A different type of island
I say a different type of island, because compared to the other islands (countries) we have been to so far, Trinidad is said to be far wealthier because of the oil discovered in the south of the country. Borrowing from wikipedia:
"Trinidad and Tobago is the wealthiest country in the Caribbean as well as the third richest country by GDP (PPP) per capita in the Americas after the United States and Canada. Furthermore, it is recognised as a high income economy by the World Bank. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country's economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals. The country's wealth attributes to its large reserves and exploitation of oil and natural gas."
Google Maps: Trinidad is the largest island in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, off Venezuela's coast in the southern Caribbean. With a Creole culture incorporating African, European, East Indian and Chinese traditions, it’s known for its distinct cuisine, calypso and soca music, and boisterous Carnival celebration. It's also home to diverse flora and fauna, including some 400 bird species.
Island groups:Antilles; Lesser Antilles
The capital of Trinidad and Tobago is Port of Spain
Port of Spain became the capital of the island in the 1750s and after the British invaded the island in 1797, the island became British until its Independence. We arrived shortly after dawn
adjacent to one of the standard cruise ship terminals containing numerous "tourist souvenir” shops and evidence of greater wealth was immediately present in the skyline.
Enjoy a visit to the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Centre, a 200-acre world-class bird sanctuary and conservation centre, deep in the hills of the Northern Range. After a brief introduction, join a local guide for a 1½ hour walk through the lush tropical forest and along narrow old roads dating back to the plantation years. Over 170 bird species have been recorded at this former coffee and cocoa plantation; on your walk look out for toucans, manikins and hummingbirds, as well as graceful butterflies.
On our way to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, we saw obvious signs of greater wealth and a United States style of infrastructure - wide roads, fly-overs, lots of cars (being driven not particularly well); hotels
and the ubiquitous sign of wealth - fast food joints!
Our guide was quite proud of the number of American fast food options there were available in Trinidad because being able to go to one was an indicator of wealth and disposable income. Upon questioning, he then admitted that Diabetes was a growing problem on the island and that Government had started a number of initiatives to persuade children to take more exercise and to eat less. Diabetes seems to be becoming an issue throughout the Caribbean.
We also saw another example of bad western ways which we had not seen on any of the islands we had visited so far, namely that of rubbish being fly-tipped by the side of the road.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of fly-tipping by the side of the roads we were driven along.
We also saw
an example of christmas decorations Trinidad style by the side of the road we took on our way up to the Asa Wright Nature Centre which is in the hills about one hour’s drive from Port of Spain.
As we went up into the mountains, we passed lots of Christophene Vines, a crop we had not heard of before, covering cleared hillsides.
The crop (roughly large pear sized) looks like
and is cooked and eaten a bit like a Squash. We were told it was expensive because of the labour required to make it and the difficult conditions within which it was grown.
The Asa Wright Centre
The Asa Wright Nature Centre covers some 1500 acres of jungle
over two valleys in Trinidad.
Evidence that they celebrate Christmas just like everyone else on the Island greets you as
you walk to the Balcony overlooking the valley from which numerous Hummingbird feeders are hanging.
The birds are so used to being observed that you can stand within inches of the feeders and watch birds come and go. This (I was told) was the White Necked Jacobin Hummingbird.
A walk through the jungle forest
enabled us to see a few birds and some other wildlife but I suspect that 3 groups of people talking and taking photographs as they follow the path is enough to frighten away any normal animal.
Never-the-less, I saw a number of hummingbirds
a hanger created by a Crested Oropendola,
I did not see the bird but it looks like this !
I did see:
lots of Bamboo,
a Heliconia Chartacea,
and name that plant ! - if you know please tell me.
And proof that in a fertile jungle, even sticks will grow -
this signpost has parasites growing out of it.
Two animals I did see were:
thousands of Leaf Cutter Ants carry foliage larger than themselves; and
a White Bearded Manakin, which if you cannot see in this picture
looks like this as close as my camera would go,
and conveniently was found close to this explanation in the forrest.
We also heard lots of very noisy Bearded Bellbirds but I could not see any other than
this photograph of one in the Centre building !
Purely for interest, on the way back as we were driving down a dual carriageway, we came across a Lighthouse in the middle of the road. The St Vincent Jetty / Wrightson Road Lighthouse
was built in the 1880s on the end of a jetty but land reclamation now means that it is in the middle of the road built around it.