A PERIPATETIC JOURNEY
not all who wander are lost
Our first day in Turks and Caicos, we kept it simple and just relaxed at the marina (Blue Haven Marina and Resort) and enjoyed being on land. The marina is part of a resort complex with hotel, beach, pool, two restaurants, convenience store, and two 'sister' resorts on Grace Bay, the Alexandra and the Beach House. Marina guests are able to use all of the facilities, including a free shuttle to the two other resorts. We have to admit that it is pretty cush, especially after anchoring out a vast majority of the last few months :-) The kids finished the week's last school assignments while Brian was handling customs and immigration and the rest of us were confined to the boat. Once we were all checked in, we had lunch at one of the restaurants, then went to the pool for a swim. The pool has a swim-up bar; the kids liked the submerged barstools, the adults liked the convenience.
One of the first things we did was take the dinghy out to the reef to see at least a portion of the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world. It was stunning and we enjoyed snorkeling and all of the wonderful coral and fish life. The next day we rented a car and got our bearings in Providenciales. We stopped at the Alexandra to enjoy the pool, beach, and the Hobie cats. We did more exploring on Sunday, and stopped by the Beach House just as the leading edge of a cold front blew in. The skies were grey, the wind was chilly, and the restaurant was expensive, so we headed back to Blue Haven. For the next week, the weather was squally, cool, and windy. Not great for beach and pool time, but boat school benefited from the lack of distractions. We were able to complete two full lessons during the week (usually a lesson takes 3-5 days) and put the first semester behind us. It feels like quite a milestone in our short career as homeschoolers! Brian also took advantage of the less than ideal weather to get a lot of his work done.
While in Turks and Caicos, we replenished our fresh food stocks at the excellent, but expensive, grocery stores. The stores carried many foods we are used to seeing on shelves in the U.S., as well as less familiar items. It is interesting and fun to sample the different ingredients and flavors of cookies and crackers packaged in countries other than the U.S. Many people from European and other Caribbean countries relocate to Turks and Caicos for jobs or lifestyle and we heard many different languages being spoken one crowded afternoon at the Graceway Gourmet grocery store.
We also visited some local shops, finding short john wetsuits for the girls at a dive shop (Dive Provo). Lacking much natural insulation, they get cold snorkeling and aren't able to stay in the water very long. Often they are huddled in the dinghy, warming up in the sun, while the rest of us are still enjoying the underwater sights. The girls haven't yet tried their wetsuits in the ocean, but found them to be quite warm in the chilly pool this past week! Speaking of underwater sights, you may have noticed the lack of underwater photography lately. A few weeks ago, our supposedly waterproof GoPro camera started taking on water. We plan to exchange it at West Marine in Puerto Rico.
Also while at the dive shop, Brian inquired about SCUBA certification for himself and Eoin. The shop directed us to an offline app for the required SCUBA theory coursework and exams. Eoin is very excited about diving and has been quite motivated. Last week, he did his schoolwork more efficiently than usual so that he could work on his SCUBA theory in his free time. He has completed the first four chapters and exams and is halfway through the fifth (and final) chapter. Brian was busy with his work and has not yet started on the theory, but he plans to complete it during our upcoming passage to Puerto Rico. They hope to do their pool dive and two days of ocean dives (required for certification) sometime after we get settled in Puerto Rico.
One afternoon, while Brian was kiteboarding, Kendall took the kids on a field trip. First they went to the Caicos Conch Farm. The Caicos Conch Farm was established in 1984 in an effort to remove some of the pressure on natural stocks of Queen conch (Strombus gigas). The facility sustained damage during Hurricane Hanna in 2008 and has not fully recovered. However, they are still farming conch and have recently begun farming fish as well. We heard a presentation given by a staff member, then went to see the conch and fish enclosures. It was very interesting and we wish them success in their endeavors.
The next stop was the Turks and Caicos National Environmental Centre to see their exhibit. We learned about the plants and animals of the Turks and Caicos, both on land and in the sea. The highlight of the exhibit was the scale model of the country, showing how the islands are on a plateau that rises up 10,000 feet from the sea floor.
McGlynn family 5 (Isla, Marin, Eoin, Kendall, and Brian) sailing Counting Stars