Mat, Greg, and all those who have expressed an interest in...

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Mat, Greg, and all those who have expressed an interest in this idea:

My name is Michael Shimer.

I have made a few posts on this topic in the past, and I am still interested in this idea of developing L'ile de la Tortue.

My interest in Tortue, and Haiti in general, comes from my time in Port Au Prince during Operation Uphold Democracy back in 1994-1995.

I was with a company of US Army Military Police and, due to the nature of our mission, was able to explore quite a bit of Port Au Prince and the surrounding areas in my months there.

The most exciting moments for me back then were when I happened upon the old remains of the fort that overlooked the harbor of Port Au Prince, along with the remaining foundation walls I discovered several canon buried with only the barrels protruding from the ground.

I also discovered the old residence of the Duvalier's near Petionville overlooking the city where the Haitian Army had established a sort of "officer's club" and had collected a substantial amount of Haitian military history artifacts, which I was given a tour of. I also toured the park grounds near the lighthouse of Carre Four, along with some of the old storehouses and jail on the grounds.

In essence, I was able to be a archaeological tourist masquerading as a soldier, or vice a versa, all courtesy of the US Army.

While in Haiti, I began to speak Creole somewhat, as I was always working with Haitian police officers who seldom spoke English and we were always critically short of interpreters.

Starting a few years ago, I began studying Creole again and have improved quite a bit. My intent has been to return to Haiti someday and work on my thesis for my Master's and Doctorate degrees in Anthropology/Archaeology.

I have spent a great deal of time studying the history of Haiti, as well as the buccaneer history of Tortuga / L'ile de la Tortue.

I focused on Florida, Caribbean and Latin American history while I was working on my Bachelor's Degree in History at the University of Central Florida.

I am now at the end of my military career and am ready to devote myself to my passion for studying the history of and helping the people of Haiti.

I have read what some of you have wrote concerning the challenges of developing L'ile de la Tortue, the challenges that currently face the people who live there, and the obstacles in the way of overcoming those challenges.

I have put some thought into all of this, and would like to express some of the ideas I have come up with:

First, what caused past developments to fail, particularly the Freeport Tortuga idea, was that the people interested in the development (Dupont Caribbean, Inc.) were not devoted to the people of Tortue, but in their own self-interests.

A lease idea with the Haitian government means taking control away from that government, including the local population and government, and potentially causing a development to proceed contrary to the good of the people who live there.

They would have created a nice little resort on the island where the super rich could come and enjoy themselves, but with only ancillary benefit to the people who reside there all year long. Eventually, the development would have taken over the island, and pushed the people who lived there before to the fringes, if not completely to the mainland.

The development of Labadee near Cap Haitien is a good example of just another resort on a Caribbean island, like so many others in the Bahamas, Jamaica, etc., that serve the visiting tourists but have not markedly improved the surrounding population.

What Tortue needs is a cooperative development that benefits all involved, but primarily the residents of the island.

Tortue does not need a Labadee-style development; Tortue needs an entirely new one, one that is centered on the people, culture, ecology, and the history of the island.

So many people are aware of the history of L'ile de la Tortue, even if they don't know it. They may be unaware of the location, or only aware of it by the Spanish name of Tortuga, but if you present them with the story, that which was depicted in films like "Captain Blood," or "The Pirates of the Caribbean," or in so many books that have been so popular over the past 200 or more years, then their interest would be aroused.

Everyone loves a good pirate tale, and most of the best of them began right on L'ile de la Tortue.

The description of the island laid out by John Esquemeling is striking, along with the several other accounts that have been found over the years (some fact, some fiction).

A wild town, a wild harbor, a wild island.

It's the stuff that stories and legends are made of. Retelling that story today is one way that the people of Tortue can prosper from this interest.

A good example of how much interest there is on this subject can be found in the new Pirate Soul Museum in Key West. Take a look at their site:

The question is: how do you get people to visit Tortue, excite their interest, spend their money, and walk away with a desire to return (and tell their friends and family to do the same)?

My answer is to develop an area of L'ile de la Tortue that facilitates just that, with an eye towards the islands history, culture, and it's beautiful ecology and scenery.

Here are my suggestions:

1) Excavate and document the site of Fort de la Roche.

Rebuild the site exactly as it was built by La Vasseur in the 1640s.

2) Build a tourist area of shops, restaurants, visiting centers, cultural centers, etc. based on the original 17th Century town of Cayona.

Accentuate "turning back the clock" with period actors, shows, and everyone in Disney "castmember" mode (creating and maintaining the magic).

Keep anything that isn't period out of sight, out of mind (behind/back stage).

3) Provide for families to be able to stay for up to a week at a time. Develop simple resorts, family owned "bed and breakfast" style establishments.

There is no need for anything to be centrally owned, other than the services and the core attraction.

Everything else should be owned by the local population.

a. Eco tours.

Rentals (scooters, bikes, kayaks, scuba, snorkeling, etc.), Tour/History Guides to hike the island, take excursions, etc.

b. Provide for basic medical service and evacuation.

c. Provide for modern communication (internet, phone, etc.).

d. Provide for security (private security and to help pay for additional Haitian Police and facilities).

This DOES NOT include creating a fence to keep the local population out (as at Labadee).

They are a part of the experience, and as such are owners as well. It is a cooperation and the developments' success is their success as well.

4) Access is another problem.

With no reliable runways for air arrivals, and no docks for offloading from ships, some development is certainly needed.

a. Build a period 17th Century dock, port and harbor as the principal means of arriving at Cayona and L'ile de la Tortue.

This would work perfectly for mainland arrivals and excursion boat arrivals (say from Labadee or from Port Morgan, or any of the other resorts on the north coast or from Cap Haitien).

Later development of the airstrips presently on the island might be in order, or creating a new one if needed, or creating a helipad for excursions, evacuation, etc.

b. Have replica vessels in the harbor.

From small to large, with an attention to the realism of the atmosphere and the whole experience of stepping back in time.

c. Have the ability for "pirate academies" or sailing cruises aboard a pirate ship. This works wonderfully already in places like St. Augustine and Key West in Florida.

In essence, what I'm talking about is an entire pirate/buccaneer vacation, spilling over into eco-tourism, and the ability to visit what Condé Nast Traveler magazine touted in 1996 as one of the most spectacular beaches in the Caribbean, if not the world.

Tortue doesn't need a Sandals Resort, or even a cruise ship style resort like Labadee.

Tortue simply needs to accentuate the history of the island, and give people the ability to participate in that history.

Tortue also doesn't need to become an exclusive destination out of reach for all but the richest tourists.

Keep it simple, follow the Disney model (to some degree), develop value resorts, develop a quick and economical way to get tourists from the airport (either from Cap Haitien, Port Au Prince or even the D.R.) to the dock, or by day excursions from some of the north coast resorts, and figure out a way to keep people busy for up to a week, with the value amenities that you would expect at any value resort (simple, dining, simple lodging, comfortable and family-friendly, with enough activities to keep a family entertained, from the youngest to the oldest.

I have this vision and I hope that I can do whatever I can to help make it a reality.

I'm not rich but I'm inspired.

I hope I might have inspired some of you who might read this.

If anyone is interested, I plan or returning to Haiti sometime in April or May of this year, right after I retire from the Army. One thing I have developed in my military career is the ability to stick to a goal. This is my goal. I welcome anyone who'd like to call me and help me out with this idea. My number is 321-202-8358.

Michael Shimer

Michael Shimer, February 7 2010, 8:05 PM


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41 - 50 of 51 « First  ‹ Prev  1 2 3 4 5 6  Next ›  Last »
Well, that's why you need guy like Aristide, Hugo Chavez type as president. Not people who don't think they human... read more >
Jean Pe, 31-Dec-09 4:12 pm
Mat, Greg, and all those who have expressed an interest in this idea: My name is Michael Shimer. I have made a few... read more >
Michael Shimer, 7-Feb-10 8:05 pm
Kenson, I'm very sorry that I was not able to reply earlier to your response. I hope your trip to L'ile de la Tortue... read more >
Michael Shimer, 7-Feb-10 8:23 pm
To whom it may concern: I just read your post regarding Nouveau Kiskeya. I would like some more information (I am... read more >
Michael Shimer, 7-Feb-10 8:56 pm
You have pretty good ideas, but the people of Tortuga Island are rough and tough people and it will take a lot of... read more >
Supplice Benjamin, 8-Feb-10 1:40 am
Supplice, Thanks for the reply. I certainly believe that you are correct, in many ways. The greatest challenge for me... read more >
Michael Shimer, 8-Feb-10 7:29 am
very great ideas. as i am talking to you now i am in dominican republic. i was in port au prince petionville helping... read more >
Kenson Desinor, 13-Feb-10 9:31 am
My name is Maxen and your right! Here there is ample room for developement and enterprise! read more >
Maxen. Frederic, 8-May-10 1:51 pm
Where ever you are Greg I'm here in Port de Paix at the moment thinking about how tourism would be great here on the... read more >
Maxen. Frederic, 8-May-10 2:00 pm
You are off base and somewhere out in left field with your insane suggestions that tourism will somehow save or even... read more >
Earl, 4-Aug-10 9:05 pm
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