We didn't have high expectations for Turks & Caicos. We weren't planning on staying long--just provisioning up on the way to Dominican Republican, but as usual, Mother Nature stepped in. Our first anchorage is Sapodilla bay, off of a resort beach and lined with private homes.
Two days before V-day: Time to explore! It's 3 miles from our beach to the main road (and town). We pack our tennis shoes (and socks!) into our backpacks and head for the beach. We secure our dinghy in the middle of the curious tourists ("Out for a day sail?" Um, yeah)--all beaches here are public up to the high tide line--change shoes, pass through the pack of wild dogs (their animal import restrictions are starting to make sense) and turn towards town. The first local stops and asks if we're ok. "Just walking to the store." "There's a gas station around the corner?" OK, thank you. Off he goes. The second local stops (in a shiny burgundy, dual cab Dodge pickup truck. Haven't seen one of those in awhile. It reminds me off home!), and it turns out to be the owner of Taste Buds restaurant. He picks us up about halfway into town and drops us at Walker Marine (sealant, but no ratchet straps or joker valve). We have lunch with the locals on the patio at Taste Buds (chicken curry over peas & rice. LOVE. IT!) then we stop at the liquor store. The Captain is surprised by a Valentine's Day display. A panicked, "Is it Valentine's Day?" We lose track of time out here, so I'll give him that one. "Pick out a bottle of rum." Nice recovery. The "hard liquor is cheaper in the Caribbean" hasn't kicked in yet. My Bambarra Gold (made in T&C) is $20 but is still cheaper than The Captain's $28 Bacardi Anejo. On the way back, The Captain's new friend Jose (from his "short" walk to customs), picks us up and we gratefully squeeze into the back seat of his pickup. The hot afternoon sun is catching up with us here.
The day before V-day: Because of weather, we are staying in Provo for a couple more days. Kelly Nicole offered to share a rental car so we could all do errands. To top it off, it's Deb's birthday. What a good friend--spending her birthday with us doing errands! Barber, coffee shop, liquor store, grocery, pharmacy, book store, marine store, the "scenic" route to Southside Marina (no maintenance/parts. Our friends from sv Pilgrim are here but out diving. The restaurant doesn't open until 5. We don't get the appeal of this place. We later hear 3 boats run aground on the way in), lunch at Turtle Cove marina. I laugh so hard all day, my face hurts. Here's a recap:
They drive on the left-hand side of the road here. There are 3 roundabouts between the anchorage and the main road. Paving secondary roads is optional ("goat path"). Road signs are optional. Not all roads on the map are labelled. Rental cars have yellow license plates so locals know to give you the right-away (Seriously, it's on their driver's test. However, no one is sure what happens when two rental cars enter a roundabout. Apparently, that's bad). An economy-size car can hold 4 people and a LOT of groceries. Paul can drive with with 3 back-seat drivers until 1:30 before he stops for a beer!
Paul: "Which way do I go through the roundabout?"
Back seat driver number 1 with map: "Left."
Back seat driver number 2 with map: "Right."
Invisible back seat driver without a map: "Straight."
Navigator in the front seat: "Hold on."
BS 1: "Liquor store!"
BS 2: "Squirrel!"
Paul: "So left, then..."
We got all the groceries in the car, but can't fit them all in the dinghy. It's also low tide, which involves dragging the dinghy all the way down the beach and pretty far out, before we can crawl in. It takes two trips to get everything out to the boats.
Valentine's Day: The Captain heads in early to help navigate back to the rental car company. I start on laundry and have underwear hanging on the life lines by the time the 10:00 am tour boat leaves the resort beach. The Captain makes stir fry chicken & green beans over rice in the pressure cooker for lunch. "Oh, happy Valentines day!"
The day after V-day: It's gusting to 23 out of the NE. The weather isn't going to allow us to clear out within the 7 days we're allowed (apparently Customs is well aware that a sailboat will have trouble getting from Mayaguana to the Dominican in a 7-day weather window!), so the boys head back to customs to fork over another $300 for our cruising permit. The sky is starting to look dark, so I head on deck to zip things up. I go down below to close some hatches as the rain starts. When I pop back out, the boys are back on the beach trying to drag the dinghy into the water. I glance over at Kelly Nicole as realize something is different. The Benetteau anchored between us is gone. No wait. They drug! They're back there! Just like that, the rain shower is over. Every time!
Two days after V-day: We're still in Sapodilla/Provo. I'm awoken by the winds that have picked back up. They've switched to SE, which still seems sheltered by the island but the waves are coming around the point and hitting us broadside. Rock, rock, rock, SPLASH! Rock, rock, rock, SPLASH! Fun. The tweets from Kelly Nicole are getting more hilarious/delirious so we coax them off the boat for lunch across the street at Las Brisas. I don't know if they enjoy our company, or only go out with us when they can't stand it on the boat anymore! Let's not examine that too closely...