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Friday, November 11, 2016

Trinidad north to Martinique

On Tuesday, 2 November, we were up at 04:00 to begin the process of leaving the dock at Crews Inn Marina in Trinidad.  This marina does not simply pro-rate the electricity for the final night docked as is common; they want an actual meter reading when that power cord is unplugged.  We, of course, wanted air-conditioning for our final night at dock; hence, the extra early wake-up time.  What’s an extra hour of sleep!  Plus this provided the advantage of enjoying our morning cups of coffee before the last-minute rush to depart. The hotel desk is staffed 24/7.  Bill had to awaken the dock master so he could read our electric meter; the front desk clerk prepared our final invoice; and at 05:00 we were finally ready to depart the dock.  We waited around for another 15 minutes until sky was light enough to see well in this crowded narrow bay. 

BeBe went around the moored yachts rather than go through the middle of the mooring field in the still somewhat darkness, then headed straight for the Bocas channel.

We were sailing this day in company with 7 other northbound yachts.  We all had filed float plans with Trinidad officials with destination of Grenada.  No Venezuelan pirate worries this day.

Weather was great for the initial part of this passage.  Cloudy skies, but plenty of bright clear blue patches, about 15 knots wind from SE on our starboard aft quarter, and positive current assisting us with an extra 2 knots of SOG.  BeBe sailed and/or motor sailed for about 6 hours at over 8 knots SOG.  We dropped a fishing line to trail once we had passed the Hibiscus gas platform.  A couple of hours later that line sped out extremely fast!  We had a bite and it must have been big!  Within seconds the line snapped.  Whatever it was had taken our newest and best lure -- what I call a treble treble.  One that swims 10 to 15 feet below the surface and had 3 treble hooks.  I prefer this type lure because, after all, the more hook barbs increases the likelihood of keeping the fish on the line until it gets gaffed and aboard BeBe.  Goodbye best lure.  No more fishing for us this day.

And then our pleasant passage all changed.

We had been watching the sky over Venezuela off to our SW all morning.  The sky looked very strange – an odd cloudless solid dark steel gray-blue.  Around mid-day the wind died to nothing; to pick up soon thereafter coming from the SW!  That is really weird!  The wind just never comes from the west in the Caribbean except during storms with circular motion like hurricanes.  (Except for 1 day in February; almost every year for 1 day in February west winds usually surprise sailors at some point in the Eastern Caribbean.)  In all our years of sailing in the Caribbean we have never experienced westerly winds or southwesterly winds during November.  That weird inversion over northern Venezuela caused some strange weather.  The SW winds stayed up for hours.  As we approached the SW tip of Grenada the winds switched to come from the NE at 18 knots.


This was one strange day of Caribbean sailing.  We changed sail configuration more frequently than ever has been needed in the Caribbean on one day.  We started off with jib to port; then jib poled to port; then jib poled to starboard; then to starboard without pole; then back to port as we beat into 18-knot headwinds and 2-knot adverse current for the final few hours.  We sailed 91 nautical miles, arriving in the St. George’s anchorage at 19:00 in pitch blackness -- no moon and no stars, with many strikes of lightning off to the west.  It was impossible to see some of the boats as we slowly crept into the anchorage.  Boat owners who use those garden lights have no idea how poorly lit their boat appears as someone approaches an anchorage in pitch-black darkness with the shore lights in background.  When I suddenly saw a boat to our starboard because it swung a bit and the shore lights displayed the motion of that dark boat, I pleaded with Bill not to attempt to go any further.  We dropped anchor at that point in 8 meters depth and put out 55 meters chain.  Ended up being the boat farthest out in the anchorage and that was fine with me.  The next day I saw that the boat which we could not see at all in the darkness was painted a bright orange on port side and dark blue on the starboard side.  We could see neither color at night and this boat did not display any form of anchor light.  It was pure luck that we did not have a collision.

This was not a fun day of sailing.  It was very tiring and hot.  Downwind sailing always is hot because the boat is moving with the wind and you do not feel much, if any, breeze.  We were beat and too tired to care about dinner.  We each grabbed a shower and felt good enough to share the last can of chili on the boat.  (We are slowly eating our way through my over-filled food lockers since will be selling the boat in a couple of months.)

The following day we met up with Turkish friends Hasan and Zehrya on S/V KANDIBA.  They had returned from a summer in Turkey only the previous day and it was great catching up with them.  They presented us with a small silver dish for our home in Galveston.  It is stamped with the symbol of the Ottoman Empire as a remembrance.  Hasan and Zehrya plan to head to the South Pacific early next spring and it is very unlikely we will see one another again.  They hosted us for a delicious dinner at a restaurant in the Port Louis Marina.  I enjoyed sautéed shrimp and leeks and it was cooked to perfection.  The next morning we upped anchor and sailed to Carricou.

This time we sailed about 1 ½ miles off the western coast of Grenada.  This allowed us to catch more wind than if hugged the coastline.  We went west of the exclusion zone for Kick’em Jenny, the active underwater volcano situated slightly NW of Grenada; then angled to beat into Tyrrel Bay, Carricou, arriving just in time to launch the dinghy for Bill to zoom in to handle departure clearance from Grenada and Carricou before closing hour.

That evening we enjoyed a special treat of a lobster dinner ashore.  On the way to the restaurant we noticed S/V FROST and stopped to chat a moment with Mike and Rebecca.  We last saw them in Martinique last spring.  The lobster dinner was unusual, cooked differently than the typical boiling or grilling; these were pan seared tails.  It was good but did not compare to fresh cooked on our boat.  The highlight of the meal was dessert of homemade buttered almond ice cream.  THAT was delicious!  Roasted almonds cooked into a butter brickle and then broken into homemade ice cream.  Whoever invented this recipe has a winner.

Early Sunday morning we upped anchor and enjoyed a day of sailing perfection up to Bequia.  We went west of Union Island, skipping Mayreau and Canouan and Mustique.  We talked about going to Mustique once again because the wind was of good enough direction to allow us to sail that far eastward; but decided that we will cherish our memories of that special island.  We have visited Mustique 4 times.  Why chance a 5th visit and possibly destroy our good memories there if it has changed, which inevitably is the case.  We continued onward to Bequia where we anchored for only 1 night.  Good memories of that island many times too.  Thirty years ago there were maybe 5 cruising boats anchored in Bequia; today there were about 200.  Sigh….is this better for the local people?  I fear the island rapidly is becoming too dependent on tourism and they are losing their traditional ways of life.  I am not certain this is a good thing in the long run.

On Monday, 7 November, we departed Bequia at first light in company with several other boats headed north.  The Salty Dawg Rally BVI had a rum punch party scheduled for Tuesday night and everyone was invited, not just the rally participants.  But the wind was right to sail this day and would not be right if we waited to attend that party, so off we went.  Since this would be a long day (70 miles) we opted to motor-sail until lost all wind in the shelter of beautiful St. Vincent; then we motored until just past the northern side of this very high island.  There we again caught the wind and were able to sail to St. Lucia.  The topography of the island of St. Vincent is gorgeous.  It might be the most beautiful of all the Caribbean islands --  but we have not once stopped there because of the high violent crime against cruisers.  This is well-known and has gone on for decades.  Too many sailors have been attacked by men wielding machetes and guns for us to consider stopping there.  Such a shame.

Anchor was down at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia at 16:15 so this was an excellent day!  Motor-sailed or motored 56% and sailed 44% of the 70 NM trip.  We were happy with that.  This time we anchored closer to the beach than ever before.  We cleared in and out, saying we plan to depart early the next day; then we hit the supermarket.  That supermarket was the primary reason for coming here.  I found 1,000 EC currency in a purse a few months ago.  That currency is good only on certain islands of the Eastern Caribbean.  We blew some of that EC cash on those lobster dinners at Carriacou and would spend the rest of it here in St. Lucia buying whatever.  That has now been accomplished and it is time to move on to Martinique.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016 – We stayed put for at least 1 more day even though we had already cleared out of St. Lucia.  Our propane solenoid failed and the only replacements available in St. Lucia were the standard cheap models; we wanted the German produced original part (which costs about 6 times the price of the common solenoids sold in marine chandleries).  We contacted Amel in Le Marin and learned they did have this part in stock; so, to Le Marin it would be – even though we had not planned to go there. There was a LO system which passed through on Wednesday and it would have been a miserable day at sea.  When this weather system passed we sailed up to Martinique.    

But more nasty weather followed for yet another day.  On Thursday we enjoyed a beautiful sail towards Martinique until the final 45 minutes.  Off to the east the sky was black as far as we could see.  We quickly took in all sails and turned on the engine and motored straight for St. Anne’s; no way we would attempt the long jagged narrow entrance channel into Le Marin during nasty weather.  We arrived in St. Anne’s in a 40-knot squall, dropping anchor near the stern of the first anchored boat we could see through the water-filled air.  We each grabbed something for a quick lunch while waiting for the squall to pass, then motored into Le Marin where we had arranged for a mooring for 1 night so we could pick up the solenoid from Amel.  Mission accomplished.


When we checked email we learned that the buyers of BeBe would like to have a rigging inspection performed by a rigger who was recommended by the Amel Service office here in Le Marin.  Today is Veterans Day (called something else in France) and the rigger said he could not do this inspection until Monday.  We talked to him yesterday afternoon and he said he would make an exception and come out to inspect the rigging this morning, even though it is a holiday.  As I type this blog posting it is now after 09:00 and we have heard nothing from the rigger this morning.  Maybe we are leaving today and maybe not until Monday or Tuesday.  There are far worse places to be ‘stuck’ than here.  We enjoy Le Marin very much. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Time to begin heading north

BeBe will be on passage north to Grenada when this post is published.  We are sailing in a little informal flotilla of 7 boats.  Hurricane season will not be over until the end of November but the Atlantic is calm at this time and all 7 boats are sailing up to Grenada.  We hope to meet up with friends there for a few days for the final time; they then will be sailing west to the South Pacific and we will continue north to the Virgin Islands.

We had planned to sail non-stop from Grenada to the British Virgin Islands, but now have had second thoughts.  There is no reason for us to hurry as the new owners do not arrive in the Virgin Islands until 11 January -- except that the wind traditionally begins to switch predominant direction during November from SE of the summer to NE of the winter and we do NOT want to be forced into headwinds because we dallied too long down-island.  Careful eye to the weather, as always.


Things I will miss about Trinidad:  the friendly people and flavorful ethnic foods.

Things I will not miss about Trinidad:  the heat, humidity and biting noseeums.  I swear Trinidad is as bad as Houston or New Orleans for heat and humidity.  Of course, this is no surprise as we are on the same latitude as Cochin, India.  I am holding out high hopes for cooler weather at 18N than it is here at 10N.  As we leave here I feel as though I have been eaten alive by noseeums.  Not a single other person around me has been bitten.  I have been covered with the strongest insect repellents available, yet I am the one who has dozens of very itchy bites.  PLEASE let there be no more of these noseeums at any of the places we stop going north!


After catching up with friends in Grenada we now favor island hopping north rather than sailing non-stop to the BVI.  Both Bill and I would enjoy visiting Ile des Saintes one final time, indisputably our single favorite island in the entire Caribbean.  If the wind changes direction while we are still island hopping north, we should be able to turn NW at any point and get on over to the Virgins without difficulty (or headwinds!).


Forward cabin is now a storage space.  Port side leeboard in place
and ready to set sail northward.  Should be a starboard tack for the
entire trip to the Virgin Islands; these boxes should ride fine.
And our destination has been changed from the BVI to St. John in the USVI. I have taken advantage of being berthed in Trinidad with no busy social schedule and have packed up boxes of things to be mailed back to Texas.  I have 9 boxes of media (books, CDs and DVDs) that will be mailed via the US Postal Service from St. John to Texas.  Love that domestic postal rate and especially that ultra-inexpensive media rate!  

According to the USPS website the post office in St. John should have stock of the flat-rate boxes in the sizes we need.  Rather than ship our things back to Texas we have decided to mail things home.  Bill is convinced that the post offices in the USVI will have stock of the flat-rate boxes which we need.  I am not convinced those boxes will be stocked in those locations.  So....in order to be prepared (as always; it is my neurotic weakness)...I have collected what boxes were available from the local supermarket.  The boxes were saturated with roach spray before being allowed on our boat.  These are reserved as our last resort in case the post office has no flat-rate boxes in stock and there are no small heavier moving boxes available for sale in the USVI.  Moving is stressful!!

Do not look for more postings on this blog for weeks.  As we will be island hopping, we will not purchase data sims because each island has a different system.  Therefore, unless we just happen upon some open WiFi somewhere, I will not be updating this blog any time soon.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Taste of Trini tour


This photo really is for some Facebook
friends. We recently discussed odd
mailing addresses used in some areas.
I love this one.  In case it is too small
to read clearly, it is labeled:
Hector -- Light Pole193




Soon after arriving in Trinidad late June we heard about a 'do not miss' tour sometimes offered by Jesse James.  Not one person gave this tour a negative review.  But this tasting tour was not something we wanted to do with the grandchildren; kids would not enjoy this. Then we returned to Texas for a long visit, returning to Trinidad late last month. Last week there finally were enough new arrivals that Jesse was able to offer another tasting tour.  There were 7 cruisers in the small bus for this tour and Jesse himself was the driver and host.  Bill and I were the last 2 participants to board the bus so we were relegated to the rear seats.  Even though the bus was very nice, with his diminished hearing ability Bill was unable to understand much of what was said because of the wheel noise that always is present in the rear area of a bus or van.  But I had no trouble hearing and was able to relay or repeat most of what Jesse said so Bill could follow along with the rest of us.



As soon as everyone was in the bus Jesse passed out a plate and cutlery to each couple to share the day's tastings, with the solo guy in the front passenger seat getting his very own personal plate. Of course, since he had the premier seating he also was assigned to assist Jesse in serving the foods all day long.  Jesse had stopped and purchased a few breakfast items to get us started while slowly driving in the congested traffic on the only egress to/from Chaguaramas where all cruisers temporarily reside.  A bus had broken down in the southbound lane and traffic was horrendous this morning.  As we slowly made our way toward Port of Spain, Jesse served us several breakfast dishes and talked about the special foods particular to the islands country of Trinidad and Tobago.

Tobago has a national dish called Crab and Dumplings but Trinidad has no national dish. Tobago has mostly African/Creole foods; whereas, Trinidad has more Indian/Creole/Middle-Eastern foods.  We would be sampling a little of everything Trinidad has to offer in foods. Following is a list of the foods we tasted in the order in which these were presented.  I have included recipe links for a number of these dishes.

Breakfast foods:
clockwise from upper left: bhaji
herring, chicken gazette, bake



1. Coconut Bake -- 'bake' is a dough that usually is fried but could be baked.  Bill and I had previously eaten Bake 'n Shark and it was fried; sort of like a hamburger bun for which the risen dough has been deep fried rather than baked.  This Coconut Bake likewise had been fried.
2. Bhaji (spinach) 
3. Chicken Gazette (chicken liver)
4. Smoked herring/salt fish






5. Fried Bake
6. Fried Bake filled with curried channa (chickpeas)
7. Fried Bake filled with shark

Guess you could add just about anything you like to the bake.




Signs like this are in front of many
shops.  Easy food on the go.



8. Hot Pie - filled with white cheese and mashed potato
9. Hot Pie - filled with straight potato and onions, sweetened mango sauce and cucumber
It is easy to be strict vegetarian and eat breakfast street foods with no eggs, meat or milk.





pickled pommeceteye



10. Pommeceteye -- green fruit pickled with salt, peppers and shadow bene (culantro)
The pommeceteye fruit also is eaten raw with salt and black pepper.







L-R: Caralie, tomato choka, baigan
choka, pumpkin choka, sada roti
Typical Indian breakfast in Trinidad is 15 TT ($2.25 USD):
11. Roti - Sada Roti  http://www.trinigourmet.com/index.php/sada-roti-recipe/
12. Caralie (bitter green vegetable) http://caribbeanpot.com/a-classic-trinbagonian-caraili-recipe/
13. Tomato Choka (very good!) http://caribbeanpot.com/simple-but-very-tasy-tomato-choka-recipe/
14. Pumpkin Choka http://tastetheislandstv.com/trinidadian-pumpkin-choka-talkari/
15. Baigan Choka (roasted eggplant, also very good) h ttp://www.simplytrinicooking.com/sada-roti-and-baigan-eggplant-choka/

Cow Heel Soup



Hangover Cure:

16. Cow Heel Soup  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcyW6nPV93Y







Pastry Pies (baked rather than fried as are the Hot Pies listed above):
17. Pastry Pie filled with fish (did not like this one bit)
18. Pastry Pie filled with Spicy Beef 
19. Pastry Pie filled with Spicy Macaroni (surprisingly pretty good)

Around this time we passed the community of Laventille.  Today this community is the highest crime area on the island and is filled with ramshackle shacks where people live in poverty.  When one reads of the high crime in Trinidad, this is where most of it occurs.  There has been no crime against cruisers in Trinidad in several years; that type crime happens up in Grenada.  Here in Trinidad it is mostly local-on-local crime, and Laventille is the area hardest hit.  Also located in Laventille is the only factory in the world which produced Angostura Bitters.  Angostura Bitters sold all over the world come from this small factory situated in this shantytown high-crime neighborhood.  Who knew!


Accra


20. Coconut Roll -- pastry containing lots of ginger and is tasty


21. Accra -- like a hushpuppy mixed with fish and often served with tamarind sauce which can be spicy   http://www.trinigourmet.com/index.php/trinidad-saltfish-accra/





Portugal


22. Portugal -- a type of orange which remains green; more like a tangerine to me

23. Saheena -- unusual and good; we did not taste the dipping sauce that often is served with saheena  http://www.simplytrinicooking.com/saheena-i/

24. Pitchorie -- Jesse spelled this for me as *pitchorie* but I cannot find any recipe by that name.  The sample we ate reminded me of a type of fried corn bread served with chickpeas on top.  This is a vegetarian dish. 

No photos of the Saheena or Pitchorie because we ate these at a food truck and I forgot my camera in the bus.  Note that eating street food in Trinidad is quite safe, like Singapore. Each street food vendor is required to wear a food badge which means s/he is licensed and inspected.  The food preparation and serving areas must pass health inspections.  Good to know.

One unusual-to-us thing noted is that some men here carry birdcages around with them -- to work or to socialize or to shop or whatever -- they take their caged song birds with them. Jesse said his grandfather carried such a bird.  Bill and I had noticed the 2 men who operate the roadside doubles stand near the marinas bring their caged song bird to work with them each day. Which brings up that dish for which Trinidad likely is most famous -- doubles.  We did not stop for doubles during this Taste of Trini tour because everyone on the bus previously had eaten doubles and this tour was intended to introduce us to other Trinidadian treats.  But here is a recipe for those famous Trinidad Doubles, which usually are served with hot sauce.  Just be sure and watch that hot sauce!  It can be a killer!!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIjUxfZD9tQ

Macaroni Pie & BBQ Pig Tail



Lunch Foods:

First was a typical Creole lunch:
25. Macaroni Pie -- Neither Bill nor I cared much for this.  It was slightly sweet.
26. Barbeque Pig Tail -- a specialty of the town of Valencia.  Not much to eat on a pig tail but the sauce was good.






Dumpling topped with Callaloo
w/ Stewed Pork on 2nd dumpling

And another typical Creole lunch:

27. Dumpling  -- square and flat and heavy.  Very filling.
28. Callaloo  -- African Creole staple  http://www.simplytrinicooking.com/callaloo/
29. Stewed Pork -- The difference in Trini style stewed pork (or goat or beef) is that they add sugar to the hot oil in the pan to carmelize and create a dark color and coating on the chunks of meat first; then cook as regular for stewed meats.  http://caribbeanpot.com/tender-stew-pork-packed-with-a-unique-punch-of-flavor/
30. Sea Moss Punch 




L-R: Dasheen, Salt Fish, Cassava,
with Green Fig at bottom.
Cassava was best thing on plate.
And another typical Creole lunch:

31. Cassava -- typical 'provisions' throughout the Caribbean
32. Salt Fish (neither Bill nor I tasted this as we have tried it before and it is far too fishy)
33. Dasheen -- more provisions
34. Green Fig -- this is a tiny banana which normally is cooked.  It is exactly the same as we ate at Fatu Hiva in French Polynesia.  In Polynesia it is cooked in coconut milk and turns bright pink.  Here in Trinidad it is cooked numerous ways but stays banana colored.




Custard Apple



35. Custard Apple -- again, we passed on tasting this because have had it before and we were getting awfully full by this point in the tasting tour.


UFO Fruit on bottom










UFO Fruit



36. UFO fruit -- Okay, they might call this a fruit but Bill and I know better.  It is a pod of Brazil nuts which has not fully ripened.  Here in Trini they cut the pod from the tree before it is ripe enough to fall off on its own.  When we were in the Amazon jungle region of Peru we saw these Brazil nuts very high on the trees and were warned by our guide to stay well clear of them.  Because if they fall on your head you likely will be killed. The Brazil nuts which grow wild here in Trini are a different variety than those found in Peru.  
One of many nuts inside UFO





The typical Brazil nut is shaped somewhat triangular along its width; whereas, while these found on Trinidad also are triangular along the width there also are additional ridges along the width causing a somewhat fluted shape.  Plus, these are fresh and raw as opposed to the dried and often roasted nuts found in stores back home.






Chockie Toe
Silk Fig.  The best!!



37. Fig -- a very tiny chewy very yellow banana; locally called a Chockie Toe


38. Silk Fig - the best small banana; called Lady Fingers in other parts of the world.  This banana is rather delicate and cannot be exported.  It is my favorite type.





View to the north


View to the south.
Very nice beach side public park.














A typical Indian lunch beneath the palms at beachside on eastern side of island:
39. Pilau -- seasoned rice
40. Piratha Roti -- http://www.juniormagazine.co.uk/recipes/recipe-how-to-make-jamie-olivers-homemade-paratha-bread/18660.html
41. Dhal Puri Roti -- http://www.simplytrinicooking.org/recipe/dhal-puri-roti/
42. Curried Green Mango
43. Curried Chickpeas & Potatoes -- my favorite dish on the plate
44. Stewed Beef
45. Pumpkin
46. Curried Chicken
47. Curried Goat -- also pretty good
48. Peanut Punch (we both passed on this) 
Picnic lunch by the sea with our Taste of Trini co-horts


Peanut Punch

















L-R clockwise: Piratha Roti, Stewed Beef, Curried Chickpeas & Potatoes,
Curried Goat, Pumpkin, Curried Green Mango, Pilau.
We did not sample the Dhal Puri Roti or the Curried Chicken because we 
were simply too full.  All these bites were adding up over the day!

Jesse James cutting up watermelon for our group.
The man on the right is Dallas, the melon vendor.
There were thousands upon thousands of small Birds of Paradise plants blooming as we drove through the two savannahs between the mountain ranges.  There are 2 mountain ranges which traverse east/west across Trinidad, and 2 savannahs.  These savannahs are open to the Atlantic and go completely across this large island.  These are very worrisome in the event of a tsunami.  The local people practice evacuations in case of a tsunami.

49. Watermelon -- the man named Dallas who sold us the watermelon was quite the character.  He talked for 10 minutes straight about the health benefits of eating watermelon.


Roasted Corn



50. Roasted Corn-on-the-Cob -- very hard and chewy; nothing like corn in the USA.  It tasted like popcorn which had been popped over burning charcoal.  I nibbled a few kernels and Bill passed on this.  Corn is not allowed on his Crohn's diet.





Tulum



51. Tulum -- this is what is called an Old Time Treat.  Neither Bill nor I liked it in the least but the woman seated in front of us loved it and asked for a second helping.  Tulum is very hard and is chewy.  

It has a licorice flavor and is made from dried coconut and molasses.  

This was the thing I disliked most of everything we tried this day.
Yet the other woman loved it.  People do have different tastes.






Pickled Pineapple on left;
Kurma (sticks) on right.
52. Kurma -- another Old Time Treat but this one was delicious!  It is a ginger candy.  I plan to make this once we are living back on land.
http://caribbeanpot.com/how-to-make-kurma-known-as-mithai-in-guyana/ 

The road turned back northwards and we began to see teak trees growing all along the roadside as we moved to higher elevation.

53. Pineapple in salted brine pickling solution.  Okay but not something I would seek out.




Coconut Finger


54. Coconut Finger -- a layered pastry with food coloring added to the coconut.


Pone





55. Pone -- Cassava Cake made with coconut, ginger and condensed milk.  Pretty good.








Tamarind Balls -- SPICY!


56. Tamarind Balls -- sour and sweet and fairly spicy hot

57. Bread Pudding -- from the days of British control of Trinidad.  It contained lots of fruit was was not like any bread pudding with which I am familiar.  I prefer my own recipe.



As we drove around the Trinidad countryside and small villages we noticed mostly-faded flags on long poles standing in the yards of many homes.  Jesse explained that these were Jhandis -- Hindu Prayer Flags.  The Hindu holiday of Divali will be on 29 October 2016 and these prayer flags traditionally are displayed for a month prior to Divali.  The flags represent the gods prayed to by the family in each home.  Hinduism recognizes many gods and goddesses so the combination of colors of flags varied wildly.
https://tnthinduhistory.wordpress.com/chapters/jhandis/


Boy bussing bamboo.
This can be dangerous.
As we drove to higher elevation there was a village with a young boy 'bussing bamboo' in front of his home.  Jesse stopped the bus to allow us to watch this process.  Jesse said that when the bamboo is burned all the way through the center that it will sound like a gunshot.  I do not understand the attraction of doing this but it is something that has a long tradition in Trinidad.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgdshXsxgms
People can be, and have been, injured doing this.  Again, I do not see the attraction.  Here is a local newspaper article about an accident which happened a few years ago:
http://www.trinidadexpress.com/featured-news/Judah_needs_help-148466735.html


A few of the tiny pots being made
at the pottery shop for Divali.
These will be filled with oil for lights.

Also along this roadside we found a man making pottery.  He was very busy making items already ordered by locals for the upcoming celebration of Divali.  We disembarked and watched him throw a vase on his potters wheel.  Jesse said he was having to do all this work himself because he cannot find any workers; the workers he has tried to hire all want to be paid for the entire day but will work only 3 hours; so this shop owner is working 18 hours daily by himself to fill the orders before Divali.




Pholourie




58. Pholourie -- another hushpuppy type dish but made from flour rather than cornmeal. 
http://www.simplytrinicooking.com/pholourie/








Tiny Trini Plum


59. Tiny Trini Plum -- looks like a large green olive but is very tangy and spicy hot.

60. Mauby -- a brown beverage made from the bark of a tree and tastes somewhat like root beer; has a bit of a a sassafras flavor although made from a different type tree.  Mauby is common throughout the Caribbean and is known by various names.  The Mauby we sampled was not the fizzy variety, more like sassafras flavored iced tea.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauby




Sugar Cake. With bag of
Tiny Trini Plums




61. Sugar Cake -- Coconut and sugar and food colors; our sample was purple.



Pepper Roti.  One of my
favorites of the day.








62. Pepper Roti -- sort of like pizza (?); this was a stuffed flat roti and very spicy.  Good!






Chicken Fingers




63. Chicken Fingers -- boiled chicken feet.  These make a delicious broth as a base for soups; I have cooked chicken feet on the boat.  The woman seated in front of me on this tour could not get past how these looked.  

She squealed and dropped the foot onto her plate because she thought it had wiggled.  Thoroughly boiled and removed from the body of the chicken, so she knew it could not have moved; but it bothered her to see it.



Cutters -- Roast Pork



64. Cutters -- Cutters are snacks one eats before going out drinking, so the rum won't get you drunk as quickly.  Our tour was not going to drink any alcohol but Jesse treated us to a couple of cutters.  This first one was roast pork with hot sauce and it was delicious!







A Cocoa Pod.  The cocoa beans are
covered with that white slime.
65. Cocoa Pod -- 4 of us on this tour had previously tasted a fresh cocoa pod; 3 had not. This is the wrong season as the pods have not yet ripened enough to pick.  But Jesse drove slowly and eventually found a couple of pods that were yellow enough to warrant picking.  One of our tour participants was tall enough to pick one of the pods.  Trinidad grows the best cocoa in the world.  Grenada likes to boast that claim, but Trinidadian cocoa is the best.  Plus, a Trinidadian is credited for saving cocoa from extinction; unfortunately, I did not note his name and do not remember it.  But he found a way to stop the Witches Broom disease that was killing cocoa all over the world.  There is an entire department devoted to cocoa at the University of Trinidad still today.  Jesse told us a story about a very large yacht coming to Trinidad years ago and he was engaged to take the elderly male owner on a tour, and the man specifically wanted to visit cocoa plantations and the University of Trinidad to speak with the experts on cocoa.  Turned out this elderly man's surname was Mars -- of the Mars candy company, the 6th largest privately held corporation in the United States.  (Sorry, British friends; Mars is not a British candy company; it is an American company which has production facilities in the UK, as well as in The Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Australia.)  The white slime surrounding the cocoa beans inside the pod tastes like cocoa.


Cutters--BBQ Chicken


Gullar Jamoon on left.
Barfi on right.

66. Cutters -- barbequed chicken this time

67. Gullar Jamoon -- a commercially packaged sweet which is like a donut hole.
68. Barfi -- a commercially packaged candy; a type of white milk fudge with confetti sprinkles.




Dinner:

69. Cinnamon fried plantains
70. Cold Macaroni Salad
71. Grilled Kingfish -- very tasty!
72. Stewed Pidgeon Peas -- the best I have ever tasted
73. Festive Rice
74. Geera Pork -- Trini version of jerked pork 
 http://www.simplytrinicooking.com/geera-pork-ii/
75. Sorrel drink -- a canned or bottled drink made from sorrel, a flower.  Nice and refreshing.
76. Spicy dill pickles, cucumbers, peppers & tomatoes relish -- my favorite dish of the day.  This accompanied the grilled fish very nicely.  I do not know the local name of this relish and could not find a recipe for it.  But all ingredients were finely chopped and blended to compliment the  flavors extremely well (to my taste buds!).  This is something that I will attempt to duplicate in the future when grilling fish.  


L-R clockwise starting at top center: Grilled Kingfish, Geera Pork,
delicious dill pickle relish, Festive Rice, Cinnamon Fried Plaintains,
Cold Macaroni Salad, and Stewed Pidgeon Peas in center.

By the way, while attempting unsuccessfully to find a recipe for this relish, I came across the following local news article about cucumbers.  Cucumbers are not just served raw in salads here in Trinidad; they actually cook cucumbers in various dishes.  A few of the dishes we sampled this day had cooked cucumbers incorporated as a minor ingredient.  This linked news article provides a sample of some other recipes cooking cucumbers.  The Shrimp and Cucumber Stir Fry is one that I certainly will cook in the future.  http://www.newsday.co.tt/features/0,162049.html

We enjoyed this Taste of Trini Tour and thank Jesse James of Members Only Maxi Taxi for introducing us to the flavors of Trinidad.  This was a long driving tour covering the island from the northwest tip at Chaguaramas, completely across the island west to east, then south, again west, and back north to origination point -- about 150 miles. On island roads, not the highways of home.  It had to be tiring to drive this much as it was tiring for us simply riding.  Excellent job, Jesse!  The record number of foods sampled on a Taste of Trini Tour is 99.  Our group tasted only 76.  And not a single one of us could have tasted another bite of anything, regardless of how delicious it might have been.  We were full!!!
Anyone planning to visit Trinidad can contact Jesse; he can assist you in innumerable ways:

http://www.membersonlymaxitaxi.com/services/services.htm