Sunday, 22 January 2012

Grand Turk

Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands

You can swim right next to boat at Grand Turk
Arrived 6am to see the sun rising over these beautiful, low- lying islands. Everything you imagine about Caribbean islands is true of Grand Turk- white sand, palm trees, turquoise sea and sky, solitude - well, the last bit would be true, if you didn't arrive with 1300 passengers. Situated close to the Bahamas, a small group of islands in very shallow waters. Kate would love it here!
We'd opted for a snorkelling trip to the solitude of Gibbs Cay, which meant we were there with only 30 others, as visits and numbers are restricted. The experience was wonderful, relatively quiet and undisturbed, for a change, but the snorkelling itself was a bit disappointing. White sand and turquoise sea might look idyllic, but it's like a desert for marine life. I managed to sea some large blue tangs, wrasse and others I can't remember the names of, swimming in deeper water near a small reef. Others saw small turtles. We followed stingrays "flying" out towards the reef, having been fed and "played with" in the shallower waters earlier. This was the only grumble. Having signed for the one of two snorkelling trips which was not supposed to include the rays, we found to our surprise that we had a photographer on board, who would take pictures of us kissing rays and have them swimming near you feet. A group of us refused to cooperate with this, and said we were going off snorkelling. A bit annoyed about this, and the fact that we had with us someone who was not a good swimmer, and needed to be towed around by the guide, limiting what some of us could experience. So several of us just swam off and did our own thing! At £40 each, we weren't going to have this experience lessened by health and safety, and someone else's agenda. That's the main problem with some of these trips, and that's why we haven't booked any more.
Conch shell
I can't abide these creature experiences, up close and personal with something that's only there to be fed. It's like a circus, and we shouldn't encourage these stupid experiences. There are supposed to be wild creatures. Next thing I saw was some twit touching coral on the reef, but he was only doing what had previously been encouraged and photographed. Why can't people be happy with less, watching them swimming away later was far more moving. They go in for these sorts of carnivals a lot in parts of Asia, but I expected them to be more enlightened here. I don't know why!
One of the best bits of the trip was watching our guide snorkel and dive down to pick up two conch shells, and then show us how to extricate the conch meat, by hammering a hole into a specific point, and detaching the muscle, and then pulling the slug-like conch out. Only a small white part is edible, which he sliced and we ate like sushi, raw. We've only ever had conch cooked in batter as fritters, but this was very different and tasted almost like a slightly sweet vegetable, not at all fishy, and really nice.
Not many fish...something must have frightened them off!
One of the shortest stays at a port, leaving at 2pm, but other than swimming, there is not much else to do, and that's why we liked it so much.

No comments: