In the Wake of JoJo - A Turks & Caicos Tail

(10 Reviews)

Tammy Merrell

Chesterfield, MO
Destination Wedding Specialist

Being in the travel industry for over twenty-five years, I am happy to fulfill my passion for travel by assisting fellow travelers in finding destinations that spark their interests, soothes their souls and satisfies their zest for adventure.

Grace Bay Glory

JoJo. I had heard about him for years. Various documentaries and PBS programs had allowed me a glimpse into his life under the sea. His celebrity status even paved the way for him to rub shoulders, or in his case, tails, with Robin Williams in a segment for the popular PBS series, In the Wild.

With his bubbly personality, most would agree that JoJo made his break into show business easier than others. You see, JoJo isn't a stand-up comic performing in smoke-filled lounges, or an up-and-coming Hollywood actor waiting tables at Spago. JoJo is a dolphin: A wild dolphin who chooses to spend his days cavorting in the wake of dive boats, curiously exploring the world of two-legged creatures called humans, rather than dorsal-finned pals like himself.

JoJo makes his home in the warm, tranquil waters surrounding the Turks & Caicos. Thankfully, JoJo is not capitalized upon as a tourist attraction, but his popularity has led to a pay-check of sorts. Because of generous contributors, he is the recipient of a bank account, arranged under the name of the JoJo Dolphin Project. The account was established to enhance safety precautions and to finance his medical care after mishaps with boat propellers and such.

On the flight over from Miami, I struck up a conversation with a florist on the island and asked her about him. "JoJo?," she smiled gently. "Yes, we all know JoJo. He's really something." She seemed surprised, that I, an outsider, was so knowledgable about JoJo. She said that he made frequent appearances along the shoreline and assured me that I would most likely spot him during my visit. Music to my ears!

Another passenger on the plane heard me talking to the florist and established that her niece was getting married on the island and this was her florist. I even scored an invite to the wedding, but politely declined as I had a one-track mind for my visit: Finding JoJo.

After arriving at my resort on the magificent strands of Grace Bay, I joined the Manager's Cocktail Party while keeping a keen eye on the horizon for the famed dolphin. Maybe he was feasting on fresh seafood canapes at his own happy hour gathering, as he didn't show his toothy grin at mine.

The next few days were spent beach-hopping and enjoying the glorious turquoise waters, snorkeling, collecting sea glass and shells. An Island Girl's delight! JoJo, however was proving elusive. No sightings, but I did manage to finagle Dean Bernal's phone number. Dean was JoJo's "caretaker" of sorts. He is the person responsible for establishing JoJo's Dolphing Project and hung out with his finned-friend quite often.

A call to Dean gave me the news I was dreading to hear... JoJo was off-island in a "feeding pattern" that had led him far offshore from Provo, so the odds of me seeing him on this visit was not looking good.

As I meandered over to the pool bar to drown my sorrows with a tasty rum punch, the bartender leaned over to me and said, "He's on-island, you know." Huh? Oh, my t-shirt. It was a Jimmy Buffett concert t-shirt and I replied, "Yeah, I know he visits here, often." The bartender said, "No. He is here now. Someone flew him in for a wedding last night!"

Uh, yeah, the same wedding that the lady on the plane had invited me to attend. *face palm*

So like any devoted Parrot Head, I jumped in my car and headed over to the Ocean Club Resort where my trusty bartender said he was staying. I jumped out of my car and ran down to the beach, hoping to see Jimmy sitting on a piece of driftwood, strumming out a tune. Instead, I must have had a frantic look on my face and a worker approached me and asked if he could help me. "Yes! You can point me to Jimmy Buffett!" With a giggle and a point out on the horizon, he said, "You just missed him, my Lady. He just left."

Defeated, I climbed back in my car to head back to my resort when overhead I heard the roar of a seaplane. Yep. Jimmy's seaplane. There went my Jimmy in his Hemisphere Dancer, soaring into the clouds and somewhere in the sea of blue of the Turks and Caicos, my JoJo was out there frolicking in distant water...

Although technically I did not achieve my goal of achieving my quest to see JoJo at home in his habitat, my visit to the Turks and Caicos could not be classified as a failure. The vibrant, turquoise water is enough to turn any frown upside down and I happily look forward to the day that I return for a visit. I will do so with joy, even if I again find myself in the wake of JoJo.



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