Monthly Archives: June 2017

Iguana Yoga Takes Blacktip Island By Storm

iguana yoga

Meditation sessions with Blacktip Island’s native rock iguanas have proved popular at one island resort. (photo courtesy of James St. John)

The latest trend in yoga has been given a topical twist at Blacktip Island’s Blacktip Haven resort, where guests can now participate in yoga sessions while the island’s rock iguanas crawl around, on and over them.

“We wanted to get in on the goat yoga craze, but there’s no goats on the island,” yoga instructor Bindy Pigeon said. “Then an iguana wandered in on a yoga class. No one moved, so it stayed and ended up climbing on top of a prone student. That’s when the light bulb went off.

“Turns out, iguanas are better than goats,” Pigeon said. “They love the body heat, and once they settle in they’ll stay on your back or stomach or head for as long as you let them.”

The classes have proven popular with tourists and locals alike.

“It’s way better than plain yoga,” said Blacktip Haven guest Marlin White. “The interaction with nature helps you center yourself better physically and mentally. And there’s nothing quite like a resting iguana on a downward dog.”

Other students, though, saw drawbacks to meditation with the reptiles.

“It can be a bit of a distraction when one starts munching on your hair,” Blacktip resident Cori Anders said, “And you have to make sure they don’t poop on you. That’ll get you uncentered in a big-ass hurry. And those claws!”

Resort management stressed the classes are safe as well as eco-friendly.

“Sure, we had a couple of students get clawed,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “But the scratches don’t bleed much and we keep plenty of antibiotic cream on hand. You have to expect that with wild animals. It’s what makes our yoga sessions so effective.

“These iguanas aren’t trained or restrained or coerced in any way,” Havens said. “We toyed with land crab yoga, too, but there was no way to do that without catching the crabs and penning them here. And they wouldn’t stay still long enough to be therapeutic, anyway.”

Community leaders have embraced the classes.

“It’s something to do on the island that doesn’t involve alcohol,” the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “For Blacktip, that’s revolutionary, really.”

Others concurred.

“People can laugh all they want, but this is just one more unique thing that draws visitors to Blacktip,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “The classes are so popular, Bindy’s turning students away. And Elena’s resort’s booked solid for the next six months.”

Pigeon shrugged off the nay-sayers.

“People can snicker all they want,” she said. “Iguana yoga’s the real deal and it’s here to namaste.”

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Council Meeting Melee Guts Blacktip Island Church

liquor zoning

The interior of Blacktip Island’s Our Lady of Blacktip interdenominational church was demolished during a fight that broke out during an island council meeting concerning liquor laws Thursday afternoon. (photo courtesy of the Rev. Pierre Grunt)

A Blacktip Island Council meeting at the island’s church turned violent Thursday afternoon during a debate over liquor laws. The ensuing melee sent council members diving for cover and resulted in more than a dozen people being taken to the island’s medical clinic.

“It started with Reverend Grunt pitching a Sunday booze ban,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “The bar owners objected and all hell broke loose.

“Rich Skerritt and the Reverend had each other by throat,” Cobia said. “Jerrod Ephesians tried to break them up and got cold-cocked with a hymnal. The next thing you know Dermot was swinging that candelabra like a scythe and people were trampling the pews to get out. I jumped through the window to get away. I still got stained glass in my hair.”

Seven islanders were arrested on assault charges.

“This is a hard-drinking island community. I accept that,” the Rev. Pierre Grunt said from his jail cell. “We’re not trying to change that. We’re just asking folks to take a day off, dry out a little, maybe even come to church.”

Resort owners say the proposed law unfairly favored the religious community.

“Pierre wants to steal one of our big-money days,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said from the adjacent cell. “You think it’s a coincidence he made an exception for the church?

“He’s selling that mead of his behind the sacristy Sunday afternoons and making a fortune,” Skerritt said. “He’s axing the competition. That’s dirty pool.”

The church has been selling its artisanal St. Dervil’s Mead, named after the island’s patron saint who first distilled mead on the island and taught its native iguanas to sing, to raise funds for building improvements, church officials said.

“The mead isn’t for inebriative purposes,” Grunt said. “It’s part of our after-church social fellowship, and sales go to new windows for the church. Now we need even more windows. And pews. And hymn books.”

Other resort owners criticized the mead sales as purely commercial.

“Pierre just wants a slice of the tourism pie without having to invest in the marketing or infrastructure,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “He’s even offering punch cards for every mead purchase. After 10 pints, you get your choice of a t-shirt or an Indulgence.”

Most locals sided with the resort owners.

“It’s about choice and free will, you know,” Dermott Bottoms said. “You don’t want to drink, go to church. You do want to drink, go to the bar. Rev’s trying to take away our freedoms.”

The island clinic has issued an urgent call for blood donors in the wake of the violence.

“We’re not equipped for injury on this scale,” island nurse Marissa Wrasse said. “We need blood of all types, so long as the donor is sober. Most donors so far can’t pass the breathalyzer test.”

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Blacktip Island Hosts Conch Herding Competition

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Eagle Ray Sound, on Blacktip Island’s west coast, is the site of this weekend’s conch herding trials. Herders from across the Caribbean will compete in the semi-annual event. (photo courtesy of Clete Horn)

Blacktip Island will welcome conch herders from around the Caribbean Saturday for the 47th Semi-Annual Caribbean Basin Conch-Off in the island’s Eagle Ray Sound.

“Conch herding’s an island tradition, and we’re damn proud to be selected to host this year’s Conch-Off,” Blacktip Island Traditional Conch Herders president Clete Horn said. “It’s a competitive sport, like sheep herding, except underwater. And with conchs instead of sheep and grouper instead of herd dogs.

“The handler on the surface directs a pair of trained Nassau grouper to herd a half dozen conch across the sand, around coral and whatnot, then into a catch basket,” Horn said. “And it’s strictly catch-and-release. No conchs are injured, despite what some say.”

The herding trials are conducted in heats, with two conchers facing off on opposite sides of the lagoon, directing their groupers with hand motions and finger pops. The first to get six conchs into a basket and to the surface moves on to the next round.

Blacktip Island will be represented by local favorite Antonio Fletcher. Competitors, from as far away as Guiana and Cuba, include regional sensations Shelly Hard, Jorge Pompano and reigning champion Caracol Gigante.

“The trick’s to think like a conch, get inside its brain,” Fletcher said. “Me having The Sight helps with that. Got to have the right grouper, too. Raised mine by hand from little-bitty fry.

“Folks tried herding with stingrays a while back, thinking they’re smarter, easier to train,” Fletcher said. “But the rays get distracted too easy, you know. Like they all got ADHD or something. No, groupers are best, and my Nassaus are best of the lot.”

Animal rights groups are campaigning against the competition.

“One person grabbing one conch for personal use is reasonable,” said Conch Appreciation Committee president Harry Pickett. “Not necessary, but justifiable.

“Chasing bunches of conchs across the sand, then jerking them to the surface for sport, well, it’s not good for the conchs. It can give them strokes,” Pickett said. “That leaves us with lots of traumatized conchs. The last thing this island needs is neurotic snails.”

Conchers were quick to defend their sport.

“It’s Blacktip. Short-term memory’s a non-issue here,” Horn said. “I guarantee they’ve forgotten about it by the time they hit the bottom again. Hell, most of the spectators will have, too.”

The competition is a popular spectator sport among locals and tourists alike.

“Families with kids like to watch from the surface,” Horn said. “But we also have underwater videographers streaming the action to the Sand Spit bar so adults can watch with a cold drink in the air conditioning.”

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Reef Rage Sparks Blacktip Island’s New Underwater Police

reef rage

Blacktip Island’s tranquil beauty has been marred by recent violence on the Caribbean island’s dive sites. The incidents prompted the creation of a special underwater police unit. (photo courtesy of Ger Latner/Eagle Ray Divers)

A rash of underwater incidents described as ‘reef rage’ has prompted Blacktip Island officials to create an underwater volunteer police unit to safeguard the Caribbean island’s divers.

“The high stakes world of scuba tourism isn’t for the faint of heart,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “There’s more dive boats out there, carrying more divers, each competing for the same amount of space on the reef. You pay a bunch of money to dive here, you want to see everything. Trouble is, so does everyone else.

“We’ve had everything from divers bumping other divers out of the way to pulling dive knives on each other,” Latner said. “The final straw was the guy who surfaced with a cut regulator hose. The bubbles were beautiful from the surface, but somebody could’ve been hurt.”

The island’s police constable formed the ad hoc Special Underwater Police Auxiliary to deal with the attacks.

“There’s only one of me, and I barely know how to swim,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “I can put on a snorkel vest and watch from the surface, but I can’t stop anything from happening, and I can’t be at every site all day.

“I ran local divers through a quick Special Constable course, then turned them loose,” Marquette said. “We stress de-escalating confrontations and non-violent intervention. The volunteers do carry underwater Tasers, though. Just in case.”

S.U.P.A. officers say their experience often lets them stop trouble before it starts.

“Most confrontations start with someone inadvertently getting kicked, or not letting other divers see an interesting sea creature,” said S.U.P.A. member Frank Maples. “Photographers are especially bad. If we can nudge them along, we’ve nipped the problem in the bud.”

One overzealous scuba diver has been arrested so far.

“The jerk with the big-ass camera started it,” Blacktip Haven guest Maxie Fondé said. “Planted that sucker in front of an eel hole and camped there 10, 15 minutes. Wouldn’t let me or my husband see.

“He ignored a polite tap on the shoulder, then flipped my off when I pulled him away,” Fondé said. “Shooting my spear into the sand next to his head sure got him to move, though. Then he had the audacity to file charges.”

Other dive guests applauded the new special constables.

“It’s nice not having to confront bad divers anymore,” said Club Scuba Doo guest Olive Beaugregory. “If someone’s being an ass, I just motion to the reef patrol and they take care of things. Just this morning, when a man was lying on the reef, the constable squeezed his inflator vale and WHOOSH! sent him to the surface. Problem solved!”

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