Archive for May, 2006

Fauna

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Ok, so life in paradise in not all perfect. Yes, there is plenty of “good”, and the stuff we’ve shared is really here. But, in the spirit of fuller disclosure, here’s some of the “bad and the ugly”.

We’ve written about the sea creatures around the island, but we haven’t mentioned the other creatures that live on land. Don’t get me wrong, there is some cool animals on the island. The birds are very interesting. We have Egrets, Herons, Tern, Osprey, and a bunch of other cool looking birds. We also have a variety of lizards abound.

In terms of livestock, we have horses, cows, donkeys, and chickens. While these animals might seem mundane, the way they are kept is very “Grand Turk.” You see, none of these animals are conained. You can be driving down the main “highway” (ok the “highway” is a 2-lane 30mph road), and have to stop because some horses or cows are wandering in the road. One day I was eating lunch at a restaurant while a chicken walked right by my chair with four little chicks in tow (good thing I ordered the fish). I’m not quite sure how people keep track of whose livestock belongs to whom, but I guess they figure it out.

So all of the animals above enhance the island, but here are some that don’t:

Ants: You reall need to clean up after yourself in Grand Turk. If you leave some crumbs of food on the counter for a few hours, you will soon come back to see a trail of ants seizing their prize. You can’t really eliminate ant problems here, the goal is containment. This goal becomes more difficult when you have pets, kids, and a pregnant wife that are incompatible with many forms of bug sprays and ant traps.

Mosquitos: Most of the time, the moquitos are not so bad. In the daytime during summer, the sun is too hot for them. Usually, the tradewinds are blowing and they don’t seem to be plentiful in the breeze. But if the wind dies-down, and the sun goes down, particularly after we’ve had some rain… watch out. These little blood suckers are some of my least favorite parts of living here. Their presence is particularly troublesome since we have no screen doors. If it’s hot and the moquitos are active we have to choose between leaving the sliding glass doors open and enjoying the breeze or closing the doors and keeping the moquitos out. At this point, we just close the doors around 5pm as it starts to cool down and the mosquitos become more prevalent.

Dogs: The mosquitos were very close to being my least favorite animals on Grand Turk, but I think I have to give the slight edge to the dogs. The local dogs are affectionatley (or sometimes not so affectionately) referred to as “Potcakes.” Traditionally, the woman of the house would cook food on the stove, and keep it going until the pot was nearly empty. The continued heat eventually built a hard crusty bottom which was left after all the good food had been doled-out. The remaining crusty “potcake” was fed to the dog. Over time, the name transferred, probably by the axiom “you are what you eat.” Now, I love dogs as much as the next guy, and we own two. I even like many of the potcakes I meet — one on one. They tend to be smaller and often timid. The problem I have with potcakes come in three flavors:

1. Freedom: Potcakes live life Grand Turk style. Just as the horses and cows, they roam free. Leashes are not very popular here. Many dog owners don’t have their dog sleep in their house, don’t have a fence to contain their dog, and many don’t even feed their dog (not sure exactly how all this makes it their dog, but that’s a different question).

2. Community: I don’t have anything against freedom, in fact, I like to support it. In this case, however, freedom leads to some other problems… packs of dogs. Did you ever notice how people in a crowd sometimes do things that they would otherwise not do if they were alone (think Girls Gone Wild, Soccer Hooligans, Star Trek Conventions, etc.)? Well, I think we have the same phenomena with the dogs. When 5+ dogs begin wandering around together, they get a bit wild. They can gang-up on other dogs, or even chase horses, donkeys, or cows.Their presence becomes particularly troublesome when I am walking our dogs (on a leash) with the help of one or both of my young children. Our dogs our fairly tough and can generally take care of themselves, but would probably not fare well if outnumbered 2:1. The packs of potcakes sometimes even turn on themselves as they gang-up on the weak dog, possibly a remnant of some Darwinian force (or the result of too much in-breeding).

3. Communication: There are many things I will miss when I leave Grand Turk. Barking dogs is not one of them. Actually, to be more precise… I will not miss the 2-hour episodes of non-stop barking from 5+ dogs at 2am when a horse wanders outside of our house.

Well, there you have it. After so many posts talking about how great it is to live in Grand Turk, we wanted to add some of these observations to keep the picture a little more real.