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.
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.
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...