Our retirement on Island Time as liveaboards.
Island Time gets Visitors
The editor of the Island Time website decided it was time to send down the audit committee to Trinidad to verify John & Genie's activities and entries in their website on the voyages’ of Island Time. Also, to help with the overnight sail to the Grenadines. The committee members Nile and Linda Schneider and Jay Menninger went to get the “True Story”. Since that is the name of Jay’s sail boat that made him a fully qualified member of the audit team.
We rendezvous at the Burlington Airport, with bags full of spare parts, compressors, sanders, heat guns, food, etc. for an 11:00 AM flight to JFK. Then on to Port-of-Spain (POS), Trinidad for a 9:00 PM arrival. Genie had prearranged a taxi pickup for us by Jesse James (true story). Jay, first through customs and baggage, met up with one of Jesse’s drivers holding a sign “Island Time”. After a quick trip to the Airport ATM to get some TT’s (Trinidad and Tabago cash) to pay for the cab ride, we were off. The warm evening air was a refreshing change from cold Vermont. Our ride was going to take us about 20 miles west to Chaguramous (Shag-a-rom-us) and the marina where Island Time was docked.
As we went over the first speed bump leaving the Airport a very loud noise started emanating from the rear of our van. Our driver, Dean, quickly pulled over. Great, we haven’t gone a 100 feet and our ride is broken. Did we pack to much crap in our bags and break the rear axle? Are we going to be sleeping at the Airport? Dean jumps out and slides under the rear of the van. The spare tire latch let loose and the tire holder and tire was dragging on the road. Dean was able to relatch it and we drove slowly over the remaining airport speed bumps. After 45 minutes of fast driving and tight squeezing through on coming traffic we arrived at “Crews Inn” marina and found John and Genie at their boat waiting with adult beverages. Genie had planned a tour the next day to the rain forest and a swamp, so we did not stay up too much later. One advantage of being at the dock was we got to sleep with air conditioning.
We were ready to go at 8:00 AM for our tour to Asa Wright Nature Center and Caroni Swamp. Our driver was Jesse James himself. Jesse turned out to be a wealth of knowledge and a fabulous guide. He grew up on Trinidad. Linda wanted to ride up front, so she walks around to the front right side of the van and almost hops into the drivers seat. Oops, forgot about left side steering.
Jesse’s first stop was at a road side vendors for “Doubles”. Doubles are a fried dough smaller version of the very popular Roti, an Indian version of a Mexican soft taco filled with curried chickpeas, potatoes and other stuff. Doubles are kind of the White Castle version of Rotis. We grab a couple soda’s and we were on the road with our bag of Doubles.
Once we clear the congestion east of POS we started climbing the mountains north to Asa Wright Nature Center. The road is basically a 1-1/2 lane road in most places, a tight squeeze with the occasional passing vehicle. The forest becomes more dense canopying the road in many places. At least the trees will prevent the van from falling too far should we go over the steep drop off beyond the edge of the road.
Asa Wright Nature Center was an old coffee plantation, the only reason someone would go to the trouble to build this narrow, twisting road up into the mountains. There is a lodge at the center which is popular with bird watchers. We arrive a little late and have to catch up with our tour. Jesse asks us not to mention we were late because we stopped for a snack on our way there, especially since they are providing us lunch. We felt like tardy school children.
After our hike and observing the flora and fauna with our khaki clad uniformed group of bird watchers we returned to the plantation house. We rested on the large veranda observing the many birds attracted to the numerous bird feeders. Although we enjoyed the nice walk in the forest, we were seeing a lot more birds sitting on the porch with a beer in hand. We were treated to a big lunch in the dining room.
Then back for some more Limin' on the veranda. I was busy sitting on the rail photographing all the birds, when Genie leans over towards me and whispers there are better pictures to be taken behind us.
Then we headed out of the mountains for the Caroni
Sanctuary otherwise known as a swamp.
Waiting for our boat ride, we see our typical birder in khaki head to toe, with pants tucked in to their socks. I assume they do this so if there are any holes in their pockets they will not loose their change, and I thought sailors were cheap.
To the right of the birder is a typical tourist with white bird legs.
After a hour or so of watching the Ibis's it was
starting to get dark and time to head back. Our young driver
managed to get hung up on some mangrove roots and the starter cord for
the motor broke. We drifted for quite awhile while he made repeated
attempts to start the motor, but no luck.
Hmm . . . It's getting rather dark out here we would really like to go home now !
Don't those crocodiles feed at night ? I guess we shouldn't keep paddling with our hands.
Do these visitors to the swamp make it out alive ?
Stay tuned to the next installment.