My sister, Lin, arrives in Trinidad in a few days and I'm thrilled for two reasons. First, it's my sister and she's coming to visit us. Second, it's an opportunity to travel around the island exploring for a week and it will give David a break from boat projects. Yes, that's the deal. He works before she arrives and after she leaves, but no boat work while she's here. (I don't think he's upset by this deal … he agreed to it much too quickly.) While David has been pulling the prop, replacing the shaft seal and cutlass bearing (BV blogs on this to come) and grinding/repairing fiberglass for the past week, I've been generally staying out of his way … writing, making runs to the supermarket, preparing meals, cleaning, but mostly, planning. Planning an itinerary for Lin's visit has been fun, but time-consuming and a bit challenging. Many places lack websites with usable information (like hours, prices, contacts); others have no website at all. Also, most things require reservations here. Hotel and car rental reservations are a given, but many local activities require reservations as well as tour guides which is difficult to schedule when you're trying to stay loose and keep your options open. Planning your vacation down to the minute is not exactly the most relaxing holiday. Lin runs 24x7 when she's home and laid-back Trinidad should be a relaxing adventure, not a stressful one. Of course, typical one-week American vacations are not ideal for unstressing anyway.
I asked around and got several suggestions for things to see and do here. Other cruisers were a good source of information, and I also asked some local Trini friends what they'd recommend seeing. Lin has a Trinidad tour guide and had lots of input to provide. Here's what we came up with.
We figured we'd spend the first couple of days locally here in Chaguaramas. There really is quite a bit to see in the area … beaches, hikes, waterfalls, a boardwalk ... and even the boatyard is totally different for her (oh, joy!).
I've made a reservation for a night at the Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC). David and I visited AWNC, an old cacao plantation now nature reserve, on our last visit to Trinidad back in 2002 and it was outstanding. We're hoping it's every bit as enjoyable this time around.
We've rented a car and we plan to head to Trinidad's north and east coasts. We've reserved rooms for a couple of nights near the beach. It's leatherback turtle season and Lin has never seen sea turtles. We've seen green turtles laying at Ascension Island and at Chesterfield Reef, but we've never seen leatherbacks and we never tire of seeing sea critters do their thing.
We also plan to make a stop in the tiny town of Redhead, just because ..
A high priority is watching flocks of Trinidad's national bird, the scarlet ibis, return at dusk to roost in the mangroves at Caroni Swamp. Pitch Lake is down south and might be a possibility … you can never get too much pitch. The Devil's Woodyard is down south, too … bubbling mud volcanoes. Very appealing!
We'll spend a couple of nights in downtown Port of Spain, Trinidad's capital city too. Lin has free Marriott points and it'll be a fun splurge. I've found several self-guided tours of the city which we'd like to do which include the botanical gardens, maybe the zoo, plus the Red House (Trinidad's seat of Parliament) and other points of interest. We're hoping to take in high tea at the Mount St. Benedict Monastery, maybe a tour of the Angostura Rum/Bitters Factory and perhaps see the Hindu Temple in the Sea. The list of possible to-do's seems endless.
In between, we'll hang out, play gin and cribbage and speed scrabble, drink, eat, laugh, read and just be …
Sounds like a fine holiday and of course, you're most cordially invited to come along … and you don't even need to pack.