“You come and go. You come and go” – Culture Club.
This story is way too long to be included here, and indeed I’m pencilling it in for a future book but a snippet asked to be included on here, for the sake of the blog dipping in and out of all that madness. I still can’t believe that I have been to Turks And Caicos Islands officially, but yet I haven’t actually seen anything other than a runway, an airport and the views on the way in and out. Therefore, while I include the country in places I have officially been, I haven’t included it in my backpacking country visit count, which is currently on 213 real countries that I recognise and have been to. Still for 10 minutes I was out and about in Turks And Caicos Islands – officially my shortest country visit EVER!
On this trip, I was travelling with Inter Caribbean from Santo Domingo in The Dominican Republic on Hispaniola. This flight was arranged late due to another two flights being cancelled. Travel dreams since COVID-19 all began have been horrific and I estimate that I have wasted about 8 weeks of travel and amassed $10,000 US more than I would have done had I done all my post-COVID travel before it began. Madness and sadness.
I was supposed to visit Haiti first, but twice, my flights into Haiti were cancelled and so I settled on an early entrance to Jamaica and expected to get a direct flight. You would expect Dominican Republic to Jamaica to be easier and cheaper direct. Well there was a direct flight, but it ridiculously worked out cheaper to go via Turks And Caicos, where I’d land on the island of Providenciales. Initally of course, I checked the possibility of spending a night here in Providencials, so I could say I’d spent 2 days, 1 night there and actually backpack it but there was no flight out the next day to Jamaica or Haiti, so it was to be a quick connection only…after some visa debates and flight confusion, I almost missed this flight due to the staff at Santo Domingo Airport.
Finally they let me have my boarding pass and I was to learn that the flight from Santo Domingo was in fact delayed. Typically. Officially too, I’d be doing my immigration forms so I would actually land and “visit” this country Turks And Caicos Islands however due to the delay, I was bound to the aeroplane and runway only – at late notice, they decided to use the same aeroplane for my connection!! And I was the ONLY customer booked on those two flights that day, so I found myself alone. I also found out that Turks And Caicos is a HUB for The Caribbean, similar to how Nauru is a hub in the Pacific Ocean.
After a crazy chase around the airport, I boarded in Santo Domingo. The crazy chase involved the boarding gate being changed THREE times, including sticking us on the same gate as the Miami flight which was a huge Boeing 747, while ours was a small plane for about 25 people!
Also my flgith was delayed by three hours so I grabbed 2 beers and a Michelada at the airport and munched the rest of my snacks from my previous breakfasts/lunches (which I always save for “when I’m hungry”).
Eventually after 3 gates changes, 3 hours and my Michelada, I boarded! I was leaving Santo Domingo and Hispaniola for Providenciales in The Turks And Caicos Islands!
The short flight (I think it was about 50 minutes) landed in the beauty of Providenciales. I filled in my immigration forms and so officially I have been to The Turks And Caicos Islands! I’m a bit strict on myself and I don’t count it as I didn’t leave the airport, although I could have done! I could have seen The Turks And Caicos Islands, but if I had done that, I’d have missed my connecting flight to Kingston, Jamaica. I filled in my forms and we landed in a beautiful tropical island.
So I landed in Providenciales in The Turks And Caicos Islands. Originally I would have loved to visit Grace Bay Beach and Turtle Cove, but due to the three hour flight delay, the fact that I had done immigration already (and had my connecting ticket), I was unable to leave the airport or see the country. I was in and out in about 10 minutes! Yes I had 10 minutes in the country (not couting the time sitting on the plane on arrival and before departure). After reboarding the plane, I realised it was the exact same plane in fact and now, I was the ONLY passenger onboard. There was another delay and as I waited, more passengers did join me, though in the meantime, I did turn the flight into a Northern Ireland fan’s solo away trip…I put my fleg up and I was totally shocked that I was the only passenger who was transiting here. It’s certainly a rare thing to do that for me – to visit a country without really visiting it. I was alone on the flight, besides the staff…
In the GAWA end, I waited and nobody else boarded. The plane refuelled and an air hostess boarded to inform me that there were more passengers coming but they were currently going through immigration due to another separate flight being delayed. She also confirmed I was the only transit passenger to be on both these flights! And that it was rare for that to happen on the Jamaica connection…
Finally, other passengers came on and a Jamaican lady actually sat beside me. I had 4 flights in total cancelled during my 2022 – 2023 Caribbean adventure, but finally this one went ahead and landed, only about 40 minutes late into Kingston in Jamaica. The rest of these adventures are saved for the book, here are some photos on my flight into Jamaica.
Here are some videos I made during my shortest stay ever in a country – Turks and Caicos Islands: