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We arrived in Trinidad on October 12, 2000 and pulled into the Trinidad and Tobago Yacht Club (TTYC).  We had water, electricity and free cable TV.   The ABC cable feed was Channel 2 from Nashville!  We bought a window air conditioner for the boat and got a telephone and local internet server. 

From the middle of October to the end of November was the rainiest period we've experienced anywhere. It rained many times a day every day and was overcast and cloudy between the rainy sessions.  Mildew grew rampant on our cockpit cushions.  Fortunately, with the air conditioner running, the inside of the boat was drier than it had ever been.  December weather was much sunnier and drier than November's.  The temperature was pleasant and not as hot as summer but certainly a contrast to what we saw on television of the weather in Tennessee and New England where snow and ice had already hit.

Several of the sailboats at the marina were decorated with brightly colored lights.  One had multicolored lights around the front lifelines and up and down the mast in the suggestion of a Christmas tree.  Another chose a blue motif and has outlined his stays with three long strings of blue lights.  A couple of others chose all white lights to outline areas of their boats.  I told one of the locals that I was a "Bah humbug" type person.  She thought I said "bar" and thought I drank I lot.  I guess I'll have to restrict the use of that phrase to Americans who are more familiar with Scrooge as descriptive of my traditional attitude toward Christmas.

We joined another couple and walked to a living creche presented by a local church group at a nearby residential park.  There was a manger scene with kids of all ages playing the parts and a narrator reading a script.  Christmas carols were sung by all those in attendance accompanied by a portable piano and organ.  The cutest angel was a blond three year girl who danced to the music, unaware of the religious nature of the songs.

Our marina waslocated about halfway between the main cruisers' area at Chagaramas and downtown.  A couple of blocks from TTYC were a grocery store, a video rental store, a small hardware store, a pharmacy, and a bank with ATM.  There were several fast food take-out places and a sit-down Chinese restaurant.

A long walk or a short Maxi ride away was West Mall with another grocery store.  Other malls and grocery stores could be reached with a little more effort.  You could be find almost anything you want for a fairly reasonable price.  Trinidad is a good place to have parts shipped in since they don't assess duty for boats in transit and it's not a major hassle as in Venezuela and other islands north of here.  Bob and I joined the local gym.  A number of cruisers from the marina were trying to get into shape to handle the rigors of Carnival.  Bob and I walked thirty minutes to the mall, work out, then walk back to the marina. 

Many cruisers went home for the holidays.  Twenty of us remained and planned a community Christmas dinner at the marina's restaurant closed for the day.  Everyone signed up to bring a couple of dishes but most people brought at least twice what they signed up for and we had tons of food left over.  In Britain as here and in other islands, December 26 is also a holiday, Boxer Day.  Traditionally, leftover food and/or clothing, etc. were boxed up and delivered to the less fortunate.  If we had known where to take the leftovers, we could have made a substantial donation.

In Trinidad, there are many contrasts and comparisons to life in the States.  English is spoken here, but with a musical lilt and speed that makes it sound like a foreign language.  Frequently, we must ask a person to repeat a statement several times in order to understand what was said.  I confess that sometimes we just smile and hope no response is necessary.  There are also different ways of looking at things.  For example, we say that December 31 is New Year's Eve.  Trinis call it Old Year's Night.

They drive on the left side of the road here so we haven't rented a car.  Straight stretches may be okay, but forks and traffic circles (rotaries) can be very confusing.  When you walk across the street, you have to remind yourself to look both ways but to look last to the right instead of to the left.  Fortunately, most drivers are considerate and will stop and let you cross the street rather than hitting you.  Walking down the sidewalk is equally confusing since the Trinis keep to the left rather than to the right and there's always a danger of pedestrian collisions.

Another reason we haven't rented a car is that public transportation is great.  There are regular taxis in which you are the only passenger but they're expensive.  Then there are H cars with a license tag beginning with an H indicating that the car is for hire.  It will take you anywhere, but you must agree on a price before you get in.  The H car will stop and pick up other people on the way until it is full, unlike a taxi.  The least expensive ride is a Maxi, a van holding 12 people.   Cost depends on the distance of the ride, but from TTYC downtown is only 42 cents.  This is the most popular mode of transportation and you seldom have to wait for more than five minutes for one to come along.  Unlike the Dominican Republic where they pack as many as 21 people in a twelve-person van, here they seat only 12 people including the driver.  Jesse James has a business, For Members Only, which  provides transportation to the malls, grocery stores, a meat market, fresh produce market, airport, events and tourist sites for a nominal fee.  If he cannot drive, he will find a dependable person to drive.  Only rarely is a car required although some people rent cars for convenience.  Car rentals are very reasonable at $15 US per day.

In our section of town, the maxis have a yellow stripe.  For other areas, the stripe may be green or red.

Every evening, cruisers assemble at the end of the pier on the sea wall to chat and sip their drinks as they watch the sun set.  A phenomenon called the "green flash" is supposed to occur just after the red ball of sun drops below the horizon.  There can be no clouds and atmospheric conditions must be right.  Frankly, I haven't seen the flash and have voiced my suspicions that it may be a snipe hunt.  However, the green flash is described in the guidebooks so I guess it's not a prank.  When I began watching for it, I thought it was supposed to be a huge green flash covering the entire sky.  It has been described as a small dark semi-circle that appears for a split second where the sun was just before it disappeared below the horizon.  Blink and you miss it.  Further complicating the viewing of the green flash is the fact that, if you stare at the sinking sun too long, there will be a dark reverse image remaining on your eye, obscuring the flash.    Bob saw the flash one evening, but I have yet to see it.

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