Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tobago Vacation - Day 4 - June 2008

I woke up wanting to do more than see the local shops and beach. I wanted to see the whole island. Tobago is around 7.5 miles wide, 25 miles long, and very mountainous. There are waterfalls, old forts with sweeping views of the ocean, many small parks, and a forest reserve that is older than the USA.

After a quick breakfast of local fruit I had purchased the day before, I asked Paul if he could recommend a car rental company. He did, so I walked down to pick up a car. $300.00 TT ($50.00 US) later, I was in my right-hand drive Hyundai Matrix driving on the left side of the road. Yes, it was a little weird at first, but pretty soon it was second nature. That's me on the right.

A quick check of the GPS so I can find my way back to the hotel.... wait... does that sign say "K-Mart?"

Unfortunately, I didn't take the time to visit.

Setting out from Crown Point, I drove to the Eastern side of the island and up the coast. It was a magnificent drive.

Somewhere along the way I stopped and took a picture of this HUGE abandoned house up on the side of one of the mountains. At one time it must have been some kind of place because there is actually a paved road running up to it. I'm a bit of an explorer and I had to fight to keep from driving up and going inside. With my luck it probably wouldn't have been abandoned after all!

Stopping at one of the many small beaches on the island, I couldn't help but take yet another pan. Those of you who are better photographers than I am, yes, I know I should have turned my camera sideways and gotten more vertical coverage.

Gorgeous, no?

Driving on up the coast I found a place to take this shot. Had it not been for the two large trees in the foreground, I think this might be suitable for a postcard. It was a beautiful view. (Get used to me saying that.)

Further up, sitting just off the coast of Speyside, Tobago is an island set aside as a bird santuary called "Little Tobago" or "Bird of Paradise Island."

What I found more interesting is the little island in-between Speyside and Little Tobago called "Goat Island." Goat Island was the home of writer Ian Fleming. In this photo you can see Mr. Fleming's old house on Goat Island with Little Tobago looming in the background.

Do I need to say it?

Some weird rock formation with a hole in it. (Zoomed in below.) Taken from one of the highest points on the island.

Speaking of high spots:

While driving through the mountains I noticed what looked like cow pies laying on the road. I thought, "Cow pies? What kind of weird Tobagoan mountain animal makes things that look like cow pies."

I quickly found out.

It seems that cows make things that look like cow pies.

After getting back to the hotel, Paul informed me that there is "One proper herd of cattle" on the island. They are a mix of all kinds of breeds including some Zebu and Water Buffalo.

The hotel serves the beef on their menu when it's available. Sadly, it was not available while I was there. However, I did have some wonderful yellow-fin tuna and garlic shrimp expertly prepared by Paul.

Same cow there on the right... just from higher up.

Whomever owns the herd of cattle stakes them out to graze along the roadside for miles. You'll see goats staked out all over the island as well.

It must be a pretty common occurrence as there are signs in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve telling people that tethering of animals is not allowed.

It sure seems to keep the roadside weeds in check.

Today would be the first day to visit a fort. Tobago was once the home of many fierce battles. She's changed hands no less than 31 times. The last "major" upset was on her sister island, Trinidad, in 1990 when there was a coup brought about by:

a) Baptists
b) Muslims
c) Catholics
d) George Bush

All you left-wing idiots are wrong for guessing D. The correct answer is B, Muslims. Big surprise, huh? I'm sure someone will call for my death for pointing that out.

But I digress.

There are cannon placements like this all over Tobago.

One can only imagine the thunderous belching of smoke and fire over the waters as an enemy ship came around the bend just a few hundred yards offshore.

If memory serves, the cannonballs shot from these particular cannon weighed 18lbs each.

This old guardian has stood vigilant for hundreds of years.

I didn't take a chance and sample the water, but locals fill water jugs from springs located all over the island. I ran across this fill station in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve.

Coming back down out of the mountains was a treat. I wonder how many tires and brake shoes the typical car goes through in a year. This was one of the easier areas to drive. (Mom, don't click this video. You're on dial-up. The clip would take all day to download.)

Oh! I almost forgot about the leaf cutter ants! I was standing by the car taking pictures when a little yellow something that was moving across the ground caught my eye. At first I thought it was a tiny butterfly, but as I got closer I saw ants! I was in a National Geographic Special! Of course I filmed them.

With all the running around I did today, bedtime came early and easy.

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