Hi everyone! Coming to you today from an Internet cafe in the main bus station of Port of Spain, Trinidad. We have had three action-packed days here on the (much) bigger of the two islands of this country and there is a lot I could write. Andy is sitting here making fun of my long title, but it caught your attention, didn't it?
Sadly, the computer here does not like our memory card, so we have no pictures to share today. But we can report on our most recent activities!
1) We are staying with a wonderful woman named Sherry who has quickly become a friend. We met her through couchsurfing.com, and she basically opens her home to visitors to the island. We are sleeping in bunk beds in her son's room while he's in America for the summer.
She has seriously gone above and beyond for us, shuttling us around to all kinds of adventures and experiences. OK, so maybe the shuttle itself is a little dicey (Mom, don't read this part: No seat belts in the backseat, and Andy had to change one of the tires on the side of the highway our first night here!)
2) On our first night, Sherry took us to the Caroni bird sanctuary, where we watched throngs of scarlet ibis (Trinidad's national bird) fly home overhead to roost for the night. Then she drove us down to San Fernando, the 2nd biggest city in Trinidad, to check out a cultural festival, where we had some delicious chicken, rice, some kind of cornmeal dish, a delicious spice mix with sesame-like seeds in it, and tasty molasses-and-ginger sweets. And listened to Calypso music. Fun!
3) The next day, Andy and I mastered the Maxi-Taxi system of getting around here and spent the day in Port of Spain, the capital. Many people tried to warn us about how dangerous it is here, but we have had no problems whatsoever so far. We saw the new waterfront (where Obama recently came for the summit of the Americas) and visited the lovely botanical gardens and the zoo. And ate a pint of ice cream for lunch, because that is how we roll.
4) Late that night (around 9:30 PM) Sherry drove us literally across country to the east coast and wrangled us a spot on a turtle-watching outing at Matura Bay, where enormous leatherback sea turtles crawl out of the ocean at night to dig holes in the sand and lay their eggs. (We didn't have the permit we were supposed to, but thanks to Sherry the guide took us out anyway.) This was definitely the highlight of my trip so far--we got SO close to the turtle, and literally got to crouch down and watch as the eggs fell out of its butt (Andy says not its butt, but that was the general area) into the deep hole it had dug with its rear flippers.
Can't wait to share those pictures with you. Andy even got video of two eggs being dropped. We also got to pet the turtle (while it's laying, apparently it's in a "trance" and doesn't mind being petted and photographed...hm...but we went with it). And then, back at headquarters, we got to hold two tiny newborn sea turtles who had just hatched that day! You should have heard Andy SQUEAL WITH GLEE when he did this. He has some serious paternal instincts for cute baby turtles.
5) OK, wrapping up. Today we spent the day at Maracas Bay, probably the most famous beach in Trinidad, which was just gorgeous and cost less than $1 to get to on the bus. Also had my first "bake and shark," basically the national dish, which is fillets of deep-fried shark (or is it just white fish? I'm unclear on this) on a fried roll (the "bake"). Friedlicious! The condiments bar is huge, too--I added pineapple and garlicky chutney to mine.
Thanks for reading! We ferry out early tomorrow for Venezuela, so the next post will be in Spanish. Yeah, right. Hopefully it'll have pictures, though, and internet down there will be cheap.