Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Crab, Some Caterpillars & A Queen

I came back to my room at the hotel for lunch one day and noticed something on the hallway carpet.  At first I just thought it was a small pile of dirt which I thought was in an odd location of the hallway.  As I continued moving forward the dirt piled moved incredibly quick behind a newspaper...the dirt pile turned out to be a tiny crab. My stupid point and shoot camera would not let me focus on the crab by I tried my best to capture him or her - now image if that was in my room...actually let's not.

Kelly and I were heading out to see the new Shrek movie, the hotel staff stopped us to see if we have seen the caterpillars.  The only caterpillars I had ever seen were small and not too jaw dropping to stare at so I was wondering what was so special about these...?  To my fullest surprise these caterpillars are the largest and prettiest I have ever seen.  Can you spot them in the trees?  I saw hello to my new friends every morning.

Now you are probably expecting to see more pictures of animals for the Queen bit of my title.  Will it be a queen ant or bee or boat?  Boat...what...boat?  Yes, indeed the queen in which I refer to is a party boat called the Treasure Queen.  The bartender at the hotel, Ria, asked me if I would like to come along.  A few of my co-workers went on the same boat experience a month prior and very much enjoyed themselves.  The Queen sailed at midnight and docked back at 3AM.  There was drinking and dancing all night - just like a fete during Carnival season but on the water.  It was a lot of fun however I wore the wrong skirt for the boat so I could not go too close to the edge or else I would pull a Marilyn Monroe.

Columbus Bay Lime

A couple weekends ago, Vinosh, a local manager-type who works at the refinery, took Kelly, the wife of a fellow UOP advisor, and I to Columbus Bay, a beach on the most Southern tip of the island. Columbus Bay is said to be the point at which Christopher Columbus first landed in Trinidad. The beach is surrounded by miles of coconut plantations and the "Three Sisters" (3 tiny islands) protrude just off the shoreline.

Vinosh ended up running into two of his friends while at the beach and they invited us to have dinner with them.  It turned in to quite the adventure as later that evening we ended up at Vinosh's friends home for a Fish Broth dinner (shown below) and drinks.  I always enjoy trying local food, especially if homemade, and it doesn't hurt enjoying the food with some locals as well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

54 Days Have Passed - Want Highlights?

I know I know it's been it has been 54 days since I last updated my blog; this was something I was afraid of when I first started. People even reminded me (thanks Liz) and I put the task on my to do list but somehow it kept getting pushed to the next day and the next and the 54th.....so here is a brief overview, well actually somewhat lengthy, of what has been happening.

As most of you know I am still in Trinidad. The assignment here seems to be taking one step forward and then two steps back which makes for great training!!

One day when the Instrument Advisor Ken, his wife Sylvia, and I were driving around because traffic was way too hectic to go to the beach they decided to show me a place that they found that made steel pans. The pans are all made by hand normally in someone’s back yard and for the final finish or color it is sent to a chrome shop. I ended up buying a steel pan (drum) as a practical souvenir! It makes great wall decoration and then I can take it down and play music when I am bored. The pan however did not stay with me in Trinidad too long after because my parents came down to visit again!
The purpose of my parents 2nd visit was two fold – to see their daughter (of course) but to also ship my pan back to their house so I would not have to fool with extra luggage at the airport whenever this assignment ends. Don’t I have the greatest parents in the world – thanks Mom and Dad! We ended up packing a ton of activities into a short period of time again. My parents actually went to see Pitch Lake before I have and I have been here for six months now. Pitch Lake is a lake made out of asphalt. It was raining when they arrived so they did not go on the tour but they took pictures.
                                          Pitch Lake                             Local Showing the Asphalt
That night I took them to see the turtles nesting on the beach because that was something my mom wanted to do the first visit but it was too early in the season. Again we walked out to the beach and met up with two leatherback turtles laying their eggs right next to each other (wonder if they are related?!?! Hahaha, just kidding) The group was not as large as when I went the last time so we could take up close and personal pictures!

Look at the length of that turtle!!

We were actually able to see two more turtles in the distance coming out of the ocean and slowly making their way onto the beach. Luckily we had already taken all of the pictures we needed and then it started to downpour. Since we were already wet and saw what we came to see we headed back to the hotel.

The next day we headed off to the Asa Wright Nature Center but of course since roads are not labeled here we went the scenic scenic route before we found the actual road we wanted; and without asking for directions! We arrived to the center an hour and a half before the scheduled tour was going to begin. Although the house did have a lovely old English charm I was not looking forward to spending that amount of time in a confined area on uncomfortable chairs. I asked the receptionist if there was anything to do and she explained that just shortly, about 10 minutes walk, up the road there was a clear water pool. This sounded great to me; my parents and I changed into our bathing suits and headed down to the pool. It was breathtaking creation. They directed the stream through the forest to collect in an area which was about 4 feet deep surrounded by stones. The pool flowed over a rock bed on the over side of the waterfall to continue down through the forest. I know my words are painting a wonderful picture but go ahead and see for yourself!

The tour of the center did not last more than an hour or so but we saw a few neat birds. My favorite was called the Bearded Bellbird and it sounds like they are hammering on an anvil when making their bird calls. It was the largest collection of leak cutting ants I have personally ever seen. Be careful not to step in the middle of their path or else you will be bitten – just ask my Mom! I did not have any ant bites but came out eaten alive from mosquitoes – I very much dislike those bugs. It made for wearing my Nomex and safety shoes on Monday quite enjoyable….not!
                                                                                                  Can you find the bird?
The next day we decided to take the sightseeing and adventure seeking easy and drove around the capital Port-of-Spain then upwards along the northwest coastline until it ends at Chaguarmas. My sister even joined us in spirit…
All and all the trip was awesome as expected and I enjoyed my parents visiting. Hopefully next time I see my parents it will be back in the states !

Idoko, one of our crew members, went back home for paternity leave because his wife Ruth was expecting to deliver their twin boys any day now. Idoko was replaced by another crew member, Eric, who travels with his wife, Kelly, who also happens to be approx. 3 months pregnant. Kind of ironic – is this a sign that the assignment will last another 6 months so we might need another replacement…oh goodness I hope not. It’s nice to have another gal here to hang out with although the boys are fun too :-)

No promises but I hope to not take this long to write another entry. I was recently introduced to Picasa and will try to implement that into my blog so y’all can see more pictures (and don’t have to read the boring words).  Enjoy the weekend!!