Experts estimate that there may have been over 1000 ships that have wrecked off the coast of the Turks and Caicos Islands since the early 1500’s. Indeed, weather conditions and barrier reef walls used to prove quite harmful and fatal for many ships, particularly in the area around Northwest Point, directly off the coast of Provo. These ships and the records and artifacts they carry, are extremely valuable to the Turks & Caicos government, which sometimes tries to preserve or excavate a ship for educational purposes. The first wreck that always bears mention, is the Spanish slave ship, the Trouvadore. As the ship made it’s way to Cuba, to force the 300 Africans on board to work the lucrative sugar cane plantations, it wrecked in spectacular fashion, just off the coast of Middle Caicos. The surviving slaves, Africans from the Mande tribe who spoke Bambarra, became settlers of TCI, and with them, they brought their cultural practices, such as dancing, which is still on display in the annual Maskanoo parade, basket weaving, and the production of smooth Caribbean rum. Most of the locals, or “belongers” as they are called, can trace their roots back to these escaped slaves and indeed the idea of freedom is central to the history of the Turks & Caicos Islands.