Ahhh, week 2. It has passed so fast, and we have posted so little. This week started with more slow workers, and it looks like it’ll end that way too, so in between, we’ve scattered some small adventures, discoveries and projects in order to pass the time.

Ladies in the Fisheries kitchen serving our lunch

First discovery was the local Fisheries lunch. Last week on the morning cruisers net, held daily on VHF channel 68 at 8 a.m., we heard the local Fisheries Department offers a lunch. So on Monday we went to the local Fisheries Department canteen, chiefly used for fisheries workers on their lunch break, and the food was AMAZING. For $20 TT, which is $3.33 US, cruisers are welcome to dine. We had chicken in mushroom sauce, saffron rice and lentils, fresh salad and a plantain side that sounded like it was called “green fig.” It had chunked plantains and cilantro, carrot and citrus in it. Very good. All this is accompanied by a selection of fresh fruit juices to drink. Needless to say, we’ll definitely be doing this again.

Green fig is the stuff to the left of the green salad.

I made moves to get our new teak salon table varnished this week. It started out well, and after 2 coats the table looked gorgeous. Then, I left it in the workshop to dry for ~30 hours and some GENIUS person decided to do his project on top of the not-dry freshly varnished table that was clearly drying, instead of on the other 30′ of available work space. I came in this morning to find rag prints all over the surface, and when I went to sand them off, the varnish wasn’t quite cured yet, so it peeled all over the place. In short, I’ll have to start over by sanding the vanish off the table once it’s dry, and attempt to fair in the ruined parts. AAARGH! It’s so humid here, I doubt it’ll get done before we leave now. I’ll post pics if we do.

Tarantula from under the bench we were sitting on at Asa Wright

Birds off the veranda at Asa Wright

Yesterday we did a day trip to the Asa Wright Nature Centre and the Caroni Swamp. Asa Wright is up in the rainforest of the Northern Mountains, which are actually the tail end of the Andes range. The Nature Centre was willed to a trust hat has conserved it and its trails to the delight of birdwatchers throughout the American continent and the world. The highlight of the center is its open-air English colonial style house, with a veranda on the back that is surrounded by hummingbird feeders and platforms below that are filled with bread and watermelon and pineapple to attract the area’s birds. Off the veranda and on our waling tour, we saw thrushes, 6-7 different kind of hummingbirds, a purple honeycreeper, tanagers, and a potoo, among others. The potoo was an easy one to find, because these birds only move at night, and each day they return to the same post, where they camouflage themselves with tree bark and do not move again, for any reason, until nightfall. Asa Wright staff knew exactly where to find him. But birds aren’t the only kinds of wildlife you’ll find at Asa Wright. We also saw an agouti, a type of monitor lizard that locals call the matte, and a tarantula! We had a wonderful lunch in the dining room complete with fresh orange/grapefruit and made out way afterward to Caroni Swamp.

Agouti

Caroni is principally known as the chief roosting place for Trinidad’s scarlet ibises. Each evening they come in at dusk, and pack themselves onto this tiny island (mostly, but some sleep in other places around the swamp) for the night. They at daybreak, they all leave and fly to their feeding grounds again. The ibises eat the little tree crabs that live in the mangrove swamp, full of beta carotene, which gives them their color. The young ibises are sort of a dusky grey color, and the more they eat, the more they turn red.

We boarded a boat at Madoo’s Swamp tours at around 4:00 p.m. and made our way through the mangroves, which are taller than the ones I remember in the Everglades, but of the same 3 varieties: white, red and black mangrove. On our cruise to the lagoon where the ibises roost, we saw 2 boas, several four-eyed fish (or mudskippers), which swim with their eyes above the water, crabs, a silky anteater and some little blue herons—no caimans, darn! Just before sunset, we arrived at the lagoon and our tour guide tied us to a mangrove in position to see the show. Soon after v-shaped flocks started making their way over the trees and landing on the island in front of us. They were joined by some snowy egrets, but the ibises had the majority by far. We must have seen 4-500 land by the time we pulled out, dotting the green tree cover with bright red dots, like a Christmas tree. Mosquitoes go nuts after dusk, so we left before it was all over, gladly, but our guide told us the island has thousands of birds roosting on it by dark.

At Madoo's Swamp Tours

At Madoo's Swamp Tours

Ibises in flight

Look for the little red dots. They're all ibises.

Riding back after the seeing the ibises

On our way home we stopped for Trini-style ice cream. Jason got rum & raisin and I got cherry-coconut. Once at the club we motored out to Five Islands in the bay to escape the throbbing bass from a fete being thrown for Carnival right across the street from our basin. Yipes!

New sails and cushions finally arrived today, but whaddya know, the cushions don’t fit. Back to the workshop for those guys, we say. We’ll let you know how that one goes given that it’s Carnival weekend. Welcome to the islands, mon.

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