Two weeks in Trinidad and we didn’t see much past the boatyard. Living on the hard (in the boatyard, but out of the water) can be difficult with 5 of us and we were happy to be back in the water after the last of our repairs were completed. I prematurely wrote on an earlier post that Trinidad depends on yachting tourism, which isn’t entirely true. There are hundreds of boaters that come down from the islands to have work done, or maybe haul out and leave their boat in a safe place for the hurricane season, but there isn’t actually much touring going on beyond the repairs. There are plenty of interesting sights, but in our infrequent forays out of the boatyard we only saw nationals touring the sights. While there are a handful of scenic beaches, there are more waterfront views of oil platforms and tankers at anchor. Refineries and mangrove swamps line the shore limiting access to the ocean. There are a few big hotels, but they cater to local business trade rather than sun seekers or vacationers. There are a scattering of ecotourism destinations scattered around the island and we rented a car one weekend and saw as many as we could.
One interesting stop was La Brea, one of three big tar lakes in the world. La Brea boasts a 250 meter deep lake of tar, which continues to bubble up to the surface, regardless of how much they seem to take out. The fringes of the lake are mini wetlands and the bird life was healthy and diverse. Most of the lake has only about a foot of water covering it, but there are a few deeper spots that locals swim in. We came prepared and swam in the warm, sulfur smelling water after a huge downpour. It is a bizarre feeling of swimming in asphalt, but the sulfur, mineral qualities seemed to clear up a sun rash Ana had been suffering from, so it was a good stop.
After our swim we hiked to Edith Falls, a jungle hike that took us to a anticlimactic trickle of a waterfall, but through a lush jungle forest. We walked past huge stands of giant bamboo, dodged toads that come out in the rainy season and heard howler monkeys scream in the hills. If you’ve never heard a howler monkey, they sound like jaguars calling. It can be eerily intimidating if you aren’t sure they are Howlers.
The highlight of our trip, for me at least, was watching the Scarlet Ibis’s return to roost after foraging all day in Venezuela. On a small boat in the mangrove swamp of the Caroni Wildlife Reserve we witnessed several thousand birds return to Trinidad at dusk. They are the national bird and they are spectacular to see. We also got to see a number of other wetland birds. Above us, as we motored through the swamp, we saw large boas curled up in the forks of tree branches. Our first large snakes; crossed that item off the list of things to see while in the jungle, no need to see more!
Back on the boat we continued to plug away at the repair and cleaning list. The boat is looking good and if we could only jettison some of our sh%@, it would look great! The kids have offered to go without their textbooks, and I applauded their efforts to streamline, but times 5 we just have a lot of “stuff” we need on the boat. We have a few unnecessary items that I often wish would fall off the boat, including Mike’s newly acquired brick collection (yes, he is collecting bricks from the penal colonies in FG), a propane collection (don’t get me started on that one), and a burlap bag of Irish peat. All necessities! In fact, we had to raise the waterline on the boat while we were in the yard to accommodate our increasingly large displacement.
Although the boat was in Trinidad for over 6 weeks, we didn’t see a tremendous amount of Trinidad, but what we saw was worth seeing. Apparently there is a pretty unsavory side of Port of Spain, which of course we avoided. We met only very helpful, friendly people throughout the country. The boatyard was fantastic and well organized. While it is painful to drop money in any boatyard we felt like we got very professional, prompt service for a very fair price. Those three things don’t always go hand in hand, especially in third world countries. I’d highly recommend Powerboats to anyone looking for work done in the windward islands. Unlike many yards that sub out work, Powerboats has all bills go through their office, I’m sure they take their legitimate cut, but they OK estimates, guarantee work done and go over invoices after the work has been completed with the clients and they keep a watchful eye on progress. We will be leaving Trinidad with a depleted bank account, but happy sailors. Next stop, back to Grenada.
|Scarlett Ibis roosting tree|
|Scarlett Ibis returning to roost|
|La Brae, Pitch Lake|