In 2017 we saw a devastating hurricane season in the Caribbean and the southern United States. Former and current imperialist nations had to navigate the treacherous waters of displaying support and/or disdain for their island charges. Some did a great job on the public relations front. Others failed miserably. And how you feel about that is likely due to your own political bent.
But this is a travel blog, and the best way to learn the unadulterated truth, in our opinion, is to go to the place and ask the people how they feel about their circumstances. So, this is our adventure in Turks and Caicos, a mere three months after Hurricane Irma cut a path of destruction from Barbuda to the southern tip of Florida. What we found may surprise you.
We booked our trip to Turks and Caicos in August of 2017, using our favorite discount website, Secret Flying. At $355 USD roundtrip from Atlanta, it was a great deal, and we pulled the trigger without hesitation. But less than a month later, Irma made landfall near Providenciales, and we began to question whether or not we should activate our travel insurance and cancel the trip.
The media touted British response to their overseas protectorate, and as the trip approached, we did our research to ensure that the island group was functioning at near-normal levels. So we forewent said insurance and proceeded as planned, arriving at Island Club Turks on Thanksgiving Day.
Although the villa complex was still under hurricane reconstruction, our unit had already been renovated by the Canadian expat owner, Joe. The shower was hot, the air conditioning was downright cold, the wifi was lightning-quick, and the center pool and courtyard were immaculately landscaped.
We slept well. We slept late. And the next day we roused ourselves at the crack of noon to find a spicy lunch and fascinating conversation at Turks Kebab with our host, Jeremiah. Jerry, for short.
We talked about life in Provo, the hurricane, the British response to the hurricane, the best way to give Ben some sweet dreadlocks, and food. In particular, we talked about spices. Jerry brought out an assortment of special blends for us to sample with our hummus, falafel, gyro, and kebab menu selections. Proudly handcrafted by Jerry himself, we made sure to leave space in our checked baggage to bring a bottle or two home for our closest friends.
To this point in our adventure, the Turks and Caicos had displayed a resilience in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma to recover, rebuild, and rejuvenate the economy. After an expensive trip to the local grocery store and few hours of relaxation, we sallied forth from the villa once again to have a wholly different dining experience for dinner this evening.
We wanted to combine a bit of snorkeling with drinks and appetizers before going to bed early in preparation for our first dive trip the next morning. So, we chose to visit the Coral Gardens Reef, just a mile or so down the road. Angela set up base camp at Somewhere Cafe and Lounge, ordered a drink, and watched as Ben and I took a self-guided snorkeling tour around the clearly-marked ring of fire coral.
Surprisingly, the snorkeling was quite good. Ben and I saw three sea turtles clustered together and nibbling on seagrass, as well as several large parrotfish, a pufferfish, and a big triggerfish species that I still haven’t been able to identify.
On land, Angela wasn’t faring so well with her cocktail. We returned from the snorkeling adventure 45 minutes later to find that she had only just received her rum and Coke. During the conversation with expat locals at the next table, we learned that Somewhere had been hit hard by the storm, and that both the staffing situation and the property itself had not fully recovered. So we gave them a pass this time.
Tomorrow, we would head out for our first day of diving in Turks and Caicos with Dive Provo. Hopefully, the reef has weathered the hurricane just fine.