April 27 – May 25 – Kelowna – Calgary – Toronto – Port of Spain $5.8 TT – $1 CAD
Trinidad and Tobago was the choice for this trip basically because you never really hear much about these Caribbean islands. They are buried at the bottom of the archipelago and are just a hand full of Km’s from Venezuela. It was also a place that Tyson has never been before. The islands are part of the west indies so they have a amazing mix of culture, cuisine, and drive on the left side of the road as well. This was our first major trip together so to start off our 4 week journey we decided to couch surf for 2 nights. We ended up in a pretty nice place, big high rise with a beautiful pool completely secure with guards and all. We had a day to explore Port of Spain so jumped in a maxi (local bus) and headed west to the ocean. We hopped off at newly developed beach board walk but after some closer looking it was actually quite a dirty place. There was a fair amount of garbage lying around and even found some old needles in the sand. Walked around for a bit then headed back to the apartment pool. The following morning we were off to Grande Riviere for some some giant leatherback turtle watching. We walked to the City Gate and got on the Maxi Taxi to Arima for $6 TT each, waited for an hour then got on the Route Taxi for $20 TT each which brought us to our destination. It was a windy and hot travel day. There was not all that much to this sleepy little town at the end of the road but we drifted around until we found a place to stay for $350 TT per night at McHaven. This beach specifically is one of the largest nesting sites in the world. The turtles come to shore in the night to dig and lay their eggs in the sand. The beach is closed after dark so we signed up for the turtle tour which started at 9 pm ($95 TT each) and you could only use red lights as to not disturb the reptiles. There were dozens of 2 meter long turtles all around fighting for space to lay their eggs, it was quite the amazing experience. We were even able to touch them. Of the up to 115 eggs delivered that night a large majority of the eggs do not survive because there is just to many turtles and the nests get dug up by others by accident. Dogs and birds pose issues as well. We also had our own problems, as we had quite the trouble trying to find food in this town. There were a few places to eat but they decided what hours or even days they would be open and it seemed to not be when we were there. So we lived on a pineapple, a few bananas, chips and some granola bars we had brought from home. It was a hungry few days; a traveler diet if you may. Our other dilemma was leaving. We knew coming into this small town that is was going to be tough getting back out as not many tourists came here, so we had to get up really early and wait by the side of the road and hope there would be room in some vehicle for us. We found half a seat each in the Maxi “Cash-money” taxi which was a fast and ill felt ride. We were trying to get back to Port of Spain as quickly as we could so we could catch the ferry over to Tobago. We got to Arima by 10:30 and jumped on a second Maxi, which ended up being the slowest way possible as it stopped a million times over.
Sooner or later however we got to the ferry. It was $50 TT each and we caught the 2:30 ferry. We even found food as well on there! Shannon was not feeling all to well on the 3-hour sailing in the open choppy waters. We docked in Scarborough and walked until we found a place to stay. Miller’s Guesthouse, $300 TT, nothing fancy. Tried some delicious shark and bake at Izzy’s restaurant, and picked up bananas and oranges for $18 TT. We learned that it was hard finding a place to stay on a whim so Shannon tried setting up an air bnb account to book in advance. What a fight on a little iPod touch. Finally, we were all set up and she found a perfect little spot called Jenny’s Place in Crown Point and booked us in for a week. It was located within walking distance from the airport, beaches, tourist offices, and street vendors. The place had its own little restaurant, shared or private bathroom and it even had a kitchen. So we went to the Penny Saver and bought groceries, $230 TT worth. Veggies were really expensive here. I have this fear with foreign countries’ stray dogs as they always seem to come out in the late evening and nip at my calves. Shannon found it funny. Me, not so much. We found a great place to eat beef gyros and we ended up there probably more times than I wanted. We were only about 2 blocks from the beach so ended up relaxing catching some waves there every day. We ate shark and bake, swam, read books, and relaxed. The beach sellers tried selling us all kinds of day trips and we finally gave in and did the glass bottom boat tour ($100 TT each). It was a 3-hour tour of snorkeling and going to the nylon pool (waist deep sand bar about 1 km off shore). The next day I went scuba diving (Frontier Divers Ltd $715 TT) and Shannon came along for the ride on the boat as she was not certified. The water was quite choppy and she got heat stroke and maybe a bit sea sick feeling too. My dive partners were Peter and Jen and they were staying in a nice resort on the ocean and it had a pool and hot tub. We visited them daily and eventually the resort workers actually thought we were staying there and even offered us the free shuttle.
We read about a local attraction and ventured out to the Robinson Crusoe Cave. After the 1 hour walk the police had it blocked off, bandits in the cave apparently. We waited, and once the police left after another hour (with no one) we tried to walk there but were stopped by a guy who wanted us to pay him $60 TT to enter. We didn’t bring any money so we just left.
Time to move further up the island now, so Shannon booked us a room in Castara at the Naturalist Beach Resort ($45 US per night). We hopped on the bus and got there to an amazing little resort with a/c, satellite TV, a kitchen in our room, snorkel gear and continental breakfast, oh and even free laundry service! We met up with some Canadian tourists who were staying in another place and were paying way more and didn’t have nearly the amenities we had. We swam with the sting rays, snorkeled right off shore viewing squid, sea turtles, huge schools of fish and so much more that we didn’t know anything about. One evening the local fisherman brought in their daily catch and hooked a shark which was a big deal in this small town. There were a few stray local dogs that took a liking to us and followed us wherever we went which we named Max and Stella. We hiked to a 50 meter waterfall where the foliage was full of hummingbird nests and just explored the area.
May 15, my birthday and I wanted to go scuba diving in the Atlantic. We travelled on the bus to Speyside up the east coast now. Right when we got off the bus someone was calling out to us. This random fellow asked if we needed anything. He found us a place to stay, showed us where to eat and took us to a dive shop where we signed up to go scuba diving the following day (Spencers Underwater Adventures $1336 TT). Back in our Hostel, Shannon went to go to the bathroom and there was a cockroach, her first encounter with one. I wasn’t helping her out at all, I thought it was quite funny and tried to make Shannon deal with it. I quite enjoyed the situation. The next morning it was Scuba time. This was Shannon’s first time discovery scuba diving so Spencer spent about 15 minutes in shallow water with her teaching what she needed and then we were off for 2 consecutive dives that day. We got to see turtles, eels, so many different fish and even the largest living brain coral in the world. Absolutely amazing, and that is when Shannon decided she needed to get her PADI open water certificate in the near future. After returning to shore, the resort across from the boat anchor was lined with police cars. Apparently while we were under water, someone at the resort had fallen in the pool and drowned.
The following day we went to check out Argyle falls. Normally these are so large and have so much water you can swim around and jump off them. Well because we were there in May the water was very low. As we are usually in over our heads with things, this time we were up to our knees. As we took the bus there it only stands to reason that we should take one back. So we waited road side…. and waited for the bus. No bus, walked to the next little town, still no bus, 3.5 hrs went by, still no bus. Shannon bought some treats (coke, chips, chocolate) while waiting. She was getting very hangry now, so I flagged down a car and some random guy gave us a ride back to Speyside, just in the nick of time. The proceeding day we loaded onto the bus and headed to Charlotteville. Again, as soon as we got off the bus there was a man standing there who took us up a goat trail to Dr. P’s guesthouse, right after a stop at his fruit stand. This was a two bedroom house for $450 TT for 3 nights. This was the best deal we found yet. There was a couple issues though. We had ants marching on the countertops, a taco bed (rolled us both into the middle) and only one pillow, but a beautiful balcony that overlooked the ocean with breathtaking views. This was one of our favorite places. Each day we went down to the beach and waited for the mango tree to give us our free daily supply of fruit and a beach front bar to eat at as well. There was an ATM but no other one was anywhere near so it was often out of cash. We had been warned about this so always made sure we kept enough money on hand. The ants were everywhere now back at our guesthouse. They eventually made it to Shannon’s backpack and into our box of crackers. We dusted off the crackers, ripped apart her bag and all was good. Down to the beach again and met some Americans. We enjoyed dinner together, lent them some money as the ATM fooled them and they shared stories on sailing. Sailing…. this could be something fun for a future adventure.
Back on the bus to Crown Point and checked back in at Jenny’s Place. The weather was starting to change now. It had periods of tropical rain here and there; still very warm and humid though. We relaxed a few more days here and enjoyed the beaches and familiarities. Then the time came to go home. We decided to fly from Crown Point to Port of Spain with Caribbean Airlines for $24 US each. So cheap and Shannon wouldn’t have to deal with the sea sickness ferry ride again. Jenny’s Place was an easy 10 minute walk to the airport, perfect. We were at the airport early for our late night 20 minute flight and they put us on an earlier jet as our plane had only the two of us scheduled for it. We landed back in Port of Spain and spent the next 6 hours on the airport chairs trying to make ourselves as comfortable as one can get on those. The air conditioning was cranked so we were freezing and the floor cleaner kept going by, very challenge nap. Everyone in this country is crazy for KFC and the line up at 4 am was about 20 deep. Needless to say, our flight all the way back to Canada smelled like deep fried chicken. Such a great time was had over the previous 4 weeks. So many stories, adventures and new travel ideas.
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