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25 December 2011

Merry Caribbean Christmas

We got to Grenada from Trinidad on the 13th of December, and learned why our friends on Tsamaya call this "Camp Grenada". There are probably 200? sailboats here, maybe 50 in Prickly Bay, where we are anchored, and so many activities we could be doing something social every morning, afternoon and evening. That's not really the style of the house, as JP would say, but we have done a number of things, including:
  1. bingo night at the Tiki Bar at Prickly Bay Marina (JP and Susan); alas, no winnings to report
  2. cooking "class" (more like cooking demo) at True Blue Marina, by their chef Esther and sous-chef Omega - twice, on the 15th (I learned how to make sorrel, a holiday drink in Grenada and Trinidad; it's made from a flower that is related to the hibiscus and blooms around this time of year. The drink is bright Christmas red, with a subtle flavor enhanced by ginger, clove, bay and cinnamon) and again on the 22nd ("Creole" chicken, not recognizable by an Louisianians, but delicious and worth trying).
  3. the fresh market in St. George's, where I spent more than an hour trying to track down a bag of said sorrel flowers, but also bought my first spice necklaces
  4. an excursion to a black beach and to Concorde Falls, involving actual rainforest hiking at an interesting incline (Susan had already returned to NH for Christmas, so this was just Leigh and JP)
  5. initiating a solar panel project, at long last, that will probably keep us in Grenada until mid-January
  6. an evening of local music and poetry at the Grenada National Museum in St. George'
  7. a "pile on" party on FoxSea; we met Bob and Vicki at Iles des Saintes in Guadeloupe and met up with them again at Crews Inn when we got back
  8. Fish Friday in the fishing village of Gouyave
  9. Christmas lunch with FoxSea, Fruit de Mer, Jammin', Ruth and Smidge at True Blue
You get the idea.

For me the best parts of Grenada are the gorgeous scenery (high hills that rise behind the bays) and being back in turquoise water and being able to swim off the transom every day. We love many things about Trinidad, but we miss the turquoise water.

Here is a slide show of photos we have taken since the morning we left Chaguaramas.

10 December 2011

Eco-touring in Trinidad

We decided to rent a car and drive to the east coast of Trinidad for a few days. We stayed in Manzanilla, and were able to get a guide to take us to a portion of the Nariva Swamp [ - Kayman is a great guy and a superb guide]. I think the photos tell the story much more clearly than my words can.

Trinidad has long had relatively little interest in tourism (it's an oil and gas producing country, so is not dependent on tourist dollars for revenue), and has nearly no eco-tourism. There are, however, some amazing sights, including Nariva, and, more traditionally, the Asa Wright Nature Center in the Northern Range. We kayaked with Kayman into what is called the Bush at Nariva; we were able to see both species of monkeys who live there, a Red Howler and (the fast moving, at least that day) Capuchin White Fronted. On Friday we stopped at Asa Wright; it's a wonderful opportunity if you are any kind of birder (I'm the kind who loves looking at them, and hardly ever learns much about them, much less tracking my sightings), love old interesting houses, or just want to be refreshed by incredible mountain views.
Here's a slideshow of our photos from the two and a half days:

We are off to Grenada, likely tomorrow; Susan is flying to the States for Christmas on the 17th and returning on the 1st.

04 December 2011

Back to Chaguramas

We made it back to Port of Spain on Wednesday the 30th - really Thursday the 1st, as the flight was late - and after a day of recovery and preparation, and a visit to the yard (and Grace's roti shop, of course)

we were able to get her back in the water on Friday the 2nd.

We had a couple of problems once floating - a missing part on the wheel, necessitating an emergency visit from the metalworking guy, and no transmission, thanks to an incomplete job, necessitating a visit from the engine guy's emissary - but we were out in the bay at Chaguramas by about 1:30 or so. We decided to float the dinghy and mount the engine; we pushed our luck a little far because we got caught in a 30-ish knot squall with Susan still in the dinghy, but she managed to mount the engine AND get back on board Raconteur, and we headed into our slip at Crews Inn.

We met up with Vicki and Bob on FoxSea, in a slip right across from us - we met them originally in Iles des Saintes - and they were kind enough to include us in an excursion to the Indian restaurant Apsara, in Port of Spain, last night. There were nine of us in all, on four boats, and we had a feast.

We haven't really provisioned yet; we have been to the the Hi-Lo that is located here at Crews Inn, for essentials like roasted split peas and channa (snacks we love) and our new fallback drink, white rum and Sprite

and enough to manage a "breakfast" on board today - Cheddarwurst on toasted baguette - but we will probably not do a provisioning run until Tuesday.

I think we will be in Trinidad for most of this week, into the weekend, and then will start to make our way north to Grenada. Susan is flying out of St. George on the 17th, and will be in NH for the holidays; she flies back to Grenada on the 1st of January.