Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Waking up this morning at the island of Grand Turk was pleasant. I was here a year ago about this time, and nothing much has changed. Other than living the culture of a Caribbean Island, and harvesting sea salt there is not much reason to be here. It is a long, low, flat island. The attraction is under the sea, the fish, the coral, and most of all Stingrays which some people pay to pet. I did not pay nor pet. The pier is fairly long walk to shore, and the only way on shore is to walk through the biggest “Duty Free Shop” this side of DFW. There are some beautiful beaches, and there is one near the ship. About 5,000 people live on the island: Haitians and Cubans make up about 50% of the population. It is thought that the “Pinta”, one of ships in the first expedition of Columbus hit the reef and sank here. A wreck has been excavated, and while there is nothing that says, “Pinta” on what they have brought up, everything indicates it was built at that time in history and came from Portugal or Spain. This is the island nearest where John Glen’s capsule dropped out of space in 1962. A replica of the capsule is on display at the site where it was brought ashore. The big draw for many seems to be a resort and bar called, “Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.” Imagine, an entire island drawing people from all over the world because of a bar! Hmmmmmm. My observation is that this is a dusty place. Wild donkey’s and small wild horses thrive here, and they may outnumber the residents. Last year I wandered around the space capsule, the nearby beach, and Margaritaville. Once was enough.
This year I took a taxi ride into Cockburn Town which is the only village on the island. There is an interesting little history museum, and on the far end of the island there is an old light house, that I saved that for the next trip. Horse back riding, kayaking, hiking, and a glass bottom boat were the things most people seemed interested in. By 1:00 I was back on board just in time to miss a class on making napkin rings from ribbons. Rather than going to a seminar on Increasing my Metabolism, I just settled into a chair at the pool on the back deck. That’s the best I could with my Metabolism. At 4:00 pm they offered a seminar on Wrinkle Remedies. Since I had Mass at 5:00, I didn’t think there would be time for my wrinkles. It would take more than an hour!
After my exploration of the island, I spent a couple of hours at the pool on the back deck, but even though it was almost 90 degrees, the pool water was cold enough to put me hypothermia. So I just soaked in a hot to and then read for a couple of hours. Just as I came to my cabin to change into “blacks” for the 5:00 Mass, the phone was ringing. It was a call from the Front Desk Guest Services asking me to get to the clinic for a medical emergency. That call changed things for the rest of day, tonight, and tomorrow. An 83 year old man died minutes after I got there. I’ve spent the rest of this evening with his wife helping make arrangements with the Cruise Line to get home to West Virginia, and contact their two children in Canada. She came to Mass with me after left the clinic, and the 30 plus people there swarmed around her with great care and concern.
We arrive at San Juan tomorrow at 1:00, and I will spend the morning with her answering questions and helping her imagine what will happen next. As I’ve said several times, riding these cruise ships as the chaplain is not exactly a vacation trip. However, here’s a look at the ship from the beach. More tomorrow.