Part of the reason is that the recent death of Clifford Gardiner has knocked the stuffing out of me. More about that later. Mostly, though, I’m stopping the blog because the “island living” I write about is quickly moving into the past. I don’t want to become some raving oldster on a park bench screaming, “That’s not how we did it in the old days!” Well, at least not publicly.
Beyond the Parrot Paradise was meant to share the experiences of living in an island community that was not yet developed into a tourist destination with big resorts and enterprises catering to those who have ad-manufactured ideas about what constitutes “paradise.” And it was always North Caicos, though some of the comments also applied to other places. Along the way, I also threw in some of my raving oldster opinions: disliking air conditioning, dissing dishwashers and clothes dryers, distrusting those big developers who would destroy a real place to create a fantasy “tropical” mishmash. I loved the feedback and hoped that the blog would make others think about their own expectations and motives in seeking out life on the island.
The blogs were certainly based on my own experiences, but they were also inspired by many conversations with belongers, especially Clifford, who helped me adjust to island life and told me so much about the “old days” on the island. In fact, one of Clifford’s many ideas was to bring to life those old days in a resort that would be 180 degrees from all those Provo luxury high-rises. He wanted to create a place that would immerse guests in the island’s past: staying in thatched cottages, dipping water from a barrel, grinding their own grits, fishing with a hand-line. All the modern comforts would be hidden in his historic village.
Many of Clifford’s dreams—becoming a pilot, Pelican Beach Hotel, Barracuda Beach Bar—came true, but not this one. He ran out of resources, energy and time. But another reason it didn’t happen was that the times were changing. Provo’s boom is echoing across the waters, and new tourists and residents are coming to North not for itself and its community, but for luxury and pampering. They expect every convenience and aren’t interested in knowing the more complicated realities of island life. Rather than getting away from it all, they want to bring it all with them.
These new times render Beyond the Parrot Paradise irrelevant. Writings about island improvisations and living with lightness and simplicity don’t mean much except to a handful of people. Those who come for the weather, pampering and “the good life” aren’t much interested in the community that has existed for years, or in adapting to that community.
And so it is time to say goodbye. I still love you, North Caicos, but it’s time to go beyond Beyond the Parrot Paradise.