Turks and Caicos - I think I'm in love
March 15, 2022:
Aaah…the sweet freedom of flying across the highways in the sky. It doesn’t even have to be business class. From Vancouver, premium economy on the red eye into Toronto and then the early morning connector to Providenciales (Provo) will suffice. It's always nice to have that extra leg room and wider seat so one can lay back and truly relax, and if you’re me – two plus years of covid lockdown - a self-published novel (Misty Lake) that could not be promoted properly in the bookstores due to protocols - and a horrific war that makes zero sense in Eastern Europe? “I’ll have another please, and make it a double”.
It's hard not to feel guilty when you’re living the dream (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and others are dying needlessly in the streets because some crazy psychopath has decided that he prefers to reside on the evil side of history. But I guess at some point, those of us who live in a democratic society with all that that entails, need to forage forward, continue living, and show the world what being free really looks like (and no, it’s not a misguided truck convoy in the middle of a capitol city), and yes, it is worth fighting for.
So I find myself contented, sitting in said seat with said leg room, next to my wife, sipping on a double gin and soda and finally realizing that a lifelong aspiration to laze on the white powdered sands that invite the caressing waves of the turquoise water is only a few hours (and a poorly trained customs official) away. At the Provo airport you can pay extra for fast-track service on arrival and departure (an option designed to help you quickly navigate the crazy crowds and line ups of an airport that is completely overwhelmed), but the purpose is defeated when you're extensively delayed by an agent who seems to be smoking the very drug you’re not allowed to bring into the country in the first place. Wtf!
I’m sure there are varying arguments as to the proper way to enjoy this paradise that is Turks and Caicos, but having done both the resort and Airbnb thing at other destinations in the past, for me, the Airbnb wins out most every time. Of course, unlike so many I don’t mind cooking my own meals, though we do eat out plenty as well, but if you are bringing the kids there is no doubt that the resorts are great for kicking them out the door (knowing they’re penned in), so as to allow for some quality time for yourself and that special someone.
No, not the Iguana
Yes, that's better
The villa we were staying at (yes…villa) is an array of individual bungalows ranging in size from studio suites to a one bedroom unit on two floors, to a massive home right on the shoreline (cha-ching!).
View from the big house
Front entrance at night
The fairly large, very well-manicured property comes complete with two decent pools, easy beach access and an owner (plus staff) that are more than accommodating to any issues one might have, such as a flat tire on our rental jeep that they fixed right away, or supplying kayaks (glass bottomed) and paddle boards for some fun on the water. They will also answer any questions one might have about restaurants and offer suggestions on things to do. Yes, this sounds extremely luxurious (and it is), but when you get a chance to explore the island you get the sense that this is a playground for the wealthy and our little piece of paradise is just that…little.
Studio suite with jeep parked out front
View from the one bedroom unit
The shoreline towards the resorts
One of the two pools I'm sharing with my friend
Our fully self contained bungalow was only a stone’s throw away (an easy beach walk on a beautiful morning) from some of the many big-name resorts. The area (known as Turtle Cove) also has a great little pub on the marina, a couple of coffee joints and several good restaurants just a short stroll down the street.
A road sign just in case you get lost
The marina at Turtle Cove as seen from the Magnolia restaurant during sunset
Sure, it may take a day or two to adjust to the environment, especially if you’re not doing the resort thing, but once you've dealt with the necessities just plunk yourself down on the beach (that you googled about), take a deep breath of salty Caribbean sea air and feel the stress of the world simply melt away before you. Then dive right in, I mean, you came all this way, right?
My best diving impression
What are you waiting for?
I say that as someone coming from the West coast, but almost everyone we bumped into that wasn't local came from somewhere along the eastern seaboard, basically just a short hop (a three hour trip) over the pond, notably referred to as the Atlantic Ocean.
Turks and Caicos, unlike Jamaica in my opinion, has a bit more to offer in terms of relaxation and overall safety, though I still tip my cap to Red Stripe and Jamaican jerk chicken pizza (which you can get here as well).
Poor Mr. Bill needs another one.
The water is absolutely stunning, and that's enough for me, but somehow, this small island and its adjacent atoll simply feels a little more comfortable. Not so many abandoned half-built concrete homes, stray goats, and “Hey Mun’s”. But I gotta ask, was Bob Marley the only musician to ever come out of the Caribbean?
Not Bob Marley
For some, holidaying might be about checking out the historical sites (I think there’s an old cannon from the Christopher Columbus days sitting around here somewhere), or maybe hiking in the mountains (more like desert hillsides here), or just touring the city streets (a couple of blocks along the resort area with some fun bars, eating establishments and boutique stores).
Yikes, looking a little parched
Aah, that's better
The real city is inland, but you ain't missing much. For the most part though, this island is all about the beaches and the water, and quite frankly, they’re real and they’re spectacular! Sorry Jerry, I had to borrow that line.
During our stay we explored Long Bay, Sunset Bay, Grace Bay (voted one of the best beaches in the world), Sapodilla Bay, Taylor Bay (in my opinion the best beach that I've ever been on), Chalk Sound and others. Each body of water more scenic than the last, if that's even possible. We snorkelled at a couple of the numerous reefs surrounding the island - Smith Reef being the best one (again, in my opinion), which was literally a five-minute walk along the shoreline from where we were staying and free of charge because you didn’t need a boat to get to it. What a score!
Grace Bay beach
Smith reef just around the corner
The Conch Shack, famous for...conch of course
Being a British colony, the traffic pattern is opposite to that of North America. The numerous roundabouts serve as traffic lights giving way to everyone on the right. The drivers are bold, aggressive, and not shy to pass in most any circumstance, so I fit right in. I’m sure there is crime and poverty, but quite frankly, we drove and walked around the entirety of the island and never felt unsafe. If it exists, it’s well concealed.
We rode horseback and experienced a torrential down pour while out in the water, our beasts of burden knowing to stop and turn away from the direction of the driving rain while waiting it out. A very surreal experience just sitting there in the Caribbean brine as the deluge pelted us.
Just before the cataclysm at Long Bay
Howdy partner, looks like a storm's a brewin'
We also boated along the coast passing an abundance of palaces (not sure what else to call them) owned by, or rented out to the Uber rich for as much as $70,000 U.S. a night, and yes, I am envious. Apparently, Bruce Willis has his pad up for sale for a paltry thirty million if you should desire to get the collection jar started.
Big names renting these homes, or so I'm told
But I got everything I need right here
As well, we golfed on the only eighteen hole par 72 course on the island, which was quite nice, but suffered a little from environmental issues such as big wind and massive sand traps with little to no sand in them due to, you guessed it, big winds. Then again, with my game it wouldn't have made any difference anyway. We had a nice breakfast on the large patio of the clubhouse afterwards, which overlooked the scenic course and made the whole experience well worth it.
Questionable form, I know
The company was pretty good too
One of the unwritten courtesies of staying in our villa (as we would find out) was to pass along any items that would no longer be of use to a departing guest. Things such as beach chairs, or a small portable cooler. We acquired both from others before us, and then passed them on to a new couple that would be there after we left. Items that were much appreciated. If we ever get back perhaps they will still be there for us again (it’s all about karma). Of course, I don’t expect the big jug of unopened water, or the coffee pods I left behind to still be there, but you never know.
Arriving in Turks and Caicos was a cluster, but trying to leave on a Saturday afternoon in peak traffic conditions was like nothing I had ever experienced before. This is where the fast-track service paid off, especially if you were trying to maximize your stay by arriving late to the terminal. What a gong show, both inside and out! It was simply chock-a-block, including the sun blasted patio outside on the second floor accessible only after check in. All loading and unloading was done on the tarmac.
Not much air conditioning inside, if any
At the end of the day we made our flight out, leaving behind what had to be one of the best beach vacations of all time. Magnificent warm turquoise water, cool soft sandy beaches, great restaurants (though I'll admit that the service in some might have been slightly less than prompt, but hey, what's the hurry anyway), and just an overall very friendly vibe that I have not always experienced in my limited travels. As the plane levels off and the attendant asks me if I would like a drink, I am reminiscent of the beginning of this journey and respond. “Sure, and make it a double.”
Until next time.