Bar talk used to be primarily about island politics, with a few swings into other topics of local interest: the best route by boat to South Caicos, where the conch were plentiful, construction methods, and of course complaining about Cable and Wireless or PPC. Now the guys are likely to follow the northern interest in sports. Where I once marveled at the absence of football or basketball talk, I now can’t get away from it. There’s even a sports bar! Which, of course, leads us to the influence of…
Television! TV access has certainly been a game-changer for both individuals and businesses. It has brought the world to North Caicos and brought North Caicos even more influences from those big neighbors to the north. It also has brought people indoors, with the help of…
Air conditioning. There are still many homes and businesses that continue to use the breezes and fans for cooling down, but AC is gradually becoming the norm in new homes and cars. Soon the islanders will be living like Floridians, dashing from AC unit to AC unit to escape the heat instead of getting used to it.
I’ve also seen changes in food and drink. Pizza was once unheard of; restaurants are now making it a special. And while there are still no Starbucks or Tim Horton shops, coffee is gaining over the once-preferred tea. Kids eat cereal in the morning instead of grits or johnnycake … although chicken and rice and peas continue to hold on as island standards.
Do I need to even write a paragraph for the internet? It was still new in the U.S. and nonexistent in North Caicos 28 years ago. We found Pelican Beach Hotel through a mention in a magazine, and I sent my deposit by mail. Snail-mail, it’s called now.
Greater awareness of animals, I believe, is also a foreign import. Years ago, if someone had a dog or cat as a pet, it was not a companion but a worker: Dogs were for protection and cats were for rodent control. Compare that to the outpouring of sentiment about the recent passing of Red, a free-spirited neighborhood potcake in Major Hill. Yearly visits by the TCISPCA are helping to educate people about animal health and needs, and stray populations are under more control.
Likewise, I think we can credit the influence of tourism for greater interest in both land and sea conservation efforts, protecting the very things that bring the tourists and their dollars. When your tourism slogan is “Beautiful by Nature,” it’s best to keep it that way.
My memories go back only 28 years. Just think of how many changes senior islanders have seen! It’s not simply nostalgia to think of them … it helps to frame the future of the island as well. Not all changes are for the better, and some that have happened maybe should have been rejected. Now, that’s a topic for the gang at the bar!