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The Bahamas Revisited - Part I
mayan temple
As many of you may remember, back in Feb. I was invited down to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas as a guest of the "LIVE with Regis and Kelly" show. For one of the broadcasts I was assigned 6 untrained members of the studio audience to organize into a sand sculpting crew, and it was fairly amazing how elaborate a sculpture they were able to construct in just 45 minutes. This was also (apparently) noted by the Atlantis Activities Director who arranged for Fred and myself to return over the 4th of July weekend. The plan was for the two of us to work on a three-day demo sculpture while offering sand sculpting workshops for the resort's guests.

The turnout for the workshops was even greater than we had anticipated, with as many as 100 folks of all ages and abilities showing up. We had brought plenty of carving tools; the hotel provided buckets, shovels and a water hose. The first day's workshops - which covered basic hand-stacking and simple castle carving techniques - went off without a hitch and our students really impressed themselves. In between workshops we carved on an approximately 10' tall mound of sand, incorporating some of the unique design elements for which the Atlantis complex is famous.

For the second day's workshops, we had promised to cover sand compaction and using simple forms -- but had never quite gotten around to figuring out what kind of forms to use. An evening stroll through the casino proved productive - nobody seemed to notice or care when we ambled out with big stacks of the cups the casino provides for carrying coins (in two sizes!) A few minutes to cut the bottoms out and we had a whole bunch of very serviceable casting tubes for our students' use.

By the end of the second day we had worked halfway down our demo pile and were looking forward to an easy finish on Saturday.... but that was not to be. A critic (who wore size 12 Adidas) had something else in mind. When we arrived bright and early that morning our sculpture - and those of all our students - had been stomped down into disorganized piles of sand.

This is of course not the first time something like this has happened to me - the world is full of critics and it only takes one jerk a few seconds to wipe out two days worth of work - but I don't think it is possible to not feel a sense of violation every single time it occurs. But hey, I'm a pro! so when the members of our new local fan club showed up to express their dismay, I told them it was just another lesson -- a large part of a sand sculpture's charm is its temporary nature (and that's why it is a very good idea to take a lot of pictures.)

So... on to Plan B. As luck would have it, one of the resort's most popular attractions is a gravity-defying water slide called the Mayan Temple. Its basic shape is that of a pyramid -- which is very close to the shape an unorganized pile of sand reverts to. To make a long day's story short, we were able to re-form the pile of sand into a recognizable facsimile of the temple, filled out with some dolphins, an octopus, and a large, "space-consuming" representation of the Atlantis logo -- in just a few hours. Many spectators told us that they liked plan B even better than Plan A (FYI: In the world of professional sand sculpture, Plan C is almost always a Sea Turtle) and we had the satisfaction of leaving the resort with a finished piece that lots of people would want to get their pictures taken with.

The next day we packed up and heading to a whole new Bahamas adventure at a phone-free, totally self-contained Swiss Family Robinson-like cabin in the out islands with its own private beach and accessible only by boat.... but that's a whole different column (stay tuned!)

See more pictures of this sculpture here

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