Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ruin and adventures on the way to the beach

After the day of rain, we were ready to bust out of the cabin and head for the far end of the island:  over hills and valleys to Englishman's Bay. A bathing bay is what we sought. Everyday adventures were what we found.
Looking for a sea-bath
We set off confidently to the Arnos Vale Road. A wrong right turn brought us into a new housing development, solid concrete houses on pillars, painted in what passes for modern vibrant colours that look straight out of a cyber paintbox. The next turn was the right one.  We had chosen the alternate route in the Arnos Vale estate, through the charmingly named Tablepiece and Mount Thomas to Moriah.

The ruin shocked us as we came around a bend. Fire had razed the Arnos Vale water wheel - maybe within the recent month. The ribs of the rusty wheel stood out amid the green jungle. Only what could not be destroyed by fire was standing: the metal wheels, gears and machinery; stone walls with wrought iron; bricks and rusted coppers, a tall brick chimney. The great samaan had been scorched and felled, remnant logs in or near the river. We picked through the debris around the wheel fabricated and  installed by McConney of Glasgow in 1857. What's to become of this piece of history. 1857-2015 under the vines and stranglers of the Tobago jungle?

In the Tobago wild

Ruin in the rainforest
Front door still standing

The waterwheel fabricated in Glasgow and brought to Tobago

Was this where the fire started? Someone's cooking stones?
Sawn samaan

What's left of the waterwheel and the machinery it drove

Switchbacks, Vs and angular arrows are the features of these roads that struggle uphill and round turns in this part of Tobago. Now a view of the sea and hazy horizon; now a wooded vale behind the homes that have clung to the steep edge of the road. Barely two-lane, this road accommodates buses and trucks that must scrape the sides careening round the bends.

The wood carver's shed came into view as we glided around a deep bend. Screech stop. Tumble out of the car, like clowns out of a volkswagon.  Do you mind if we take a photo. Jah'by is compliant, smiling. Born Wayne James, he says his mother used to work in clay. For Jah'by, cedar, mahogany, teak are his preferred materials. The array of subjects includes turtles, armadillos, chunky hummingbirds, eagles resembling cobos, an exceptional owl, people cutting bananas, a man playing pan. This hilltop shed is workshop and gallery. Behind his hut is the vista of Mount Thomas.

Jah'by's art gallery

Jah'by explains himself

View from Mount Thomas
Back on the road again, we come to Moriah. The silk cotton tree stopped us in our tracks. We had heard that it had been threatened because its roots were undermining the roadway. And maybe the grand old tree has an inkling of the fate being considered. Its buttresses now armoured with thorns like a toothy dinosaur, seem to echo Jah'by's motto: no weapon formed against me will prevail.
Hillside with vegetable garden

The Silk Cotton in Moriah

T-Rex teeth?
Castara, its fishing boats resting in the bay, appears below another wrinkle in the road. The descent is marked by cows grazing on the berms along the road; steep tracks or stairways heading uphill signposted for this resort, that retreat. On the beach, a new facility is being built. The mud oven is stuffed with bamboo for firing. And the famous tot-tots bread is being shaped: pumpkin white or whole wheat.

Castara gets a new beach facility

At the earth oven in Castara

What we collected after the baking

At the cliff above Englishman's Bay, the "keyhole tree" has been removed. On the beach, Englishman's Bay might be the very best kind of journey's end .

Englishman's Bay

Fishermen untangling their nets

Looking out from the dining room over the bay
Turtle nests have been seen on the far end of Englishman's Bay

We return to the south end of the island by way of Whim. This road is wider. We descend quickly off the hills of western Tobago. Another day, so many bays.




1 comment:

  1. I have wonderful memories of Englishman's Bay at night with bioluminescence both from the fireflies in the trees that were visible from end to end like christmas tree lights and in the water that sparkled as the waves broke on shore. It brought to mind the old song "Sand and Foam" by Donovan -
    'The sun was going down behind a tattooed tree
    And the simple act of an oar's stroke put diamonds in the sea
    And all because of the phosphorus there in quantity
    As I dug you diggin' me in Mexico'
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRrjLkVaHK8

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