Trinidad: September 28-October 14, 2007

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

We returned to Trinidad on September 28.  By the time we (1) had suffered through a long wait at Customs at the airport, where we obtained -- as cruisers with a boat already here -- a small piece of paper that was to be given without delay to the customs officials at Chaguaramas, where our boat was docked; (2) waited for Jesse James to come back to the airport and get us -- he had flubbed his reservations and had already left the airport with other passengers; (3) submitted the relevant bags to Chaguaramas Customs, who required that we display each item we had declared on the incoming Customs form -- with no charge for the items since we are "cruisers in transit", but who charged us 106 TT dollars ($6.35 TT dollars to a US dollar) for an "overtime" fee, (4) schlepped (with help from Jesse) our many bags to our boat; and (5) unpacked our bags, it was 2 AM, which our bodies might have thought 3 AM, North Dakota time, or 5 AM, Las Vegas time.   Maybe that was why we both felt so strange about returning to the boat.  Glad to be back, yes.  But we almost immediately admitted to each other that we were feeling like the boat was awfully small and cramped.   Is that the way guests feel when they first join us?   And we have been thinking that our boat was large and roomy!  Even more surprising was the fact that the small amount of rocking of the boat was uncomfortable -- and we were tied to a dock in a quiet harbor!

The next day, after a long sleep, we arose to discover that the walls had expanded back out to their former positions, and that the motion of the vessel had once again become virtually unnoticed and certainly not uncomfortable.

Trinidad has been an interesting and entertaining place to await the end of hurricane season.  We learned of a European Film Festival being held at Movie Town, and used maxi-taxis to get there and back.  (5 TT dollars each way.)  Movie Town is a very upscale development, with many high-end shops, an Irish Pub, and a sushi restaurant.  Ruby Tuesdays, Radio Shack, and other shops, including a pastry shop,  are accessible from inside the huge lobby of the theatre itself, which also features a large area for children to play.  The refreshment stand includes fries and chicken fingers and nachos and East Indian dishes.  A large coke and large popcorn costs $24 TT (about $4 US; $1 US = $6.3 TT).  Admission to the "regular" movies at the complex cost $40 TT, but the special price for the Film Festival movies was $15 TT or $2.30 US! 

We went on a hike with fellow cruisers that are retired National Park Rangers from the USA -- Hunter and Devi -- and they noticed (and photographed) a "sea bean" and its husk on the forest floor.  This one was a "hamburger bean", one of the more coveted ones by cruisers in the Bahamas, where they (the beans) are washed up onto the shore and avidly sought.

We also joined a Jesse James excursion to the Asa Wright Nature Centre -- see that section below. 

We have been busy with boat projects, removing the steel cable from the dinghy lift, only to decide that it needed only to be reversed.  Installed oarlocks on the dinghy.  Spent DAYS before our trip back to the USA waxing the upper half of the boat, and after our return hired locals to wax below the cap rail, which took them another three days.  ($250 US.)   Dissembled and refreshed the grease in the anchor windlass.  Among the items we brought back from the States was a replacement relay for the bow thruster -- we had had it shipped to Danielle in Savannah.  Took almost an entire day to get the new one installed -- had to modify the mounting bracket and struggle with all of the heavy cables since the new relay was larger than the old.

When projects have not gotten in the way, Chuck has been weight lifting three times a week with Stan (Inner Wisdom) at a not-too-distant gym.  $3 TT for the maxi-taxi ride there and $15 TT per workout.

Barb has been having a great time buying material for dresses, bathing suits, shorts, skorts, and shirts.  She hired the local expert "sewing ladies", as they are known in the cruising community,  to make the clothes by giving them a sample of each of the things she wanted.  They then duplicated the items with the selected materials.  The cost of fabric is incredibly cheap and the seamstress' prices are not too bad either.  Material for a sundress was $12 US and $18 US to have it sewn.  Chuck is quite pleased with the new island shirt the ladies made.

Barb has taken many trips into Port of Spain to get fabric, to meet with the sewing ladies, to shop at the market, and to explore the area.  Chuck has been mostly working on boat projects.  We have found the YSATT shuttle  (water taxi) in Chaguarmas to be particularly helpful.  Things are much closer by water than by land as we are in a small bay and it is easier to cross the water than walk or drive around the bay.  We use the shuttle to get to restaurants, to other marinas or to the local chandleries.   $5 TT per passenger per trip.

We are having Tusen Takk II hauled at Peake Yacht Services in Chaguaramas on Monday, October 15th, to have the bottom painted.  We hope we will be in the water again by the 19th since we have another all day hiking/floating trip planned for the 20th.  Some fairly challenging hiking up a mountain, followed by a jump into and float down a river (wearing a life jacket), followed by another hike back up the mountain.

Miscellaneous Photos

Hike near Chaguaramas took us through this Bamboo area known as the "Cathedral"

"Sea bean" found on hike (Photo by Hunter, of Artic Tern)

Christophene field near the Asa Wright Centre (grows above ground on horizontially-laid wire mesh and harvested from below)

Hindu home with prayer flags

Jessie James getting the group some delicious Doubles from a roadside stand

Seamstress Bernice with dress she made for Barb


Asa Wright Nature Centre Trip

Deep in the hills of the Northern Range, about 12 km north of the town of Arima.   World famous among bird watchers.   200 acre mountain retreat established in 1967.   25-room lodge.   Delicious meals

Jesse James picked up four couples in Chaguaramas about 9:30 one morning, and transported us up to the center.   Along the way, we stopped at a Doubles stand, where Jesse treated everyone to the four or five different East Indian delicacies available at the stand.  Barb and Chuck and another couple stayed only one night -- the other two couples stayed three nights.   Bird watching from the veranda and along the several paths through the rain forest were the principle activities.

View from the veranda of the Asa Wright Nature Centre

Feeder below the veranda -- here visited by Bananaquits as thick as flies

More birds at a feeder

A birding group from W. Virginia stays under the veranda during a rain deluge -- the Centre is in a rain forest

Barb, Devi & Hunter watch the rain

Chuck wants a bigger lens!

The scene during a break from the rain

An agouti takes advantage of feeder spills

And an iguana comes out to search for tidbits

Rain forest foliage

Coffee beans -- remnant of plantation days

Land crab encountered during a guided night hike

Bananaquit on a hummingbird feeder

Reflections from the feeder give this Bananaquit an orange breast

Unidentified bird


Purple Honey Creeper

Isn't he handsome?

MRS. Purple Honey Creeper

Is it OK to say she has a lovely breast?

Hummingbird at feeder

This fella "owned" one of the feeders

This larger fella "owned" one of the other feeders

Fella TWO poaching on Fella ONE's feeder

... And doesn't mind sharing with a bee

Oropendula at the feeder -- their nest can be seen in the first photo of this group

One of many trails at Asa Wright

Enchanted path through the rain forest

Barb on a trail

We caught up with the birding group from West Virgina -- they were attempting to spot Bearded Bellbirds

One of the paths leads to a cave where Oilbirds nest

Mushroom growing along a path

Additional mushrooms aborning

Butterfly orchid

Flower (heliconia) along road entering Asa Wright grounds

Closeup of "flower" -- actually modified leaves with tiny flowers peeking out of the bottom edges

The terminal "flower"

So pretty I had to include another pic

Lotsa flowers along the road to Asa Wright

This flower is subject to "bad hair days"

Shrimp flowers

Closeup of Shrimp flower

Another blossom


Caroni Swamp Trip

On the way back from Asa Wright, we stopped at the Caroni Swamp Bird Sanctuary, a 200 acre reserve that serves as a haven for Trinidad's national bird, the Scarlet Ibis.  In addition to observing the night-time roost of the Ibis, we saw along the way a large snake and a silky anteater (also known as a two-toed sloth).   Since the focus of the visit is to see the Ibis roost, it occurs relatively late in the day, and thus it was too dark to photograph either the snake or the sloth.  

We were joined on the trip through the swamp by the same group from West Virginia that we had seen at Asa Wright.  Those folks know their birds!

Sign at guide's dock

Sign at Refuge Center

Chuck, Barb, Jo & Addison -- Crews Inn neighbors on an outing to the swamp

That is the famous Jesse James on the right -- he provides incredible support of all types for cruisers

Emptying rain water at guide's dock

Installing engine on guide boat

Underway down the channel leading to the swamp

Group from West Virginia begins spotting birds almost immediately

Channel becomes more brackish and clogged with mangroves

Scarlet Ibis on the way to a night-time roost

Another guideboat on station to observe the roost

This is as close as the guideboat would get. Note the brilliant Scarlet Ibis on the island

Another (but essentially the same) view -- note Ibis also on the ridge behind the island

The happy group returning to the dock

Barb and Jo on the return trip