Friday, June 10, 2011

Hero Car

This is the main highway to the north part of the island of Trinidad. Note the “guard rails”. I can’t believe that we didn’t leave our entire exhaust system in the potholes that nearly swallowed Hero Car, our little rented Nissan. We bumped and swerved for several hours along this harrowing route that rewarded us with breathtaking views and a tour of the Asa Wright Nature Centre. The Centre is a former coffee and cocoa plantation estate that was designated as a research and conservation site in 1967. We were mesmerized by the number, colour, and adaptation of the birds, plants, and insects. For example, the leafcutter ant lives in a one-queen colony of up to 8 million where there are various castes of ants with specific jobs. The “majors” are the largest and carry leaf cuttings 20 times their weight while piggy-backing a “minim” or smaller ant. The little ant acts as a defense against the phorid fly that will attack the major and lay its eggs in the ant’s head, killing the ant. It really is a jungle out there. We watched long lines of moving leaves crawl up steep banks into garbage-can sized mounded nests at the bases of trees. The queen can live for 35 years and when she dies, the entire colony dies. 

I’ve been having acupuncture treatments on my wrist by an excellent therapist and fellow sailor, Mallika, from Holland. Mallika and her partner Deep arrived from Brazil a few weeks ago where they had landed after their Atlantic Ocean crossing from the Canary Islands. Mallika and Deep joined us for our up-island day trip to the nature centre and north island beaches. The four of us sat on the observation deck at the Centre and reveled in the sights and sounds of hummingbirds, toucans, green and purple honeycreepers, and tiger lizards among the ginger flowers and nutmeg trees of the forest. 

Ginger Flower

It took us another hour to bump along 8 km to Brasso Seco village where we picnicked under a palapa and searched for waterfalls. Craig is a water magnet, dousing himself in any pipe or pool to cool off.

Craig has been fighting ear infections from swimming and has a good supply of antibiotics and ear cleaning solutions. We have learned that this is a common and chronic cruising ailment and have met several cruisers who are walking around in painful ear-plugged fogs. It seems to come with tropical water territory and ends up dominating conversations when we all get together: vinegar to water ratios, to peroxide or not, oil or no oil. Such are the trials and tribulations of sailing. We have otherwise been very healthy and have an extensive pharmaceutical supply on board, thanks to the advice and support of our world travelling doctor and dentist.
Who’s at the helm?
This week, Iggy the green Iguana ended up on our boat during a heavy rainstorm. He is usually around the pool but we figure he was washed into the harbour during the rain and crawled onto our transom (stairs at the back of each hull). He is a great swimmer and can jump high and far, scaring off the smaller lizards. He hung around the helm while Craig was cleaning the stainless and decided our boom would make a good home after crawling under the mast cover. Craig shooed him out with a broom and he leapt onto the dock. See for more info. Love the colour.

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