Turtle Babysitting - Day/Night 13 (Wednesday)
Thursday, September 17, 2009
It rained, I got soaked. It stopped, I was still soaked. A lot of people showed up, we all lined up along the length of the "fence" around the nest area, looking like people at a stadium waiting for the Turtle Bowl. We chatted. The older woman next to me said that when her husband was at the beach earlier in the day, he overhead people saying that tonight would be the night, so that's why they came down. (It wasn't the night.) A bunch of teenagers stayed for several hours - but teens being teens, they were antsy - the girl danced much of the night, then started making up turtle cheers, complete with high kicks, jumps, everything but pompoms. She was great! Her friends (or brothers?) mostly took turns running around and eating. By the time I left (9 PM), there was a whole crowd of West Indian kids and adults, in a big circle, talking with the head scientist - I don't know if they were some school group or what, it kind of looked like that. It was nice to see more local people present - up til now it's been mostly people from the States who now live in the VI - our island seems to cluster into "born here" and "born there" groups (not necessarily color-based, but definitely us-them based on where you came from) - so I was happy to see more "born here" people getting interested in helping the turtles (rather than the old guy who wants to eat them).
On the topic of "born here - born there" - when I drive down to the beach, about 15-20 minutes from our house, I take a shortcut that goes through an area that, late at night, is not the best area. Drug dealing, gangs, that kind of stuff. Daytime is fine, and I usually go through about sunset. And I'm a fairly innocuous looking person - definitely do not look rich in my little Yaris, me wearing overalls and no big jewelry. So I don't worry. I go by a school that has a big basketball court, and there's often a game going on - not school kids, but neighborhood teens and young men.
Well, last night, there wasn't a pick-up game going - there was a crowd of young men gathered around a small folding table, under a street light so they'd be able to see into the night. Some were sitting on chairs, others were crowded around. All had the low-slung "gangsta" jeans or shorts, with tushes hanging out. T shirts or tank tops. Some jewelry (BIG bling jewelry). A few with dredlocks, a few with big knit caps covering their dreds.
I see that one guy, wearing shades despite the fact that it was sunset, was leaning on the table on his elbows, dealing cards. So this would be an evening of poker, or whatever. (Obviously this was not a canasta or bridge crowd.) As I drive by, I see something furry and black and white snuggled against his chest, in back of his elbows - I look and see a BIG cat, snuggled up against this tough looking guy, watching every action and every card. It just was so funny, I started laughing as I drove by. In an unknown city, I'd be leery of this crowd, because they do look like the homies you'd worry about - but then the card dealer has his big ole' kitty hanging with him - it just was hysterical!
Anyhow, that's the turtle report. We're still waiting. It's Turtle Incubation Day 67 today, so we're still hopeful. I won't be out on Friday (Erev Rosh Hashana) but a lady took my cell phone # and said she'll call and I can come down late to see the turtles heading out. (I also have several people in my cell to call if they start out - we all really want to see this as well as help the babies as much as we can.)