado and if you should happen to be sitting in his path he will just launch himself at you! He is so cute though and smiles alot and loves to be tickled, just like Shomari, but again he was giving me mostly serious faces for the shots I was taking!

As we were leaving work tonight we bumped into Jo's little sister Adi who Byron and I just adore! She hopped straight from her mom's arms into mine for some cuddles! She is all smiles here because I had just been throwing her in the air, a trick that she loves! 

She has taken to Byron too and here they are playing around:

We would love to just take her home one night! She is the cutest and you should hear her giggle! it's the funniest! 

Sunday, 19 September 2010

I'm talking about good vibrations...

It’s been another fun filled weekend. We finally made it to beach volleyball on  Friday night which was awesome.  My team beat By’s team 3-1 so it was a pretty good victory! Thankfully due to hurricane Igor passing by at some point out in  the ocean there was a slight breeze which made enduring the heat easier! We will remember to take pictures next week...

Yesterday we hopped on our bikes and cycled down to Grace Bay Beach.  Our bikes are being loaned to us by the people we rent our apartment from, and we’re so grateful for them! They are called ‘cruisers’ and I love the big wide handlebars, they make me feel like I’m back in the fifties or something (or now and then style singing knock 3 times...that’s a reference for my sisters!) and the best part I discovered yesterday is they’re actually called good vibrations which, being the huge Beach Boys fan I am, I love!

It’s about a 20 minute cruise each way, but it can feel longer with the sun beating down the way it does here! So we made a pit stop on the way there to ‘Fresh Bakery’. I was hoping to find some cupcakes but made do with a yummy pineapple pastry instead and By got a giant chocolate chip cookie. We also  stopped at a little parade of shops that had some really nice flowers outside so we had to take a photo.

The beach isn’t looking at it’s finest right now due to the choppiness of the sea, the tides are washing up a lot of seaweed and debris that wouldn’t normally be there out of hurricane season, so I’ll showcase the beach to you when it’s looking prettier, but here’s a shot of the turquoise waters we swam can’t beat that. 

We also had a picnic on the beach and then made a pit stop at Giggles ice cream for some mango and strawberry milkshakes which provided some much needed refreshment for the cycle home.

Yesterday evening we were invited to our first island BBQ with a ‘Bubba Keg’  which is like a giant barrel that you can grill on.  It was at my employer’s house along with Brandon and Alyssa and another family from Georgia who we’ve made friends with. I meant to take more pictures but I spent most of the time in the kitchen baking Hummingbird cupcakes...things sure take longer when you don’t have a KitchenAid around!(Mel-you better be taking good care of mine!) and they seemed to be enjoyed all round, as was the meatfest that was provided for us!  Chef Brandon had made his famous dry rub for the ribs and it certainly lived up to expectations as Byron said they were the best ribs he’d ever had and coming from a South African that’s a pretty great compliment!  I thought this may be a good opportunity to introduce to you Josiah and his sisters. Here is a picture I took of him last night, this was pre cupcakes and  he’s looking rather grumpy...if I’d have taken it post cupcake you would have seen his smiley face! We discovered he is a rather big fan of cupcakes or ‘pot  cakes’ as he kept requesting...which if you remember from a previous post is an altogether different thing and is what they call stray dogs here!

He is nearly 3 and a half and is the whole reason I am here.  When he was diagnosed with autism there was nothing on the Island to help autistic children, and the only solution would probably have been for his family to move to The States.  His mom, Nicole, researched into it and decided if ABA therapy was what  was needed and no one on the Island could provide it then she would bring someone in who could.  She recruited two ABA therapists from Canada and Dawn  Program was created.  For the past 6 months they have been giving therapy to Josiah and another little boy, and now Alyssa and I are taking over from where they left off. We now even have a waiting list of diagnosed children who are in need of therapy so the program continues to evolve and grow.  Josiah also has two very cute sisters, Michaiya and Adaiyah.

Here is Adi who’s 1 and she is just adorable. She doesn’t stop smiling all day long and is very affectionate so we spend lots of time getting hugs from her, and Michaiya will be 5 on Wednesday and is the world’s biggest chatterbox.  She is quite a character and  definitely enjoys having us around, especially when I’m making cupcakes!

Here I am, happy doing what I do best! Since it's been National Cupcake Week this past week back in the U.K I was happy to be contributing to the cupcake baking that has been going down! 

Friday, 17 September 2010

A few things I've learnt about life in TCI...

I'm pretty sure every day we're here I learn something new about living on this Island! It is different from the U.K in many respects and I thought it would be funny to share a few of the things I have observed:

  • Most children don't use car seats at you don't find any crazy rules here about being 8 years old and having to sit in a car seat.  In fact my employer's little 1 year old is just free to roam in the front seat of the car, and her 3 year old examines the seat belt with great caution every morning when we strap him in because I'm pretty sure he's never used one before!
  • They don't seem to have a direct debit option for any of the bills you want to pay.  We bought a mobile phone at the beginning of the month and set up a contract, and they just told us that sometime next month we have to come down to the shop and pay our monthly fee (no specific date in particular, just anytime we're passing by!)
  • No-one really has an address here.  They have just recently started trying to give the roads names, because before then there were no road names anywhere! So you can basically put Gem Braithwaite, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos and that post would reach me! Although they don't have postmen or anything like that, you basically have to drive by the post office every once in a while...wander in and ask if they have any post for you! 
  • Yesterday I went to observe one of our children from our program in his day care which he attends in the morning.  He was in a class for 2-3 year olds and there were 19 children in the class with only 2 adults supervising.  I'm pretty sure that's illegal in the U.K! It was crazily chaotic to say the least! 
  • People walk the streets with machetes...seriously! It's sort of scary to begin with, until you see them everywhere and it starts to become normal! (Byron wants me to clarify here that it is because they're gardeners...and they're not just roaming around for their next victim)
  • The school where I work has Fun day Friday! The kids and staff dress down, they have hot dogs for lunch, and then they line up for ice cream cones afterwards..and they play all morning and then School finishes early and at midday they go home! 
  • When you look through the job section of the paper, the average rate for jobs is $5 per hour, which is approx £3.20.  Even the advertisements where they expect loads of experience offer crazy low salaries, like a sous chef advert I saw.  They requested you had at least 5 years experience working as a sous chef and the applicant must have training in Modern Caribbean Fusion, European cookery, French, Mediterranean and Pan Asian.  They should be a proficient saucier and have honed pastry skills so as to prepare and present eye catching desserts.  They must be willing to work all public holidays and weekends and the salary was just under £1000 per month!!!! Seriously?! and it's not only that but since the cost of living is so ridiculously high on this Island that those kind of ads just make me laugh! 
  • They have completely random public holidays.  Next Friday we have a day off due to 'National Youth Day' whatever that involves! I'm not questioning it...a long weekend sounds good to me! I also find it amusing that they have a public holiday on June 11th for the Queen's birthday when we don't even do that in England!  We also have two more coming up in October...Columbus Day on the 11th and International Human Rights Day on the 24th! 
  • The beaches are pretty much always deserted, we hardly ever pass anyone on our evening strolls and I have yet to see a Belonger on the beach.  A Belonger is the term for a native Turks Islander. The funny thing is that someone told me recently that most Belongers can't actually swim, so they live on this amazingly beautiful Island and don't get to enjoy the beaches it offers! 

Thursday, 16 September 2010

And the heat goes on...

It's been a busy week here.  Last Friday Night we experienced Pie day Friday at Salt Mills Diner down in Grace Bay which was really fun...especially cause we used to do our own Pie day Friday back in the UK! and we got milkshakes too which made me super happy! It was a nice way to celebrate being done with the first week of work! I didn't get to make it to Beach Volleyball since we had meetings on Friday night til after 6...but I'm definitely hoping to make it tomorrow night.

On Saturday we went to Grace Bay beach which is a 12 mile stretch of one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and it's often found among the beaches of the World's Top 10 Beaches list.  I have been excited to go ever since we arrived.  The waters are crystal clear and the beach is pure white sand.  It was a really fun day of chilling on the beach but unfortunately we didn't take any good time.

On Sunday we gave our talks at church which was a very interesting experience! We had to stop after every sentence or two to wait for the translator beside us to translate it into Creole as most of the members in our branch are Haitian.  I think I worked him a little too hard and was speaking too fast for him to keep up with, it will definitely take some getting used to! We downloaded an app on our Ipad to learn Creole and have been busy learning slogans and giving ourselves little tests to see how we're doing! It's like an easy version of French so it seems like it could be picked up fairly quickly.  We were invited to have lunch with some Americans from church and we had a delicious taco bake with them and some yummy desserts! They asked me if my work visa had come through yet and I told them it hadn't, and they said don't be surprised if it comes through after your year is up! which seems a bit crazy! They definitely do things on Island time around here...that's for sure!

We went to Family Night on Tuesday at Church which was fun, and accompanied by more yummy treats! and last night Alyssa and Brandon invited us round for dinner and cooked us a Pennsylvanian-Dutch speciality of cabbage and noodles.  We also went for a stroll along the beach and the sunset was awesome.  We took advantage of having someone else with us to take a picture and so here is one of the two of us! 

On Monday Byron went to this marine biologist's house to help her transplant mangrove trees.  It's a conservation project she has been working on.  He seemed to have fun, and she has even offered to take him kayaking to a nearby Island, Star Island, sometime soon which he is excited about.

He has been busy exploring the Island with his camera and taking lots of shots so I thought I'd share some of them with you.  He is meeting next week with a photographer who is interested in him doing some editing work for her so here's some shots he's snazzed up a little to show her.

He also chatted with a wedding co-ordinator at church who came over yesterday to take a look at some of the wedding photography he has done in the past.  She seemed pleased with what she saw, and said she may have a wedding in November for him to the work is coming in a little at a time, and hopefully it will continue to do so.

Until then he continues to fish, and enjoy the beach on a daily basis.  He went to Coral Gardens the other day, a stretch of water known for being a really good scuba spot.  He saw some giant sea turtles and sting rays and brought me back some cool shells too.

The mosquito bites are still coming, and I'm not quite sure I will ever get used to this heat! but our evening strolls at the beach and this Island adventure we are living makes it all worth it.