Sunday, July 1, 2007

Salt Cay

In early 2007 we spent several days on Salt Cay. Its a small island south of Grand Turk, "all the way" across the nation from here (70 miles). Salt Cay has a history. And unlike many of the islands here the Salt Cay history is actually documented.  Well, to some extent.  It was once forested, and has a natural series of 'salinas', which are low tidal areas that flood with the tide.

The old salinas and the hand built stonework walls and dikes are still here.



 People discovered that with some engineering, they could use this geography to evaporate seawater to the point where they were harvesting sea salt. In great quantities. It was the major industry in these islands for many, many years.

We took a quick look inside one of the old salt baron houses, called The White House.   This one is being renovated.  I think it takes a long time to renovate something of this size here in the Turks and Caicos.  This is the inside lower level of the house.  Salt was stored here, waiting for the ships that would take it to the United States.


There are a lot of ruins on Salt Cay.   This next photo is the Government Building.  This is where all the island business of the time was conducted.  You can tell that it was quite an impressive structure.   Now it sits in the tropical sun, slowly rotting away.   We went inside, but the floor was so rotten it was too dangerous to try to walk around.



This is our best friend in the islands, Preacher Stubbs.   He was keeping his good shoes dry while showing us around the island. He was NOT running from the cows.  Preacher is not afraid of cows.  Or much else, either, as far as I can determine.



This is the equivalent of Main street on Salt Cay.   There isn't a lot of traffic these days.



  The salt merchant families had their homes and loading docks on the left side, with the salt drying pens on the right. They could keep track of the slaves without ever leaving the shade.

I don't know what they did for health care back two hundred years ago, I suspect not much other than "bush medicine".  But these days, there's a modern clinic right here on Salt Cay:



A nice place to spend some time, a view of one of  the sea water pools and outside dining area at Jim and Sharon Shafer's Windmills Plantation on Salt Cay.



The view from  the little upstairs porch outside our room our  at Windmills Plantation, looking toward Grand Turk:


This is La Gringa sitting in the restaurant and bar area of Windmills Plantation.


The Shaffers have put together quite a collection of things that wash ashore here.  I wonder if we're included in that description.

We were only here for three days, but we managed to look around.  Preacher knows the island well, and he was a great tour guide.   He took us up to the top of  Taylor Hill to look at the ruins up there.  This was a high spot on the island, where people could keep a lookout for the ships coming to collect the salt.


I noticed that the write up I linked to up above ( and again here ) makes note of how difficult some of these paths can be.   We know first hand just what they're talking about.  


It was worth the climb, though, to get close to these old ruins.


Can you imagine what a house up here with a view like this would cost today?


I'm amazed that this hand laid stone arch is still standing.  It's a testimony to the skills that some of the old stone masons brought with them from Africa.


We hated to leave Salt Cay.  We plan to come back at the first opportunity.  But we had commitments on Providenciales, and wanted to spend at least one day on Grand Turk before heading back across the Columbus Passage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope you guys really enjoy your visits to Salt Cay. What with the proposed development of the north shore and the golf course, Salt Cay as we know and love it will cease to exist. Not only will these projects change the physical environment, it will bring more people, more drugs, and more crime, and probably damage the coral even more that it is. The beautiful night skies will be gone, because of the additional lights. More trash. And who knows what will happen to the feral cows and donkeys which currently roam free. God forbid they should mess up the course greens! As with many of the TCIs, Salt Cay is going to be raped for bucks and I have a hunch no Belongers, except, perhaps, those in the government, are going to get rich. So, pay a visit soon to Salt Cay....before it's charm is destroyed for the sake of the almighty dollar. Sincerely....mike james (an ex-pat on Salt Cay)