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Turks and Caicos, September 21 into October & November, 2000

Turks & Caicos. A string of coralislands where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. "JUNGLE JUICE" has taken possession of the allegro resort. Most of the film will be shot here and some in LA.

The island is a 12 mile stretch of white sand and some bushes, poverty and Aids. Skinny dogs hunt the beaches for food.

Most of what the island has to offer its tourists lies under water. A coral wall surrounds the island and at the westpoint it drops to a mile depth. The sun is outthere, always. The wind is always blowing and the rains are wild and short.

Temps around 90F. The warm period. Off season.

I've been here for ten days and had time to become acclimatized. But it needs to be mentioned. The sun in this gigantic paradise has blown my socks off. Through blocks of cream my feet have turned into two lobsters.

I am slowly discovering what's going on here as I gather thoughts for my character. The film is a crazy comedy and the director - Tony Vitale - makes us improvise. It takes me by surprise.I don't trust myself. I come from written words.

That is where my diary stopped. At an early stage, basically because..well..I didn't want to write because I felt terrible. Had a pretty good time with Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken but mostly the chemistry was screwed. So the production was troubled. Disorganized. I was supposed to be there for two weeks but it turned into six.

My digital camera had been stolen from my lunchtable one day. It had some nice shots for the website on it. Never saw it back.

While all this was developing slowly I had some time in my hands to discover a different side of the island.

After my arrival I had to be checked by one of the local doctors for insurance purposes. As he came over to the hotelroom this guy struck me as an extremely pleasant man. As we go on with the job I asked him about the HIV/Aids situation because I had just read an article in one of the local newspapers that it was almost as bad as in Africa. Which seemed outrageous and strange. He said that it was that bad. For a number of reasons. Especially since treatment was very expensive. As he left I missed him already and felt very much out of place.

(continued) November 15

In the time that I had off I decided to try and find out a bit more about the HIV situation. I asked people in restaurants, in shops and all over how many people they happened to know with HIV. They almost always - without saying anything - raised their hand spreading out five fingers.

I went back to the doctor to have a coffee, at his house. He explained the situation. Nobody wants to know because it's bad for the touristbizz. They have nothing to gain anyway. There is very little help on any of the islands. Their relatives shy away. They suffer and die lonely. In the same period a colleague of mine and myself went to quite a few different schools doing a playful workshop about HIV. It was a real eyeopener.

I decided to set up a small foundation and maybe a fundraising event. We had a lot of musicians on the crew. But I wanted to find local people, if possible. Musicians the islanders would listen to. I had about ten days left to organize it and see if I could.

I had to connect with local lawyers and my own. It's been a long time since I worked so hard and intense on anything. I had a videocamera flown in and had a cameraguy join me shooting footage on the whole thing. In the end we shot seven hours of what may be a very interesting documentary which I will edit in the next half a year.

I'm telling you this because I do feel this comittment will also be part of a shift in my life. Today I'm getting the footage so I can look at it over the next months. Of course you will hear more about this in the future. It's still just a baby but the basic idea is to create an organization which will raise awareness and support for the HIV/Aids situation in the Turks & Caicos Islands. A websitedomain is in place.

There are a few more things to tell you. I'm still struggling with an immense legal minefield in order to change the website into a nonprofit thing. I want to do it right. The FANCLUB is delayed because of this. The CHATROOM will be reinstalled pretty soon. The POEM section will be brought back.

"The Room" will not be up soon, because it doesn't work very well. The size and projection quality are still cumbersome. And I will follow up more with more bits of a continuing NEWSLETTER. Be patient. It will be worth it.

Rutger

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