Turks and Caicos Islands

OK, I have to admit, until about 6 weeks ago, I didn't even know the Turks and Caicos Islands were a separate country from The Bahamas. Actually, I didn't even know they were here at all, I thought it was all just vaguely southern Bahamas. But we had to dig out the 'Q' flag again, visit customs and immigration, get a cruising permit, get a little run around.  I think Customs is a very necessary place and have no quarrels with fees and permits.  If I want to come into your country, I have to abide by your rules or I can stay home.  I just wish they would apply the rules uniformly. We checked in the same day as another boat here in Sapodilla Bay.  We paid the $15 entry fee (which ended up being $20 as they had no change) and have a $75 cruising permit.  The other boat paid no fee for the cruising permit and didn't have to pay the $50 entry fee for their dog.  AND they got a 90 day visa, ours initially was 7. Same day, same officers, different rules.  WTF??? Weren't we lovely and smiling, non-ugly-Americans?  Did we somehow look like we wouldn't mind paying? Do I have to work on a more 'poor' look?    ahem, rant over.

These islands have a very colorful past, as do most places from here south.  The T's and C's were 'discovered' by Columbus in 1492, and it sounds like it went downhill for quite a while.  Slavery, disease, pirates, colonization.  First ruled by Spain and at different times by Bermuda, England and Jamaica, they've been a British Crown Colony since 1962.  They're now a huge tourist destination for fishing and diving and judging by the numbers of people on the beach here in the Bay, it's big for spring break, too.
(One quick Jeopardy! fact: after his space flight, John Glenn first set foot back on earth at Grand Turk.)

 We rented a car yesterday to do a little provisioning and sight seeing. Who am I kidding?  We did mostly provisioning: the IGA and Price Club for groceries, the Do-It store for hardware stuff, Napa, the Wine Cellar.  We did manage to squeeze in a nice lunch at da Conch Shack and Rum Bar.  It was right on the beach and the conch (pronounced konk) was very fresh.
The live ones were in the kayak, they hid as I walked up.

They were shelled and pounded right on the beach and then deep fried and brought to our table.  I don't have a photo of that because, you know, I was too busy eating them.  The shells were then cleaned up and sold.  Only $25!  There were huge mounds of shells around the restaurant for the taking and yet tourists were still buying the ones that had been brushed off and washed.  I was very encouraging of this and stood there pointing out the really nice ones to the couples who came over.  I think the guys out there working in the hot sun and putting up with all of the debating about which shell to buy, deserve all the money they can make.  Most of these guys are from Haiti and I'm sure the idea of spending $25 for a free shell just boggles their minds. 

We've been here in Providenciales (Provo) for more than a week.  The wind is still blowing from the direction we want to go. Unfortunately, the farther south we go the more steadily the wind blows from the east.  Fortunately, we don't have too much more east to do before we can just head south.
It looks like the weather will give us a break by the middle of the week and we should be able to head off shore to Puerto Rico.  It'll be at least a 4 day trip, so we want a large and fairly good weather window. I can't wait to get there and finally be in the Caribbean.

1 comment:

Chris said...

We had much the same experience in the DR with fees, but every time we went from one harbor to another. you must check out and in to the next harbor, with the proper "dispatchio" document. To check in is sometimes free, sometimes not... and checking out is equally sometimes free and sometimes not... to the tune of $20 in and out at each port, or nothing at all... I agree... WTF??? As it turns out, the fees are illegal and basically fleecing the Gringos, and is frowned upon in officialdom... Nice... Lessons learned: always insist on a receipt, and never hand over original documents, but copies. Ours were held hostage until we coughed up money...