well, i know i neglected this blog for much of may and totally skipped over my actual trip to toronto and our trip to atlantic city and pennsylvania the following week, but what i can't stop thinking about right now is our trip to turks & caicos. so i'm skipping the earlier adventures of may and getting right to the most beautiful place i've ever been....
we left on the wednesday after memorial day for the turks & caicos islands. if you've been reading this blog for a while, you may recall me mentioning this place as a potential honeymoon destination last year. if not, it is a small island country east of the bahamas, owned by great britain. we had accumulated quite a few credit card miles in the past few years and decided we wanted to take a vacation and use them, and this was one of the places we could go for free. a friend of mine had been there a few years ago and loved it, so we booked the trip and off we went for a week of fun in the sun.
while this trip wasn't as luxurious as our honeymoon in mexico (rather than all free food and drinks, we were eating pop tarts for breakfast and ham and cheese for lunch, etc.), i must say that the beaches of turks & caicos are the most beautiful thing i've ever seen. every time we went out onto the beach i am sure i looked like an idiot with my mouth hanging open and drool trickling down onto my shirt... okay, i wasn't really drooling... but it was really that beautiful. i don't think pictures really do it justice, but of course i'll share them with you anyway. :) i'll try to keep this blog reasonable in length and just hit the highlights of our trip, but it may get a little lengthy even leaving a couple things out....
we stayed on providenciales, the main tourist island of the country. bryan was keen on checking the place out, so the first day we rented a "jeep" and went exploring. i find it amusing when you say you want a jeep and what you get is a daihatsu terios direct from japan (the owner's manual was in japanese even) that is the size of, oh, a pinto. only taller. :)
it did the job though. one of my favorite pictures of the trip is this one, where we were trying to take our own photo by sitting the camera on top of the terios (we started calling it the cheerios) and a nice gust of wind came up and bryan ran to catch the camera before it could fall. i love how i appear to think i can catch it from waaaaaaaaay back there. :)
we took the cheerios to lunch at da conch shack, probably our most unique dining experience on the island. this place is literally a couple of huts (not enclosed) on the beach, and they have pens where they keep the live conch in the ocean and then when someone places an order they go in the water and get it, then a guy cracks it open, pulls out the conch, then someone else takes it in the kitchen and cooks it up. neither of us had ever eaten conch before and we both enjoyed it... i guess it tasted kind of like your other typical shellfish, like clams or mussels or something like that.
we also took our cheerios down the one road on the map that said "FOUR WHEEL DRIVE." of course. there was a button we deduced must be the four wheel drive button on the cheerios, so we pushed that. unfortunately neither of us read japanese so we have no idea if we actually coaxed the car--excuse me, jeep--into doing a better job handling the insane terrain or if we just made the tires drive crooked.
the road led to a place called malcom beach, which we had all to ourselves. this road was out of control, and having never been four-wheelin' before, i was squealing like i was on a roller coaster and terrified we were gonna get stuck. but we didn't, and we spent a nice relaxing afternoon on this quiet beach.
friday we took back the cheerios and had the car rental guys drop us off at a place called bight reef, which is known as the best beachfront snorkeling on the island. you walk maybe 15 steps into the water and there's the reef. very cool. we snorkeled around for a while and saw lots of rainbow colored fish and even a barracuda! mr. barracuda was my cue to get the hell out of there, because i didn't like that he was within striking distance of my toes. even though he was minding his own business, i don't trust any fish with a big snapping jaw like that. (note: this picture is not the barracuda.)
friday evening we went to dinner and hung around for the band that was playing that night. they were a fun island music band and we heard our new favorite song. it goes something like, "i love you like a fresh veg-ah-tib-ul, i love you like a fresh veg-ah-tib-ul" over and over again. good stuff. :) the moon was full that night, and being in the open air and island breeze with a good band was a fun evening.
saturday was my day of the vacation--we did pretty much nothing but lay on the beach, read and play in the water. :) bryan's not into the nothing-doing, so on our vacations it's rare to have a day where we do NO other activities. but he indulged me. :) we had dinner that night at a restaurant right on the beach where we ate in a little cushioned sofa facing the water with candles and tiki torches all around... beautiful, and excellent food. we took pictures. :)
sunday: scuba diving! we went with a great company called caicos adventures and did two dives. the highlight for me was seeing a stingray. very cool. we also saw all kinds of amazing coral and sponges and different kinds of fish, and lobsters and crabs and all sorts of underwater creatures! the man who owned the dive company and captained the boat was a 50-something year old french man named philippe, who went by fifi. fifi was a very stereotypical french man living in the Caribbean--extremely tan, wearing a tiny little speedo, and brought his tiny yorkie dog named butchie on the boat with him and carried him around most of the time. he was fabulous. :)
monday we borrowed the hotel's bicycles and went for a ride. it became clear to me after a couple minutes of the bike riding that bryan and i had set out with completely different intentions. me: ride bikes to shopping, shop, go back to hotel. bryan: ride bikes all around the island for a couple hours. so we decided that perhaps it would be best if we split up and did our own thing for a little while, and that worked out well. i didn't have to endure the hot sun beating down on me and he didn't have to endure following me around in boring shops. :) also, i remind me of the wicked witch of the west (aka mrs. gulch) from the wizard of oz on the bicycle.
bryan found some neat spots and took a few self-portraits.
every month, a couple of days after the full moon, the glow worms mate and create quite a little spectacle in the ocean. since we happened to be there when this was going on, we took a little cruise out into the water to watch this phenomenon. it was actually pretty neat, but a little sad that after all the green glowing swirls, the males died. poor little glow worms. we didn't get any pictures of them, but we did get some great sunset pictures the day before from the beach in front of our resort!
our last full day on the island was tuesday, and we decided to take an excursion recommended to me by my friend who had already been to t&c. we were taken by boat to our own "private island," where they dropped us off with an umbrella, two beach chairs and a cooler full of lunch, rum punch, water and soda. we spent about half the day there, and snorkeled around and frolicked about on the beach. :) it was fun to have our own little paradise for a while.
dinner for our last night was at a place called coco bistro, which is situated under a forest of palm trees lit by lots of little white lights. it was beautiful and very romantic, and the food was excellent, too!
wednesday we had to come home, and we were both very sad. :( turks & caicos was a beautiful place, and i would love to go back some day. i highly recommend it to anyone considering a caribbean vacation! unfortunately since my vacation time accrues by the pay period, i had to go right back to work the next day while bryan had thursday and friday off. yesterday was a bit of a rude awakening for him, but i think it was all worth our week's worth of living on island time. :)