Spending Christmas in Providenciales

Beatitude's stern.

Beatitude’s stern.

The Turks and Caicos Islands, about 620 miles southeast of Miami, are a British Overseas Territory consisting of two island groups: The larger Caicos islands and the smaller Turks. There are eight main islands and about 299 smaller islands. About the only commerce of note for these islands is tourism. That’s us! And… a lot of other people during the holidays! Providenciales (a.k.a., Provo), to the northwest of the Caicos group, is the largest island in population, and since it has an international airport, is home to Beatitude for Christmas and New Years. The diving and snorkeling in the Turks and Caicos is reputed by many to be the best in the Caribbean.

Cindy, walking along the canal in the rain

Cindy, walking along the canal in the rain

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for almost a week and a half already. Our time on the island has been very pleasant. It’s quite a change, however, from the uninhabited islands we’ve visited over the last few days. We arrived on Saturday morning, the 19th, just in time for the Turtle Cove Marina Christmas party. We threw up a strand of borrowed lights on the bow of Beatitude and placed our tree out on the deck as well. We were ready to celebrate! We had dinner at the Tiki Hut restaurant (excellent!) a few steps down the dock from our boat, and then went over to the area surrounding the marina office where a tent was set up for the evening’s festivities. There was a band, refreshments, and even a visit by Santa Claus. The night was capped with the judging of the best decorated boat in the marina.

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Great food and atmosphere!

Great food and atmosphere!

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Beatitude's decorated bow.

Beatitude’s decorated bow.

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Cindy with Santa and his pirate elf.

Cindy with Santa and his pirate elf.

The Christmas party band.

The Christmas party band.

Since then, we’ve been mainly eating and relaxing. I know… not so good! We’ve enjoyed several of the local restaurants. One day, we rented a scooter and drove over to the beach to snorkel Smith’s Reef right off the beach. While I was snorkeling, Cindy made a good Christian friend, Sharon, who was also on the beach watching her family snorkel. We also did a little grocery shopping while we had the scooter. I’ve been able to take advantage of our time here to do a little diving. I dove on Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day (26th). The water is so beautiful. Visibility was greater than 90’ on both days. In my last post, I published a video of those two days of diving.

Waiting on our evening meal at Pizza Pizza in Grace Bay

Waiting on our evening meal at Pizza Pizza in Grace Bay

The pizza has arrived!

The pizza has arrived!

Christmas day dinner at Baci Ristorante.

Christmas day dinner at Baci Ristorante.

Baci Ristorante is in a beautiful setting not far from our dock.  The food is excellent!

Baci Ristorante is in a beautiful setting not far from our dock. The food is excellent!

This is the beautiful beach we snorkeled.  The water was a little cloudy, although I was able to see quite a bit of coral and sea creatures.

This is the beautiful beach we snorkeled. The water was a little cloudy, although I was able to see quite a bit of coral and sea creatures.

What a blessing! An honest-to-goodness, real-life, U.S.-like grocery store.  We saw nothing like this in the entire Bahamas (although Marsh Harbour had a good store).  The prices were about double of what we pay in the U.S. on about everything).

What a blessing! An honest-to-goodness, real-life, U.S.-like grocery store. We saw nothing like this in the entire Bahamas (although Marsh Harbour had a good store). The prices were about double of what we pay in the U.S. on about everything).

Our scooter for the day (this one went considerably faster than the previous ones we've rented,  > 55 mph).

Our scooter for the day (this one went considerably faster than the previous ones we’ve rented, > 55 mph).

Leaving on our diving expedition.  This was an isolated cloud.  The sun shone brightly for the rest of the morning.

Leaving on our diving expedition. This was an isolated cloud. The sun shone brightly for the rest of the morning.

Heading to West Caicos to dive.

Heading to West Caicos to dive.

Transiting the Caicos bank on the dive boat.

Transiting the Caicos bank on the dive boat.

On the Caicos Banks.

On the Caicos Banks.

We celebrated Christmas aboard Beatitude with the reading of the Christmas story from Luke, the singing of Christmas carols, prayer, and the opening of a few gifts.

The nativity onboard Beatitude

The nativity onboard Beatitude

Cindy, displaying her handmade Turks and Caicos dolphin jewelry (received on Christmas morning)

Cindy, displaying her handmade Turks and Caicos dolphin jewelry (received on Christmas morning)

One of my Christmas gifts: An icon of Christ!

One of my Christmas gifts: An icon of Christ!

Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated the day after Christmas in Britain and in the former British colonies. Traditionally, it was a day when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as “Christmas Boxes” from their masters, employees, or customers. For the Turks and Caicos Islands, it is also a day to celebrate Maskanoo, an African-influenced street festival which finds its origins in the days of slavery. The slaves took advantage of their one day off in the entire year to celebrate, wearing masks and dancing to drums, whistles, and cowbells. The Bahamas celebrate a similar festival known as Junkanoo (the name is derived from a well-known early reveler named “John Canoe”). Jamaica also has a comparable celebration. Anyway… on Saturday, the 26th (Boxing Day) we rented a car and drove over to Grace Bay to participate in and observe the Maskanoo celebration. What fun! A short video compilation (shot by Cindy with her iPhone) follows.

Our rental car came with a busted-out back window (the only one they had available).  Someone had broken into the day before to steal a ladies bag out of the back.)

Our rental car came with a busted-out back window (the only one they had available). Someone had broken into the day before to steal a ladies bag out of the back.)

Waiting in front of the ice cream parlor for the Maskanoo festivities to begin.

Waiting in front of the ice cream parlor for the Maskanoo festivities to begin.

Some audience participation during the Maskanoo celebration.

Some audience participation during the Maskanoo celebration.

Cindy's ready to party!

Cindy’s ready to party!

One of the costumed Maskanoo revelers.

One of the costumed Maskanoo revelers.

The Maskanoo crowd.

The Maskanoo crowd.

One of the best ripsawers in the Turks and Caicos.  Ripsawing is part of a uniquely Turks and Caicos music style called "Rake and Scrape".  The teeth of the saw are scraped with a metal object while the saw is bent to create various overtones.

One of the best ripsawers in the Turks and Caicos. Ripsawing is part of a uniquely Turks and Caicos music style called “Rake and Scrape”. The teeth of the saw are scraped with a metal object while the saw is bent to create various overtones.

Maskanoo!

Maskanoo!

The final celebration up on stage.

The final celebration up on stage.

On Sunday, the 27th, we attended worship and enjoyed a wonderful service at St. Monica’s Anglican Church. The Turks and Caicos islanders, like the Bahamians, are not timid when it comes to their singing and worship. They only know one way to sing, and that’s as loud as they can! The preaching was good and the people were friendly. Oh, and another thing. The islanders sure like their incense during the liturgy. I actually enjoy incense in the service, but in these services there is sometimes a great cloud of smoke which fills the nave necessitating me to frequently stop my singing to cough and clear my throat.

Worship at St. Monica's

Worship at St. Monica’s

We’re having a great time here which will soon be interrupted by another work trip back to the States. But not before celebrating the New Year in the islands.

We have one more week to enjoy the island before we fly back to the states. We’ll likely join in some New Year’s Eve festivities somewhere. I’m scheduled to scuba dive one more time. We’ll continue to enjoy the good food and island relaxation.

Here, as promised, is the Maskanoo video:

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