Thursday, July 29, 2010
Where was I? Ah yes...
We left the teak field, by continuing down the 'track'. When we'd made our way out, the Government Man rang his man at the bottom of the road. The police had arrived and were swarming around, doing police things. Rather than get caught up in that circus, because we had nothing useful to add, we kept going.
The 'track' eventually became a 'road' that led through several 'villages', I suspect hamlets are a better description. We past Moruga. We had travelled so far south we could see the sea through the coconut trees. My brother and his friend agreed to part company, his friend would drop off the two field workers and we would return the Government Man. More driving. It took about an hour to get there.
Yesterday, I saw parts of rural Trinidad I'd never seen before. Rural houses are generally constructed using the same template whatever the construction material, either wood or concrete: on stilts, with a large porch out the front. The stilts help keep the living quarters cool as it allows the wind to travel around and through the building. Underneath can be used as a car park or when the children get older and marry, bricked up for more living space. Also useful in areas subject to flooding. The porch is the hub of the house, the way kitchens in temperate climes used to be. That's the place where family members gather to chat at the end of the day, to each other and their neighbours walking on the road. Entertaining takes place on the porch. The low walls of the porch are usually decked out in pots of colourful houseplants. It's a welcoming space. Gardens varied. Some had trimmed their hedges and topiaried to be the envy of Capability Brown, others were left to the chickens and pothounds.
Pothound. (n) a dog of indeterminate breed that arrives as soon as the pots rattle in the kitchen.
We dropped off the Government Man and headed off to Mayaro, via Rio Claro. It took us a couple of hours. I'm so proud of my brother, he stopped and asks for directions without prompting or muttering. I made him laugh after yet another stop by the side of the road. I told him of all of my qualities, my ability to pee in the bush, should be most prized by any man with marriage in mind. Bless him, he never complained at the many stops. In this heat it is really important to keep hydrated and my bladder is the size of a hamster's purse. I'm not proud, I'll pee anywhere: public toilets, the bush, the sea, the side of the road. Public toilets in Trinidad are an exercise in faith in your immune system. I walk with my own toilet paper.
When we got to my brother's estate. We had a brief discussion about provisions. We stopped off and picked up lunch from the local Chinese restaurant and a crate of beer from a bar. Please understand that rural does not mean uncivillised, Mayaro might not be an urban centre, but it has the important things: a market, a gas station, bars and a couple of Chinese restaurants. My brother has a food finding instinct that is amazing. His ability to find fantastic food wherever he is can only be considered a special power worthy of a superhero. He stops in places that you look and consider the efficacy of a antacids and antibiotics to find the food delicious and the staff, friendly. He really appreciates good food.
We headed back to the estate house and I ate straight away. I then smoked and said hello to the dogs and donkeys. The donkeys always make their way towards me. I don't know why they're so fond of me, I don't feed them. I just lavish them with lots of affection. Perhaps, donkeys need love too? We then crashed for an hour. Getting up at stupid o'clock had taken it's toll.
My brother, after a cup of coffee, put on his overalls and went out to see to the estate. I grabbed a beer, swung in the hammock and listened to the parrots quarrelling in the trees. Late afternoon, they fly back to their homes in twos and threes squawking as they go, a parrot is by no means a quiet bird. I can't tell you the feeling of bliss, contentment even.
Promptly broken by my brother demanding I go with him into The Bush. So I did. He'd collected tiny teak seedlings in their little black bags, ready to be planted out in the field. He asked me to put them out on some newspaper and fluff them up, as they'd been squashed in the two buckets. I then had the joy of explaining to my prim and proper brother what a 'fluffer' was. I'm happy to say that the seedlings were fully erect when I'd finished! :-)
We packed up and headed off to the beach. I'd been looking forward to the swim for hours and hours. Bliss. Real bliss. The water was fantastic, the beer cold, the company excellent. I had a fantastic day. The kind of day that lives on. I realised after I started blogging, that yesterday we made a circuit round the island, we headed south to San Fernando, east to Mayaro, and then north and west to get home again. No wonder my brother is knackered today.
Yesterday, I went on an Adventure with my brother to look at a teak field. Very exciting in more ways than one; except I had to be up at 3.55. That's AM, as in the morning. As in it's fucking dark outside. As I stood by the gate, waiting for my brother to reverse out his gold landrover I thought to myself: at that time of the morning, the virtuous and villans are safely tucked up in bed. I was wrong.
Firstly, let me introduce you to the trusty steed: the gold Landrover. My brother has 3 and this is the star of his fleet. It is the youngest, a sprightly 23 years old and has been modified so that the back will tip up and dump it's load at your feet. It has all modcons - a cranky airconditioning and an old car radio. It is very comfortable and as proved yesterday morning as we hurtled towards San Fernando, will do 110 km/ph.
Secondly, this island paradise I grew up in, has one major problem: the crime. Violent crime is trully apalling. Life here is incredibly cheap. There have been over 356 murders and the year isn't done yet. Unfortunately, the police have a success rate of less than 10%. The legal system is tied up in knots and it's not unknown for the accused to be in remand without trial for over 7 years. The virtuous live behind bars, high walls in gated communities when they can. They sleep uneasily and drive everywhere, not only because of the heat.
Driving around the Queen's Park Savannah, I realised I was indeed mistaken. The virtuous were walking and jogging round in the dark. Do bear in mind that it was 4.40 (am). There they were in their athletic gear, sweating their committment to fitness and good health. I found that almost as traumatic as being up that early in the morning.
At that time of the morning, everything is dark. The night chorus of frogs haven't given way to the roosters and birds. The waning moon looked over her sleeping subjects, secure that she still had at least another hour and a half before she gave way to the sun.
My brother was to meet a friend and some government workers to look at a field of teak, that he would harvest. The friend travelled separately with his right-hand man in a HiLux. Shockingly, he only managed to catch us up at the San Fernando junction. Given that Landrovers are not known for their speed, this is not surprising. But at that time of the morning, the roads were clear and it was safe for my brother to put his foot down.
We stopped and waited for the Government Man. I smoked and drank the coffee as Dawn chased the moon from the sky. Everything in nature in the tropics seems to be extreme. The sky as we approached the San Fernando junction was dark, with a bright ribbon of light. Twenty minutes later, everything is bathed in sunshine. The birds are up, as are the dogs and day begins.
The Government Man was on time. And off we went. We drove for another hour to meet the two field workers. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the jungle.
There were a group of workers milling around our turnoff. One of them flagged us down. There was a body. The police had been called. They were waiting. Did we want to see?
The poor man had been bound hand and foot, and a bullet forever silenced his thoughts. There was blood on the ground where he had been dragged and dumped. No, I didn't see and neither did any of us. I have seen the dead: my mother and stepfather, I had nothing to gain by rubbernecking. We went on.
It would be an exaggeration to call what we travelled on, a track. This is where having a Landrover comes into it's own. There's such a satisfying thunk as the diff-lock is engaged and it becomes a four-wheel drive, rover of land. And yes, we roved. The rainy season had turned parts of the track into a mud hole, a hippo would have longed to wallow in. My brother, with years of skill and trust in his vehicle, negotiated his way through the mire without incident. Though, there was always the winch to pull us out if we got really stuck. Eventually, we got to the field of teak.
Teak is a beautiful tree. It's leaves are the classic 'leaf shape' but bigger, much bigger. They are about two feet long and around eighteen inches across. Huge. And lots of them. The trunks are ramrod straight, grey and brown speckled bark. At the moment, they've just finished flowering and look like they've got frondy hats. Come the dry season, the fronds will fall and deposit the seeds around. Into the bush we went. A very hot walk. I was in jeans and my trainers, my brother's floppy hat on my head. I'd dosed up on the mosquito lotion before I'd got out of the Landrover and boy am I glad I did. The little bastards were zooming around looking for lunch.
Of course I ended up on my arse. I stepped on a tree root and gracelessly slid down a muddy bank. Ouch. Nothing but my pride hurt. My brother helped me up and we walked on. I still can't believe how many species of moth and butterfly I saw yesterday. It makes me realised how impoverished our selection has become in the UK. Moths that pretended to be fallen leaves, black butterflies that looked like they'd been dipped in mint choc-chip icecream. Butterflies with wings larger than my hands, dark on the outside, flashing royal blue as they zig-zagged through the trees. I want to learn more.
Consider this the first installment. I need to have a break and attend to my dad and yes, I need more Eine.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I have been going to the same hairdresser in Norwich for the last 14 years. He must be the only straight male hairdresser in Norwich. I keep going back to him because he cuts hair fantastically well, but also because of his kindness. When I was a student and then improverished, he would cut and colour my hair for model prices. Also, when I had 'company' courtesy of my small Boy, he would check my hair without any fuss. There are some who have thrown me out of their chairs if they thought I was sporting head lice. He also is happy to recommend good hair products that he doesn't sell. I trust him implicitly and he's never let me down.
So going to another hairdresser has been an exercise in faith. My dad and nephew recommended their cutter. I was slightly dubious, given they are both blokes and quite frankly are both short, back and sides guys. But she sported a short, sexy number and I decided to go for it.
I had to wait til yesterday and I've been touching my hair ever since. It's a real weight off my mind. It's short, but sexy and fun. I'm dead chuffed with my new hair. It's a lot cooler in this hot weather and has lived up to her promise that it'll look good with minimal fuss.
I just needed a change.
Friday, July 23, 2010
In many ways, I am walking the path she has trod so bravely and with good humour despite everything.
Please call in and leave her hugs, today and in the coming days. In my experience, the first few days of bereavement are always a bit weird, after the weird period things can get hard. So, keep popping by.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I also love sparkly things, but she and I differ quite radically.
Silver is my precious metal of choice. I am actually quite fussy about what I wear. I only wear one ring on what is technically my 'status' ring finger. It's a small silver band of leaves. I got it after a particularly messy relationship. It signifies my on-going commitment to my self-improvement, so I don't ever have to re-live that awful experience. It's my commitment to my well-being and to fulfilling relationships. By and large, I continue to live up to that. The decisions I make are generally informed and when things go south, I have only myself to blame.
Apart from that ring, I don't wear any others. My hands are quite small, which makes finding rings I like, difficult. I don't like wearing rings with stones as they tend to catch on things. I also don't wear bracelets or watches. I don't like the feeling of my wrists being enclosed. Long ago I decided that there are enough clocks and watches around me, if I ever need to find out the time: I can look at my mobile, ask or look at the clock in my car or pc.
I often tell people all my piercings are visible, especially when they spot the nose stud. I have dealt with the occasional lecherous enquiries as to navel and 'personal' piercings. Quite frankly, unless I develop a six-pack stomach, a belly ring will never be an option and as for the other...forget it. My nose stud is small, flat, round and made of surgical steel. It doesn't come out. It can, but it doesn't. When I worked in the department store and then for the cosmetics company, I lived in fear that I would be forced to remove it under their uniform codes. Thankfully, I never had a direct order to deal with, when memos went around, I just nodded and ignored. That the management felt that challenging me would open a diversity can of worms, was not my problem.
I like dangly ear-rings. But not too heavy. I don't like the stretched lobe-look. Most of my ear-rings are inexpensive, could be described as 'costume' at best, tacky at worst. I actually quite like a lot of the stuff from M&S. They do good sets.
I always have my silver new moon pendant on my chain. It is a symbol of my faith. I have had people consider me a Muslim because of it, but no, that's not my path. I do wear other necklaces with it. I quite like bold pendants and delicate pieces. It really depends on what I'm wearing at the time.
Today, I was naughty. I bought myself a cute charm anklet, it has little bells on it. Wearing it makes me feel like a dancer, with slim, pretty ankles to show off. You will note I said, it's the way it makes me feel. My mother would have been appalled. She would not be impressed. In Germany, only whores wore anklets. She told me so when I said I wanted one, just like my brother's girl friend (who she heavily disapproved of, rightly so as it turns out).
Unlike my mother, I have bought all of my jewellery (well, apart from what I inherited from her) and I quite like it that way. Having a piece which was given to me by a departed lover, would make wearing it, a painful reminder. Also, I am difficult to buy for. I like semi-precious stones, but don't tolerate diamond-esque stones. If it's not the real thing, cubic zircona just doesn't cut it. I like modern, arty pieces or flamboyant. It really depends.
You won't be surprised that I have a pair of pewter coffee bean ear-rings and they are my favourites.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Had a fantastic time in The Bush. Lots of mosquitos and interesting wildlife. A praying mantis stood guard on the wall over my bed. Obviously thought my virtue needed protecting. Could have saved her the bother. My virtue is a dim and distant memory. Thank goodness.
My brother has two donkeys on his estate. Proton and Ashmini. They are so funny. Every time I went to have a smoke, they'd come and join me, snuffling my arms and fingers. I'd crouch down on the driveway and hear their gentle clop-clop and then there would be a tickle on the back of my neck. They never bit me, but did they did try to eat my dress a couple of times.
There's a beach nearby and we'd pile into the landrover and go for a swim. My arms are brown, my legs less so. I suppose that's simply because I tend to keep them covered either in a long dress or jeans. I'm not a huge fan of sea swimming, but the water was so calm and warm, it was fantastic.
On Sunday, after my brother had a morning session in The Bush, pruning, cutting down vines and picking fruit, we tidied up the house to get ready to head back into town. We started on the Carib beers and that continued at the beach, back at the house and on the journey home (though my brother switched to soft drinks). I felt decidedly toxic yesterday. My brother says I out drank him. A surprise to me, but apparently true. With the heat, a Carib is just perfect, and slips down so easily and drinking steadily through the day, I didn't even really feel tipsy, much less drunk. It's too easy, so I will be laying off the Carib for the next few days, my liver really needs a break. Poor thing.
Friday, July 16, 2010
I've got to pack. We're off to my brother's little piece of Heaven. We're off to The Bush.
I've no internet, so do try and behave while I'm gone.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Small, still puddles of water are breeding grounds for mosquitos. And my goodness they are vicious. In April, I could get away with a casual slathering after each shower, now if I don't re-apply every 2 hours, I look like a dot-to-dot picture. Very unattractive and itchy to say the least. Of course there's also the risk of a nasty tropical disease called dengue.
It's still mango season and I've got my eye on several large avocados growing in my brother's garden. I'm told we're off to The Bush on Friday, which I'm really, really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the rural mosquitos are 10 times more assertive than their urban cousins and they will bite through clothes, hats and even hair. A trip into the rain forest will mean a head to foot dousing in repellant.
I've got a huge pile of reading next to my bed. Nothing lascivious this time, it's all about permaculture. My brother has approved my plans of World Domination and when I step into The Bush, I'm hoping to see his work with new eyes. I'm off to read, talk amongst yourselves while I'm gone.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Until I remembered my SIL was a yoga convert. I did ante-natal yoga and quite liked it, but my leanings tended to be more martial arts rather than yoga. But I've been putting off joining a class, procrastinating doing my exercise dvds and ignoring the olympic sized swimming pool just up the road. I bought a skipping rope which was duly packed and when I arrived I made the mistake of telling my SIL.
She took me for a walk round the neighbourhood on Thursday. Bearing in mind, Trinidad has steep hills, I'm deeply unfit and I smoke, I revelled in the fact that when we finished I did not require the attention of a paramedic, nor did I resort to Father #1's oxygen (though it was a close call).
Now you, my long term readers will know, my morning routine is fairly well fixed. Until I've had my first smoke and cup of coffee, I'm not coherent. I can't even think about getting dressed or leaving the house until I've had my second round. Forget eating. I was just thinking about my second cup of coffee when my SIL announced the yoga class started in 15 minutes. I managed to collect my brain cells and got changed into suitable gear (leggings and a big shirt) and we got there in time. Then for the next couple of hours I puffed, panted and groaned through my poses.
Apparently, I am 'awakening' my muscles.
We were doing Hatha yoga and the teacher leading the class was fantastic. The other students were supportive and helpful. I didn't feel like the new, clueless kid. I even managed a handstand! Me! Yes, you did read right. So, the idea is I'll do classes 3 times a week while I'm here, build up my strength and stamina and when I get back to the Land of Cold and Damp, I'll keep up the good work.
But, I've got to start somewhere and if I don't do it now, then when?
Friday, July 09, 2010
Trinidad is in the depths of it's Rainy Season. The dry, dusty hills ravaged by bush fires are now all green. It's slightly cooler, but the humidity is high, so I'm not convinced it's more comfortable. The greenery is amazing; a month of rain and everything is in flower.
It's as if I was only here last week.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Blogger seems to be eating comments at the moment. Please keep commenting. I get them on e-mail and your kind messages are wonderful for me to read as my spirit starts to flag.
I have to get back to Trinidad. I'm being delivered to the bus station at half past midnight tonight, by the Great Ursus and his Lovely. Blessings upon their heads for their stalwart support and love.
There are at least 3 piles of paper in my house that I've been ignoring. I have to find 2 pieces of paper. If I don't find them the British government is likely to get very, very stroppy with with me. I've been ignoring the job for some time now. But as I can't take 3 piles of paper with me to Trinidad, if I don't do the job now, it isn't going to get done until September when I get back. By which time there will be a new pile of paper to ignore.
Administration is an interesting dilema for me. If it's not mine, I can do it, no problem. Indeed, many of my monthly paychecks in the past have required me to be organised and efficient in the moving of paper around. When it comes to my own personal admin....forget it. I create piles around the house, ignore, procrastinate, I just don't do it. Thanks to the joys of direct debit, I've now avoided red letters from utilities companies going 'pay us, pay us now'. I tell everyone I can 'if it's important, e-mail me, DO NOT POST'. In the main, this works very well. Unfortunately, the British government doesn't understand this. Most bureaucracies aren't known for being understanding. Hell, if I had to push that much paper around, frankly, I wouldn't understand either.
So here I am blogging, when indeed I should be collecting the 3 piles, turn them into 1 mahusive pile and start going through the hundreds of sheets of paper just looking for 2. Well, as soon as I type the last full stop, I'm going to have a bath, get dressed, make myself another cup of coffee, have a smoke and then collect my piles of paper.
It sure as hell beats packing and it's keeping me from wondering what waits for me when I land. Perhaps there are better survival strategies, but I've just realised that maybe, this one isn't too bad after all.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
This has got to be the World's Most Boring Ad. I feel my brain shutting down every time it comes on. I'm left to speculate whether this actress was directed to look as if the last time she had Earth Shattering Sex, was half way through the last century or whether she's like that normally.
Can you imagine a director saying 'No love, there's too much animation in your expression. I want you to think of your tax return as you read the autocue.'
If she's that way normally, he'll be saying 'Think of having sex with your husband.'
Also, do these people actually read the scripts? Do they understand what they're saying? "Pure gold lead finish." What does that mean? Alchemists have been trying to turn lead into gold for centuries with no success (apart from getting high on the fumes). It's either gold or lead. I suspect what they mean is some child in a developing country, getting high on the paint fumes, brushed the out dated coin with goldesque paint.
Reminds me of 'genuine faux pearls' as seen on American TV in the 80s. Nasty strings of transluscent beads for the gullible.
Not only are we being bored to death, but we have to send £2.50 (postage and packaging) for a tacky gold painted coin originally worth £0.01. Barnham was right, horrifyingly.