Monday, January 12, 2009

Tobago explanations

Okay, it’s not a banana tree. It’s a something else. Bush maybe? Bananas do not grow on trees. (Thanks, Ed.)

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Sunday. It is a day of work, a day of waiting for the computer go-to person who was to work on Internet issues at the Beach Club but decided, instead, to go to church (by his own account), and of spending an indulgent afternoon on the beach. Where I learned a bunch of things.

First, there is the matter of the waves. If it is low tide, that does not mean that the beach would not be flooded. Suddenly. A fellow beacher noted my pain as a my chair was put suddenly substantially underwater. It is the moon, she tells me. It draws the ocean to the land.

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The waves, too, are significant today – or at least large enough to give bodysurfing a serious try. I really do not know anything about bodysurfing except that Obama does it well, but I have learned most things in life without lessons and so why not make a fool of myself right there on Bacolet Bay. In fact, it’s not that hard to catch for a fleeting moment the crest of a wave. (Admittedly, half the time I am submerged under it, but let’s focus on the positive.)

Some good soul offered to take this photo and I let her, thinking I may look majestic if I succeed, but of course the big wave did not come and what did come I managed to make little good use of.

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It is very humbling to fail in front of a small audience.

In the late afternoon, feeling completely perked and rinsed out by the ocean waters, I decide to walk to town to the Botanical Gardens. Parks on a Sunday are, for me, a happy destination and ones that specialize in tropical plants should be a treat.

These Gardens, however, are rather a sad lot and I must suppose that with such lush flowers and trees growing without fuss everywhere across the island, it becomes less important to put resources into the town Gardens.

Indeed, at Bacolet, I am in full view of this each day:

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And on my walk to Scarborough, I am enchanted with these colors:

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At the Gardens, by contrast, nothing really catches the eye. All I can offer you is this tree, almost ending its season of bloom:

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…and a very pretty plant with two toned leaves (no, there are no tags to help you identify the variety):

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I pass on photographing the rest of the rather tame plant life, or the odd assortment of strung Christmas lights in random places.

It does not help to see Scarborough so completely deserted by the locals on Sunday and overrun by the boat people (referred to as such by Tobagonians) who are here for the afternoon. I realize (as I watch the slightly pink but basically white people in their pale white cruise shorts and shirts) that Scarborough never seemed so bland before because Tobagonians bring with them a wallop of color. Red shirts, yellow scarves, multicolored caps and headbands. Rich black and Indian brown skin tone (Trinidad is 40 % African heritage and 40% Indian, but Tobago is 90% African). Long black hair among men (dreads are extremely common here) and always intricately styled hair (sometimes with very red highlights, sometimes done in braids, dreads, curls, or carefully clipped) among women. Without its people, the town seems listless and parched. I must make do with photographing the ubiquitous rooster. Roosters and chickens don’t take Sundays off.

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I walk back at sunset along the route that I have come to like so much, past the public cemetery…

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… past the church and school, with no children today, just chickens, and the sounds of singing from the congregation. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem...

…past the bend in the road that offers the view of the water, with its ship, waiting for its pink people…

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…past the fire station, a shop or two and various agencies providing services (for example, the Coterie of Social Workers of T&T Inc., with the slogan: “Let us lift as we climb and give the best or nothing”), and finally homes, small ones, but with lush vegetation and sounds of birds and barking dogs to greet you as you go by.

And now it is dark and time to head out with Beardy (we are on a first name basis by now) to Sunday School.

It’s an event, an island tradition, to head out to Buccoo Bay and party on Sunday night. I don’t want to stay long, but I want the street foods and the sounds of the steel band to pull me in.

I get one but not the other. With Carnival approaching, the musicians take a break from performing here. But, there is loud soca blaring and the food stalls have grills with chicken and sea foods and as I stroll and people-watch, I am thinking that this, not the Gardens is the great Sunday outing. Tobago does not do quiet time well. Tobago pulses with music and spicy food. A great backdrop for the ultimate limin'.

Roasted chicken and salads and a cold beer. A fine way to top off the weekend.

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