T and C Day 5: Storms and Wheels

Day 5 in paradise and we awoke to major rain storms on the horizon, and some thunder and lightning.  While the storms were close, we never actually got hit by them.  What to do, though, if you think it’s going to rain on you and you’re stuck in your room?  Well now is a good time to go through the 1,917 photos taken at the wedding by your photographer!   We opened up the sliding door to what actually felt like a cool day (probably low 80’s with a breeze) and sat down on the couch and started going through the photos with the sound of the ocean and thunder in the background.

It was a great way to relive our big day.  I thought our photographer did a stellar job of fitting right in with the ethos of our group (friendly and fun) and also did a good job of corralling our large wedding party for the pictures.  I think a class of kindergartners may have been less challenging (kidding!).  Also, many thanks to all of you have taken other pictures from the wedding.  Many of these are great candids that the photographer didn’t catch and we really appreciate having them.  Finally, I will say we watched the video our photographer did.  Not sure we will ever get tired of watching that.  I don’t think Hollywood could have staged or produced anything better!  Of course I’m not so objective…

Well after the storms died down and the day got nicer, we decided it was time to figure out our plans for the rest of the week.  Heather wanted to get in a couples massage at the Parrot Cay, and I wanted to get in snorkeling and renting a car to tour the island.  The trip to Parrot Cay is a full day excursion, so we nixed that in favor of a massage next door at the Palms (though as I write this, I think we forgot to reserve it so not sure it will happen tomorrow).  This will be my second massage in my life.  Can you tell who’s the bigger afishionado between us?  That’s how they spell it in the islands by the way.

Finding out that the weather’s supposed to be better on Friday led us to plan the snorkeling trip then.  I can’t wait for it, it sounds awesome.  I learned that we head just a bit north from our beach where the ocean drops 4,000 feet!  So we will be right at the edge of the wall.  That will be a cool but somewhat scary thing to behold.  I have a vivid imagination so I will be able to picture any number of creatures coming up from the deep to get us.  Better not mention this to Heather.  Also, the beach we are on is North facing which is unusual.  I am used to either an eastern or western facing beach.  This keeps it very protected and is partly why the waves are so small.  The only time they get waves is when there’s a wind from the north which is rare.

Based on scheduling then, we decided that now was as good a time as any to rent a car.  The concierge scheduled it and the rental place would drop it off at 4:30.  Time for a quick visit to the beach.  Heather read on a lounger, while I grabbed the SUP board.  Unfortunately the long one was taken so it was the short one again for me.  The water was calmer today due to fewer boats, so it went much better.  I was up and paddling and made it quite a ways down the beach until the winds started picking up.  That’s when I discovered your body acts as a bit of a sail and makes the going much harder.  So I got down on my knees and made good progress (it helps tremendously that my knees are so flexible, not sure what you’d do if you can’t sit on your feet).   After I turned around I was back on my feet and paddling like a pro.  I flew past Heather and whistled at her but she didn’t even look.  I came flying in, past the other guy with two people holding his board up, watched him tumble in, paddled right up to the shore hopped off, grabbed the board ran it in, and got over to Heather just in time.  I asked her if she had seen me out there thinking she may be impressed?  She said she had been looking but didn’t see me snorkeling at all!  Well I guess that’s a lesson, don’t try and compete with a good book…

We headed back to the office and met the car rental guys.  It was $64 for 1 day for some model of a Honda I have never heard of with over 100,000 miles.  Seems to run fine though, except for one problem, the steering wheel is on the wrong side!

I actually was happy to rent the car partly for this reason, my first experience driving on the wrong side of the road.  And let me tell you it takes a bit of getting used to.  Having gotten my license when I turned 16 means I’m fighting 25 years of repetition.  After the first 10 minutes or so it started to feel better.  I still kept hitting the windshield wipers instead of the blinker.  The other weird thing is that even though there is quite a bit of cars on the island I don’t think there are any stoplights.  Everything is round abouts where you yield to the cars already in the roundabout.  Actually works pretty well, not sure if this is common in England or not.

We took advantage of our newfound mobility and hit some shops at the main shopping area though found out they were closing at 6 so only had about 15 minutes.  There is some shopping on the island, but not too much, unless you’re looking to buy something in the duty free shops.  We then cruised to the eastern or “Leeward” part of the island.  This is the rich end of the island and you can see all the houses.   This side of the island is very flat though and you can’t see the ocean as it’s blocked by the houses.  This is where we came upon the property I bought here a while back.  With all the wedding excitement I forgot to mention it to Heather so she was a bit surprised.  Here’s the picture proving it:

I mean “Kelly Isle”?  Come on, who wouldn’t want to live there?  Sports all the time, all the taco bell you can eat, and the whole layout architected perfectly in an Excel spreadsheet!  Okay, so Heather’s bought into the whole marriage idea but didn’t seem as keen on Kelly Isle, so we continued on to southeast part of the island and discovered there’s a ferry that goes to the other islands.  This is where we actually got our first (and maybe only?) glimpse of the other islands.  They all looked very flat, though the nearest cay was very close.  I think a 1/2 way decent swimmer could probably easily make it in between all the Caicos islands.

From here we drove on back all the way to the north western part of the island.  This is where “da conch shack” is located and we definitely were looking forward to it.  On our way though, we started seeing a number of dogs along the highway.  It’s not clear if all these dogs are pets or even just wild, but you can bet what type of response it engendered from my passenger.  Every few minutes on our drive was punctuated by an “ohhh” or “poor baby”.   We also were starting to see more of the poorer part of the island.  It is quite a contrast from the resorts and beautiful beaches.  It’s probably no different than poorer places in the U.S. (or maybe actually better), but the contrast feels greater given the striking divide between the luxury resorts and the small sometimes rundown houses.  The coast and eastern part of the island seems to be the really nice areas, while the western half seems less so, though Amanyara resort is on the western shore and is only $1,800 and up per night.  Yes you read that right, not per week, per night!  And their villas can be up to $8,000 per night.  Heather and I may check it out tomorrow for lunch, though I think I will be too embarrassed to drive up in our old rental.

Well we found “da conch shack” just fine.  It has gotten a lot of great publicity in travel guides, and it definitely lived up to expectations for me.   It is a great setting on the beach, and as the name would suggest is very casual.  It is picnic tables on the sand with conch shells everywhere around.  There’s also a number of dogs laying around, though they don’t come up to the eating area at all.  Of course Heather was more excited by the dogs than the beautiful beach and setting.  Sounds like the island is all too happy if you want to adopt a dog as they will pay the transport back.  Can you imagine if you were one of those dogs?   Living each day in paradise, lying on the beach, getting great scraps from a nice restaurant and suddenly you’re shipped off to the cold to live in a small apartment?  Man, must be depressing.  Here’s a couple of them getting the royal treatment:

For dinner, we had the conch fritters, conch calamari, and jerk chicken along with rice and beans and mac and cheese.  So you can tell from our selections that this was a health food place!  Heather’s favorite part was their hot sauce.  We will definitely have to bring some back with us.  I thought the hot sauce was great, though I still have a bit of heartburn from it as I write this.  The overall experience was fantastic and we really enjoyed it.  If you are ever here I highly recommend going.  And thanks to Tony and Rae Peppley for contributing that for us!

From there we decided to try and get to bed early and head back.  I had the bright idea to continue on up the road a ways to the West before it loops back East.  That wasn’t the best idea as it was very dark out and people would just be walking along the side of the road.  There are a lot of speed bumps everywhere which helps keep you going slower and gives you more time to see people.  Still seems dangerous to me.  I started wondering what would happen if we broke down, though I did feel better about seeing so many churches along the way (the islands are apparently pretty dedicated church goers).  Well we made it back home fine and now I am writing this from our balcony as I listen to the waves crash, while Heather lays on the lounge chair and reads her book.   Time for me to sign off and start a book I grabbed from down in the lobby and then off to bed for an early bed time.  Bonsoir!

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