The TelEm Group will be giving away lots of cool prizes including the latest mobile phones, and have a huge surprise at the grand launch of its 4G LTE mobile data service this Friday, September 1, from 6:00pm until 1:00am on the Boardwalk.
Sunset Beach Babe Rosi Fernandez is excited about having won the August 20 competition from among a bevy of eight beautiful women. A former dental assistant, who currently volunteers at Trisport, Rosi tells us more about herself and the competition in this week’s Hot Seat.
Sonesta Maho Group will launch its new entertainment concept in September. The person behind it all is Shep Shephard, Director of Entertainment for Maho Group. He tells us about himself and his plans for entertainment.
Who is Shep Shepherd?
“I’m a professional, creative, and working internationally within the Art and Entertainment industry with a broad experience in entertainment creation, theatrical production and special events. I’m a creative thinker, a passionate and extremely driven individual; I’m also a karma farmer. I strongly believe in doing what you can for who you can whenever you get the chance.”
Where are you from and how did you end up on the Friendly Island?
“I was born in the Potteries, the heart of England, in 1983 to fireman Malcolm and nurse Sandra. In March 2016, I was approached by the Maho Group to join the company and head up their entertainment operation. I moved to the Island in August and have been here since.”
“I studied performance at Bretton Hall College of Art in West Yorkshire before going on to complete a Master’s Degree at Kings School in London. I originally trained as an actor, but gradually broadened my interests to include the wider aspects of production. Whilst studying, I became known for staging unique events and live performance. Since then my work has taken me around the world, working in theatres, art centres, cruise ships and resort concepts.”
Tell us about your job at Sonesta Maho?
“I joined Sonesta Resorts St. Maarten in August 2016 to oversee the Entertainment Operation at that time. I was approached by the Vice President of Resort Operations… In November the owners invited me to design and deliver a brand-new entertainment concept for Maho Group, spanning Sonesta Resorts, The Maho Village and The Casino Royale Theatre.”
Tell us about your experience in this field?
“I was always an entertainer and loved centre stage… I’ve played for lots of large audiences over the years as a Cruise Director, Compere, Radio Host and interviewer. There’ve been many personal highlights, but professionally speaking, it would be interviewing World Champion Sports Stars and Academy Awards-winning artists… Working at Yorkshire Sculpture Park where I was exposed to many incredible international artists and influential mentors, shaped me as a creative thinker.”
Tell us about the new shows?
“We’re currently developing our brand-new shows for the big launch in September, and it’s really exciting. For the high season we will have three brand-new spectacular productions, featuring aerial artists, acrobats, world champion dancers and vocalists. There will be three shows weekly on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday, all at 10:00pm in Casino Royale Theatre. Presently we have two temporary shows running, MJ The Experience on Wednesdays and Dances of The World on Fridays, right after the Maho Village Carnival. In addition to this, of course, we have performances across Great Bay, Ocean Point and Maho Beach Resorts… One thing that I’ve been very clear about in building the new content is that we want the shows to be as appealing and accessible to as wide an audience as possible. We’re investing huge amounts of time, money and effort to build shows that don’t just draw people to Maho Village, but to the Island of St. Maarten.”
What do you like about your job?
“I love the creative process. It’s exciting and stimulating and there’s never two days the same. As I get older I also really enjoy watching younger people develop as performers, it can be really rewarding to invest time and effort in people and see them grow.
Also, you get to meet so many interesting people I hear some really great stories.”
What’s your personal management style?
“My door is always open and I try and listen as much as I can. I’m very strict, but at the same time fair and work hard to highlight people’s strengths so as to empower them to grow. I’m very much “you get out what you put in.”
What differentiates you from other persons in a similar profession?
“From the start of my career it’s been very important to me to gain the broadest experience possible from the industry. I’ve developed a wealth of knowledge from hands on experience, some exceptional mentors and always pushing myself to keep learning.
Critically I’ve never been afraid of challenging the status quo, risking new ideas or taking chances. This is what being a true creative is about, not repeating old formulas. You can’t be afraid of failure either. The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything at all”.
Challenges in the field?
“People who are afraid of change or who fail to see the bigger picture.”
Message for youngsters who want to follow in your professional path?
“Listen, learn and pick great mentors. My Dad always told me: “if you can’t learn from the person next to you it’s your fault not theirs.” I really believe in this sentiment and it’s always served me well. The more you practice the luckier you get so never give up. Be yourself, be bold, make lots of mistakes and learn from them - everyone is a lesson.”
What else are you involved in outside of work?
“There’s an outside of work - what is this place?
“Laziness and negativity, get on board or get outta the way. Life’s too short!”
Also people who say “we’ve always done it like this.”
Music… walking the dogs really relaxes me and playing with Lego too. I’m basically a massive child. I’m passionate about all visual arts so I love galleries, the theatre, cinema and festivals etc.”
What’s your favourite type of music – what artistes do you listen to?
“As I mentioned I really enjoy all genres of music but especially soul and motown, swing and great pop music… There’s always lots of Sinatra playing in my house.
If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party who would they be and what would you cook for them?
“Frank Sinatra, he changed the face of popular music and politics for several generations and was an incredible story teller. Robin Williams, one of my all-time favourite comedic performers - he’s a million guests in one. And Barack Obama, I think he’s been one of the most inspirational leaders of modern times and we need him back. We’re going to order in Chinese so I can focus on pouring the drinks and picking the music.”
Finding perfection in imperfection
Martine Loubser did not have what many would call a conventional upbringing. For the first fifteen years of her life, she lived on a 44-foot boat with her parents and older brother. Yet, for Martine this was her ‘normal’ and included driving a dinghy to school and sailing from island to island during school vacations.
She accredits her creative drive to her mom, who till today loves anything that requires innovation and creativity. “My mother, brother and I were always making something. “Sure living on a boat means that you should utilize everything you can, but getting creative was also our form of entertainment”
After high school, Martine followed her passion and graduated with a degree in Illustration from Arts University Bournemouth. Today she is freelancing as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator on Sint Maarten, figuring out her next step into exploring the arts.
Why do you think art is important?
Ha-ha, this is a hard question! I think art means different things to different people, but it definitely serves as a way to connect us. Art brings people together and allows us to share and exchange things about ourselves, our values, and our thoughts. It’s a reflection of our humanity, and I think expressing that is really important.
When did you decide to make art your career?
It took me a while to make that choice. After high school, I did not really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something I loved. Art is often not really seen as a ‘feasible’ career option, so I hesitated on following that route.
Instead, I worked for two years in the yachting industry, in a position that was not creative at all. I think it gave me the understanding that being creative is an integral part of who I am. So I looked into art-based programs and applied to The Arts University of Bournemouth.
What was the most valuable skill you learned during your art studies?
Problem, solving! I had pictured going to art school and learning to use tools and techniques, but it actually focused more on the ‘why’ and less on the ‘how’. It was great. I did not just learn how to ‘problem solve’ in art, but I think many of the processes we went through could really be applied to many aspects of life.
What kind of art inspires you?
There are so many! I love loose, evocative sketches with a lot of movement, like those by Toulouse-Lautrec or Valentin Serov, but I also love the simplicity and humour in the work of an artist like Jean Julien. I think what’s most inspiring is passion, in whatever form. If art makes me feel the passion experienced by the person who created it, it inspires me.
Why do you like ‘creating’?
Most of the time, I have a chaos of thoughts in my head. When I create, it allows me to organize and express them by creating something tangible; a drawing or sculpture maybe.
It is like therapy and a pure expression of myself. The product usually doesn’t end up the way I initially planned it, but that’s the best part. I think I would describe myself as a perfectionist, but art has taught me that perfection actually lies in imperfection! I love that.
I have seen a lot of your drawings, is that what you specialize in?
I do love drawing and it is a comfortable means of expression for me, but actually, I have used a lot of different techniques during my art career, and hope to use many more. At the moment I am very into film, so it would be great to explore my next project through that medium.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I think I am still on a journey of really finding my ‘signature’ as an artist, but whatever I do, I’d want it to have positive effects on others.
Lately, I’ve been exploring the notion that we all regularly experience loneliness, doubt, and disappointment, but we often only want to expose the best of ourselves. This isn’t a bad thing, but I think it would be great if we were more comfortable with showing weakness as well. I think if this happened, it would be easier to support and understand one another. Maybe I could create something about that.
You can invite three people over for dinner. Who are they? What will you serve them? What will you discuss?
So many choices! Maybe Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson and Franz Kafka. It would be like a surprise party - we’d have cake and champagne, and I’d get to tell them how hugely celebrated and influential their work became after they passed away.
Check out Martine’s art out at www.martineloubser.com
~ Journey into the curiosity with porosity ~
I think I should start by addressing the proverbial elephant in the room. It’s been a long time since the very first “Healthy Hair”. We’ve gone through name changes, and I even shared my intense distaste for “wash day” while providing a guide for the types of shampoos to use for the best results. Well, I’m back to talk to you about something very important in life: Hair. Not really sure if I’m going to return to the columnar antics of old, recurring every week, or if I’m going to end up dropping some knowledge then letting the mic drop right after. But let’s keep this light and casual and see where it goes from here.
~ A cause of protein-related deaths ~
Meegan Hefford, an Australian bodybuilder, has died after consuming large amounts of protein from food and dietary supplements, reports her family. The mom of two had increased her protein intake while preparing for a bodybuilding competition, but doctors discovered too late that she had a rare disorder that prevented her body from properly metabolizing the nutrient.
One of the most striking members of the feline family is the tiger, who sports a beautiful red-gold coat with distinctive black stripes, covering an incredibly powerful muscular body.
The tiger is the largest member of the cat family. There are six subspecies living in pockets of forest in Asia. In the largest subspecies, the Siberian, males can weigh up to 300 kg. Males from the smallest subspecies, the Sumatran, will weigh in at tops 140 kg. Females are smaller than males.
Their golden-red fur is covered with vertical black stripes. Each tiger has its own personal unique pattern. The stripes help camouflage the tigers as they prowl in the forest. Under their jaw, on their face and on their belly, they have patches and stripes of white fur. They have yellow eyes and a pink nose. Coarse white whiskers grow on either side of their face. Their ears are rounded, and each ear has a white circle at the back with a black dot in the middle resembling an extra pair of eyes. White tigers are rare – just one out of every 10,000 is born in the wild.
Tigers are fearsome predators. They are meat-eaters and hunt mainly medium- to large-sized animals, such as deer, wild boar and water buffalo; though they will hunt smaller animals if necessary. They can go without food for up to two weeks and will then gorge on a large meal. They can eat 40 kg of meat in one sitting!
Tigers hunt by sneaking up on their prey, ambushing it with a giant leap, knocking it over with their great weight and then grabbing it by the throat with their powerful jaws and long sharp teeth.
Unusually among cats, the tiger is a great swimmer. They can swim up to 29 km a day, and can cross wide, fast-flowing rivers. They enjoy bathing in water to cool down. They have also been known to hunt in water.
Tigers are generally solitary animals, except for mothers and their young. Tiger cubs develop inside their mom for just over three months. They are born in a den, for example, inside a cave or a tree hollow. Two to four cubs are born in each litter. They are born blind and are completely helpless at first. They nurse from their mother for the first three to six months. Once they are weaned, they start to leave the den with their mother and she teaches them to hunt. They are independent at 18 months but will stay with their family until they are over two years old.
Tigers are endangered animals. They have lost most of their habitat and have been hunted for their beautiful fur.
Some good news: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) estimated last year that there are 3,890 wild tigers, up from 3,200 in 2010. This is the first increase in tiger numbers in a century! WWF is working to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, which will be the Year of the Tiger.
Most pilots are trained to avoid bad weather, skirting their planes around storms. The brave pilots and crew of “Hurricane Hunters” do completely the opposite. They literally fly directly into the eye of hurricanes to gather information for the weather forecasters of the National Hurricane Center (NHC). In doing so, they help keep everyone in hurricane-prone areas safe.
Satellites, as high-tech as they are, cannot provide all the data forecasters need, such as accurate wind speed and the interior barometric pressure of a hurricane, and this is where “Hurricane Hunters” comes in. It is estimated that the data the group collects improves the accuracy of forecasts by up to 30 percent!
The official name of “Hurricane Hunters” is “Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.” Part of the United States Navy, the group is based in Mississippi and is responsible for the area that stretches from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the islands of Hawaii. From September to July, they set up a base in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Equipment is moved there at the start of the season and they only have to send in the aircraft and crew when a storm develops in the Atlantic.
They use the sturdy, reliable propeller aircraft, the WC-130J Super Hercules, to fly into the storms. The planes are fitted out with a computer with a special weather program that sends the data collected from the plane’s sensors instantly by satellite to the NHC weather forecasters. The forecasters there plug the information into their supercomputers to prepare forecasts for the storms.
Each plane has a crew of five – the pilot (who is the commander in charge), the co-pilot, a navigator, a weather officer and a weather loadmaster. The loadmaster is in charge of making sure all the equipment and crew are loaded safely on board.
When a storm appears to be forming, the NHC sends in Hurricane Hunters to find out if the winds are blowing in a rotation, which would indicate that a storm is developing and becoming stronger. The aircraft flies into the area at a low altitude of between 500 and 1500 feet above sea level.
If a circulation is found, Hurricane Hunters would start to fly “fix” missions; heading at a higher altitude into the centre of the storm. The Weather Officer releases an instrument called a dropsonde into the eye wall and into the eye of the storm. The dropsonde measures the maximum winds at the surface of the ocean and the lowest pressure in the eye wall.
The NHC uses the information gathered by Hurricane Hunters to forecast the path and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. This information is passed to local meteorologists and governments who can then issue watches and warnings.
Of course everyone wants to know what it feels like to fly into the eye of a hurricane. When asked, Hurricane Hunters Commander Major Brad Roundtree described it as being like a roller coaster ride through a car wash!
Photos and text by Emma Croes
“In Galisbay one day, I was observing, that dissident giant twisting and turning. Getting ready to make a dive, to snap up something to eat.” This is a quote from the poem “The Fall of the Pelican” written by Serge Tuder and translated into English by D. Jeffrey Razafindrainibe and published in 1978.
In Simpson Bay, just recently, I was observing the same thing. A lone pelican was flying back and forth along the beach, carried by the ocean breeze. I was struck by its beauty and I tried to capture its image in pixels with my camera.
After my photo session, I realized that I actually didn’t know much about the Brown Pelican or Pelicanus occidentalis. Yes, I knew that it was St. Maarten’s national bird, that it ate fish and that it was supposed to be brown- coloured. But that was about all.
So I did some research on this magnificent creature. I visited Philipsburg Jubilee Library, I looked online, I watched a documentary named “Pelican Dreams” by Judy Irving (2014), and I asked Nature Foundation a few questions based on their St. Maarten Pelican Project Report (2011).
What I found out is that you can tell a young pelican apart from an older pelican by its colour. Young pelicans are fully brown. When they get older, their heads become kind of spotted with white feathers. Grown-ups have a white head, neck and throat with yellow highlights, their amazing wingspan of up to 7.5 feet in length still showcases the tell-tale brown feathers associated with its name. They should weigh more than 3.5 kilograms and, like all pelicans, they have very long bills. (For those of you who do not know what bill means, it’s another word for beak.)
The Brown Pelican’s dive is very unique in the way they seem to plummet down from startling heights into the water. The hunt starts by making a circle until the pelican spots its prey. Then it starts to bank and turn, and when the dive is fully initiated, the wings are folded in closer to the body with a tucked in neck. The chest of the pelican protects it from the hard impact on the water; it works kind of like an airbag. The impact stuns the fish, making it possible for the pelican to scope it up and swallow it whole. All in all, an efficient method of fishing.
According to Nature Foundation’s Pelican Report, the Brown Pelican is not doing so well. Its numbers have decreased steadily since the 1960s and 70s. This coincides with the increase in seafront development that started around that time, resulting in habitat destruction. However, this is not the only reason for the Brown Pelican’s predicament. Other reasons are the decline in the number of fish in the sea, as well as garbage and discarded fishing material that can be found in the waters, endangering the pelican’s habitat.
A few important habitats, including the pelican nesting grounds, have remained intact on St. Maarten are thus far. These include Divi Little Bay, Great Bay, Molley Beday and near islets, and the Pelican-Simpson Bay area. Molley Beday is one of the little islands of the eastern shore that, together with Pelican Rock and Hens & Chicks, provides favoured nesting grounds for the Brown Pelican. These tiny islets have been allocated as Important Breeding Areas (IBA).
In 2011, Nature Foundation organized a pelican count to determine its numbers. They counted a total of 339 that included eight chicks and 35 sub adults. The breeding season of the Brown Pelican on St. Maarten starts at the beginning of June and runs through to the end of August, with a peak at the end of July. Both parents take care of the chicks that are totally dependent on them. This requires a lot of fishing by both parents to keep the chicks, as well as themselves, fed. The decline in the fish population has made this very difficult for the grown-ups, and as such the number of chicks becoming sub adults has decreased as well.
However, there is hope for the Brown Pelican. Nature Foundation states that the imposed fishing restrictions at Man of War Shoal Marine Park seem to have resulted in an increased number of fish. They are currently monitoring the reefs, including the Marine Park, and their results will be published hopefully at the beginning of next year.
Nature Foundation also spoke in their 2011 report of initiating a fishing-line recycling program, in order to keep fishermen from discarding their fishing materials. In an invited comment, Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern, Project Officer at the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, stated that Nature Foundation “always promotes recycling and reusing; however, the government needs to set up proper recycling as we cannot do this. Whenever we find fishing equipment, we take it off the reefs and dive schools do the same for us.”
This year, Nature Foundation has been very active with their “Save the Sharks” project. I was curious how this project would benefit the Brown Pelican. Melanie told me that sharks are keeping the fish population healthy and they are very important for our reefs. “If we do not have sharks, we do not have a healthy ocean or coral reefs, and we would also lose many fish. By keeping a healthy fish population, we help pelicans [by protecting] their main food source. No fish, no pelicans.”
Each year, Nature Foundation is called to rescue Brown Pelicans in apparent distress. The total number of rescues differs per year, but it involves a few each year nonetheless. When people see a pelican in trouble, they can always call Nature Foundation. Sometimes, however, the cause is a natural one, like old age. Nature Foundation hopes to conduct another St. Maarten Pelican project to establish new numbers and to require new insights in the near future. Nevertheless, we can all do our best to prevent further habitat destruction in the immediate future by being more aware of all that lives on land and sea.
My name is Emma Croes and I am 11 years old. I got interested in photography when I was eight. For the last year, I have been able to practice my skill at Player Development as the team photographer. I am particularly interested in sports and nature photography.
Participation in the IACA Archaeology Congress, St. Croix, USVI
An article compiled by students of SIMARC (St. Maarten) and SABARC (Saba)
Sint Maarten Archaeological Center SIMARC is a community-based, non-profit group of local high school students, founded and directed by Dr. Jay Haviser since 2005. Saba Archaeological Center SABARC is also a community-based, non-profit group whose director is Dr. Ryan Espersen. Since 2012, SIMARC has been the official depository for archaeological artefacts collected during fieldwork that has been carried out in St. Maarten. It is also where we do our lab work and have heritage educational lectures for students and the broader community. Established in 2012, SABARC has its office in the Saba Heritage Center, complete with an artefact laboratory, artefact storage area, and educational display cases.
IACA is the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology. It is the largest gathering of professional and amateur archaeologists from the Caribbean and overseas, who work and have an interest in the archaeology of the Caribbean region. The Congress of the IACA is hosted in a different Caribbean country every two years – in 2015, it was on St. Maarten; and from July 24 to 29 this year, it was held at Divi Carina Bay Resort in St Croix.
Two students from SIMARC, Soma Persaud and Tisiana Hart, along with two students from SABARC, Hylke Van Der Velde and Donald Hassell, were selected to participate in the IACA congress as representatives of the two organizations. They began preparations a month prior to the conference by gathering information about current research and findings on the islands of St. Maarten and Saba.
The preparation for this IACA presentation allowed them to show their understanding of the scientific methods required for heritage research, review what work they have done over the last two years, while the conference participation also allowed for a great crossover exposure and experience with professional experts in the field.
The students not only attended the congress, but also made a joint SIMARC-SABARC presentation to the assembled archaeologists. They got the opportunity to attend receptions and fieldtrips. These experiences helped them to learn about the history of the island of St. Croix. They visited many historical sites as well as the botanical garden.
During this IACA participation, they also got the opportunity to exchange knowledge and information with fellow archaeologists and local St. Croix high-school students attending the congress. “We hope that from this new youth networking, we can maybe someday have a youth exchange with students from St. Croix,” they expressed.
Over the last year, SIMARC has taken a creative approach with a re-enactment video which was used to fulfil our goal of saving our heritage and historical sites of St. Maarten. “By using our voices as youths to speak up through video [we hope to achieve our] overall goal to educate and provide the community with insight on what SIMARC is, and what we do to help protect and educate about our island heritage.”
What do SIMARC/SABARC groups do for their communities?
“We create bonds between the local high-school students and the island communities, with a development of knowledge and pride in our heritage. We also help improve economic growth through heritage tourism, as we document and sometimes repair damaged historic sites, we plant trees and, as with this IACA trip, we travel abroad, spreading the word of our pride in heritage. By setting future goals, purpose and value are added to our time and efforts. We focus not only on present projects, but also on what we would like to see to develop for the betterment of our organization.
“The first and foremost future goal we wish to achieve is positive recognition. Not just recognition on a local level, not even on a regional level – the aspiration is to have an international presence in the global community. To achieve this goal, we wish to increase our collaboration on projects with interested organizations. We also find it necessary to have our image spread on the Internet; hence, it is our goal to start being active on social media.
“Additionally, some other future goals are as follows: Making signs for important sites of heritage information, compare historic grave headstones between St. Maarten and Saba, interview elders around the island about our culture, and continue developing our networks around the Caribbean and abroad. Lastly, we hope to diversify the student population in our group, and just be role models for other youths.”
In order to participate in this important IACA travel, SIMARC and SABARC greatly appreciate the direct sponsorship from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (Caribbean region), Be The Change Foundation, AirStMaarten, and indirectly from the governments of Saba and St. Maarten through annual operational subsidies.