Sun, sand, sea, and seafood—you don’t have to hunt high and low to experience many of the natural wonders on offer in the Turks and Caicos Islands… But that’s only half the story.
The other half of the equation are the people and culture that call the Islands home—and the best person to introduce you to them is David Bowen, the government’s Director of Culture.
His office, the Cultural & Arts Commission Office, is part workplace and part stage. Along the wall hang all sorts of artifacts. A large Turks & Caicos flag, little boats, conch shells, woven bags, straw hats, washing boards, tiny accordions, and more.
It’s only when David steps onto the stage that all the scattered items come alive. He brings the island’s history to life, from the era of salt production that lasted from the late 1600s into the 1960s, to rake & scrape music, to the Trouvadore ship wreck, and more.
Channeling the West Indies’ rich oral tradition, he weaves each and every item into a colorful tapestry that informs as it entertains. Conch shells become “shell phones” used to call his mother from the beach in some sepia-toned memory. Baskets become central to family life. Saws bend to the rhythm of ripsaw music accompanied by artful manipulation of the mundane triangle.
As someone who’s traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, even I was held captivated by David’s practiced, yet effortlessly authentic performance.
Taking a break from the beach for a history lesson was never this much fun.