Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Leaving on a jet plane...

But I do know that I'll be back again...

Scarlet Ibis roosting - Trinidad's National Bird
Home, home, home!!! Despite the thrill of getting all the way down to Trinidad I find there's an inner voice that keeps trilling "we're going home, we're going home". Thirteen months aboard Wahoo October 28, 2014 to November 4, 2015. A long, long time and it felt great to be aboard, until it didn't. So friends and family be ready. We arrive Houston Nov 4 then New Orleans around the 13th. We plan to stay until after Mardi Gras and this time we'll be staying in New Orleans. We've already made a list and its filled with raw oysters and Galatoire's, roast beef poboys and John Boutte, Mia Borders, Kermit Ruffins, not to mention Mardi Gras. As much New Orleans fun as we can fit in. Can't wait to see everyone!!

To wrap up the trip here's how it went.
Venezuela - so close!
After 4-1/2 months in Grenada we decided to head to the last island nation in the Eastern Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago. Yes, that's two islands but one nation. We only got to Trini as 2 weeks was all we had left. Trinidad is different, doesn't feel Caribbean at all. Here in Chaguaramus (pronounced shag wah rah mus) it's very commercial as it's a major port with lots of oil and gas infrastructure. It's also the cruising centre where cruisers go to get serious work done or to leave their boats safely away from hurricanes as they fly home. We've found many friends from our trip down-island here. They've been working away getting their boats ready for this next cruising season. You can get anything here as Trinidad is huge by island standards: 1.3 million people, nearly 1850 sq mi. It's also wealthy, thanks to all the oil and gas. On the northwestern side, where we are, there are malls that equal anything you'll find in the States or Europe, and traffic to match. But get out in the country and things take a more, shall we say, island tone. 

Super Crabs to Celebrate arrival in Trinidad
It was a smooth overnight sail with our friends on Almacantar. We left Grenada around 5pm and arrived Trinidad waters around 5am but we slowed way down as we didn't want to get to Customs before 8 as they charge $100 US for overtime. Treated ourselves to a marina for the time here - like a vacation. All that hot water, electricity and wifi WOW!

Opera House in Port of Spain, Trinidad
Wrapping Trinidad in one word I'd say multi-cultural. A true melting pot of the various people who came here. After seeing the divisiveness in the US and around the globe we could all learn from the Trinidadians. These are people of East Indian, Chinese, African, Creole French and Creole Spanish descent. Most have mixed backgrounds and while  they may identify as any of those they all agree they are "Trini" first. While Roman Catholic is the primary religion there are lots and lots of others including Anglican, Hindu, Muslim and the Protestant sects. A nice touch is that they all have their own religious holidays but EVERYONE CELEBRATES THEM ALL AND GETS OFF FROM WORK. That works to all get along. The culture is vibrant and we'd loved to have been here for their Carnival. Always thought we would, but its New Orleans Mardi Gras for us!!

View of Port of Spain from Fort George

Venezuela is so close (less then 10 miles) and has had a major impact on Trinidadian culture in the past. But these days the island walks a thin line to avoid being embroiled in the disaster that is Venezuela today. So far it has worked and as cruisers we appreciate the Trinidad Coast Guard that has made sailing between Trinidad and Grenada safe again.

Scarlet Ibis in Caroni Swamp
One of the wonderful things about Trinidad is the flora and fauna. It is practically a part of South America and once was connected by a land bridge so there is a huge diversity of birds and animals. We enjoyed this part immensely. We're glad for Jesse James (his real name); he's the go-to guy for cruisers. He arranges shopping trips and movie nights but is especially good at showing off Trini food and culture. The tours he set up for us allowed us to experience a taste of Trini during our short stay.  We spent a large part of one day at the Asa Wright Nature Centre which sits high in the rain forest and finished the day with a swamp tour (that's right a Trinidadian swamp tour) into the Caroni Swamp watching hundreds of Scarlet Ibis flying home to roost for the night. Magical!! Our 2nd tour was a cultural tour of Port of Spain and Fort George ending with Afternoon Tea at St Benedict's Monastery with our British friends. Each tour was peppered with a mix of history, anecdotes and stops for street food. (Roti, Doubles, Shark & Bakes, Saheena and Chocolate). We'll spend our last  Trinidadian night anchored in quiet Scotland Bay where we hope for a swim (no swimming in the soupy waters in Chaguaramus) and to hear howler monkeys call plus a front row seat for the evening antics of birds. Finally a full moon sail on Thursday night will have us in Prickly Bay Friday morning picking up our mooring and preparing for our Nov 4th departure to the states.

Viewing Verandah at Asa Wright which was once a cocoa and coffee plantation
Hummingbirds from viewing verandah
Oriole and nest from viewing verandah
Even lunch is open to the rain forest at Asa Wright Nature Preserve.

Grenada Gang - Last lunch together before the Trades blow us apart
Tomorrow we'll be heading back to Grenada putting Wahoo to sleep for the next 3 months. All our buddies are scattering. It's that whole part of cruising life, saying hello and good-by as you sail along. We're thrilled to be getting back to our stateside friends and can only hope to find our sailing buddies along the way next year.  This time we're leaving problems behind. Our bottom paint is still falling off and we haven't settled with Sea Hawk Paints about where she'll be re-painted and our freezer is giving problems. But all that will have to wait. For now Wahoo will rest comfortably on a mooring in Prickly Bay being guarded by Denise from Safe Yachts and we'll be enjoying life in New Orleans.

Roy hoisting our Trinidad flag - the last "New Island" flag (#21) of the voyage we started back in Oct 2014.