Patricia’s Visit

I’ve gotten behind in my blogging. We’ve been doing a considerable amount of visitor engagement the last couple of weeks and I feel like I’m missing a number of great stories that need to be shared.

Patricia visited the week before last and was treated to quite an eventful visit, if I do say so myself. She also said she’s never seen me talk so much. “Comes with the territory,” I explained. Everything we do here is about making the Grand Turk experience phenomenal enough that people want to visit again next year.

Patricia came in on the same flight as Dave – one of Neal’s friends who was visiting that same week. That eased my mind about whether or not she’d find the small corner of the Provo airport where the local flights depart. I sent her an in depth email with all the details, but who really reads my long emails anyway?

Having safely arrived we commenced the visiting: Wednesday was a recovery day for Patricia, she napped and I finished up my work for the day. But we did have dinner plans with Bion and Colleen who live just down the beach. Patricia and I decided to walk it and we discussed the things we always discuss: rock formations, stars, the universe, and I gave her a brief history of the TCI.

Later that night Dave heard us laughing in the other room. When we emerged Dave ventured, “You girls are having fun. Girl talk?” I refrained from giving him a “don’t be ridiculous” look (he’d just met us, after all). “Heck no, we haven’t gotten there yet.” Patricia and I have a bad habit of letting things like interesting images on the NASA website get in the way of our catching up. I think we finally started talking about personal life on day 3.

Thursday was a half a work day. Later that evening I was to give the much anticipated Archives Lecture for the Spring 2 Collections at the museum. I’m not kidding, people really were looking forward to it. I’ve been asked numerous times when the archives talk was and could we talk about this type of ink or that era of materials. So an hour or so in the morning was dedicated to setting up. Patricia helped me set up the intended flow of the evening and it was really great to have someone to bounce thoughts off of. More on archives later.

On the way to pick up wine and cheese for the event I took a long loop around the island. I showed her the light house and old US Navy Base at the north point, pointed out the salinas, and drove down historic Duke Street. (This is the normal visitor tour, but it’s the first time that I’ve been the tour guide. Normally it’s Neal showing his friends around!)

Patricia experienced the island tip-to-tail that day. The afternoon plan was to head to the southern most point at the Cruise Center. With 2 ships at port was a crowded mess and not a very good day to visit, but the contrast between the Cruise Center and the rest of Grand Turk became very apparent. We couldn’t even get a table at Margaritaville. Instead, we walked down to Jack’s Shack to grab a bite to eat and get a breather from the crowd.

My event that evening was a great success (more on this later). We finished the night with a dinner at the Bohio. Some friends we made that night would influence much of our week. Dave and Karen (front left couple at the table) were on a trimaran from Florida, though they live in Oregon. “Did you sail from Oregon?” someone asked. “Oh no,” they corrected us, “This is our East Coast boat.” Ohhh, of course, how silly of us. Apparently, boat renovations are a great love of Dave’s and they have amassed a small armada over the years. (Colleen and Bion are at the back right of the table).

The next morning Patricia and I biked over to the museum with the intention of cleaning up the collections from the night before and then going for a morning ride. By the time we left the museum, however, the sun was a bit higher than in the morning and we were both more than ready to go home after a short walk around the mangroves on the left bank of North Creek.

The afternoon plan was to enjoy the beach-side company of Vale at the Bohio. She is the most lovely woman I’ve ever met and easily the best company of all the ex-Pats who live on the island. Her husband works with the government so Vale has a strict regimen of house chores in the morning and afternoons at the Bohio beach. They also religiously attend Thursday night dinner, when I took Patricia over to show her off as proof that I exist as a human in the “real world”, she insisted that we keep her company the next afternoon. We spent a few hours and a few beers chatting about almost everything you can imagine and left as I always leave Vale – with a huge smile.

The evening was a quiet one. Patricia mentioned she had just started watching LOST so we had to watch a few episodes. Of course.

Saturday we had no plans at all. Neal and Dave were committed to a Rotary function so Patricia and I lounged around the house with the mild intention of swimming sometime later. Around 11am I got a call from Neal. The Bohio was sending a boat to Gibbs Cay and did anyone want to go. “Patricia!” I called. “Put on your sunscreen we’re going on a boat!” I didn’t think I was going to get to do this little adventure, so I was too excited to properly explain and a little dazed at the generosity of the Bohio’s proprietor. For the price of the beer we were invited on a $60 excursion. (Though I think it’s really that she’s a good business woman. I think the quality of the trip was significantly increased by our presence). Dragging my poor friend with the smallest explanation of the Gibbs Cay Sting Ray Adventure I hauled her off to the Bohio where we grabbed a small breakfast before we departed.

The Sting Ray adventure is one of those “only on Grand Turk” activities. Gibbs Cay is a natural preserve, but people are allowed to bring their boats over and feed the sting rays. At this point in history, the rays are well trained and come running as soon as they sense the motor. What I didn’t know is that the adventure also includes a conch salad – that you pick up on the way. I managed to dive down to get one, but barely made it up without passing out. It was a good 20 ft dive.

On the beach, while our captain was preparing the conch salad, we commenced feeding the sting rays. The first ones to arrive were babies, but of course I didn’t know that until a monster 4 foot wing span ray came up on my blind side while I had my head in the water with goggles on, watching a baby nibble on a fish. All I heard was “Jess Jess Jess!” and turned my head (with goggles on) to see this monster coming at me. I was up and out of the water faster than lightening. After regrouping I decided, on principle, that I had to feed the big rays until I could do it without flinching. By the end of the trip I was letting the rays brush up against my legs like it was no big deal and laughing at the Army guy who wanted to feed one of the big ones, but couldn’t seem to stand in the water long enough… especially when the rays headed for his feet! It was a good trip. And I accidentally talked Patricia into eating the unmentionables of the conch. Having licked an ant’s butt in Cairns, I thought I had to eat this thing (that I was told was part of the intestines!) and keep up my new habit of experiencing local traditions. Patricia followed my lead, but we didn’t know what we’d done until much later. I still would have eaten it, but Patricia might not have. You’ll have to ask her. (photo couresty of Rowing_Queen on Trip Advisor)

We had dinner that night with Dave and Karen and made plans to go snorkeling on the Harold the following day. Since we were with boat people, we were able to take their dingy out to the wreck, thus taking about 50% of the death defying-ness out of the trip. Which was probably good, seeing how we had company.

I was slightly disappointed in the snorkeling that day (not even an eagle ray!) But I’d managed to take Patricia to the good reef (now named “Rory’s Reef”) earlier. So she got a glimpse of a turtle that day and I guess today was about the ship wreck. (photo courtesy of Karen’s underwater camera)

We met up for lunch at the Sand Bar later to enjoy the view from the best Caribbean beach bar in the Atlantic. I also suggested that we couldn’t be this close to such a beautiful vessel as Dave and Karen’s and not see the inside. We made plans for a sunset tour with wine (finally used my bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau) and chocolate. Not too bad for 5 days on a desert island, eh Patricia?

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