Thursday, 30 October 2014

'THE #TOCO SPOT' - PART 2





No doubt  there was excitement on my part as we neared the point of our journey.  I could see the Galera Point Lighthouse not too far away... a silvery white tower.  
The grounds were shaded mostly by mature almond trees, some of which looked like old armchairs.  Old concrete water tanks displayed some local artwork; tables, benches, safety signs and pebbled pathways, created a welcoming atmosphere.  
The Lighthouse information board which is a few pics down, provides a brief history of this landmark. 







Visitors were exploring the grounds, reading about the history of the lighthouse and the examining the artifacts.  The most obvious being an earlier blinking light / 'beamer', that was replaced during renovations in 1984.  Just like us, many were taking pictures.  
Who could miss the hot red door at the entrance to the lighthouse.  It was padlocked and I really wished that I could pick that lock!  We settled for a pic instead. 





 There was a constant flow of people coming and going through the gate.   Next to the gate was a prominent, towering signboard of Olympic Javelin champion, Keshorn Walcott, son of the village, complete with a summary of his achievements, thus far.  We got that!


 
Most persons ventured  down the rugged track to the rocky base of this Toco spot to take in the Atlantic spread. 
My son a fishing enthusiast himself,  asked a young man with a big fishing rod, if the fishing was good around this spot.  He said that it was good, mentioned some of what he had caught and continued on his way down the track.  I gathered that it was a normal pastime for him ... a lone fisherman.  Son followed soon after ...




Many parts of the rocky mainland were tumbling into the sea. Some lay scattered on the shore.  Some parts were almost or already separated and 'out to sea' forming their own little islands and adding to the dynamic attraction of the landscape.  








The  rock platform spread out beyond the track.  It was like an invitation to take up your fishing position or take a seat and listen to the wind-swept harmony in this natural amphitheater.
The view up-hill to the top of the lighthouse was unframed by the big blue sky ... what a sight!  The attraction to this spot was at once gentle and powerful ... at least it was so for me.







Several moments were spent taking it all in ...                 
Then it was time to head back.

After a few pics in the shade we hit the road again.  The traffic-less stretch of road just outside the lighthouse gates was captured; then we stopped to take in the 'Country Mix ...' shop on the sandy shore between the Atlantic Ocean and the main road.  It was part of the Salybia Beach Facility, tucked in-between coconut trees.  
Another sea-side trail etched into my memory!







Who could tell what this Toco spot would look like in another ten to twenty years?  It would be different for sure.  I plan to see it again before that ... long before that!  

As usual, the return drive seemed quicker even though the traffic had increased.  Many spots that were not observed going in, were seen on the way out.  The road was more familiar now and even the corners seemed smoother.    The drinks and sandwiches that were packed for the trip were disappearing quickly! 
In no time it seemed, we were back on the Solomon Hochoy Highway and heading for the south-land.  We would definitely make it before nightfall

It was a great way to spend my birthday ... the beginning of another year of adventure beneath the blue!  Trailing and loving it!



T-Spots!

Monday, 27 October 2014

ROAD TO 'THE TOCO SPOT' - PART 1




FYI:
Toco is situated in the county of Saint David in Trinidad and Tobago. The county occupies 202 km2 (78 sq mi) on the northeastern corner of the island of Trinidad. It is the main town in the county and is bounded to the north by the Caribbean Sea and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

Follow our journey from San Fernando on the south-western coast
to Toco and Galera Point on the north-eastern coastal tip.
Up the Solomon Hochoy Highway; turning right on the Churchill
Roosevelt Highway; linking up to the Eastern Main Road; bearing
left on the Valencia Road, then on to the Toco Road.


Map source: www.embassyworld.com
Here we go ...!

At the age of 10 years, I spent some of the the August holidays at a beach-house in Balandra, on the north-eastern coast of Trinidad.

The details of that sea-side vacation have faded for the most part, but I do remember the little ritual of collecting 'chip-chip' on the beach, with my cousins.

We had raced up and down as the foamy water washed up on the shore, trying to scoop up the small pink scallops before they disappeared into the wet sand.  They were super-quick with this disappearing act, so we had to be even quicker.
We always managed to collect enough for Auntie to make the delicious 'chip-chip' soup for the bunch of us. That was unforgettable!

Then another memory rolled in.  The driver, my son, reminded me that we had returned to Balandra with his elementary school Cub Pack, to watch the baby turtles emerging from their sandy nest and scuttling towards the sea.  How could I possibly forget such an amazing late night sight.

Those were good days!

Then on this birthday. as we made our way to Toco, (and testing the  GPS!), it was an even better day. 

When talk of another trail along the east coast had come up, I knew that we had to push further north towards Galera Point.  Galeota Point to the south would get its turn in due course.

As we headed towards the 'Toco Spot', we passed through many picturesque little villages, all with a front row seat of the Atlantic Ocean.  Matura, Salybia,  Balandra, Cumana, Rampanalgas ... all with bays, rivers and points, giving such character to the coastline. 



There were places where the sea had already made significant inroads to the land, creating shallow rivers that linked the ocean and the foothills of the Northern Mountain Range; places where the waves were pounding the rocks as if determined to break through; places where the work of smoothing and framing were in progress or almost done.  Quite simply, there were too many to capture.



There were also perfect bathing and picnic spots and holiday makers were already out in their numbers, taking advantage of the great weather and warm water.









Moving along ...
Bigger bridges were built or under construction, along the winding road; large and small roadside businesses;  telecommunication towers could be seen in the distance; private holiday resorts and spas; land for sale and development; quaint and sprawling residences; stretches of road with no houses; quarries that looked like scattered ponds; cliff-side walk ways and rugged down-hill foot-paths that led to the shore, were all part of an evolving landscape.  
Off-road recreation spots were indicated by signage and the steady flow of traffic was proof of the popularity of the area.   Development is happening and the road to Toco is definitely open for business.











There was no shortage of parking spaces and access to the beach. You just parked and either gazed at the view or headed down a rocky trail to the sea-shore.  

It was also quite obvious that we were passing through turtle conservation territory.




Our attention was drawn to the old and new signs that dot the route. Most, if not all of them indicate that turtle conservation is an important aspect of the work of these communities.    
We captured as many pictures as possible, some of which are shared here with you.  










It was wonderful to see this collaboration of development and conservation that would hopefully lead to greater public awareness of the need for the safety and proliferation of these global travelers. They return to our shores to birth their young; another generation of leather-backs.  It is a truly a worthy cause.


  
Getting there ...!

NEXT POST:  'THE TOCO SPOT' - PART 2

Smiles, sun, shade, sand, sea and we're off again! 

T-Spots!

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