Perfume ads tend to conjure up surreal empty fields filled with flowers that bloom aromatically, but at the end of Middle Caicos, at a place called Wild Cow Run, that dream really does exist.
Following the single road that winds through sleepy villages like Conch Bar and Bambarra, places where friendly elders pass the time sitting on porches ever observantly, and you’ll be lead into seaside landscapes that annually host a natural phenomenon.
Out of the salty goodness of oceanside fresh air, you’ll pick up pungently sweet notes of raw vanilla beans for up to two to three weeks in late July or August. Getting out of the car to locate the source will lead you into a flat outstretch of sand sporadically covered in palm trees, and then… eureka. A blooming field of Caicos Encyclia orchids.
Encyclia caicensis, as they are scientifically called, emit stunning aromas that range from triple chocolate mocha brownies to homemade vanilla ice cream. Endemic to the Caicos Islands, found nowhere else on earth, the Caicos Encyclia blooms with colors that express distinctive personalities. Ranging from grape purples to golden yellows with unique patterns of pink and black stripes, the rare orchids are brilliant in bloom.
Attracting pollinating insects, butterflies, and birds, each orchid’s stalk grows up to 2m tall before finally unfolding fantastically fragrant flowers during their late summer mating rituals.
Thriving along deserted miles of Middle Caicos coast that eventually leads to Joe Grant Cay and the uninhabited island of East Caicos, the rarified Caicos Encyclia thrives. Delicately flourishing in an untouched natural environment seems fitting for the wild and endemically exclusive plant. Its festival of love which features delicious romantic pronouncements in both sight and scent are much better enjoyed by the seaside than in flower shops. The Caicos Encyclia’s bloom presents a once a year opportunity to experience something truly dream like.
STORY & IMAGES: DOMINIQUE ROLLE/CAYA HICO MEDIA