February 12, 2019

Welcome to the sand bar

Dateline: Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos –

Actually, that’s not quite true.  We left Grand Turk about four o’clock this afternoon after a lovely day of sunshine and sand and the Nieuw Amsterdam is bound for Puerto Rico and somewhere with the Atlantic off her port bow and the Gulf of Mexico off her starboard.  This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, I headed off the ship and onto Grand Turk island, the chief seat of population of the small island nation of Turks and Caicos (another country down on the life list…).  Grand Turk is pretty much a sandbar about six or seven miles long with a couple of small towns and some lovely beaches.  It also has a lot of visible hurricane damage from the storms of a few years ago.  The other ship in port was from the AIDA cruise line which is a German company and was full of companionable Mittel Europeans who weren’t in the least bit phased by hordes of gay men in the T-shirt stores looking for the perfect refrigerator magnet.

Gemini Splash Down monument – Grand Turk

As I wasn’t terribly interested in a scuba trip or a jeep ride around the island, there wasn’t a whole lot to do so I settled for a nice walk on the beach, some splashing in the ocean, and a return to the ship for lunch, some pool time and some sunbathing.  I then entered the trivia contest, losing by one point.  (How was I to know that the oldest unchanged national flag belongs to Denmark?), had a nap, duck breast for dinner, and then proceeded to win $25 on the slots, only to lose it again.

The entertainment choices for the night were rather eclectic.  I enjoyed singer/songwriter Matt Alber (who is working his way into becoming the Mel Torme of a new generation).  I left the show of someone named Ada Vox after two numbers and headed for the piano bar.  At least the people that work there know how to sing a song.  The entertainers for gay cruises are often somewhat hit and miss.  The usual cruise ship folk, working an audience under eighty for once, tend to give it their all and be their personal best.  The LGBT entertainers hired by RSVP/Atlantis are sometimes quite good, and sometimes hired on the basis of their reputation on the bar circuit and can be surprisingly good or surprisingly bad.  Having taken these trips for a generation now, it’s been interesting to watch the evolution.  Decades ago, a gay cruise company could not book decent talent, even if they were LGBT as the acts were often afraid of being pigeon holed.  As society as changed, that’s really no longer an issue and even straight acts compete to get the slots as they know if they’re successful, there will be good word of mouth and future bookings.

Lee Fowler on the beach at Grand Turk

The beach this morning had a number of rather broken down horses for rent.  I did not ride one but it did remind me of childhood.  I was actually quite a good rider as a child (and have the ribbons somewhere to prove it).  A talent I inherited from my mother who was a show rider as a teen.  I haven’t been on a horse for some time now.  The last time was with Steve on a beach in Mexico on one of our Atlantis trips there in the late 90s.  Steve didn’t have a lot of experience riding and, after we had headed down the beach and through the woods, we turned around and were riding through the surf back to the resort.  Steve’s horse, seeing we were headed home, decided to have a little fun with him and took off in a gentle canter, eager to get back to stable and hay.  Steve, who hadn’t ever experienced that gait, began to shriek like a banshee and hung on for dear life.  I caught up with him, trying to explain that horses can lope but he was having none of it and continued to yell until the horse arrived back at the pen.  He never wanted to go riding again.  I’ll probably find a reason to get back on horseback at some time to see if I have any residual skills left.

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