So, here we are, in the Carribean. Already in Grenada but this report will have to be about Trinidad as I have been on "Island Time" on updating the blog recently..
We have celebrated Christmas and New Year in Trinidad with friends in other boats. Ypake and Karma and others. Some we have met earlier and some we haven't seen before.We were lucky to have the bar area of the TTSA (Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association) available for us both on the 24th, the 25th and the 31st, so we had three parties! It was a very international Christmas with people from all over, Norway, Ireland, Argentina, South Africa, Netherlands, Germany. To get into a proper "Christmas Feeling" we wanted to have everyone join us in our walking/singing around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve! Well we didn't have a big enough Christmas tree.., but there were poles holding up the roof of the terrace! So, we picked a pole and formed two rings around it with all the people. And we made it through a sing-along of two songs, both in Norwegian! Very satisfactory for us and fun for the others too, we think!
We also met other Norwegian boats in Trinidad! We hadn't seen many since Las Palmas, and it is nice to speak Norwegian among others than just our family some times! Albacore Adelante, Fri Inspirasjon and Ella were all passing through Chaguaramas. And probably some that we didn't meet. And there is a Scandinavian meeting on Monday afternoons in Power Boats. I met a few Swedish people there, and that is actually pretty much the same as meeting Norwegians when we are so far from home!
Trinidad as a whole was a big surprice, a positive surprice! We were warned about how dangerous it was, and I guess it can be. But nothing happened to us! We stayed in Power Boats, one of the big marinas in Chaguarames. It was not great for swimming, but you could get anything for your boat there. All kinds of chandleries and services. And a 20 minutes busride away was Port of Spain. Some felt a bit uncomfortable there, but we didn't.. It's a big city, and we are certainly standing out from the crowd which are mostly of African or Indian background. But I think people were very friendly and if we didn't have all those warnings in the back of our heads we wouldn't have considered Trinidad much different from other places we have visited.
One day we decided to go for a walk in the rainforest across the main road from the marinas. What we didn't realize was that this was military area. Other cruisers had told us we could go for a walk there, but we later learned they had meant to walk along the small roads in the area. As real Norwegians we wanted to explore the territory outside the tracks.. So there we went, up a creek with moderate water running through. We couldn't pass by on the side without a machete, and at that time we didn't have one.. So guess what we bought for the captain to his birthday! Now we can feed ourselves as long as we find a coconut-tree! Anyway, we found the exploration so interesting that the captain and I went for another hike the next day. Had to see what more there were to see in the interior... Well we found a new track and followed it up a hill and through some fields of tall grass. And then suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of a military camp!! The guard came out from his shed immediately, with his automatic rifle ready and a walki-talkie in his hand. I haven't mentioned that the Trinis speak English, or.. well, Trininglish! To understand you have to.. feel the rhytm and try your best to figure out what they mean. After a couple of weeks it does become more easy, but still a challenge! Well the guard spoke his Trininglish and we did understand that we should stop! We realised that we hadn't brought any papers to identify ourselves, and hoped we wouldn't get into trouble! The guard called up his superior. (Stein had time to study the weapon of the guard as we waited and understood later from looking up at the internet that it was an Israeli model: Gallil. I think he got more out of this information than I do!) Anyway, the superior was in a more relaxed attire than the guard. We were told that the area is used for training and that they are testing real ammunition on a daily basis! "But God was with all of us today!" After all it was Boxing Day and still Christmas. We were allowed to follow the military road back to the main road and had no more problems..
Another excursion we made to the Military Museum in Chaguaramas. It was really interesting, and a monument over an enthusiastic collector. The museum is a private institution, and aims to show how Trinidad has been connected withboth the local and the global history. It is a huge collection, but well organised and here and there they had put up tableaus illustrating special events. We spent 5 hours there! and had not read or studied all we would have wanted. Original effects like uniforms, flags, coins, letters, posters, photos and bigger things like cannons, vehicles, parts of a submarine. And anecdotes about special persons, a section about pirates in the old days and all spiced with the Curators own thoughts about the history. Our guide was a young girl who was eager to tell us about her nation and about the recent events of coups, political instability, conflicts between the navy and the coast guard and other happenings that we must admit were new to us! From listening to her we wondered if it was a secret camp we had discovered on Boxing Day, but after all I guess it wasn't..
Trinidad and Tobago is not a poor nation if you look at their national income. They are a big oil and gas producer. It's evident that they have chosen a very different way of distributing the wealth than we have done in Norway.. The students aboard got a real life lessons in political and society matters here!
There is much more to tell about Trinidad and our stay. I'll try to fill in in a later blog. I also hope that we decide to go back later so we can see the turtles laying eggs on the beach, go to a real steel band concert and some of the other things we missed this time.