Sunday, January 2, 2011

The internet closes at four.


Happy New Year, loved ones!  

Walker is in the kitchen corner prepping some food for our hike today to Englishman’s Bay, a fairly desolate beach with calmer waters and a coral reef about 2km down the road.  We’re walking and will maybe catch a ride from a local passing by.  The distance isn’t much, but it’s a lot of up and down the steep hills.  If we were wiser, more motivated folks, maybe we’d have gotten going earlier, but we’ve been rewarded so far with a slightly overcast, cooler day, and we are just not worrying about it.  

There is an overpriced roti shop on Englishman’s Bay, but it being New Year’s Day, we don’t know that it will be open, so we are packing some fruit, water, and our current staple, pasta with peanuts and hotsauce.
We went snorkeling Castara Bay yesterday but the water was too choppy for great visibility (Englishman’s Bay should be better), but it still felt great to be in the ocean.  The new snorkels are awesome.  Walker is having a getting used to period with the floaty that keeps water out, but not me.  I am sold.  We rented fins, 2 sets for 2 days for TT$ 100 (US$ 16), which is not great, but we are pretty glad to not be carrying these in our packs.  

We leave Castara for Buccoo tomorrow, but maybe we’ll wake early for a swim to maximize our joy,  then nap when we get in to Buccoo.  

We met our inn neighbors yesterday evening, Jay and Alice, from Portsmouth, England.  They asked how long we were here, then said isn’t that a bit long for Americans?  Aren’t your vacations 7 to 10 days?

Walker tells me he’s going to start writing down the things men here say about me, and recount them back to me whenever I’m in a body image funk.  It’s not just the compliments, though, I always start feeling pretty good after a few days of swimsuits and ocean water.  The ice cream man, when I told him I didn’t want to buy ice cream told me that’s ok.  I like your shape and your style.  Another man told me ‘you are the cutest’. 

We ate dinner twice last night.  The teenage girl at the roti shop on the beach asked Walker if he had dyed his beard.  When he said no, she told him it was a great beard, and asked if he was Muslim.  When I told her of his past with fushia dreadlocks, she grinned and told him, I bet you were a real congo bongo.

We rang in the New Year with Jay and Alice at the inn’s café, where they had a bbq and dancing and drumming.  We met all sorts of local folks, including an expat from London, Adam, who runs the Sandcastle restaurant here, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, though not THAT Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones.  It seems like some locals pick a memorable name and uses it to make themselves familiar to you, then once you remember them tells you their real name also.  The same was true with Binghi the Fruit King, who later revealed his name was Oswald.  I talked to Keith Richards for a long time, and I know he told me his real name, but damn it was loud.  When he found out I had a husband he took his hand off my shoulder and said, I am sorry, I will stop talking to you.  No disrespect.  I assured him it was fine, we then had the same drawn out conversation three times about how he respects boundaries, and doesn’t want to offend me or my husband.  We’d finally gotten back to normal conversation when Walker appeared to retrieve a beer from my purse (they don’t care if you bring your own beer into places here, and beer costs the same at restaurants and at the grocery),  and towered over the seated Keith Richards and I.  Keith Richards immediately began apologizing to Walker and offering him the seat next to me, and we went through the “no disrespect” conversation a few more times.  

We’ll be sending Keith Richards a watch from the United States.  He asked if it was possible or impossible, and after learning what he was after – a digital watch that could get wet -- we agreed it was possible.  There is not a lot for sale in Tobago, and almost nothing for sale in Castara.  He’d have to travel to Port of Spain to get a waterproof watch.  

Earlier, Adam, the London expat, had been talking to us how if he lost his watch in Thailand, he could rest assured that within a day of laying on the beach he’d be approached by a man selling nothing but watches, but that here, when you think of something you need, you make a note of it and hope to find it over the next months.  

I like this place, and the people.  It was hard to relax in Goa.  It was a lot of Europeans relaxing and being laid back, and a whole lot of teenagers busting ass and hustling goods in the hot sun on the beach.  I had so much more than these girls, and not just moneywise.  I have no idea what many of the people I’ve spent time with the last few days do for money.  In rural Tobago, so far, it seems like an economy of odd jobs for a lot of folks, some agriculture, and some small stores.  Not to sound too starry eyed – I know there are woes here, too -- but the spirit of the people here is to relax and enjoy.  Even in their work, they are more at ease, and it makes it possible for me to be that person too.  I don’t feel like I’m taking advantage of a situation here.   This is a pretty good place, for a lot of people. 

It’s 6:30 am and we are back to lying on the futon pad on the porch.  Today we’ll head somewhere new, but we are no longer sure where.  Buccoo is a slight backtrack, and might still be overrun by folks who came to ring in the New Year, so we’re tempted to snorkel the reef there on our way back.  Sunday School has lost some appeal, only because we just did basically that for New Years.  

We’ll load up our packs, then try again today to access the internet in order to make our next plan.  I’m plotting a hot roti for lunch.  We are considering getting a cab to our next destination, since otherwise we’ll have to stand on the side of the main road waiting for a bus to Scarborough that comes every two hours (there is no schedule, so we could end up there the full two hours or more), and then catch another bus out from Scarborough to whatever our destination.  

The walk to Englishman’s Bay was gorgeous, and not as difficult as we might have worried (says the girl who wasn’t carrying the pack).  Unfortunately, the water was pretty choppy and the visibility pretty low, so no reef visibility.  We’ll pay to go out with a guide next time around.  

On the way back from Englishman’s Bay, we could see kites being flown at the top of a tall hill, with no trees but on at the top, and cut with switchbacks, that we soon realized was a small graveyard (the town is pop 1007).   Birth and death dates were written on heart-shaped wooden cutouts as sunrise and sunset.  We hiked to the top of the hill and joined the kite flyers, an adult man, a teenage boy, and three small boys.  The boys were all flying kites so high that you could barely see them. The adult man then picked up a very large kite and threw it to the air.  Within seconds he had it dancing, and the free edges were buzzing.  

One of the youngest two boys was wrapping the other youngest boys legs with his kite twine, and then toppling him the ground.  His friend broke free of the wads of twine, which then got tangled on the line of a kite the teenager had handed over to him.  When he handed the kite back to the teenager he was giggling insanely at the irritation of the teen at the mass of twine, and was thoroughly disappointed when the tangle was resolved quickly.  The two young boys then began debating whether it’s “Kingston” or “Kingson”.


The internet is still closed, so no plan yet, though we are returning to our original idea to head to Buccoo.  We’ll trek back over the ridge for internet and rotis and make our plan in a bit.  We stopped at L&H, the tiny grocery run by a man named Lorris, for some of the amazing freaking Trinidad grapefruit juice in a can, made with cane sugar.  He complimented our juice choice, telling us the best juice in TT comes in a can (which is true, the stuff in plastic bottles is 5% juice, corn syrup madness), from the coop growers – what we were buying. He told me you look like you could command a household.  I teased him that he was calling me bossy, and he said, no, no, that a household needs a woman who takes leadership and makes things happen, not someone who sits back arms crossed.  He told us how his wife says to him, Lorris, we need to build a porch, let’s build a porch, and so he did and now they have a great porch, and that otherwise he would just sit back, and not have a porch.  Walker informed him he’d hit the nail on the head.

We are back to planning to head to Buccoo, after an encouraging conversation with Sharon the inn owner.  She says crowds are an asset and make Sunday School more fun. 

I am amazed by quickly I become completely ok with instant coffee.  

We are paradise, but Biggie, you are not far from our thoughts.  On New Years, I was shaking a maraca with my left hand and as I grew tired my beat changed, and I grinned and thought of you.  


ActiveLove said...

Your journalling is so enjoyable. Keep it up. Have fun.

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