Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can We Bring Our Friends?

I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.
Lillian Smith

I now understand why married people travel in groups. In fact, I'm thinking that three couples or a group of six might be ideal. Why?

When researching a destination for this celebration retreat with my husband, I searched far and wide for the perfect journey to fit my burned out parent frame of mind. I knew I didn't want to travel as we usually do, wandering museums and traveling from city to city, guidebook in hand. I was tired and wanted a trip where I sat on my butt and read books and magazines, with beautiful water in front of me where I could take a dip, snorkel, maybe, then nestle back into the sand and read some more. I didn't want a lot of fancy people, cruise ships, shopping, or noisy stuff (kids) around me.

Relaxation. No adventure. No guts/mind required.

I discussed this at length with my husband. He doesn't sit well (or hear me when I talk) so when I suggested Turks and Caicos, known for its beautiful beaches and not much else, I tried to make sure he understood the landscape. He agreed this port of call sounded good. He was tired, too.

Turks and Caicos, part of the British West Indies, is south of the Bahamas, east of Cuba and north of Hispaniola. The trip is an easy two hour jaunt from Atlanta, 2 1/2 hours from New York City. Many Canadians, French, German, Americans, and English frequent the islands.

One of the least developed group of islands in the Caribbean, Grand Turk welcomes cruise ships, but Providenciales, boasts the 12 mile long Grace Bay Beach, good restaurants right on the waterfront, and no shopping or crowds. Perfect. No need to do anything but hang out at the beach during the day and walk through the starlit sky to eat dinner at night. Take an occasional trip to the grocery store to purchase Cheetos, chips/dip and picnic lunch/dinner items. Beer.

I reiterated the details of the trip and asked my husband several times: Will you be content to sit on beaches each day and spend our days splayed out on top of the sand?

He said it sounded perfect.

So, fast forward. Here he is. Sitting on the beach in front of our great hotel, the 28 room Sibonne'. Looks pretty content, right?

Good thing I caught this moment in my camera lens. Might be one of the few moments he simply sat there.

Like I said, he doesn't sit well. So after the first day and a half, I was one book into my stack and reaching for another. He had already roamed 8 of the 12 miles of beach in front of us. That next morning, while I drank my coffee on the beach and set up for the day, he joined me and said how he'd studied the guidebook and had found a beach on the other side of the island.

What? This spot was working for me. I had this view three steps outside our hotel room.

And a 45 second stroll through here...

...to get here.
But, all good things...


Into our little rental car we loaded our cooler, floats and snorkel equipment. My husband handed me the map.

Now I don't know how it is where you live, but where I'm from maps mark things like interstate highways, state highways, main thoroughfares and side streets. Dirt roads don't make the cut. In Turks and Caicos, with very few exceptions, dirt roads are the state highways, main thoroughfares and side streets. Also, being a British Commonwealth, you drive on the opposite side of the road. (Every time we turned a corner, I had to remind my husband, "Get on the left.") Stress.

I studied the map and we embarked on our search for Sapodilla Beach, or rather the small wooden sign that led to it. Nestled at the end of a dirt bike trail, where we dodged craters the size of nuclear bomb sites in our Daihatsu with dime-sized wheels and six inch ground clearance, we discovered the largest natural kiddie pool I'd ever seen. Three feet deep, the clearest turquoise water one can imagine. Perfect. I set myself up in my float and with sun and sunscreen on my face, breathed deeply to acquire a meditative state.

Halfway through my second beer, my husband walked out to my float. "Time to go," he said.


"We've been here. Time to move on."

"But I want another beer," I plead.

"They're all gone."

"But there were six."

I then come to find out he's also been for a walk and scouted out an entire 25 square mile area.

I packed up, reminding myself it is his vacation, too. We headed back down the bumpy road, into the village, and out into the countryside in search of Da Conch Shack. Bolstered out of my comfort zone and clinging to a two beer buzz, I'm now the navigator on roads with names known only to the natives - the Belongers. We dodged pot holes big enough to swallow an elephant on "paved" roads and drove what seemed like endless miles past above ground cemeteries and cinder block homes painted delightful colors until we came across a restaurant situated five feet from the beach. And they had rum punch. Delicious conch salad. I adapted.

After a trip to the local grocery store, I got a few moments to rest on the beach, watch the sunset and study the stars before an early sleep.

The next day, car got loaded again. My tour guide informed me we were headed to Malcolm's Beach. This time I knew the way to the gravel road because we passed it while wandering the day before. This road, the only road that reaches the east side of the island (on my map,) is an endless drive down yet another rut-filled dirt road. Driving our Daihatsu, we traveled 5-10 miles per hour. However, the prize at the end of the line was indeed beautiful. Remember this beach from my last post? All to ourselves.

We did have to share with this lone avian adventurer.

My husband snorkeled (first photo) and took a walk. As I cracked my second beer and turned the page of my book...

... the man I married long ago stood above me. "Let's go."

This is when it dawned on me, that this is why couples travel with others. So those with like minds can hang out together and people like my husband will have a pool of poor souls to drag on his adventures. That for him, the relaxation part comes from the adventure and unknown. And once he's conquers the quest, he's ready to roll and find another one. Unlike me, who in my older age conquers reluctantly and then quests to sit on my ass.

With that revelation, I still didn't anticipate that the next day would provide an opportunity for me to recall the dirt roads of these two days...

and rename them The Autobahns.

To be continued...


  1. What you forgot to bring was chains and a padlock!! To anchor him to that lounge chair for the duration of your vaca!!!! Ha! But I have to say...the scenery is amazing!!!
    Beautiful photos!!
    I would definitely sit by your side...sipping my Mojito and enjoy my books!!
    Next time...ask me!!!

  2. I was really interested in this post because fifty years ago a friend of mine went to Turks and Cacos as a medical missionary. When they lived there there was no water on the island at all, it all had to be shipped in.
    Whilst they lived there my friend's wife had two sets of twins eleven months apart!!

  3. LOL, what an adventurer you are. Beautiful place and your photos did capture it :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  4. I hope your enjoying this vacation ... I know I am!

  5. Lovely photos and descriptions. I'm somewhere in the middle of you two. I want to explore, but when I find a beautiful place, I want to stay there and enjoy it.
    Traveling in small groups works, but what we often do is go our separate ways and then recount our adventures over cocktails. Probably wouldn't work in T&C since a navigator was essential to the exploration.

  6. I like to adventure about and relax on the beach too...hard to find that perfect balance...but my red skin usually tells me when it's time to do something else. ...love the pics! tropical isles are something I never get enough of!

  7. I can so relate to this post, LOL! You and I are of like minds with husbands that should travel together. :-)

  8. I am so with you girlfriend on the professional vacationer thing! It doesn't even have to be exotic or anything for me...just my coffee, my Scotch and my books! and my trailer! It is not a bad thing either...we deserve it!

  9. Beautiful place and photos! I would have been happy just to be on that trip, potholes and all. Thanks for the great tour!

  10. What a glorious place to find yourself dragged hither and yon. You've made it sound both appealing and belly-splitting funny.

    I'm wondering why he couldn't go off by himself once or twice so you could get the rest you're so deeply needing. Maybe you'll have to go on another vacation when you get home - with someone who can sit still for more than five minutes. :-)

    Looking forward to the next installment.

  11. What a gorgeous place! And how fortunate to have Malcolm's beach all to yourself. Heavely! I hope you finally got to stay in one place for an extended period of time. I suppose I'll find out in Part 3!

  12. We should vacation together because while I do love to explore a little, your husband is really like my husband!

  13. Thanks for letting us enjoy some of your vacation. Gorgeous pictures - I felt almost like I was there - and wish I was. We've been to the Grand Caymans, but you've got me really interested in the Providenciales.

    Just like your husband -- I am not a sitter. My husband likes nothing better than just sitting all day, like you said - "Relaxation. No adventure. No guts/mind required."

    How did we end up with spouses with opposite vacations styles? I must not have read that Match.com description well enough. ;-D

  14. Wow, I should go on vacation with you! Our husbands could have a great time together, too ;-)

  15. Oh, the marvels you discovered on your wanderings! How best to truly get to know a place (though I, too, would prefer a few more hours in one spot. How else do the books get read?). Our spouses are opposites. Unless golf courses count...
    Can't wait for the next installment.

  16. The good news is you got him to go there. The bad news is you will never want to go anywhere again that a cruise ship can go. I love those dirt roads that lead to secluded places. I always say those kind of places take a little work, but it is so worth it.
    So excited for you that you went there. Can't wait to hear more. We used to go to quiet islands with other couples frequently.

  17. This place is on my bucket list, I have had friends visit and they totally love it. Am still smiling at your ever on the move husband, but you are "there" and that is what counts.......:-)Hugs

  18. There is so much to comment on this post - I love it to pieces. The beautiful beaches, the clinging to a two beer buzz as you get dragged around the island.

    The photos look like the best Hawaii has to offer and I find myself wanting to go there, not sure why since I do have great beaches here. I am thinking a women bloggers retreat would do well at your hotel. We would all be fine just hanging.

    Hope you link this up over at my place today ; -) I reinstated Traveling Thursdays with a contest - you could win a cocktail book!

  19. I've heard Turks and Cacos is beautiful - and your pictures show that it is.
    I agree, going with friends is fun. We travel with another family sometimes and it works out great. The guys go fishing and the girls drink wine ;)

  20. Hilarious read, Julie! enjoyed EVERY WORD...you have such great timing! You comedian.

  21. I'd definitely be voting for relaxing n the beach.

  22. You do know how and where to vacation, Julie!

  23. This was a great recap, Jules. I love that one image of the aqua beach and sand dunes from above. It looked heavenly!

  24. Truly a beautiful area. I can identify with so much of what you said. Inspired me to blog about our first trip to Mexico. Looking forward to Part 3!

  25. Too funny. Yes, that's why they vacation in groups.. or alone. ;)

    The photos are beautiful and it looks like a wonderful place.. even if you couldn't stay put.

  26. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I'm a happy mix of the two of you...enjoy some R&R and exploring new sights ;)

  27. OMG OMG OMG!!!! I am so jealous! Next time, I'll go with you and you can stay on the float in the 3 foot deep water with your beer, and me with my wine, and there will be no 'whining' and no 'going'...and the only thing you'll hear out of me is, "Want another beer?"

    HAVE FUN!!!! Looks fantastic!

  28. This is one of my favorite posts I've read, loved it both times. I quest to sit on my ass too, especially if the beaches all look alike. However,they were all beautiful.


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