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Rough Science 2 Carriacou: Mike Leahy's diary: Arrival

Updated Monday, 28th January 2008

For Mike Leahy, the demands of making TV added to the oppressive nature of the heat - but it's not all bad.

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Exploring the island

Like much of the West Indies there had been an exodus in Carriacou during the 1960s and 1970s. This had implications on the social dynamics of the community and their self-esteem. Apparently, they were quite an old fashioned bunch. Young people remained "children" until the age of twenty one and shirts were to be worn in shops etc.

Dario, a charismatic, slim Italian whose eyes look into opposite directions went on to tell us not to swear or drink too much, that the island was the people's lounge. "Don't interfere with the flower garden". He then told us that previous film crews caused trouble by upsetting the local economy and causing arguments.

Apparently a crew filming for a soft drink had caused a riot at the hotel. He said that, apart from the Paradise Bay murder a couple of years ago, there was no crime and that following the murder no-one smiled for two weeks.

After all the paranoia, we were told about the natural risks. These included electric rays, sting rays, scorpion fish, jellyfish, snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, stinging centipedes (the worse of all with a sting like a viper) and finally a horrible tree called the Manchineal tree. Cool! Horrible beasties, horrible plants, suspicious people!

At first we walked through the next village - Bogles - then past Dario's house and further up a dirt track.

As we reached an area of pasture we broke off the track to the right and headed steeply uphill. After a while, we turned right and climbed up through some woodland and finally arrived at High North.

The view was amazing. There were so many islands. It was only 954 feet but seemed far higher. As we sat eating pineapple we realised that the sun was behind us.

But I knew that we were facing south. Ellen agreed that we were facing south but how come the sun was behind us. Kathy was certain we were facing north.

It didn't take Jonathan long to come up with an explanation. Because it was the northern summer the sun appeared to be further north - higher in the sky in the UK, for example, but still visible to the south.

Here, close to the equator, it was viewed to the north at noon - cool!

Ellen pointed out the manchineal trees - very nasty. The fruits look like crab apples. Kate had very nearly been fooled on our first day.

First day of filming

Lost my notebook. We were up at six (the usual time).

Carriacou gets going early. As usual, things were running late so we had plenty of time to chill out before leaving for the filming site. I had breakfast in my room to save cash and get some time on my own.

I wanted to train / workout or at least practice my Taekwondo patterns but it's far too hot, even in the morning. After breakfast I visited the others, content in the fact that four breakfasts have cost me under EC$10 instead of nearly EC$100.

The starlings were already picking on the remains of breakfast. Not like European starlings, these were elegant birds, the males being a stunning black.

Eventually we left in a minibus. The lime factory was pretty cool in a hot sort of way. Situated right next to the sea, it looked like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory turned inside out - incongruous next to the beautiful sea and palm trees.

Around the factory the grass had been kept short by grazing cattle and trees were sparse. Startling flamboyant trees punctuated the green of the surrounding vegetation and smart concrete roads circled the parameter of the site.

Pieces of machinery were dumped everywhere, particularly lots of Land Rovers and bits of Land Rover. The sea breeze had been no good for these fellas because they were absolutely rotten and rusty.

Like any job there are ups and downs in filming. One of the major downs are the early set-up shots, whereby we have to walk in a line one way, then the other, and finally through a door.

This took about three hours with us standing around in the sun. Another piece of filming that I really don't like are the "wow" moments like discovering our tools and resources. As I've begun to grow up I've been far less tolerant of people and I don't like bullshit.

For some reason this means that I can no longer suck up to people and I find it impossible to act. The rest of the shoot will be less set up apparently.

By midday I had a headache, was terminally bored and would willingly have taken the next flight home.

I was sick of different members of the team competing for attention, the forced laughter, the false friendship and lack of sincerity.

That said, the venue was perfect, most of the team were cool and there was plenty of laughter which wasn't forced.

As I chilled out at lunch away from the others I contemplated the sight that would have met me had I visited the lime factory in the seventies.

It must have been a very difficult place to work. There were stationary engines dotted everywhere, some had simple reservoirs of water for cooling, just like an open saucepan on a hot plate.

It must have been so hot and humid here - unbearable for the workers.

 

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