Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The far end of the island

There's sand in the shells of my ears, and the salty smell of the sea still clings to clothes waiting to be washed. We rode the boat back, a vast Moby Dick that swallows cars vans pickups trucks and passengers by the hundreds for supper on one port. You know what it's like to be in the belly of a beast when the sea is churning above ten knots and the wind is running in the opposite direction! If you are lucky, you'll be disgorged on the other island three hours later. I knew a man from Brazil who happily took the ferry on a Friday, just to visit Tobago's beaches - you don't know what you've got, he used to say - until he turned back to Trinidad on Sunday evening. You could see the calm on him those Mondays after. He especially loved Speyside.

Twin rods on the pirogues used to fish - wahoo, mahimahi or tuna

The road from Scarborough to Speyside heads north east, along the windward coast for the most part. It rises from the broad undulating flat around the sheltering harbour. Then, you follow its winding track for miles, up along precipitous cliffs dipping to bays where lines of surf widen and disappear into the sand, a never-ending procession. Little bays of aquamarine and turquoise emerge around bends in the road: King's Bay is one of these. Descend from a stretch of hairpin bends to Speyside. Homes nestle on the hills around. Facing the bay is the playing field, schools and shops. On the seaside, you'll find beach huts, the fish depot, a pier for boarding the boats, and Jemma's famous treehouse restaurant.

Scuba divers at Speyside

Getting ready for a dive at Speyside

We pass the water wheel which was brought from Scotland over a hundred years ago to grind the sugar cane that was grown in this area. Over the hill is Batteaux Bay around which Blue Waters Inn is built. The brief contemporary history of the area - a sugar estate, Goat Island and Little Tobago - tells of the Tucker family who retained ownership of Blue Waters on Batteaux Bay as a bird lovers retreat. See the link http://www.bluewatersinn.com/history.cfm

Batteaux Bay from the crest of the road

Batteaux Bay from the restaurant at Blue Waters

Watch the sea, sipping something cold

Scuba diving the reefs is also offered. Offshore Speyside and around the islands are magical places to visit - mainly by tourists.  It is hoped that awareness comes quickly to young Tobago to cherish and protect not only the beautiful island, but its marine life, that unseen priceless resource.

In Charlotteville, over the mountain from Speyside, we meet Patricia Turpin whose family owns the estate upon which this town was built. Turpin was recently awarded the prestigious Euan P. McFarlane Environmental Leadership Award. Turpin is the founder and president of Environment Tobago. See this link: http://irf.org/wordpress/?p=175093914

It seems that time still moves slowly in Charlotteville. There are rumours of a cruise ship complex to be built here. One hopes to never see the day. A few more houses have crept up the hills overlooking the bay. The fish depot is in a sorry state of being demolished. There's an area hoarded up for new construction. But for this hour, there's time to take a nap under tall trees on Man-o-War Bay; to admire the "garden" towering over the holiday cottages; to give thanks for small mercies - some may call it neglect - on the far end of the island. Fortunately, time is slow here. Perhaps we can slow down too, to hear what these lovely places tell us, to give ourselves time to catch up with nature.

Charlotteville dreaming on the horizon of Man-o-War Bay

Fish head lunch for birds

Forest garden at the Man-o-War Bay cottages

Cottages on the edge of the bay

Peacocks at Pat Turpin's


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