After visiting Exuma 7 times just last year, I thought maybe I should start traveling elsewhere. It hasn’t lost its luster, I just need to spread my proverbial wings a bit. My new goal is to visit at least one new island every year. Should that include a visit to Exuma here and there, then so be it. So Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, was next on the list. It was recommended by a friend so I thought, well why shouldn’t I? So I did.
My maternal parental unit and I set off early Thursday morning to fly out of FLL on a direct flight to Provo. The 3-hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale just to get a direct flight was quickly losing its value. Between traffic, parking, etc, we are starting to rethink flying out of south Florida in the future. But the flight was easy, and our feet were on the ground in Provo by 4pm. Little did we know that we lose an hour in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). But we knew the only thing on our to do list for the night was the Fish Fry. So we got our rental car from Grace Bay Car Rentals, right in the airport, and set about our way to find our apartment in the Grace Bay area, what turned out to be a ritzy tourist area chock full of massive resorts, restaurants, shopping, etc. Left-side driving in Exuma is something I’ve grown accustomed to, but left-side driving in TCI takes it to a whole new level. To my immediate dismay, there’s traffic! And a lot of it! There are two lanes going each way, roundabouts every half mile, and roads everywhere! A far different experience than one-road, two-roundabout Exuma. One island norm remained, however, there were no street signs. We were using the map from the car rental company but what good is a map if the roads don’t have street signs? But I pulled up my big girl pants and just followed the people in front of me. We safely made our way to our apartment after many missed turns and were greeted by the owner, Jee and his dog Cheddar.
Jee was a friendly foreign dude (not sure if he was French, Dutch, or what but I could barely understand him) and his free-roaming potcake Cheddar was adorable. Cheddar hasn’t missed a meal. I felt as if his poor little legs would buckle under all the weight he was carrying. But he held his own! Jee showed us around the house, how to get to the beach, warned us not to carry our purses around (more on this later) and we were on our way! We hopped back in the car and drove to Jimmy’s Dive Bar, a cool spot we noticed as we were driving around. Dingy dive bars are right up our alley so we thought we’d have a drink with “our people”.
I believe we were the only people at the bar but then later joined by a few other tourists. Jimmy’s looks like a bar you would find in Key West. Handwriting, cash, and random memorabilia plastered all over the walls, large open doors, loud jukebox music, and stiff drinks. It was right up our alley but not something we expected. It happened to be happy hour so my rum punch was $6 and my mom’s beer was $5. Not too bad until I realized that the rum punch is normally $13 and the beer is normally $7. Ouch. This was the beginning of a ridiculously expensive weekend.
No visit to an island is complete without a stop at the Fish Fry. In Exuma, it is always open, but in Provo, it is a weekly event set up at Bight Park where at least 20 local food and craft vendors set up for the night. So I finished my “way too strong to chug” drink at 5:30 and we headed over to the Fish Fry. We were told to get there early since the parking and crowds can be challenging. What we thought was early wasn’t early enough. The parking was limited (which required hopping the curb and parking on the sidewalk) and it was going to be a long walk but we found a spot and made our way there. Tourists were lined up 7-10 deep in front of every vendor and the only locals I saw were working the booths. I was immediately bummed as this seemed like just a “show” for tourists to give them the opportunity to listen to local music, buy local crafts, and eat local food. Not a problem, but I thought more locals would be attending. No big deal. We had a decent lobster dinner, a strong rum punch, and decided to bail. Note: We found out later that the locals do go to fish fry but not until well after we did.
We headed back to the Grace Bay area and stopped at a sports bar called Danny Buoys. I would compare it to a Buffalo Wild Wings. Huge outdoor seating areas and TVs everywhere. Neat atmosphere and a great staff but because we were there at 7:00, there weren’t many people there. We sucked back another round of drinks (a $20 dollar tab for two drinks) and headed back to the house. We parked at the house and walked across the street to the beach through the gates of Grace Bay Club. This resort was AMAZINGGGG. Everything was appropriately and tastefully lit, the pool and gardens were dream-like and we stumbled around in awe. The bar, Infiniti Bar, was just a short walk through the resort and we took a seat. Again, the only ones at the bar, we had a good chat with the bartenders, had a round of drinks and a couple appetizers (a $60 bill) and went back to the house for the night. The rum was kicking my butt and it was definitely time to hit the hay.