Friday, December 31, 2010


New pictures:

Late Wednesday night we were told nightmares of the ferry situation by two guys staying at our inn.  We were truly believing that we would not get on the 6:30 am ferry, and would then have to start queuing for the 2:30 ferry, and if that failed, then try for seats on the cargo ferry, where were would be sold tickets to stand on the ferry wherever there was space, for six hours.

Thursday morning:

Best day ever.  

Cab booked for 4 am arrived at 4 am.  The WILD overcharging still only meant spending US$15, which I am willing myself to take in stride. 

We were at the terminal when they opened the gate.  We got into queue and were fourth in line for ticket purchasing.  We were at the front of the security line, and the front of the boarding line, and have great seats next, next to our Portuguese fellow travelers we keep bumping in to.  Ferry tickets: TT$50 each, or US$ 8.30 (vs. US$ 33-50 for each plane ticket between the islands, plus a US$ 30 cab ride).  

On the return ferry – about two weeks from now, I hope to record the anti-drug smuggling announcement that is the scariest, most depressing thing I have ever heard.  Also depressing, they are piping the movie Ice Age through the whole boat.  There must be a TV somewhere, but it’s not here, not that we mind.  The view is amazing.  

We’ll be in Scarborough and eating hot rotis before we know it, then on to a bus headed to Parlatuvier via Castara, where we’ll be getting off and spending the next three nights.  

After that, backtracking slightly to Buccoo for “Sunday School”, a weekly music event that has nothing to do with religion, and snorkeling the reef.  Walker might take a dive.

One bummer.  I’ve got ill fitting backpack blues.  The “pro” at REI was wrong about my hip belt size, but I’m an idiot for seeking assurances from somewhere other than my own research.  As a result of a poor fitting hip belt, I’m being cut into at the back of my hips by the frame.  I’m hoping to modify the hip belt in the next few days to make it fit better.  This will probably involve a towel and scissors and duct tape.  Party time.  Excellent. 

Scarborough is hot, and crowded with folks off of a cruise ship.  But our debit card works in an atm here.  There are small fees, but it is worth it to not lose an hour to the slow paced banks here.  

A cab to Castara is US$ 40, but the bus to anywhere along the Parlatuvier route is TT$ 6, or US$1, each, so we are going that route.  Plus, the windows are much bigger on the bus, and if I had to be in a collision on the narrow winding roads, I just as soon be in the large vehicle.  

The cashier at a roti shop gave us directions to the bus terminal that were confusing, and made more confusing by the fact that I don’t know what he’s saying.  Everyone is speaking English, but we don’t know what they are saying, and I for one feel a little embarrassed asking them to repeat themselves three times.  As I was in India, but for different reasons, I am tempted to pretend I am not a native English speaker, but Walker has told me in the past I can’t pull it off, and that all the nationalities I could pretend to be – those people also speak English.  A girl leaving the roti shop gave us better directions, then a ride in her car to the bus terminal. 
The schedule said there was a 6 am and a 2:30 pm bus, but we learned there was also a 12:30.  As a woman told us, people will give us different answers, but they will always give us an answer.

The bus runs a route I could follow in our Lonely Planet map.  People quietly say “bus stop” when they want to get off, and the driver, who apparently has the most amazing ears in the world, responds.  Walker said to me softly, when you see where you want to get off, say ‘bus stop’, and I could see the driver scanning the passengers in the rear view mirror looking for the speaker of the words.  

The bay was immediately recognizable to me from the pictures I’d seen on the internet.  We got off on the wrong side of the inlet, because another person had called for bus stop, and neither of us wanted to call for bus stop again so soon.  The bay is a series of small bays.  We are right on the water, but to get to our bay, you have to climb over a tall ridge down to our mini bay.  It’s a hike, but glorious.  

Yesterday, we hit the wall on tired.   We needed to stay awake till 8 pm we decided.  We went for the worst meal ever for US$ 11, which made its terribleness even worse.  We then hit the “supermarket” to purchase groceries to make another meal.  The supermarket was decently large – about the size of our living and dining rooms combined, and had lot of shelves, but nothing on the shelves.  Visiting three markets, the other two tiny closet size rooms, we came away with fruit, canned beans, hot sauce, and noodles, pretty much what we needed.  They are out of spicy plantain chips at all three stores, which is sad.  Spicy plantain chips are my new Kur Kur (the masala and chutney flavored cheetos of India).  

Around this time, I started to minorly wig out.  I was so tired.  I slept for an hour and a half, then half asleep, ate noodles with hot sauce.  Having applied the hot sauce while half asleep, and it being one of those slow to burn sauces, I proceeded to wake myself up fully through extreme mouth burn.  I needed something fatty or absorbent to either dilute the hot oil or absorb it from my tongue.  I broke into our potato chips to discover they are made from dehydrated potatoes and have almost no fat.  I don’t understand.  Apparently, the language of potato chip is not universal.  

Walker hit the wall too, though his wall hitting is notably more internal.

We then took a late night stroll (it wasn’t that late, but tropical December is dark at 7 pm) to ‘Chinies’ in order to determine if they had wifi, and if they were a Chinese restaurant, or a restaurant belonging to a man named Chinie.  I don’t know the owners name, so it could be both, but they do serve Chinese food.  We ordered beers, and the cook’s friend took off down the street to buy us beers from the supermarket. 
Finally, it was 8:30 at night, a reasonable crashing time.  We crawled into our queen size bed with full mosquito net draping and CRASHED for 12 hours.  It was amazing.  

And here we are now, late morning, still semi-crashed, lying on our balcony on a futon pad, drinking instant coffee and munching on pineapple and Danielle’s nut mix (THANK YOU, Danielle.  This bag of goodness has gotten us through numerous rough times in the last few days.  And it tastes good.)

We have no plan, but to chill.   You might wonder how we have time to write all this.  It’s because of glorious plan to lay here doing very little for hours, and hours and hours on ferries.  And, we always wish we'd done this, long after the trip.  Later we’ll walk to the internet cafĂ© and post this, then swim, then eat, then drink beers and wander around and ring in the New Year.  Most businesses are closed tomorrow, but we are going to see about booking a boat to take us out snorkeling.  

A few things of note:
  •  I want to own every dog I see. 
  • In the cities of Port of Spain and Scarborough, Subway, Pizza Hut, and KFC are everywhere, but not McDonalds.
  • The rain here is great.  It’s not fun ruining rain, it’s refreshing and beautiful, and you dry pretty quickly.  We are the only people with raincoats, and I’d rather be wet than wrapped in plastic, so I’ve stopped wearing mine for now. 
  • New years is called “Old Year’s Night”.
  • People think I am a babe.  Maybe they tell all the girls that (they do), but I’m riding high.  It’s not catcalling either, or anything to creepy, more like statements, such as to Walker “That’s a find sister you’ve got.”
  • Best beer name ever: Pola Beer.  Get it?
  • Vendors are way mellower here than in India.  Most of the time, the pay us no attention.  Even in Scarborough, coming out of the terminal, where there were 30 men with taxis, we said we didn't need a ride, and they conversation ended.  No pleading for us to buy things in the stores, either. 
  • Spotted some graffiti that said only "TALIBAN" on a building, from the bus.  No idea why.  Walker is fascinated. 
  • The Great Soy Shake Disaster of 2010 is great for a lot of commit mileage here.  People are delighted to hear about the freezing snow of Boston, the pain of waiting for a train in  lightweight clothes, and the great mistake of eating a half gallon of ice cream in the bitter cold, and how I pain for it inside and out.  


rika said...

YAY! I super love the photos!!! And I'm so happy you are having fun :-) Maybe we can go together someday. Funnily enough, I dreamed of being there last night... only it was mostly a dream about driving on the wrong side of the road.

Re: McDonalds vs. KFC. What I was told when I was there, was that McDonalds came to Trinidad back in the 90's(?) but no one liked it. So McDonalds gave up and left.
However, KFC is super popular and that per capita Trinidadians are the biggest consumers of KFC in the World! Crazy, huh?!

Happy New Years, guys!! Keep having lots of fun in the sun!


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