Thursday, January 7, 2010

"HERE COMES THE SUN"




When we arrived in Trinidad in early November, the plan was to order solar panels and take them back to Grenada to sort them out. A week or two maximum, right? Well - not quite.
The gods of all things marine laugh at time frames.

The solar panel shipment was delayed to the end of November, earliest, and with time to think about it, Geoff decided to stay and install the panels right there in Trinidad – if there was any problem, we’d have quick and easy access to help.

So we ended up with six bonus weeks in Trinidad, giving us time to venture into Port of Spain several times to shop and sightsee. This sign is certainly not the official welcome to the city, but it gave us a laugh as we arrived at the waterfront bus terminal ……
…… and it set the tone for a great day of wandering the city.

Port of Spain is a big city by anybody’s standards. Twenty percent of Trinidad’s 1.5 million people live in and around this cosmopolitan capital.

It doesn't look much like the Caribbean, does it?

Independence Square is a huge boulevard that runs the length of downtown Port of Spain.
It's beautifully kept ......
...... and the trees offer a welcome respite from the sun.

The locals in the city were friendly and courteous – we were offered help with directions several times when we stopped to look at our street map. Every encounter ended with a reminder for us to be watchful and stay safe. The theft rate is high in Trinidad and it seems the average citizen is quite embarrassed by it. The scary murder rate is, of course, well-removed from the parts of the city we frequented, and has more to do with drugs and gangs.

We found upscale stores right next to funky little malls, and, there are amazing fabric stores everywhere. We'd heard about the Trinidad fabric stores and they didn't disappoint this Admiral.
The Captain was patient.
Jimmy Aboud is the self-appointed “Textile King”.

The narrow aisles were packed with locals in late November. Apparently it’s customary in Trinidad to change out all the curtains and cushions and linens –
and on Christmas Eve we’re told.

And then there's Samaroo's, THE store for everything Carnival.


Carnival is serious business in the Caribbean and Trinidad claims the best celebration. Samaroo’s is the biggest and most famous source for all costume-making needs.

We checked out some cultural sights as well. The new Performing Arts Centre had opened only the month before.

It's quite reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House.

Check out the recently planted palms.

And the library in Port of Spain is a beautiful building, architecturally interesting and inviting.

The main rotunda takes you up through the multiple levels, each with its own section – Children’s, Young People’s, Adult section, and the Reference Library.

And just when we felt we could be in any big North American city, we came round a corner and saw this -
- fruit and vegetable stalls crowding a main thoroughfare.

But the serious market is on Saturday morning on the outskirts of Port of Spain - it’s the biggest we’ve seen anywhere in the islands and it’s not a tourist destination. This is where the locals come to find good deals on good produce.

This sign greeted us as we entered the first of two huge buildings that house the market.
We never did figure out what no-no was crossed out. Any ideas?

The first building was crammed with vendor after vendor selling veggies and fruit.


The second building was the meat and fish market ......
...... full of interesting sights and pungent smells.

There was a little concession area as well.
Looked like whoever put up the sign hadn't had their coffee yet.

A short bus ride away from the market, on our route back to Chaguaramas, is The Falls at Westmall.

…… with marble floors, multiple levels, escalators, air conditioning and familiar shop names like Payless Shoes, Radio Shack, and United Colours of Benetton. We did some shopping in 'familiar' soundings, so we're not complaining, but where are we again?

The trips into Port of Spain tended to be long days and the big city lights were coming on as we headed back to Beach House. It was nice to get home and find that the solar panels had made good use of the hot Trini sun – our batteries were in positive amps so we didn’t have to run the generator to charge them up. Excellent - a night cap in the quiet, watching the moon.
Now if only we can find a way to harness that lunar power.

5 comments:

  1. Jim and Wendy on MerengueJanuary 7, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Thomas Edison was very wise. Too bad he turned out to be right! We are very jealous of all that power on Beach House.

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  2. Nice job on the solar panels Geoffrey!!!! Ray is proud of you!!! Glad you guys got to see a little more of Trini than we did.
    Love Ya,
    Genna and Ray

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  3. love the juxtaposition between the street market and the mall! Love Jo

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  4. trying to figure out how to post with my gmail profile...

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  5. The crossed out No is cooking or boiling of food,

    I like your solar panel setup and two wind generators are you selling power now?

    Mark

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