Monday, June 25, 2012

Drive Around Tobago (If You Dare)

Beautiful view of Englishman's Bay

Triple hazard: sharp curve with steep drop-off, washed-out pavement, cows...
Hiking the Gilpin Trace
 We splurged and rented a car one day to see the rest of the island. What an adventure. Charlotteville is waaay up in the northeastern corner of the country, and the roads to get out of town are incredibly narrow and steep and twisty, with sharp curves that you couldn’t see around. I was unnerved by the rate at which drivers rounded the corners, often in the middle of the road, as if they believed that there was no one else in the world who could possibly be coming in the opposite direction. Chris got sick of my saying “Slow down, there’s a curve!” and “Beep before you go around!” But talk about views – incredible! The road hugs the coast down to Scarborough, the capital, which is just a busy city. The Crown Point/Store Bay area is the “tourist area” where most of the hotels are – also busy and crowded, so we didn’t stay long. We took a wrong turn heading up along the north coast and serendipitously found a great place for lunch; two incredibly large and delicious meals and a beer cost $100 TT, which is less than $17 US ($6 TT = $1 US). I barely got through half of my lunch (and if you know me, you know how much I love food) because there was so much, and we didn’t need dinner that evening. Our motto: look at the places crowded with locals for good, inexpensive food. More windy, twisty, sometimes dirt or gravel roads along this coast, through little villages and by houses perched on the steep hillsides. We got a look at some of the bays we wanted to visit. At Bloody Bay, we headed south across the mountains, through the rainforest that has been a nature preserve since the 1700s.  We stopped and hiked along one of the trails through the forest until it turned into a bog of mud; it was too late in the day to take time to pick our way around it. Back toward Charlotteville, we drove up Signal Hill to a little park area where we were dive-bombed by a southern lapwing, a pretty bird that nests in depressions in the ground, so we must have come too close to its nest. Before it got dark, we drove along the road we had hiked a few days earlier. No longer did the river flow over the pavement, but farther on, the road had collapsed and been replaced with a steep, gravel trail, at which point we decided to turn back. If you go to Charlotteville, ask about a rental car in the tourist office; Natasha there can arrange it for you.
Interesting flower spotted on our hike

Southern lapwing coming around for another dive at us

Man of War Bay from Signal Hill

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