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Monday, November 14, 2016

The "The Turks & Caicos Islands: Part I - The Land" Story

It was an ordinary day.  That's if you consider sitting on a lounge chair under an orange umbrella on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world ordinary.  The azure waters drift slowly toward the strikingly white beach known as Grace Bay Beach.  This is the third trip for Carol and me with our friends Jerry and Just Sue to the Turks & Caicos Islands which are a British overseas territory comprised of 40 islands and cays (pronounced "key") which lie at the southeastern end of the Bahamas chain, 575 miles southeast of Miami and 90 miles north of the island of Hispaniola.  
The highest elevation on any of the islands is 250 feet at Blue Mountain on Providen- ciales (Provo) which is the island on which Grace Bay Beach is located. Those who live on Provo, known as Belongers, will tell you that the islands were named after the scarlet dome of the barrel-shaped Turks Head cactus, which reminds you of a Turkish fez or hat, and the Spanish word "cayos" for small islands.  The Turks and the Caicos are divided by a 22 mile wide, 7,000 foot deep passage known as the "Turks Island Passage."  
Christopher Columbus discovered the islands on his first voyage to the new world when he stepped on Grand Turk in 1492 and was greeted by the peaceful Lucayan Indians.  I can't imagine what he must have thought when he saw all these beautiful islands which are referred to as "Beautiful by Nature." After leaving Grand Turk he sailed along the coasts of South, East, Middle and North Caicos, stopping at Pine Cay to refresh his water supply, before continuing on to Providenciales to possibly sit on Grace Bay Beach on the chair next to me which happens to have CC scratched into the metal frame.  
He happened to leave for Cuba before my plane landed on the island.  Tourism provides the livelihood of just about every resident on this island. Only weather and health threats can slow the tourists from coming to the T&C islands, but over the years of travel to the island, I have noticed that they have grown tremendously from our first trip in 2009 when the main highway, that essentially travels from one end of the island to the other, was partially sand and stone to all blacktop this year.  More and more gorgeous houses have found a location along the shores and beaches of the island since our first trip.  The official language of the island is English with an island dialect that I have trouble with, but then I have trouble at times with regular English, especially if I forget to wear my hearing aides.  
Well, I must tell you that my lounge chair is so relaxing that the only reason I ever leave it is to walk across the pure white sand, which is so cool and feels like baby powder, to the alluring water which is perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen.  Water today is 85 degrees, the exact same temperature as the air, and water visibility is said to be up to 200 feet down.  Remarkable!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


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