Lin's flight arrived early, believe it or not, at the Piarco International Airport and we were there waiting to greet her. We whisked her away as fast as we could whisk in late afternoon traffic and before you know we were sitting comfortably in her little apartment on the waterfront at Power Boats, sipping wine and unwinding. Dinner next door at Sails was pleasant with a light early evening breeze that followed a short, but cooling downpour earlier. Mr. Melody, the evening's entertainment, “kareoke-d” old BeeGee songs and the greatest hits of the 70s & 80s. We enjoyed dinner and left before he came to our table with his microphone. We were up early the next morning and, while David chatted with Rawle about his day's work plan for Nine of Cups, I headed down to Lin's for a morning cuppa. We sat on the deck outside her apartment, chatting and planning the day when the deck suddenly started to vibrate and sway. We thought, perhaps, somebody heavy was coming up the stairs, but no, there was no one. Then, it happened again. An earthquake … a tremor really … to start Lin's first day of vacation in Trinidad. We found out later it was centered off the coast of Venezuela and registered 5.7 on the Richter scale. No damage done.
Trembling finished, we headed off for points along Trinidad's North Coast. Lin had brought a Rough Guide to Trinidad and Tobago with her and it provided a good resource for things to see and do along the route. We climbed up, up, up across the Northern Range along a circuitous, switch-backed, narrow road that seemed barely wide enough for one car, never mind two way traffic. Deep ditches lined one side of the road, perhaps handling run-off during the rainy season. The other side of the road was a steep drop-off to the abyss below with guard rails and curbs sometimes in place. Drivers are crazy here. They speed, tailgate and pass mercilessly. After a rather exciting drive, we came to the lookout at the top which provided outstanding views of the Caribbean Sea below.
A few vendors were selling sweets and we chose some to try. Our favorite was chip-chips … a dried coconut and brown sugar concoction that was sweet enough to last for a month. The spiced cherries and mangos we sampled were definitely not to our liking and after a gingery taste, they were discarded in the nearest trash bin.
We continued along the North Coast Road, the road descending steeply now to sea level. High cliffs gave way to thick foliage. We saw teak and old banana trees reminiscent of the plantations that once dominated the area. Stands of bamboo arched over the road. We caught brief glimpses of the sea and finally white sand beaches replaced the thick foliage and rocky coast. Spindly coconut palms dotted the shore and we were in Maracas Bay, one of the more popular beaches on the island.
We found the Maracas Bay Village to be more interesting than the main beach which was quite crowded with beach-goers, vendors and take-away joints, despite the fact it was a weekday. The village beach, though smaller, was picturesque with its brightly colored fishing boats and life guard shack.
A gazebo, apparently a new addition, adorned the pier and seemed to be the meeting place for young people. People fished off the end of the pier.
We walked barefoot in the sand along the beach, stepping over mooring lines that moved higher and lower with the surge. A committee of vultures (yup, that's the right collective for vultures) milled around the fishing boats, scarfing up old fish guts and whatever else they could scavenge.
We continued on the coast past several more beaches and through tiny towns, around sharp corners and over one lane bridges that forded the many small rivers and streams in the area.
Our destination was the Orange Suspension Bridge across the Marianne River at the end of the road in Blanchisseuse (Blahn-she-shers). We'd seen several pictures of the century-old bridge and thought it would be a great photo opp. Our plan after the bridge was to backtrack, stopping at places of interest we'd missed on the journey out. Lin's Rough Guide was a couple of years old and did not reflect the fact that the bridge had been condemned and replaced in 2012. The old bridge was left in place as a pedestrian bridge and historical site, but was not particularly photogenic despite its history. We took pics anyway.
Join us tomorrow as we backtrack along the North Coast Road, have lunch with an 82-year old German/American ex-pat and cavort in the Caribbean Sea at Las Cuevas Beach.