Hooray, hooray. El Lobo is back where she belongs. In the water. We launched December 10th after 8 months and 1 week ‘on the hard’. Almost as long as a pregnancy - and it felt like being in labour we can tell you! We have been sitting cosily on C Dock in Power Boats since then and have managed to finish off tens of jobs. Mike will update you about them all on his page. One of the best projects he has completed are two snazzy little side tables on the stoop. They fold out in front of the stern seat and we can eat up there now without having to balance a plate on our knees. He’s a clever fella!
At the beginning of the month Pat went back up to Macqueripe beach with Susie from Spirited Lady and her two spaniels, Max, who is very elderly, and Shooby, a very lively 6 year old bitch. There were signs saying ‘no pets’ but it had been raining and there were not many people about so we chanced it and took both dogs into the sea. Did they enjoy the cool water! On the way back to Chaguaramas, we stopped the car to look at some large birds which decided to fly off just then. A man was standing by the roadside and we asked him if he knew what kind of birds they were and he replied, ’Which birds? I’m looking at the monkeys!’ Sure enough, high in the bamboo, we could see about a dozen monkeys which, the man told us, were brown chested capuchins, very rare. Unfortunately, Pat’s camera wasn’t able to get a decent photo and when she tried to get closer they just melted away into the forest. The man told us he was a biologist and that the capuchins could be seen at dawn and dusk as they ate the bamboo leaves. We will have to go back again armed with Mike’s camera next time.
The next few days were filled with preparations for the launch and on the morning of the 10th everything eventually went well and we snuggled into our new berth with the help of Ian from Leila and Alan and Anne from Freya of Clyde. We returned the favour a few days later when Freya was launched. Alan and Anne have since left for Antigua. They had a Christmas appointment with friends but we will probably meet up with them again somewhere.
We went into Port of Spain the Saturday before Christmas for an evening of Parang and Pan music. Parang comes from the Spanish word "parranda" (action of merry making, group of serenaders). Parang music is thought to have been introduced by Venezuelans imported to work in the cocoa estates and is played as Christmas music in Trinidad. Traditional Parang bands consist of four to six singers accompanied by musicians who play various types of guitar, mandolin, violin, cello, box bass, tambourine and a plethora of percussion instruments such as clappers, toc-tocs, wood block pollitos, tiple, scratcher and maracas .
We weren’t sure what to expect before we arrived at the ‘pan yard’. Some kind of serious religious music probably, but were we wrong! La Divina Pastora Parang group were energetic and the rhythms of the various instruments made for a happy and energetic rendition of the Christmas message.
When they had finished we were treated to a performance by the current pan orchestra champions, the Silver Stars. Wow! Modern pan music is nothing like the pan music we remember. Every type of music is given the ‘pan’ treatment, from classical favourites to modern jazz, pop music and show tunes. Amazing.
The lead up to Christmas was hectic as we were trying to get the boat ship-shape at last and much time was spent tidying and cleaning. She still isn’t quite finished! Jesse James, our wonderful local Maxi Taxi operator and cruiser’s friend always arranges a charity trip at this time of year. Many cruisers donated toys, money, clothing, household items and everything else we could find in the bilges and Jesse, Heather from Asseyance and Sue from Allouette delivered parcels to needy people throughout the island. Heather and Sue didn't get back to Chaguaramas until nearly 7.00 pm that evening but they said it was well worth it when they saw the reactions of the very poor people they were delivered to. It was quite upsetting really. There is great poverty in these islands - we tend to forget this as we travel around insulated from it all. Jesse also invited all of us to an ‘at home’ at his office to thank us for our custom throughout the year. We enjoyed the punch and food provided. We were ‘liming’!
Christmas Day itself was a happy occasion. Mike was, of course, Santa again and delivered special gifts to young Katy on Stilawa, the only child left in the boat yard now. After phoning home to family we joined a group of other cruisers and shared a Christmas lunch we had all prepared separately. We had cooked duck with all the trimmings, others had cooked beef, ham and numerous vegetable dishes and it all turned out well.
Since Christmas we have relaxed a little, although as I type Mike is lying with his upper body in the engine compartment repairing the fuel line. We had a game of golf at Chaguaramas public golf course with Connie and Fred from Tashtego and also had a trip out to the north coast with Ian from Leila and his friend Halcyon and her friend May. The beaches at Maracas and Las Cuevas Bay are very popular with locals and we enjoyed a dip in the ocean and ‘bake and shark’ at Richard’s restaurant on the beach at Maracas. There is a very good web site featuring all of the north coast beaches here. Even though Trinidad has less tourists than Tobago, you can find amazing places to explore if you look for them.
Pat’s golf was very rusty at the course but she went again a couple of days later (while Mike started the fuel line repair) and she was hitting the ball a bit better by the end of the round. We looked for the capuchin monkeys when we arrived early in the morning to no avail. We must have been very lucky to see them that first time!
We also paid another visit into Port of Spain to a jazz evening at a different pan yard where we saw a fine selection of top class musicians performing to raise tuition funds for a promising young saxophonist.
We had a pleasant end to the old year as we shared a meal with Mike and Debbie from Caramba. We were on Sal in the Cape Verde islands last New Year with Miti. We are hoping to meet up with them again in March this year, also Narwhal. It will be grand to see them all again, especially the children.
We are hoping to leave Trinidad for Grenada in the next week or so where we will be meeting up with sister Sheila and Jim in time for her 60th birthday on the 7th February, which is, incidentally, Grenada’s Independence Day. We have promised her a few fireworks for her birthday! Then a couple of weeks later we are being joined by Barbara from Chester Le Street, probably in St Lucia, where there is fine walking country. Roll on the fun times. We have been working too hard for too long!
A happy and prosperous New Year to everyone.
Pat & Mike.