Our Anniversary Part 2
On Saturday, July 7, 2018, we were up early. We had a Delta flight out of JFK at 8:35am. We packed up the night before and got to bed by 11pm. I got up at 5am ready to go and a bit excited to get to the airport. We were in a cab by 6am. The Delta Terminal was pretty crazy. They had many flights flying out around the eight o'clock time slot. We checked our luggage curbside, got through security and after a mile or so walk made it to the terminal.
The flight down was good. Jen and I got to stretch out in three seats. We landed in Turks and Caicos almost an hour earlier than scheduled. We got through customs and into a shuttle van by 12:30pm. This was our anniversary trip to Turks and Caicos. Ten years earlier we spent our ten year anniversary in Turks and Caicos. This year we decided to spend our twenty year anniversary there. This was our second trip to the island of Providenciales. Things have changed in those ten years. The island was crowded with traffic and very ugly. It's an island of money and poverty. The money is on the beautiful beaches and the poverty is inland and everywhere else. It is a scrub island, not many hills or high elevations. There was nothing pretty about anything on the way to the Grace Bay Club where we stayed.
We arrived early at Grace Bay Club and were greeted with a rum punch, a good start. Our room was not ready so we grabbed some lunch and drinks at The Grill while we waited. We received a cell phone as a direct line to our concierge. He was to call when the room was ready. Of course it was an old button phone and we had no clue how to use it. When he called we didn't even know how to answer it. He showed us how to call him back but when we did, it said we were not authorized to us it or some shit. So that was a problem. But 3pm arrived and we were taken to our room.
It was a great room/rooms. It was a one bedroom with one huge bathroom, a large living, dining, kitchen area with a connected outdoor patio area that led to the beach and pool. But, what was really crazy was the walk in closet that was similar to the size of our bathroom and kitchen combined in NYC. It was pretty sweet. We unpacked and decided to get the car and go to the grocery store before we got to comfortable.
The Avis car rental wasn't far from the hotel and it was a quick walk over. In no way was it busy and we noticed immediately that there were no Jeeps in the lot. We had planned to take a tour of some far out beaches and a four wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended. We entered the office and were greeted by a young man who seemed to be waiting for us. We gave him our information and he informed us that they do not rent Jeeps but they have another four wheel drive vehicle on the lot and points outside. We look out at the lot and notice only one four wheel drive vehicle right next to the building in line with his pointed finger. We agree that it was nice and it would be fine. We do the paper work, sign the papers and make payment.
Once we were finished he takes us outside to see the vehicle. Jen and I are excited and follow him out. We are looking at the vehicle we thought he pointed to and notice him still walking. I say to him, "Isn't this it?" He says, "This way." At that moment we realized he had been pointing beyond the vehicle next to the building to a glorified golf cart, that looked like it was broken down, sitting in the far corner of the lot. I said loudly, "You're kidding right?" We immediately said, "There has been a mistake!" "We are not renting that." It turned out the vehicle we thought he was pointing at was the company/employee vehicle. The Avis website had Jeeps on it, but the Avis agent showed me on my Avis reservation print out that it said, 'Open Air All-Terrain Vehicle.' What he wanted us to rent was the MOKE. It looked like it barely ran. Crazy!
So we canceled everything and left feeling defeated. The rental agent locked up and left. It was a waste of time for him and us. On our way back from the grocery store, closer to the resort, we came across another car rental and they had a Honda CRV. We rented it and drove back to the resort. More on that later.
We got back to the resort, made a couple cocktails and hit the pool. It was time to relax and start vacationing. The adults only pool was very close to our adults only building and adults only room. The pool area is beautiful and quiet. The pool guys will set you up with whatever you like. This was going to be great. *How many books could I read this week? How many drawings will I get done? How much napping will I do? How many visits to the Gym will I get in? Will I snorkel everyday or every other day? So much to do or nothing at all.
That evening we had a great meal at the main bar/restaurant called Infinity Bar. We ate almost the entire raw bar menu. After our meal we headed back to our adults only room for a good nights sleep. By this point I had not gotten a good nights sleep since Tuesday July 3, the night before the family fun fireworks. We were in bed by 9:30pm. Little did we know what was to come! WAH HA HA HA HA, WHA HA Ha ha!
At 11:30 that night I awoke to use the toilet. It was pitch black. We had pulled the blackout shade closed and cranked the AC. I could barely see. Before going to sleep I had looked for a plug and table to place our iPhones on to charge over night. I couldn’t find a table so I plugged them in and placed them on the floor. As I got out of bed I remembered the iPhones and stepped around them. On the way back from the bathroom I did the same. I fell asleep for what seemed like a minute when I awoke to Jen saying, “Steve wake up, there’s water.” I was half asleep looking around in the dark. Jen had awakened from her sleep because she heard or sensed something was wrong. Jen got out of bed and placed her feet in two inches of water on the floor. Immediately I remembered the iPhones on the floor. I stepped out of bed into the water, picked the phones out of the water and pulled the charging cables out of the wall sockets. At that moment I realized how lucky we were. For one thing the phones were working, but more importantly we did not get electrocuted. The entire apartment was filling with water.
We ran around checking everything we could think of that might leak. We checked the toilet, bathtub, shower, and kitchen sink and found nothing. As I sloshed back to the bedroom I realized the washer and dryer closet had water coming from under the door. I opened the door to see a pipe connected to the water heater had broken off and water was gushing out. By then Jen was on the phone with the front desk telling them of our emergency. The front desk manager told us to start packing our bags and be careful not to get electrocuted. We began packing fast, which wasn’t an easy task after being woken up around midnight and walking around in water. Jen says the night manager and head of security showed up pretty fast. I don’t remember. But by then the water was everywhere. They turned off the water and left to figure out what room to place us in. They were very sympathetic and concerned we would get electrocuted but left anyway. For some reason the water was still creeping across the floor touching every dry area. We finished packing and moved out of our beautiful island apartment into another room by 2am.
Wow! Did that just happen? At 2:15am on our first night in “paradise” we find ourselves in a new room a quarter the size of our minutes old room. We laid in the new bed thinking about what just happened. At least we were safe and not electrocuted. We decided not to unpack thinking they would move us in the morning. Ugh! Another night with no sleep.
The next day, day 2, we got up and went to breakfast. Our plan to drive south to some secluded beaches and have lunch at Amanyara would have to wait until Monday. We called several times after lunch to find out what room they would be moving us to. The room we were staying in was expensive and the room they put us in was half that price. By the time the resort got back to us it was after 1pm on Sunday. We still hadn't unpacked and we were in limbo waiting for a room. Our new concierge, Berg (that’s his name) told us we would need to stay in this new room (room 2) for one more night and then they would move us to a room on the third floor with a balcony view of the ocean. We agreed to this. So we stayed by the pool and did some swimming, reading and drinking. That night we ate at Infinity Bar again and finished the rest of the raw bar menu. We got to bed about 11pm. I was up tossing and turning with heartburn. Another terrible night of sleep.
On Monday, Day 3, we packed everything up and had our luggage ready to move to the new room (room 3). Instead of waiting around we got in our Honda CRV and hit the road. The plan was to head south to Amanyara and have lunch at this amazing resort. Amanyara sits on secluded Malcom beach at the very southern point of Providenciales, in the Blue Hills area. Rumor has it Taylor Swift was staying there. We drove as far as we could on macadam and started off roading. Turns out our car wasn't that great off road. The cars dashboard navigation monitor was in Japanese. Everything was in Japanese and the driving in Turks and Caicos is British. You drive on the opposite side of the road. These were a couple additional things to deal with. After a long off road journey we made it to the guard station at Amanyara. It seems Amanyara is private and doesn't allow anyone in unless you are staying there or have a spa appointment or dinner reservation. So we were out of luck. The guard was nice enough to call and make a lunch reservation with one concession. We were not allowed to park on the property. We had to off round it to Malcolm Beach and then enter Amanyara from the beach access for lunch. Jen gave her information and the guard made the reservation. Now all we had to do is make it to Malcolm beach. The roads we were traveling on were rough with no traffic at all. We saw one other vehicle and the people in it looked a bit rough. We made it back to the turn off to Malcolm beach and started up the road. This was the roughest part of the island, with many hills and valleys. Just going up the first hill made our Honda shake and rattle. We didn't feel good about this. On the second hill we made a decision to turn around and abort this adventure. Our Honda was not up for the journey and the last thing we needed was to be stuck out there in the middle of nowhere. The roads had become very rough with pits, boulders and steep inclines. We weren’t going to test our luck.
So a new plan was created. We would drive down the coast to Da Conch Shack for lunch. We made it to Da Conch Shack. Eh? It looked like a tourist trap. We passed it by and made yet another plan. We would head to Long Bay Beach, check it out, maybe get lunch, head back to the hotel, get our room, hit the grocery store and return the car early to get some money back. Long Bay Beach sucked. No lunch to be had. Our room wouldn't be ready until 3pm and we couldn't go to the store because we didn't have a refrigerator to put our food in. So back to the pool we went.
At 3pm we got our new room. Room 3. It was amazing. It had an exceptional view of the property and the ocean. The living room, dining room and kitchen were all open. We had a huge balcony with access from the living room and bedroom. It was a really nice room. I think they did a good job. We went to the grocery store, returned the car and were ready to get this vacation started.
We had dinner at another resort that evening. We ate at the 7 Stars resort, which was just a walk up the beach. We got back after sundown and were excited to finally get a good nights sleep. Finally! We were in bed by 9:30-10:00. But it didn't last. Turns out we were not in the Adults Only building any longer and we were about to figure that out. Around midnight there was an explosion of sound coming from the apartment above us. I was jarred out of bed. Kids were running, jumping, yelling at each other on the balcony and causing a lot of noise. I sat in bed listening and staring at the ceiling. FUCKERS! They put us in a room under a bunch of kids. All these rooms connect so you can literally rent out an entire floor and have connected rooms for kids and parents. That was the situation.
There was no good nights sleep for me that night. Around 12:30am the kids started playing some kind of game on the balcony involving a large ball, perhaps a basketball. The game involved bouncing the ball over and over. The sound was vibrating through our bedroom. I laid in bed getting more and more pissed off. I really had not had a good nights sleep since July 3. I was about to reach my limit with this resort. By 1am I had had enough. I stormed outside and let loose, yelling very loud, "Shut the Fuck Up!" A boy’s voice responded, "What's Yer Problem?" And I replied, "You, Asshole!" I admit it wasn't one of my better moments, but I lost it. I then called the front desk and made a complaint. The night manager said he would send security to check it out. Security must have come to the door because we could hear many footsteps going in that direction. This is when we knew we were dealing with kids. After the security visit all the kids went into the bedroom and began to jump up and down in retaliation. They continued to play their ball game until 2am. I fell asleep at 3am. We could have stayed in New York if we wanted the noisy neighbor experience.
On Tuesday, day 3, we decided to skip breakfast and take a long walk on the beach. It was very cloudy and drizzling. After a good walk we grabbed the only cabana by the pool. Jen read and I slept most of the day. I got sick that day. My Sarcoidosis of the Lungs kicked in. Lack of sleep and stress can cause flare ups. It affects your lymph nodes and causes flu like feelings. It causes you to feel weak, dizzy, gives you the chills, your joints ache and all you want to do is sleep. After sleeping by the pool we went back to the room and I went to bed with a fever and the chills at 5pm. I was out of it. It was severe and I actually thought I might need medical attention. I had been through this many times, so I concentrated on sleep knowing the next day I would be fine. Altogether, including sleeping by the pool, I slept about 16 hours, only briefly waking up when the assholes upstairs got home around 10pm. They stopped making noise around midnight.
Wednesday, day 4, the sun was out and I was feeling much better. I checked my emails while lying in bed. We received an email from Grace Bay Club on our shared Getches email account. The email was a questionnaire about our stay at the Grace Bay Club. I decided to fill it out and I did it with the hard truth of our experience.
We spent the day on the beach. It was a beautiful day. We had breakfast and got set up on the beach with chairs, towels and umbrellas. It was a good relaxing day. We got back to the room around 5pm. When we arrived at the resort we were given a phone to carry with us to contact our concierge. We're on vacation why the hell do I want to carry another phone around. It felt intrusive, especially because we didn't know how to operate it. So we would leave the phone in the room on the charger. When we walked in the room there was a note under the phone that said, 'Please call me as soon as you get this', whatever. We were not there maybe 15 minutes when there was a knock on the door. Jen answered it because I was in the middle of making some cocktails. The Director of Guest Services was at the door, Lindy Rigby. He had read my review on the email they had sent us. He wanted to make things right. We discussed what would make us happy. He offered two couples massages and a free meal. We said no. We wanted an equivalent room in the Adults Only building and reimbursement for the first two nights. We went back and forth for a couple of minutes and finished with him agreeing to see what was available in the Adults Only building. Things were looking up? HA!
Lindy got back to us in a few minutes with good news. The room directly above our original room that got flooded was available. We could move over to that room and we would also get reimbursed $1,439.48. We took the offer and packed up once again to move to the quiet Adults Only building. YAY! By this time we were pros at packing and unpacking, we had it down. We showered, packed and moved within an hour. Finally we could unpack for the remainder of this vacation. No one was below us because of the flooding, so we knew we wouldn't bother anyone, not that we are noisy. We unpacked and set out for dinner. The best meal we had, was that night, at Grace's Cottage. We walked up along the beach and had a great time. We ate at Grace's Cottage ten years ago on our last visit.
Room 4 was nice. It had a better view then Room 1, but the same exact layout. The first few days at the resort we were talking with the couple who were staying in this room. The couple was very large. Donald the husband must have been 400 lbs. His wife must have been 250-275 lbs. They were from Austin, Texas. Everything is big in Texas. We were now sleeping in the bed they slept in. They were in the room for 11 nights. The bed literally had holes or indents in it, one on my side one on Jens. Getting into bed was more like, sinking into bed. The next morning we rotated the bed which made it much better. But it was still weird, kinda like sleeping on an incline. Turns out it was great for my heartburn.
For the rest of our stay we kept a very low profile. Thursday, day 6, we walked 7 miles on the beach, snorkeled, ate and drank and revisited old places. When we got back we hit the pool for a bit.
Friday July 13, day 7, was our anniversary. 20 years married, 22 years together. We had breakfast, hit the beach, read some, hit the pool and had some drinks. The weather was great. It was a good day.
Saturday, day 8, I was up at 6am packing up. We were both ready to get home. I was feeling pretty bad. I had a stomach ache and felt nauseous. I think it may have been the water. The bottled water was island water that was just filtered on the island. It still had a slight smell to it. My stomach and digestive system were bothering me from the time we got there. That has never happened to me before. We packed up, checked out and got an 11am shuttle to the airport. The airport had to be the worst seen. It's a small airport that is not capable of handling the massive crowds they are getting. It needs an overhaul. By the time we got on the plane I was feeling great. We had first class seats on the way home. Best purchase ever. Those seats were heaven. We were home with the cats by 5:30pm.
To sum up our stay in Turks and Caicos; we will never go back. We have been going to the Caribbean every year for 20 years give or take, some years more than once. The places we have gone twice have drastically changed. Providenciales was quiet and empty when we first went in 2008. July was a month you could guarantee to be crowdless. We stayed at the Palms ten years ago and the people attending a wedding party were the only other people staying there. When they left it was empty. The beaches were empty. On this trip we saw how crowded it has become and how ugly it is if you're not on the beach or on the water. Families have also invaded the Caribbean. Massive wealthy white families have found out about it in the last ten years. This trip in July was crowded. The crowds were ridiculous. Big families who would normally vacation on the American shores have found out it is just as expensive or cheaper to come to the Caribbean. We've been seeing it more and more every year. Ten years ago and beyond the Caribbean was more of an escape from America. It was an adventure. It was solitude. It was finding a little beach shack of soft powdered sand with $2 beers, like minded people and beautiful snorkeling. It was the place you went to get away from the American shores with all the families with bratty kids and terrible parents. July was the off season. As one bartender put it, 'there is no off season anymore' but there still is, August, September and October are still off season and also Hurricane Season. Another major observation is that the reefs are falling apart and dying. Providenciales, Anguilla and St. Martin's beach access reefs are in bad shape. We have good memories of the reefs from our past visits, but while visiting again we saw the same reefs dead or gone. We have decided to find more secluded islands to go to from here on out. Harder to get to but, hopefully worth it.
*How many books could I read this week? Less than one. How many drawings will I get done? Not one. How much napping will I do? A lot, because I didn't get any sleep at night. How many visits to the Gym will I get in? Not one, because I felt like shit for lack of sleep. Will I snorkel everyday or every other day? Snorkeled once.
**All the pictures were taken by Jen. By looking at these pictures it may look like it's not crowded. But we take pictures at odd times and try to get shots with no people in them. Trust us, there were a lot of people there for off season July.