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Published: April 24th 2018
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
Huge, soft lips caress my outstretched hand as the scruffy pregnant donkey, snuffles up a piece of granola bar. Yep, there are hundreds of these gentle creatures wandering around Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos.
We are on a tram tour of the island and have a chance to pet and feed a group of 8 who have wandered over to check us out, as we explore this very flat 7 mile by 1 ½ mile island. The donkeys will eat whatever we have with us including drinking water from our bottles. I've convinced Cope to give up his Granola Bars for the donkeys ;-) There are people on the tram that can't wait to feed and pet them (me) and then others that are saying, "Don't touch those creatures, who knows what diseases they may have". Oh good grief, I've fed and petted animals around the world, from giant iguanas, to dogs, cats, wild cockatoos, Koala bears and even had a Macaque jump on me in Gibraltar (thanks Sharon for the quick thinking on the camera, I love that photo ;-), meeting animals is half the fun of traveling... LOL.
Turk is a very deserty island that was hit hard by hurricane Maria. Trees were stripped bare of their leaves last September, and new soft green leaves can be seen swaying like hula skirts, high up in their branches as they try to come back to life. Scattered everywhere are parts of corrugated tin roofs and other debris thrown about by the winds.
Salt Flats make up a portion of the island as this once was a major producer of salt for the Caribbean islands. The flats give off a sulfur-like smell as we pass by. We learn the word “salary” come from the time salt was used as payment for goods.
In 1962 the astronaut John Glenn splashed down 200 miles off this island after being the first American to orbit the earth. We see a full-size replica of his capsule (pretty tiny), as we drive by on John Glenn Street, only now it is Glenn Street since the hurricane ripped off the “John” ?
Today, like most days in the Caribbean, is hot. 82 degrees with, at times, 100 percent humidity also known as rain. We are shaded on our tram as we pass homes
destroyed by the hurricane. Many of the homes are historical landmarks and were beautiful in their day. Once again Jean sees “for sale” signs and starts thinking renovation. It’s true these could be made magnificent again. Just a little far from home.
Cope huddles in the middle of the tram trying to stay out of the sun as we pull into Cockburn Town which is now nothing more than a dusty piece of road with a couple of dozen shops and places to eat. It reminds us of an old western town. Wind blowing, hot, dusty but the difference is the people are smiling and laughing and encouraging us to look in their shops. We go into a cute shop as Jean has seen a T-shirt with a relaxing dog on it that says “Relax in Turks and Caicos”. Not very original but it is cute. According to Margarite the shop person, they only have the one and it is for a child. Bummer. No problem…..Jean buys it anyway and she’ll frame it in her office. ?. Margarite thinks this is too funny and says so. They bond over the crazy American woman and take a picture together. It
is these “people to people” experiences that make every trip the most amazing.
We head back to the cruise ship terminal. On many of these islands the cruise ships along with the locals have built modern shopping areas at the ports. Many people on the ships never leave these pristine, safe, modern areas. It’s a shame. The real world is just outside the gates.
Next Port: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (Amber Cove)
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