Remember When?

It’s Been 16 Years!

Memories of childhood summers in South Caicos.

Story & Photos By Davidson Louis

When you are 12 years old and living on an island, you quickly learn to enjoy the little things in life—the simplest and most rewarding. Growing up in the Turks & Caicos Islands was special. In fact, it was actually a gift. When summer came, most of my peers would brag about their exotic trips to go see friends and families in different parts of the world. It was vastly different for me. Instead, I would be excited to go to South Caicos . . . to do absolutely nothing.

Fishing was a way to pass the time on South Caicos during summer “vacation.”

South Caicos, if you haven’t been, isn’t for everyone. It is so quiet I think calling it a “sleepy town” is probably an exaggeration. The island has been left in the past, but not totally forgotten. There are narrow streets, sun-bleached wooden homes that seem to be struggling to remain upright, tiny churches, and small shops with wide open screened doors. I always love the island. 

Every summer, I would look forward to leaving Providenciales and escape my ritualized life for six to seven weeks. No parents, no problem. My mother would drive to what used to be SkyKing’s office on Old Airport Road to buy a one-way ticket the day before the grand departure. She would hand me the pale-blue ticket that resembled a boarding pass to make it clear that when she said she had enough of me, she actually meant it.

I would barely sleep the night before my great domestic getaway. I would gather my dearest belongings: my swimming shorts, flip flops, a few books, and my mom’s old Canon-XTi to capture everything. I would then count the hours till morning. I was buzzing with excitement.

The trip itself was an adventure. I would clench the handles throughout the entire ride. The plane, no bigger than a mini-van, would shake from take-off to landing. The 8 AM flight would be filled with people carrying all sorts of packages. Mom would always have a friend who needed an envelope to go over, so I was the messenger.  With so many bodies in the plane, it would heat up like a toaster. The loud blowing air coming in from the air vents made no great difference.  

We used the old safety cards to fan ourselves. Safety came second, staying cool was the priority. The dark blue leather seats were overstretched and falling off the chair frames. If the chairs could talk, they would tell some interesting stories. You would feel every wind gust and every cloud that passed, but in the height of it all, when you looked down, there would lie the most divine body of water. 

Like marble, deep greens, hues of blues, and clearest turquoise blended together effortlessly. All of a sudden, my attention is shifted. The plane ride was no longer exciting and the water underneath my feet took center stage. The reef divides the blues, creating a long thread that is stretched as far as the eyes can see. Beyond the reef, deep blues are ignited under the glistening sun. Sapphire blues are melted into pale aquamarines with specks of white clashing waves, creating the most gorgeous collage I have ever seen. The intricate yet fluid palette of blues made me wonder if this is the origin of TCI’s “Beautiful by Nature” tagline. I am always in awe.

The South Caicos airport greeted Davidson when he arrived in the early 2000s.

A small wooden structure welcomed you to South Caicos—it was the airport. The pond, I remember,  would be covered with bright pink flamingos creating a vibrant contrast against the salina. Dragonflies and butterflies were in abundance. The guinep trees gave the sweetest fruits during these summer months and you could ask anyone to climb their trees if you remember your manners. The summer spent in South Caicos was utterly peaceful. 

I returned to South Caicos 16 years later, but this time it was a bit different. I bought my own ticket with a return date. The journey was similar, but I think I was even more excited. South Caicos, this time around, felt like a déjà vu experience. A wave of nostalgia brought memories back as I tried to recall my younger years on the island. Nothing drastic has changed. The flamingoes have not left the pond and Victoria Salina looked the same as it did more than a decade ago. Some streets seemed to be more active than I remember while other streets seemed quieter than ever. 

Looking back, I should thank my parents for allowing me to have these childhood memories. Slowly but surely, the island is changing. South Caicos may never be the same for my children to enjoy the way I enjoyed it. Ambitious developments like East Bay and Sailrock will change this quiet town forever. Sailrock wants to transform the island into a luxury retreat. This is wonderful, but I encourage you to take a trip to South Caicos while the island still has its charm. South Caicos’ raw nature is unparalleled. 

The pursuit of snapper, grouper, and jacks has always been a necessity and pastime on South Caicos.

Everyone who comes to visit the Turks & Caicos Islands should devote a day or two to South Caicos or one of the other out islands to enjoy the country’s true beauty. Stay tuned to this column as I do the same!

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On the Cover

South Caicos was once a major exporter of salt harvested from its extensive salinas. Award-winning Master and Craftsman Photographer James Roy of Paradise Photography ( created this vertical composition by assembling a series of six images captured by a high-definition drone which was a half a mile away from his position.

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