Day 7: Christmas Eve on Little Tobago

The day did not begin propitiously. The driver from Frankie's Tours was supposed to arrive at 9:00 a.m.., picking us up outside Andy's bar. At about 9:05 a.m. a drunk Tobagan to whom Wynn and Bea as the 'crazy neighbor' turned up in a black pickup, with the rap booming. He turned it up further, got out, and asked us if we appreciated his speakers. We equivocated, hoping he'd turn it down. We couldn't hold a simple conversation at a distance of 6 inches. He walked away, leaving it up. I wanted to reach in and turn it down, but was vetoed. He's drunk, I can put him on the ground I said. Please don't she said. Another guy came out of the bar and turned it down, but crazy guy came back and turned it up. Eventually, we were driven away. Alone, I would not have been; his speaker wires would have been yanked out. OK, drunk, but more hostility.

After 3 phone calls from me and one from Wynn, Frankie's driver guy turned up at 9:35 a.m., with a Surinamese grandma and kid in tow. It wasn't clear if he was just late, or the grandma had kept him late. But never mind, he said, the boat leaves at 10:30 a.m., we'll be there on time. We arrived in Speyside at 10:20 a.m.. The boat had already left. Driver went searching desperately around the town for the other tour operator, who was rousted out, and by 11 we were on our way to Little Tobago, from the jetty at the Blue Waters Inn.

Between Little Tobago and Speyside lies Goat Island. Our guide insisted that the big house on the island belonged to Ian Fleming, and that seems to be generally accepted locally. Problem is, ever the skeptic, I checked it out, and apparently Fleming's biographer says he never owned it or lived there.

As you can see, the water between Tobago and Goat Island was plenty rough. It got rougher as we passed around the northern edge of the island, and we were exposed to sweels from the opne Atlantic. Nonetheless, our captain took us to a point just off the NE tip of Little Tobago. Where there was a nice pair of brown boobies. Get yer mind outta de gutter, mon.

I've seen brown boobies before, but never gotten such a daft looking photograph of them.

After landing on Little Tobago, we commenced the ascent to the cliff top. Here Surinamese Grandma outdid herself. Not only was she shot in rubba slippahs, making it hard for her to hike, but each few steps upwards got her winded, and we had to stop. FFS. But eventually we reached the top, and saw what everyone comes to Little Tobago to see; the red-billed tropicbirds. They were everywhere, swooping over the forest...

...over the sea...

...but best of all, they were nesting under the wooden viewing platform we were standing on.

Also on the island; rainbow whiptails (which sounds vaguely LGBTQ/BDSM-ey)

And the inevitable mot-mot.

The trip back took us over the Manta reef, but since severe claustrophobia prevents me from snorkeling, let alone scuba-diving, I've never developed an interest in reefs. Except, save the planet, y'all.

Back in Speyside, the havoc continued. Surinamese Grandman and her boy in tow had a prepaid lunch at Jemma's, a Seventh-Day Adventist run restaurant (lots of SDAs on Tobago; who knows why?). Since herself and myself decided we wanted beer, we walked the 50 yeards down to birdwatchers, where I had still more fish, and some rum. After an hour, we hurried back, only to find Surinamese Grandmay was still eating. She continued eating for another 45 minutes. SHe claime dit was because service was slow; I heard from the staff it was because she insisted all sorts of extra food with her prepaid lunch. Whatever. We were tired of waiting, and When we finally left, at 3:15, and at Parlatuvier, when the driver offered to take us to the waterfall, we bailed and walked the rest of the way home. I was tired of Surinamese Grandma, and in no mood to tip the driver.

Wynn and Bea fed us steak and showed us these, on a completely defoliated frangipani tree:

They are, as I'm sure you all recognize, the larvae of Pseudosphinx tetrio , a sphinx moth. They were mostly bigger than my middle finger, and about ready to pupate; the next day we saw several crawling across the ground looking for leaf litter.

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