Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Aaah! Store Bay

If you are from Trinidad or anywhere else, a first sea bath in Tobago is synonymous with a dip in Store Bay. Come off the plane at Crown Point airport and walk two blocks over. Everyone comes to Store Bay: people from Lambeau and Scarborough; people from Toco and Chaguanas in Trinidad, and people from Houston and Miami, Italy, Venezuela and Canada.

Slip into the Store Bay blue and feel the knots loosen. Stay awhile, float, gaze at the sky. It's not a small thing to be so relaxed, like a yogi on your own watery horizon.

Store Bay never gets old. The silken caress refreshes and renews. So if you're a first time Store Bay visitor - like Clark or Elena or Marilee - cherish this first dip, on this first day at Store Bay. Come back again and again, and remember the allover pleasure that is a simple "dip in the ocean."

They say "those who eat the cascadura" must return to Trinidad. Just as surely those who dip in Store Bay must return to Tobago!


Store Bay through and under the big tamarind tree

Crown Point on the "point" of Store Bay

Store Bay at Crown Point

Rocks and caves of Store Bay

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Home on the Grange

Grange Bay is my favourite place to spend time in the sea. In Tobago. Or anywhere in the world. Its unassuming arc-of-sand beach runs parallel and below the Mount Irvine Road. You can drive by  and miss it, hidden behind a tall fence and manchineel trees (also called poison guava) for one part, and a low stone wall whose steps have crumbled for the other part. Park at the wall. Behind the flaming flamboyant (if you are here in the middle of the year) you find a natural stairway created in the roots of the trees.
Grange Bay through the flamboyant tree near the wall

There are no facilities here. Just grey sand and green water. No distractions. Head straight into the water. In June, with hot sun high overhead, it's a little chilly but your blood cools to it, and aaahh, you can spend hours floating, flip-flopping around, or swimming lengths to and fro beyond the breakers as my daughter would do. It's never crowded. Today there is a couple by the rocks a good way off. A pale female lying in the sun reading - not a good practice at midday! A tall stripling comes down the tree-steps followed by three dogs.

There are two greyhound lean black dogs and a white fluffy perky mix. He looks like a small Sox, says the husband, his tail is curled up and he is frisky, running hither and thither on the sand, approaching the water then running back while the master puts on swimming goggles and dives right in.

It's easy to talk about dogs. Fritz! he calls to keep the white one from straying. TRex is the male. The third he says is a neighbour's dog that just limes with his two. Then, the dogs take off single file back along the main road. He goes after them then returns to the water. They've gone back home, probably to chase and hunt. They bring dead iguanas to the doorstep, he says, but his mother doesn't like them; they frighten her.
Manchineel, poison guava
Under the manchineel trees

Diamond Payne does a few laps, dips underwater and remarks on the school of small fish and the three large ones swimming close to shore. It's amazing, he says, his awe of the underwater world evident in his voice as he offers the husband his goggles to check it out. The offer is declined. Diamond, 15 years, has just completed his O levels. Math is mental abuse, he says, but he loves sciences, he wants to be a marine biologist. We encourage him. He's a high-jumper, and sprinter (100 and 200m) and could easily earn a scholarship. We stay in the water when he heads home. We'll remember his name and look for it in the Sports news.

An old man is trying to negotiate the descent to the beach by the wall. He seems stuck, one knee bent the other leg extended but not quite touching the sand below. He accepts help by handing over his bag. Danke, he says. We point out the natural stairway and leave him to find a spot to settle.

Desmond Pitt is an 82 year old history teacher. He went to high school in Montreal and stayed there, teaching. He took a ride back to Tobago on the Federal Maple, gift from the Canadian government to the short-lived West Indies Federation (1958 - 1962). There was a sister ship called the Federal Palm. Now he lives in Lambeau.

It's easy to meet people at the Grange. When everyone else has left the beach, we float and look for the goats that graze in the lot above the bay. Water-logged we emerge from the sea. Enough is enough, for this day.  Soon be back, the thought frames itself in the mind. Grange Bay, always welcoming.



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tobago again. Kariwak again. Sandy Point again

In Tobago. I am taking photos of the same things I took a year ago. Koi at the Kariwak ajoupa. The rain tree (mogumbo) sinuous as a dancer, a little taller, with a crown of red lipped pods open to show  black pearls. And this morning, I find myself aiming my little point-and-shoot at the sea off Sandy Point. Rolling relentlessly towards the shore, the white caps swell and break, rhythmic as heartbeat, purposeful as blood.

Early morning on Sandy Point

It rained overnight. The shrubs and trees are glad for the water. But the sun is coming out. And I will - over the week - undoubtedly focus on some of the favourite things that keep me coming back to Tobago. Why do we do this? What comfort there is in predictability! This week is time out of mind, a suspension point that punctuates a year. An intersection to assimilate unchanging past and preset unpredictable future. What's a vacation but a pause in the field of play?

We first came to Kariwak when it was a twinkle in the eye of Allan Clovis returning from being a teacher of indigenous peoples in cold Canada. Cynthia Hurd-Clovis shared his vision and over the years has shaped this oasis of twelve bungalows in a tropical garden. Lighter than air hummingbirds and clumsy cockricos. Soursop, five finger, lime. Rows of basil, rosemary, chive and patchoi in a herb garden.
Lunchtime light

Cottage style room
Hammocks in the garden
Yoga in the Ajoupa
We arrive just past noon this day this year. The strong one mock complains bitterly to lug the rolling bag. I slow to geisha walk remembering the first walk to Kariwak 33 years before. A rag tag and bobtail crew from the advertising agency on the same path, a trek made merry with laughter and antics about the goat on the road. We were about work that was play: to launch the Kariwak (not Carib nor Arawak) on its pleasant journey to be holistic haven and health-filled retreat, a model of modest enterprise and the much larger demonstration of the simple pleasures that make us human: healthful environment, wholesome food, energising rest.

That's all we ever ask of Kariwak, but it feels like home every year. This garden our garden. Today, we soak in the ozone pool, loosening shoulders made tense with stress, lengthening limbs to litheness with swimming. Lunch so satisfying you think you won't need dinner. Five hours on, you're ready to eat again, more deliciousness transformed with herbs from the garden. Breakfast a tastebud's delight: spice tea to wake up; bake and smoke herring.

Breakfast bake and herring


waterfall in the garden

the rain tree (mogumbo) graceful as a dancer

Yes, we're back to primary - some may say primal - pleasure - touchstone for these days of technological living. It's that Tobago frame of mind. Wake to rain; the sea shushing the shore; sun following its light across brightening blue. And in the early evening, two bright planets lining up, and a half moon waxing.

What's this time - week, month, year - but a moment in the mind of God. What are the years already lived but flashes of memory on the silver screens of our souls.
waterfall waltzing

back stroking in the ozone pool