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Friday, April 18, 2014

Down d Islands (Gasparee Caves and Scotland Bay)

I visited the Gasparee Caves for the first time in my life this past Saturday. The caves are managed by the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) and I chose to go with a water taxi instead of the CDA boat. I had to pay a deposit into an FCB account of $70ttd per person and send a copy of the deposit receipt to the CDA in order to reserve a guide for my visit. The water taxi would be paid on the day of the trip.

I arrived at the Caribbean Dockyard parking lot at 9.15am. There was an entrance fee required for getting to the jetty, $35ttd per car for parking for the day and $10ttd for everyone except the drivers. I met a couple CDA guides (including one who I had made the booking with) on the jetty organising other visitors onto boats. I was told to follow the tour path when I got to Gaspar Grande because my group was going to land without a tour guide there to guide us. I also found out I needed to send an email in to request either a refund or to keep the money as credit with the CDA for money I deposited for people who could not make it on the day. There was a large shed with a few benches for people to wait for their boats in the shade.

A few minutes later the taxi arrived and we boarded for the 5 minute trip. Some people in my group had been there before so they knew the right way to go but it was basically following the concrete path. We carried a full cooler which did not have wheels and the path was mostly a steep climb up so it was tough, different people had to take turns for the cooler. The trek was about 15 minutes to get to the lodge at the entrance of the caves. I met the guide I had booked with and was told to wait for the other guide who was coming soon behind us. The reason was that her group was already large.

The guides give the visitors some time to rest in the lodge after the trek up the hill. After about 20 minutes the first guide left and my group was alone in the lodge. About 5 minutes later the second guide arrived and asked why the first guide did not carry us, I replied that it was because of the size of the group. He did not like that and suggested I go in the caves on my own because there were 2 guides in there right now. I insisted that I wanted the full package and I would wait for him to take us down. I had never been here before and did not plan on going back soon so I wanted to get as much of the full experience as I could. Around the lodge were a few fenced areas with holes in the ground which is what gives light to the caves. The path on the sides on the lodge are steep with some steps and mostly wholesome railings. The water in the male washroom was trickling out of the tap and the small bin in there was overflowing because it did not have a large one in the main room where people ate before and after the caves tour. There was a large bin outside of the lodge.

After approx. 15 minutes some people in the guide's group went up toward the back of the lodge. The guide asked if we wanted to go also because we have to wait on them to come back anyway so my group agreed to go. There were some very sharp and some loose stones on the 5 minute climb. We also passed a dead corbeaux that was severely decomposed and feathers scattered across the path. At the top we met a huge canon and the other group. We spent 5 minutes there and headed back to the lodge. The other group was now coming back out of the cave and they looked content but also sweaty and tired. I wondered if I would enjoy the tour given the tough start we were having. I saw the first guide coming out and complained that I was told by the second guide to go in alone, the reply was to send an email complaint.

At the entrance of the cave I could see we were going deep down into a narrowing space. The steps were about 4 feet wide and made of grating. The railings were metal with wooden boards screwed on top. Bats were flying around and flapping hello to their new guests.There were 5 flights of steps down to the floor. On the third flight the passage narrowed to allow only one person to pass through. On the floor there was a concrete path as on the surface.

The cave walls and ceiling were interesting with stalactites and stalagmites all around. There was a large pool to the left of the cavern and a narrower area of the cavern on the right. The water in the pool was crystal clear and you could see straight to the bottom where the light from the holes in the ceiling allowed spotlight sections to come in. Some bulbs were installed to highlight some features and create some effects. The guide explained to the group all about the various formations and some history of the area. The area to the right had a small climb up into a darker area where the path is around a large glittering column. After walking around the guide allowed us to swim. I was very buoyant in the water, some people complained their ears hurt when they put it into the water. We were told the water moves with the tides. We spent about an hour inside the cave. The experience in the cave was enjoyable. The hike up the stairs was not as enjoyable as coming down.

At the lodge my group had lunch and then headed back to the dock to get our water taxi. The trip to Scotland Bay was a few minutes longer than the trip to the island. At the bay we were greeted with a few party boats. The point where our taxi dropped us off was the first section of sand. It was full of garbage mixed into the sand and foul smells. We walked further along to a clear spot on the sand and set up camp. The boats had loud music and one had the occupants dancing lewdly and sometimes had music with extremely vulgar lyrics. Some people on the beach enjoyed the music of course and danced along. The whole length of the section of beach that I could see was littered with old bags, empty beer bottles, snack wrappers etc and couple large piles of burnt debris with more garbage on top of it. Perhaps garbage was not removed from the area and just burnt off there instead.

The water was shallow for a fair distance out from the shore and only had waves after boats passed along the bay. I was also very buoyant here. The hills around the bay provided shade at the spot where we were but you could walk up to an exposed area to get warmed up after coming out of the water. We spent a couple hours here before our taxi came back for us. It was going to 5.00pm and we wanted to reach back to the cars in daylight, which we did.

After we reached the dock I paid the captain $30ttd per person for his services. While we were walking out there were people walking in dressed up in party clothes. We could hear loud music in the distance, probably from another party boat they were going to. We were all anxious to change and use the washrooms. The only facility available here was a run down pair of toilets and a shower close to the entrance of the yard. There was a line to go in at one point.

At the end everyone enjoyed the day. The trip home was another adventure, but that is for another post..




Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rally Trinidad 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The river glows!

 Update:
17th April 2014: The is no longer showing the glowing effect. It seems the time for it has passed.

12th April 2014: This page has been extremely popular over the last week and I have seen pictures of crawling traffic in the Mayaro area, the authorities have chosen to completely ignore the problem of crowd control. Please exercise caution and common sense when visiting, do not park on the road, no matter how important you think you are. Do not throw garbage into the river, perhaps you can carry a stick and bring it back with you.

After reading this article I had to go see it for myself.
http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/When-the-Ortoire-River-glows-253136441.html

It really does glow! This is phenomenal to see. I parked at the side of the road at the big bridge in Mafeking (one minute west of the heart of Mayaro) and joined the growing group of people under the bridge. The sides of the bank were already clean because people had found everything possible to throw in already. When I arrived I saw people throwing stones from the bridge into the water and the splashes were a light blue. This alone was amazing. A few minutes later a man jumped from the bridge and made a huge blue splash. His motion made a glowing trail all around him. The brightest spots were around where his arms moved. After a couple minutes in the middle of the river he came to shore under the bridge where it was even more impressive because the shadow of the bridge made it easier to see the glow. The street lights around made it harder to see but once in the shadow it was much clearer. As he came closer to shore you saw his shape in a blue aura and his arms and legs made bright blue streaks out of the blackness. Another person used a stick to swirl the water and you could barely see the man or the stick but the area around the stick was as if there was a light in the stick, it did not leave a glowing trail.

There was a continuous stream of people coming and going. Some came in convoys, some came in maxis. You need a high end camera with a long exposure time on a tripod to get the best picture of the glow. Many people tried to capture it and still kept their flash on which defeats the whole purpose. The glow would be visible once the sun goes down and it is dark enough, by 7.00pm the sun would be completely gone.

What could have been better was for the hour I was there I did not see a police presence which I thought would have been a priority given the crowd that they know to be in the area. I felt safe while I was there but I would not be surprised to hear of car break ins or robberies.

This is something that everyone should witness. Below is a map with a red X showing the Mafeking bridge where you can see the glowing river.

Map showing bridge to view the glowing Ortoire river


Topics: How to get to glowing river in Mayaro
South Trinidad obeah magic river
Blue glowing splashes
Jumbie in Mafeking river
Blue water in river
Luminescence in river water
Directions to glowing water in Mayaro river

Sunday, March 30, 2014