I slept fantastic last night - queen size bed with pillows and blankets and a/c...and my white noise app. I still wasn't ready for my 6:45 alarm though. Melissa said she would be making breakfast around 7, and I didn't want to be rude and not show up (downstairs) on time. So I rolled out of bed, put on the same thing I had on yesterday, brushed my teeth, didn't touch my hair, and went down a level. (Three level house).
My bathroom. Apparently I forgot to take a picture of the nice big bedroom with a flatscreen!
And sure enough, she was making bacon and crepes for me! So nice of her!
I got a couple of pictures of the cats this morning. They like to come up and sniff me but don't like to be held. I did get to pet them while Melissa held them, and they are like little marshmallow fluffs. Softest things I've ever felt! And SO cute with those tiny little ears!
(She said she has about $3,000 worth of cats in the house!!)
Around 7:20, Melissa said, "Okay, I'm going to kick you out in about 10 minutes." HA! I said no problem, I was already ready and packed. I made the bed and had my stuff downstairs already, too, so I just got up and she walked me out. She doesn't allow her couch surfers in the house when she isn't there, and she had to get ready for work and leave soon. So off I went, dragging my suitcase...two blocks down the street to Jamba Juice! I saw it on the map when I was googling her address and new what I was having for breakfast (after my two crepes I already had). Acai bliss bowl from Jamba is my fave!
Once I was done with that, I requested an Uber, thinking it would take no time at all. Well, the closest one was 11 minutes away, and it too even longer than that in the rush hour traffic. AND it was 1.5x surge pricing. Ugh. I should get a discount or something! I'm an Uber driver, too!
When I got in the car, I told my driver my plan. I needed to go to Wal-Mart first (I had already found the closest one and put the address in the app) to get a new cheap watch, and then I needed to go to the airport. He said no problem, he would take me to get a watch...but not to Wal-Mart. I guess it's in a super sketchy part of town, and it's not a nice store. Whatever. Fine. Take me to your fancy Target that's closer. I don't care. (But really I do, because I love Wal-Mart.) ;)
So anyways, we went to Target, I ran in (literally, ran, because it was costing me $$) to get a watch. I'm not going to lie. It was fantastic to be back in a Target! I love that store, too. Somehow I refrained from shopping at all and only looked at the cheap watches. 2 minutes later, I walked out with this one on and my old one in the trash can. A little sad. That thing has been on every trip with me for probably the last 7 or 8 years! Not bad for a Wal-Mart cheapy. Let's hope this one lasts just as long...because it was almost $20!
My driver took me to the Fort Lauderdale airport, and we chatted the whole way. He drives for Uber full time. Like, that's how he makes a living. He's from Jamaica and loves volcanos. Pretty sure I have him talked in to visiting Saba the next time he travels.
The airport was hopping, but I got there a little over two hours before my 11:15am flight, so I wasn't worried at all. I've never flown Jet Blue before, but their check in desk was just like all the others. I was thankful for my TSA Pre-check status once again. Those long lines are just too much. I breezed right through - shoes on and nothing out of the bag.
I knew my bag was heavy! 44 pounds!
Before my flight boarded, I did one more Jamba stop for the day. Ha, yeah, two in one morning. I love that place! Just a green smoothie and some fruit snacks this time. So so so good.
We boarded the plane on time, and man, it was so nice! Big and spacious - not crowded and crammed. We took off on time, and they offered free drinks (bottled water -- three of them!) and free snacks. Like actually good snacks and you could pick what you want! AND they had like 40 free tv channels to watch! Best airline ever! I hope to fly them more often!
So the flight was scheduled to be 3 hours. I thought that seemed a bit long. An hour and 20 minutes in, we were landing! Talk about early! And we even had to circle Providencials (the island in Turks & Caicos that I'm staying on) a couple of times because the airport was busy and they didn't have space or our flight yet. No one was complaining circling this!
Another big Delta flight was unloading right next to us, so it was a rush to get to Immigration first. Unfortunately, they won, so the line was long by the time I made it in, but it really didn't take too long. Maybe 20 minutes to get through the airport.
Outside, Ashley (my couch surfing host) said to ask for Calvin's taxi. So that's what I did. But the guy I talked to said, "Calvin who? Which Calvin? We have lots of Calvins! I might be a Calvin! Where do you need to go?" HA - well that didn't work as planned. So I left him and walked down to the actual taxi stand and talked to a much nicer and much more helpful guy there. He guessed which Calvin it was, and then got on a radio to find his number, and then called him for me! So nice! Oh and he let Calvin have it - half jokingly - when he called. He was like, "Hey! Who are you picking up!? A beautiful young lady? Well she's here. She's been waiting a long time and if you're not here in 5 minutes she's getting in a another taxi, so hurry up! Why would you keep a young lady like this waiting!?" And I literally had just walked up to him like two minutes before that. Pretty funny. But Calvin showed up in just a couple of minutes, complaining that we were early and it wasn't his fault, haha.
He was super nice and when I said I was hungry, whipped it in to a little local spot to order some lunch. I got fish and rice/beans. He ordered chicken and just about every other thing they had.
Then he took me to the grocery store so I could get some fruit and some snacks...
...and THEN he took me on little tour of the downtown area and the tourist area. I told him I wanted to go to this Potcake dog rescue place, and he rolled his eyes and said, "Oh jeez, all you tourists love that place. You're going to end up flying home with a new puppy just like they all do!" Uh-oh. Let's hope that's not the case, but he did stop and let me pop my head in to talk to them for a minute. Oh man -- lots of cute puppies, and a great non-profit rescue program they are running. It might be dangerous, but I'm going to "rent" one tomorrow morning and take it to the beach to play for the day!
Calvin dropped me off at a cool little coffee shop called The Green Bean Cafe, where Ashley said he would pick me up from when he got off work. It was like 3:30 by this point, so I sat down and ate my lunch (fish and rice/beans) while I waited at the coffee shop.
Just as soon as I was done, Ashley walked up and tapped me on the shoulder. A young(ish?) black guy. Born in Turks & Caicos, but went to school at Mizzou! Anyways, he's super nice and his awesome apartment was just across the parking lot from the cafe. I have my own bedroom, my own bathroom, and a fantastic view. His place is on the water just across from the yacht club!
He was with his friend, Liz, and they were going sailing, so they left pretty quickly, but gave me directions on where to go. The beach and a good snorkeling spot - Smith's Reef - was less than a 5 minute walk away. Too easy. So I changed in to my suit and set off for the white sand beaches at the far west end of the famous Grace Bay. Man, it was gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky. Perfect water.
There were a couple of other snorkelers out, so I knew the general direction to head. The shore was rocky, but there was white sand once you got in. That turned in to sea grass, and then all of a sudden, just a couple of minute swim out, there was a beautiful coral reef, right below the water!
So much purple.
I swam around for probably half an hour. I'm actually enjoying the water and snorkeling so much more now. Especially compared to when I started the trip. Just getting in up to my knees was enough. Well, I mean, it still is fine with me, but at least now I will actually jump in and enjoy it. Progress...
I walked back to Ashley's place around 5:30 (snuck through a private property instead of waking back to the public access road), and his girlfriend, Anna, was there when I got back. Sweet little blonde from Wales, with the cutest accent. She said she had a rough few days teaching scuba diving, and then they had these other people staying with them for like 10 days who wouldn't leave. They had to kick them out today for me! Anyways, you could tell she was a little stressed, but still super nice and told me about some good dive spots! Oh, and Ashley works for a tour company that does snorkel/boat excursions so I"m going to do one of those tomorrow afternoon with him! So happy I got connected with these guys - they're going to be great!
I had to shower and get the salt water off of me. Not a fan of that drying on me at all. I even had time to shave my legs and cut my fingernails. Now if I could just get an eyebrow wax I would be set. ;)
I was just siting down at the table on my laptop when Ashley walked in around 7. Calvin (taxi driver) told me about this local fish fry thing that is only on Thursdays, and Ashley said he was going and would take me! Perfect! I threw some clothes on (I really need to do laundry!) and we left around 7:30 to check it out.
Anna didn't come because she was tired and worn out -- and didn't want to break her sobriety! She hadn't had a drink in almost a month. Tomorrow would be one month and she just wanted to say she did it for a month - for no particular reason - and she knew she would want to drink if she came with us, so she stayed home. But Ashley and I picked up Liz at her hotel on the way.
The Fish Fry was nuts! So much bigger than I expected. The streets were lined with cars for a mile each direction. It was a huge event -- locals and tourists. Restaurants lined the sides selling all their foods, and vendors selling all their arts & crafts stuff. I found my Christmas tree ornament here - hand made out of a conch shell right here in Turks.
Those two were partying it up, and I just couldn't hang. So I decided to just walk home. I was just sure it was super close, and there were so many people out that it would be fine and safe.
Yeah, not a good plan. At least once very trip I make a bad decision. This was it. It started off fine, because there were lots of people coming and going -- for the first few equivalent of blocks. But soon, there were no cars, there were no street lights...and I wasn't in a populated part of town anymore. Awesome. Just a young girl walking the pitch black streets of Turks & Caicos at 10 at night. Because that's smart. And safe.
I was race walking for sure, and kept looking at my phone to see how far I had to go on the map. (It looked so much closer than it was!) And sure enough, a car full of local drunk guys pulled up and rolled the windows down. "Hey baby! Hey girl! You work work out? Why you walkin' so fast! Just come get in with us! Come on! You want a ride?"
UGH. I definitely full on ignored them after I politely smiled once and said "Nah, I'm good, thanks!" They were on the other side of the road, but we were headed the same direction. I was just praying they would leave... and they did. I couldn't see where they went because there was a bend in the road up ahead. But after a few minutes, I decided I was safe from them.
Or not. I was in a particularly dark stretch of the road, and here came a car...going super slow, headed right at me, with their brights on so I couldn't see anything past them. Awesome. It was them. Windows down, music so loud I could feel the vibration. They slowly creeped by me, I'm still race walking, pretending this isn't happening to me, and then they stop right behind me.
Do you have any idea how many awful things can race through your mind in about half a second? Is this it? Are they going to kidnap me? Torture me? Rape me? Where will they leave me? My poor mom. I can't die like this. What if they never find my body. Should I fight back? Do I have anything to fight back with? How many guys are in that car? What do they want? Maybe they just want to give me a ride.
And then I took off. I ran. Sprinted, more like it. In my sandals. Long crazy hair and fanny pack flowing behind me. iPhone flashlight on so I could see. The adrenaline helped, because I'm out of shape. I ran the rest of the way, which was probably another half mile or so. (That's a long ways when you haven't ran in months!) I don't know what they did or what they wanted with me, but I didn't see them again. Not too much further up the road there was a bar, and then there were a few houses past that, so there were lights.
Right before my turn, another car stopped and backed up to me. Some guy. "Excuse me, are you going far? Do you need a ride?" (I'm still running for all I'm worth.) "Are you okay?" HA - I didn't even say anything, I just turned the corner and ran through the parking lot and to the apartment. Disaster averted. I'm probably just being dramatic, but there is a good chance that could have ended very poorly. I think I'll stick to taxis after tonight. :)