Rainy season is definitely upon us. We have had numerous tropical showers and a few thunderstorms but luckily, up to now there have been no tropical storms or (whisper it) hurricanes. Trinidad is south of the official hurricane belt but can still be hit by the edges of them as they pass these islands on their way north. It was only in 2004 that Hurricane Ivan devastated the next island north, Grenada, and on Tobago, in particular, there was much damage done. Joe, the fisherman we met in Charlotteville, told us that there was not a leaf left on the trees in the bay there!
Work progresses slowly on El Lobo between the showers and we are still out of the water. Mike will tell you about the work we have managed to do this month on his page.
We have been away on one trip this month. We visited the famous Pitch Lake at La Brea in the south of the island. This million year old pit of asphalt is one of only three in the world, and covers 89 acres. Sir Walter Raleigh was the first European to describe it and used the pitch as a caulking compound for his fleet. The quality of the asphalt is high and about 300 tons a day are removed. Most of it is exported and is used in road building all over the world. It’s a shame they don’t keep some of the good stuff back as a lot of the roads here are full of potholes! We were accompanied on our visit by Patricia in charge of four boys from the local school who added to the fun of the visit. There are some good photos of the lake here. (The weather was very bad the day we visited - rain!)
On leaving the Pitch lake we travelled north and after a roti lunch arrived at the Pointe-A-Pierre Wildlife Trust. This is a magnificent park area set among the reservoirs for the oil refineries. It is here that the Blue and Yellow Macaws are reared before releasing into the wild, also the Red Billed Whistling Duck which was almost extinct at one stage. Too tasty!
On the way back north we called at two Hindu temples. The first one, the Temple in the Sea at Waterloo, was built by one man,Siewdass Sadhu, who was refused permission to build a temple on nearby cane fields. He spent 25 years building it but never finished the project and died in 1971. The Government completed the building in 1994 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Indian Arrival day.
The next temple, Dattatreya Mandir, at Carapachaima, was built in 2 years by local artisans and stonemasons from India. It is built in an ancient Indian style and looks like a large pink cake with lots of filigree ornamentation. Next to the temple is an 85 ft consecrated statue of the Hindu warrior Hanuman who defended the gods.
There is a very good web site, Outdoors Trinidad , which has a host of pages dedicated to all kinds of activities and places to visit on the island. Well worth looking through.
Apart from that little outing, we have been constantly working on the boat. It still looks like a building site around us but most jobs are at least three quarters of the way through and we are starting to see a little light at the end of the tunnel! See Mike’s Page for details.
We told you about Mike’s visit to the hospital regarding his ear problems in April and about his fall from the scaffold in May. Well, eight weeks after the fall his hip and shoulder were much improved but his wrist was still nearly as bad as the day the accident happened. Every time he caught his hand on anything, the pain shot up his arm again. Pat had trawled the local pharmacies for wrist supports and they helped a bit but the whole thing was dragging on so he was persuaded to go back to the hospital for a check up. After a couple of x-rays he was told that no bones were broken and it was probably ligament damage. Two lots of tablets and some liniment were prescribed and the whole lot - doctor’s consultation, 2 x-rays and three lots of medication came to a total of just under £44.
While we were there Pat decided to make a dental appointment as she hasn’t had her teeth checked for 18 months (naughty). She had a phone call the next day saying there was a cancellation for 9.00 am the following day and she could see the dental hygienist and the dentist then. Off she went bright and early and had a complete examination and clean up (including x-rays). The whole bill came to £57.40 and that included two new toothbrushes.
While she was sitting in the waiting room she noticed a poster - mammograms now available - so off she trotted to the x-ray department where a young lady said “Come in. I’ll do it now.” Ten minutes and £30 later she was back at the main desk arranging a smear test with a lady doctor. Three days later she received a phone call. “Results OK but the breast tissue seems rather dense. It may pay you to have an ultra sound scan just in case.” “When can I come in and how much will it be?” “Tomorrow morning. £20.” The next morning, ultra sound, £20 and results (all clear) together with all the x-rays in Pat’s hand within the hour! Who said our NHS was wonderful?
The cost of the drugs has been slightly higher than an NHS prescription would be but the speed of service and costs for everything else seems to us to be superior in every way. There is a discount system available with some kinds of medical insurance so it would probably be even less if we’d looked into it further. No long waiting lists at this hospital. The hospital itself is the Community Hospital of Seventh Day Adventists in Cocorite, a suburb of Port of Spain. We found it by accident as it is right opposite the private West Shore Clinic where we had been directed regarding Mike’s bad ear back in April. We don’t know the pricing structure at West Shore, and it is probably much advanced in facilities compared to the Community Hospitals rather 1960’s surroundings but we can thoroughly recommend the CH.
Mike’s wrist is still not completely mended and he has umpteen wrist supports (working one, one for best and an evening one with a longer ‘sleeve’). He has also acquired a knee support as his left knee has been swelling up too. He is a walking surgical appliance demonstration!!! (Just needs the truss now!)
Joking aside, he is just working non-stop and is doing far too much really, with a little help from Pat, but it will all be worth it when we’re finished.
See you next month.
Photos below as usual.