Sunday, December 16, 2007

Change of Seasons

We went to Iguana's restaurant with La Gringa's father ( Big John) this weekend. La Gringa had promised Omar ( see the Conch Festival post) that we would give it another try. We had been there about a year and a half ago and neither one of us remember being all that impressed. In fact, what we remembered most were the prices and bugs. That's changed. We had one of the best meals we have had here yet at Iguanas. They are definitely in competition with Caicos Cafe now for our favorite restaurant.

The weather continues to be on the nicer side, with clear skies for the most part.

After being momentarily ( like for a week) discombobulated by the unexpected late tropical storm Olga, the weather pattern has returned to normal winter for here. Temperatures in the low 80's during the day, down to near 70 at night. Trade winds blowing reliably from the Northeast all day. Much easier to plan things when you know what to expect weatherwise.

Another seasonal change that is more pronounced than the slightly cooler weather is the level of visitors from the North. Starting in late November and continuing through probably late April, the hotel rooms start to fill up. Restaurants that closed for the summer re-open. There are more boats in the water. Such as one of our neighbors' nice Calyber sportfisher now back in the water from it's summer storage on Pine Cay:

I notice Ron's boat has it's registration numbers clearly on the side. We need to do that with our own boat, as well. Oh, we are registered, I just haven't gotten around to sticking the numbers on. We do have oceangoing cops here. There are three groups of those. The SPICE people are mostly involved in illegal immigration, which is a huge problem for these islands due to our proximity to Haiti. Only 130 miles away. Then we have the ennvironmental police, who mostly concentrate on fishing issues, sort of like seagoing game wardens. We also have the Marine Patrol, who tend to get involved in everything including fishing, boat registration, and the immigration issues. In the whole time we have been here, even with all the fishing and diving we do, we have only been approached by the Marine Coastal Patrol once, and that was only a couple weeks ago.

We were fishing just outside one of the park boundaries two miles out when they came alongside. No heavy-handed boarding party. No guns. No jack-booted thugs. Just a very polite officer named Paul who asked if we had fishing licenses. We did, of course. We talked about the boat, the dog's swimming escapades, and the fishing, and they wished us luck. A few days later La Gringa ran into Paul in the grocery store and they chatted. Its a small country.

The change of the seasons here also affects our own activities quite a lot. For the six months of summer, we basically are on our own. We have our kids coming down from time to time to visit, but that's about it for contact with Americans. This time of year that changes. Almost every week between now and late springtime there will be weekly arrivals and departures of visitors down for their yearly winter vacation at Pine Cay. We get involved in that. Every week there is a new batch of visitors. We transport some of them from the airport on Provo to the dock at Leeward to catch boats to Pine Cay. We take many of them to Pine Cay ourselves on one of the two boats we run. We bring them back to Provo to go shopping or catch flights home. We take some of them fishing. Some of them go snorkelling with us. We get busy boating back and forth.

Business picks up enormously for those of our local friends who are in the tourism based businesses. Things get busier at the marinas. Yesterday morning we were at Walkins Marina at HDR ( Heaving Down Rock. That's a lot to type so I am going to start calling it HDR here) fairly early. Shortly after dawn, in fact. We took Big John back to his house on PC and then we trolled back to HDR. No fish. We were back at the marina by around 08:30, and it was coming to life.
Ed and Joel of Catch the Wave were getting one of their flats boats ready to take three guys from the US on a bonefishing charter:

And people come back. We haven't seen Joel for months. When the charter business goes slack in the summer, Joel is one of the captains who goes home for a while. In Joel's case, back to the Dominican Republic.

One of the charter customers was a veterinatian, and was talking to La Gringa about Dooley the Dangerous boat dog. Andrea was shuttling back and forth from the office to the boat helping them load supplies:

That's the barge "Lil Lou" in the background. One of our readers told us he worked with the survey company who inspected this vessel back in Louisiana. It stays busy these days shuttling cargo from HDR to North Caicos on a full time basis.

Andrea will learn that no matter how young and agile you are, you will not out-maneuver a Jack Russell Terrierist. Many have tried. They all have failed.

Hey, Andrea, I will be happy to post a better photo if you will ever hold still long enough for us to take one. I do have this from back when La Gringa was helping sort out the computer problems at CTW after their move:

"Help, Help! People are telling us they write emails and the mailbox is full...and Erin is away in Canada.."

(Jim Dandy to the rescue, go Jim Dandy, go Jim Dandy)

Of course some of the usual suspects were at the marina in the morning. That included our friends Preacher and Dwayne, who showed up on time despite what appeared to be an Olympic class hangover. Preacher was telling him that the best thing for him to do would be to leave Duran in charge for a few hours and go conch diving. I was making fun of Preacher's hat, but won't post the specific details here, since this is a family-safe blog. Must have said something funny:

But then I get laughed at a lot, anyway. A source of amusement, that's my lot.

So today we are planning on checking on the house construction progress, and of course going down to the boatyard to see if we can figure out what the heck is the holdup with us getting our boat back. Preacher told us that he is waiting on a boat trailer to be brought over from Pine Cay so he can launch, and then we all should take a nice shake-down cruise out to French Cay. That would be good, having two boats go. Especially since the chances of finding more gremlins in either one is pretty high. That trip should be good for some great photos in a mid-winter sort of way.


Anonymous said...

As requested, just wanted to drop a note to let you guys know that I've been reading the blog since shortly after launch, having followed it over from THT. Again - thanks for taking the time to post, I certainly acknowledge (but probably don't fully understand) the effort that goes into this.

Please don't let the goings on over at the forum discourage you - I'm happy to get the updates in whatever form, they get me though the day.

So thanks, good luck and KEEP 'EM COMIN!

Anonymous said...

in short... Yeah... what he said!

Gringo... La Gringa... i have been following your blog and post's for a long time. Thanks for putting in the effort. It's a window onto a magical world of dreams!

La Gringa said...

It's nice to know that perhaps from time to time our blog will help others dream a little dream...

Thanks for the great feedback!