One of the most beautiful of the northern range valleys in Trinidad – think towering bamboo swaying and creaking, open green hills, flaming immortelle and sun-filled yellow poui in season, and the drop in temperature as you descend into the valley from the hairpin bends - has been marked for desertification.
The main road is being widened by earth movers, the trees and debris dumped in some places back from the road and in others in the river bed, but mostly just where they stood. Towering electric poles have been planted, with streetlights on top. Not that the residents of the valley ever needed a wider road or streetlights to find their way home safely.
For the past weeks, the bamboo clumps are beheaded and brown. The traffic that courses through the Saddle Road fuels bush fires. Traffic = people = cigarettes.
These fires have run up the hillsides driven by the wind, crossed hilltops and threaten not just the wildlife habitats but homes of Santa Cruz residents daily on fire watch.
The last straw was to witness workers on the programme to bring modern roads and lights to Santa Cruz, lighting the fires in the piles of destroyed tree trunks and dead bamboo clumps.
If this is progress, leave me in the dark.