June 20, 2014

Travel // Turks & Caicos

We booked our trip the day before Thanksgiving. Then the wait began. So we ate turkey. And it snowed. We ate home-baked Christmas cookies by the pound. And it snowed some more. We flew to Park City to celebrate my brother-in-law's (and new sister-in-law's) wedding. And it snowed champagne powder. Back in Maine, it also snowed (twice) so we paid our neighbor's kid to clear our driveway for the price of TWO bottles of fancy champagne. Several more storms and lots of under-my-breath cursing a "long winter and nonexistent spring" later - we made it to June and it was finally time to fly south.

Grammy Summer Camp - Crescent Beach, Maine
Prior to our departure, my mother-in-law flew in from Florida to take the helm of our household while we were away. With the nugget and four-paws-of-fury being properly spoiled tended to by Grammy, we escaped for our first official offspring-free vacation since becoming parents nearly 2 years ago.

Bleary-eyed, we arrived at the Portland International Jetport at 4:30am on a Sunday morning. The fact that we were going on a bona fide adults-only trip fully hit us as we breezed through security without our usual game of Tetris (which involves trying to squeeze a carseat through an x-ray machine). Trust me - there are no winners in that game.

Ten hours later, including a 3-hour stint in purgatory (a.k.a. a layover at JFK), we emerged from our carefully climate-controlled plane into the thick and heavy Caribbean air. After we collected our belongings, navigated through customs and squeezed into a well-packed shuttle van, we arrived at our home for the next 5 nights - The Sands at Grace Bay. We were pretty tired, but the "Welcome Mai Tai" kicked us onto island time. The one-bedroom suite we were assigned to was a few steps from the pool, with the ocean peeking out from just behind it. Though we easily could have passed out on the spot, it was maybe 5pm by then so we mustered up the strength to check out the beach and sneak in an early dinner at Hemingway's before we crashed.

For our first full day, we slammed down a quick breakfast and headed to the sand to claim our spot on the beach. All of the fixed palapas were occupied, so the resort staff arranged an umbrella and a pair of lounge chairs for us right next to the tideline. I'm notoriously picky about the temperature of water, but the ocean passed my toe-test and I was able to submerge myself fairly quickly. I floated around until I was nearly eaten alive by minnows, then took that as my queue to take a break from the sun. We biked into town for lunch then returned to pool for a relaxing respite that was cut short by an unplanned land excursion. Chad swindled me into pulling the bikes out again to hunt for an imaginary fishing spot that we never actually found. We hit the pool one more time before returning to the beach to enjoy the best sunset of week.


The next day Chad was still determined to find a proper fishing hole. He ventured off while I slept in and showed up again just as I finished applying my last dab of sunscreen. I foolishly agreed to go for a "leisurely" walk along the beach to search for the local snorkeling spot without towing any of our gear. It was much further than expected so we resolved to go back the next day. We retreated back to pool and I promptly ordered a strawberry daiquiri to replenish the calories spent on our walk.

That night we attended the resort's Manager's Reception back at the pool. A steady stream of Turks Head Lager and conch fritters wound up being our super fancy dinner for the night. The biggest excitement of the day came at bedtime. I got up to turn off lights and found an intruder in our room- a rogue land crab. He wasn't very interested in leaving, but Chad managed to trap him with a flip flop and "rehomed" him outside. I'm pretty sure the crab flipped him the claw version of the middle finger as he scurried away. We also may have later witnessed the same crab being eaten by a seagull - oops.

With our butts still sore from the previous afternoon's failed bike expedition, we decided to brave the left-sided driving rules of TCI roads and rented a car (more like a Super Mario Go-Kart) on our fourth day. We took full advantage of our little gas-powered chariot and explored just about every paved road the island had to offer (including a few pot-hole ridden dirt ones that probably were not approved for rental car use). For lunch, we ventured to the da Conch Shack for a surf-side feast of conch fritters and jerk chicken. Stuffed and sleepy from a day of gallivanting about the island, our grand plans of snorkeling that day were traded in for some more pool time and a window shopping trip to the Saltmills Plaza.


Wednesday night was our "fancy night out" at the renowned Coco Bistro. We made reservations a full month in advance and were extra excited to dress up and chow down (special thanks to Beth, Katy and Julia for the recommendation!). The food and setting were perfect. We even lucked out with a visit from the resident cat, Coco - who unfortunately hit our table a little too early to benefit from our swordfish and salmon dishes. Sorry, buddy.

The morning of our last full day was marred a bit by some rain showers. Before breakfast, Chad ventured out in search of the elusive bonefish one last time. Since I had finally caught up on nearly two years of sleep deprivation (ah, parenthood), I bided time by sitting our a muggy lanai and finished up my stack of magazines. Unfortunately it was too cloudy to go snorkeling as we originally planned. After the rain lifted, we spent the rest of the overcast day parked at the pool. 

Here fishy, fishy...
That night, we took a cab over to the Gansevoort Turks & Caicos resort for drinks and hoped the sunset would peak through the clouds, but no dice. On our way home, the cab driver talked us into a stop at Danny Buoy's Sports Bar for a Turks Head (or two) and we were rewarded with stellar people watching and some tragically awesome karaoke performances.

Friday inevitably arrived and it was time to say goodbye. Usually we're pretty mopey about ending our vacations but by day six, we were tan, rested and ready to see the nugget. We spent our final hours at the resort soaking in the warmth and sunshine, trying to squirrel it away for winter. After lunch, we packed up and headed to the airport. We gave one final wave to the island as we flew overhead, then settled in for the long trip north. Thanks for the memories, TCI...

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