Monday, August 28, 2006

Tired of Trinidad? Let's fly to Peru!

August 28, 2006   Monday
Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Just thought we would give a weekly update.  We are both looking forward to flying home at the end of this week, and then on to Peru for our wonderful vacation.  A vacation from cruising, isn’t that a hoot!  

The cruisers meeting with the US Embassy that Bill arranged was held last Thursday night.  Bill wrote the agenda and chaired the meeting.  We felt that it was successful and that eventually there will be a positive impact.  Also present were representatives from the British, Canadian and German embassies or consulates.  Between 180 and 200 cruisers attended.  One cruiser even translated what was said into Swedish for the few Swedish cruisers here who aren’t fluent in English.  There were also short speeches by representatives of the larger marine-related businesses in the area about what they are doing to try to curb the crime against cruisers here in Trinidad.  The US Embassy already had a meeting with the Trinidad Immigration officials about their inconsistent application of immigration laws, and one of the local Immigration officers was immediately reassigned to another location.

The day after the meeting, Judy was on a maxi-taxi with several British cruisers and overheard them talking about the meeting.  The Brits were insulted by the YSATT representative saying 3 times “this is not your country” and that things move slowly here in Trinidad and that if people “did not like the way things are being handled in Trinidad then they are welcome to leave.”  The cruisers were insulted because they have cruised all over the world and certainly do not need anyone to remind them that they are in a foreign country.  And they also know they can leave, which they plan to do as soon as hurricane season is over.  If Trinidad does not get their crime against cruisers under control; and, more specifically, change the attitude of some of the local officials and businesses; then Trinidad will be losing a huge amount of money as cruisers decide to go elsewhere.  YSATT is a trade representative organization.  They are supposed to represent the businesses with the higher authorities in the government.  YSATT does not seem all that effective in this regard, in our opinions.  We hope that the US Embassy carries more clout.  The Embassy will then follow up with the police and verify that the cases get worked on and not ignored or swept under a desk.

An interesting fact was learned because of this meeting.  We spoke with a reporter from the Caribbean Compass, a magazine that is distributed throughout the Caribbean.  When the reporter first arrived here in Chaguaramas, he visited the Carenage Police Dept and asked to see all crime reports involving cruisers.  He was shown reports for only 4 dinghy thefts.  There have been 20 dinghy thefts here so far this year.  These have been reported both to YSATT and to the Carenage police, yet the police only have formal reports for 4 of those 20.  The other reports have disappeared.  One of the security representatives of the US Embassy was a police officer here in Trinidad for 23 years.  He said off the record that the police are being paid under the table by the local businesses to make sure that the crime reports don’t find their way into the official police records.  The local business owners actually think this will keep the reports of crime from affecting their business.  Man, are they living in a fantasy world!  The internet cruisers websites and discussion boards are full of reports of how bad the crime has become down here.  They aren’t hiding a thing; they just think they are.

On Friday Judy participated in a local blood drive for a fellow cruiser.  He needs 10-12 units of blood to be donated in his name so that he can have an operation.  Poor guy had a heart attack about 6 weeks ago here in Trinidad and had a stent inserted.  Then he and his wife flew to Grenada so he could recuperate at a friend’s home there.  While in Grenada he experienced pain and underwent abdominal surgery for a tumor at the site of the appendix.  He was then in critical condition and Grenada has no critical care hospitals, so he was transferred back to Trinidad.  He is in a private hospital with unexplained internal bleeding and now needs an operation as soon as he becomes stable enough.

So 13 of us went to the blood center to donate.  Of the 13, only 3 of us were accepted as donors.   Since cruisers travel worldwide, everyone else was unacceptable as a blood donor because of the countries visited.   They will not allow you to donate blood if you have visited the Dominican Republic, basically anywhere in South or Central America, Africa, the Middle East, or the South Pacific.  Really narrows the donor pool.  Another group of 7 people are going today to try to donate for this guy.  He has already received 2 units from the 3 units donated last Friday.  They can’t operate on him until they receive more blood.  Hope the people today manage to get enough donated to see him through.

Bill went up the mast yesterday for the first time, with Judy handling the winch.  He actually went up twice.  The first time the bosun’s seat became very uncomfortable and the safety belt came unclipped.  So Judy lowered him down and we got out our new bosun’s seat.  Bill likes the new seat much better; thinks it is more comfortable.  Turned out that the light bulb that we had replaced in July was defective.  This is for the anchor light at the top of the mast; the one that you are supposed to turn on whenever you are anchored somewhere so that others can see you.   While he was up at the top of the mast, Bill also removed the windex and inspected for corrosion and then reconnected it.   Judy has no intention of ever going up that mast because she does not like heights.  Doesn’t bother Bill at all.

Bill has completed all the confined water dives for his PADI training.  He also must do 2 open water dives, but the weather has not been cooperating.  The dives keep getting rescheduled because of bad weather or low water visibility.   They have rescheduled again for tomorrow.  Sure hope he is able to get these last 2 dives completed this week.  We really do not want to have to hang around here after we return from Peru just so he can complete divers certification.  Bill is scheduled to take the final written exam this afternoon.   Then he just needs to do those 2 dives and he is finished.  Wish him luck.

Chuck and Pam on S/V Helen Louise want to buddy-boat with us to Los Testigos, Isla Margarita and Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.  They are on an Amel exactly like ours, so that would be an ideal buddy-boat arrangement as we would be sailing at the same speeds.  They also want to leave here as soon as we return from our Peru trip.  We are all ready to move on to a new area. 

Judy has been stocking provisions for the past week.  Trying to get organized and have the boat well-stocked to last 4-5 months whenever we leave Puerto La Cruz at the end of October.  When we are in the San Blas Islands, there will be nothing whatsoever to buy.  So this does require a bit of planning.  Off to another supermarket tomorrow; for canned goods this time.  Trying to fill every little hidey-hole on the boat with foods that will last a very long time.  (and don't forget the toilet paper)

Judy and Bill are looking forward to sailing again soon.  And being back in crystal clear water.  Oh, how we miss that beautiful water.  And the feeling of sailing!

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