Last weekend we took the quintessential Caribbean vacation. One of the perks of living in Haiti is that the rest of the Caribbean is not too far away. We took a short flight from Port-au-Prince to the northern city of Cap Haitian, and then another short flight on to Providenciales, on the Turks and Caicos Islands. We were in our swimsuits by 10:30 AM. It was exactly what we were looking for: white sand beaches, clear blue ocean, and potable water from the tap. A much needed change from life in Port-au-Prince.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory and have a British-appointed governor. They are south of the Bahamas, and a short flight north of Haiti. There are actually quite a number of Haitians working in T&C in the tourist and construction industries. We heard a lot of Creole spoken, and a few times we spoke to people in Creole who were using it. Of course we received a lot of shocked and confused looks at the beginning of the conversation, but people were always eager to chat.
For most of the trip we rotated between lounging at the beach, swimming in the ocean, reading on our patio, and of course, eating seafood. But we did manage to ride bikes into town, try paddle boarding with mixed success, and go snorkeling. T&C is better known for it’s diving, but the snorkeling is still pretty great. On our last full day in T&C, we joined a tour that took us out to a reef to see all sorts of beautiful coral, fish, and rays.
But before the reef, we went to a large bay and searched for conch shells (pronounced konk). Our group collected about 8 of them that were large enough to responsibly take. They strictly enforce size rules, so any shells that are less than 4 years old have to be thrown back. After we were done snorkeling, we went to a deserted beach and our tour guides showed us how to get the conch out of the shells, and then made an amazing fresh conch salad, like a ceviche, right on the boat. It was delicious. I didn’t get a photo of the salad, but here’s a link to a conch salad recipe that looks very similar to what we ate.
I’ll be honest – it was hard to come back to Port-au-Prince after such a care-free few days. But I remind myself that the Turks and Caicos vacation probably wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t live a short hop, skip and a jump away.