Today was likely my last day in the Caribbean for the forseeable future.
We were docked in Grand Turk, an island that is known for being a possible landing point for Columbus when he "discovered" the Americas, as well as the nearest point to the splashdown of the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule containing John Glenn. The ship was the tallest point visible -- we were docked at a pier within a hundred meters of land. The water in Grand Turk is so clear that not only can one see the keel of the Crystal Symphony, but one can see the shadow that it leaves upon the sand beneath; it makes one feel as if the ship (which weighs tens of thousands of tons) is flying through space -- a particularly odd feeling when you realize that it contains your home, gym, workplace, recreational areas, and nearly every other part of your life. We could have swum out to the ship from the beach -- Grand Turk truly is a diver's and snorkeler's paradise.
I took a long walk away from the ship, people, and everything else today. The Grand Turk pier deposits one right among a series of tourist traps -- the beach stretchs to the left, towards the Margaritaville restaurant (the largest building on Grand Turk besides the ships themselves) and so I headed right instead. After circling round a little fence I was able to follow the beach for quite some distance, passing a series of abandoned cinderblock buildings covered in graffiti, a stable, and finally reaching a coral rock outcropping before having to return to the ship. The rock has been eroded in strange ways -- a large outcropping protrudes from the cliff face, hanging precariously in wait of some force strong enough to dislodge it. I climbed part of the way up, but the coral is too sharp and would have cut my feet and hands if I had kept going.
I needed the walk. Fifteen minutes from the leaving the ship, the only things I could hear were the waves, the wind, and my own footsteps. Time does funny things when you get out beyond the shops, commercial beaches, and canned music . . . a larger consciousness lives out beyond the tourist zone, a mind that exists day in and day out without any concept of the passage of time. Here, the waves have always broken against the rock, and the wind has always blown from the ocean onto land, and the petty concerns of humanity matter little compared to the constant roar of the ocean. The quality of the Caribbean sun is nearly impossible to describe -- the island shimmers with heat. Everything is white and blinding without some sort of eye protection -- a shattering contrast to the vivid starscape that is visible from the regions near the equator at night. Soft white coral sand underfoot, blinding white sun overhead, and everywhere the sound of the ocean -- this was my day on Grand Turk.