Saturday, 28 December 2013

A 'RECYCLING TOWER' ... right in my back-yard!'

This is an event that caught my attention a few days before Christmas.  It was definitely not in the line-up for Christmas or New Year posts, but it just had to be added to my short list of pieces that show up around this time.  No mystery there anymore; this is how it happens on many occasions and I follow through.

Over a year ago on the sister blog, I had posted a poem titled 'One Hundred'.  It had been written awhile back and told a little of my encounter with a century old coconut tree, just outside my fence (
The old tree was also in the process of giving up its crown.   The rings of branches and coconuts have since fallen.  What remains of the centenarian is a towering trunk that is now dry enough to be put to other use by mother nature herself.

Last year around this same time as we approached the new year, my handy camera-man had rushed out to capture photos of the rising moon and the post 'Winding Down ...' was up within a couple hours (also on the sister blog).  You can click over to read and view at

Fast forward ...

This time, around mid-morning, my handy photographer was called into action once again to capture two woodpeckers, that looked like small black dots, way up on the old coconut trunk. 
I had been hearing but not listening to the knocking sound.  It did not really hold my attention until I finally noticed the repetitive and rhythmic beat, in the background of a Sunday morning conversation.  It had actually been going on for quite some time and  it was coming from the towering headless trunk just outside the fence.

My photographer had to zoom in against a clear blue sky to capture the wood-pecker in action, as it quickly circled the old trunk.  Now you saw him, then you didn't and suddenly, there he was again!  There was one obvious opening close to the top of the trunk on the side that we could see.  There might be others on the opposite side.  I could only imagine the view from that penthouse bird-nest.    How could I have missed this process that must have been going on for some time, right in my back yard?

They could have been male and female; one pecked and checked while the other watched from a nearby dry tree branch.  They were probably refurbishing their pecked home after the heavy rains of the season.  
But what I saw from a distance was nothing compared to the details of natural design; color, texture, shapes and lines, that the zoomed lens were able to capture.  
The camera had been put on automatic setting to re-focus and capture the busy movements of the bird. Then I had the task of choosing from over 25 photos for this post ... a difficult 'task'!

I share a few of these photos with the thought that nature is always in reinvention mode; that nothing is lost, only 'recycled' into something else that serves an essential and possibly higher purpose.
In this case, the once majestic, century-old coconut tree, had been reduced to a headless dried-out trunk, then converted into the pent-house nest of two woodpeckers.  Who would have thought ...? 
I had actually imagined the trunk slowly crumbling to the ground ... and it will, but not before it has run the full course of its transformations.
Now I am well on my way to understanding that everything happens in its time, with purpose. Our part, I suppose, is to remain focused and learn. 

I continue to see the pair heading in and out of their nest and I wonder if they are in the process of adding a second floor to their home ... more room for young ones maybe?
I am less nostalgic over the loss of the emerald centenarian.

As we stand on the verge of 2014, remember that inspiring spots are all around just waiting to catch our attention.  Know also that you are always welcome to share your encounters and comments on Trail Spots (T-Spots!).

Especially, listen and look out for some of those re-inventions that might be happening right in your backyard.  Be camera ready!
Take a look at what is happening in mine ...    


Of course, I had originally intended to post about three photos, but then the inclination to share more kicked in.  
Could there possibly be a a new year message from the wood-peckers and the old, old coconut tree trunk, or any of the natural re-inventions that might be happening right in your back-yard?

Hello 2014!  

This is what the trunk looks like now from a distance, since the tip-top fell recently.  It was about ten feet taller beyond the peckers' nest. That section is now resting in my yard waiting to be recycled into organic plant soil.

More recycling ...!
Organic material; plant would love this!

T -Spots! 

Sunday, 22 December 2013


Continued from Part 1 ...

My most memorable moments on this recent visit were spent walking into the wind ... then standing close to the edge (behind the safety cables).  The wind literally wrapped itself around me like a  invisible magic cloak .

I was in full motion, even though I was just standing there.  I was part of the dance ... a windy dance on a hill that is now just about 192 meters at its highest point.  Only a hill, but what a view! 
Now, I'm looking at these photos and singing to myself ... " the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind; the answer is blowing in the wind ...". 

 These are the kinds of uplifting experiences that energize and enable us to re-enter the world. There was no need for shady umbrellas or wide branching trees.  The sunshine splashed in from everywhere, bringing with it warmth and ease. 
With the memory of that strong breeze still swirling around on the inside and our two hours of freedom having come to an end, we descended the Hill to address more mundane matters.  Somehow the task at hand seemed much less formidable and we were certainly in higher spirits.


Pictures might speak a thousand words, but there is nothing like being present.  I sat down a little and soaked up a lot on the Hill!

The next time you visit Trinidad.  The next time you come to the south-land on your way to or through the city of San Fernando, pay a visit.  Go to the Hill ... go to the top of the Hill! *

Go to the top of the hill for 2014, trail-spotters ... the TOP of the hill!
We are on the move!

*  A brief history of the evolution of the San Fernando Hill can be located at


Thursday, 19 December 2013

TOP OF THE HILL ... Part 1

Entrance to a Southern Landmark
in the City of San Fernando

A pointed reminder of what was ...

 Everyone has some days that start off well-planned; when your time is accounted for hour by hour.  Then those well- planned days get 'tweaked' by life events and you just put on your cape and pull it together on the fly.  Things often turn out as good as, or even sometimes better, than what was originally planned.

Well, yesterday was such as day.  An important appointment was set for a specific time.  Then, in spite of our best efforts to cater for time-consuming eventualities, we were hit by traffic-jams coming from every direction.   There was no choice but to call in to say that we would be late.

The lateness for that important appointment, 'forced' us to find ways to occupy ourselves for at least two hours.   Then the suggestion was made to head for the hill ... San Fernando Hill.

I have witnessed the Hill's transformation over many years, from a towering solid landmark in the second city, to a less towering, but still impressive natural land form, transformed into a national and recreational park.  Thanks to someone's wisdom and vision, it is now a steep climb or drive to a scenic spot that offers stunning views of the city and environs.   

The San Fernando National Park has for some years, provided a welcoming setting for nature lovers and all who seek a calming space on the edge of the city.   Remnants of its former grandeur still remain, jutting like pointed reminders of what was, as well as what should not ever happen again  ... quarrying of a grand natural landmark.

With two hours to kill, we took a drive to the top of the Hill. 

I have not been to the top in over a year; at that time I had sat in the shade.  This time was different and I am absolutely sure the next time will be very different.  
Remember to click on the photos for expanded views.  Let's get moving trail-spotters!

The multipurpose center on San Fernando Hill

View of the Gulf of Paria 
where the Guaracara River enters the sea

View of the development in the foothills 
and the Gulf of Paria in the background

Even buzzards perch on the wall taking in the view
 and the sun's warmth.

Main street in the environs, Vistabella; below, a 
government housing development

Petrotrin Oil Refinery in the distance, to the northeast
Part of the original hill that remains standing
 after quarrying was stopped ... ruggedly beautiful.

Part 2 in the next post.



Saturday, 7 December 2013


Hello again Trail-spotters!

 We are in the process of trying out some other more comment-friendly formats.  All posts and pics are still right at your fingertips.

Your comments are invited as part of the process.  Let us know what you think and we'll soon be on the move once again.



Monday, 14 October 2013


Several months ago a former neighbor suggested that a good soak in sea water was the best remedy for alleviating countless health conditions.  
He had specifically recommended the sea water that lashed the shores on the eastern coast of Trinidad.  To be exact, he had high praises for the water that washed the shores of Mayaro, a former fishing village, now town hub, on the lower end of the eastern coast of Trinidad.

Interestingly enough, when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday, not long after that suggestion, the answer came easily ... "a trip to Mayaro Beach and any two other beaches on the eastern coast".  Having been asked, I took the opportunity to state my wish for a  three-fold birthday present that would cost of a couple tanks of gas and long drives along a breath-taking coast.  A pretty good bargain if you ask me!

As the actual date drew nearer, I had a sense that something was being planned, but the details were sketchy, at best.  At least I knew that Mayaro was on the cards!  

Skipping ahead ...

We headed east from San Fernando into Princes' Town, where we added the last crew member, before tackling the long drive to Mayaro.   We were told that it would take at least two hours to make the trip one way.  It was a blessing of sorts that the road itself was not 'highway perfect'.   There were sections that had been paved, then dug up by the authorities, then repaved.  There were some smooth stretches and some stretches that looked and felt as if there had not been touched for years by any kind of improvement work.  There were hills, valleys and road slippage.  There was certainly no smooth sailing from beginning to end!

It was a long and winding road, that brought back childhood memories about family visits  holidays and frequent walks to the seaside.  
So much had changed since I had made this trip almost 20 years ago.  There were still  buildings that had weathered the tests of time; others had been refurbished.  Playgrounds, places of worship, schools, homes throughout the many villages were mostly well maintained and there seemed to be development work and new businesses everywhere.   Best of all , there was a noticeable improvement in the signage that identified the towns and villages along the stretch, many of which I did not even see or remember as a child. 

I am pretty certain that we missed some signs along the way. They are not listed here in consecutive order, but they were noted.  Leaving Princes' ' Town we headed for  New Grant; thereafter we passed through Tableland,  Poole, Union, Mile End, Clear Waters, Mafeking, Rio Claro, before entering Mayaro and Mayaro central.  There were main roads at that point branching off to the north, which would take you to Sangre Grande, and to the south, which would take you through Manzanilla to Guayaguayare and to Galeota Point.  Next trip ...

We passed the Mayaro Market on the right and headed along the boulevard to the beach.  There it was ... dead ahead.   We could have driven straight on to the beach had there not been a line a fishing boats, probably placed there to prevent this 'drive through' urge.  We turned right on to Gill St. in search of safe and easy beach access for vehicles.  Many private and public structures lined both sides of Gill St.  The rustic setting with a front row view of the expansive Atlantic Ocean was enough to spark the development that was obviously taking place, at least as far as we could see.

It was 5.00 p.m. when we pulled into a beach access and stepped on to the sand.  It felt inexplicably wonderful just to be there.  Everything was rushing in, especially the fresh air and the waves.  There was so much to see.
The life-guards removed the red flags as soon as we arrived.  It did not matter because the only thing that we intended to do was wet the feet.   The 'chip-chip' came in with the water and we could see them hurriedly trying to bury themselves in the wet sand.  
There was a bride and groom posing for pictures on the steps of the like-guard hut.  This was not very far from the tsunami warning sign which itemized what should be done in the event ...
Small groups of bathers frolicked close to the shore.   The coconut groves looked dark and wild.  A few oil rigs could be seen dotting the horizon further south.  Some dogs lay lazily on the dry sand which was strewn with debris. There was no obvious attempt at 'beautification and improvement'; that was the work of the sea.  The entire scene was so simple and so rich.

The crew of three was content to walk in the wet sand and take in the wonders of nature's work.  It was beyond words.  Luckily, just before 6.00 p.m., when the sun began to lean deeply into the western sky, we remembered to take some pictures.  
Of course, we share some of them with you!  Remember to click on the images for expanded views.

Make a wish and enjoy!




Sunday, 29 September 2013


Sisters visit each other frequently or occasionally ... right?

'Writing into Wellness ...' ( pays a post visit to 'Trail Spots' on this occasion - a hike through what is unintentionally turning out to be a favorite spot.  Why ? ... Because I keep returning to this place!

This time I literally hiked the trail (along part of the Northern Range) from the Chaguaramas Gulf Club to Macqueripe Recreational Park, which as you know, includes the historical Macqueripe Cove.

Why not read on and see for yourself how it all went down!  If you are unable to click the pics and get expanded views on this re-post, you will certainly get them at the original post at W.I.W..  
Absolutely worth it! 
Some members of the AIM hike team

I have walked several nature trails and conquered many steep slopes. 
This time (for reasons shared in earlier posts), I had more than a few second thoughts.  In fact, I had secretly decided to go for the ride, but sit out the hike.
In my own mind I was trimming the challenge down to a manageable size, especially as we got closer to our destination and I began to survey the surrounding mountainous Northern Range.

Entertainment news over the radio had predicted rain, and rain it did, as we got to the head of the trail.  D. assured us that we would be mostly sheltered by the forest foliage... no umbrellas necessary!  We headed out.
The walking time was estimated at around 45 minutes (at a brisk pace) to complete approximately two and a half kilometers of challenging terrain. 

As we entered the bush, my first impression was that was it did not look too intimidating.  Then I was Instructed to mount D.'s back for the first ascent.  As we came around the first turn, there it was ... a seemingly never ending uphill trail! 
I was thankful to be carried on two strong backs as we navigated the climb; over intertwined roots that formed natural steps and around branches that seemed to reach out to touch us on our way.  

Jumping ahead ...!

It was a rough piggy back to say the least and I just knew that at some point my timidity would fall away and the will to conquer this trail would step in.  
I am not used to being carried and when the stretched muscles in my back said ..."no more", the legs stepped into action.
Supported by strong arms and the mantra that we were 'almost there', we pushed further uphill, crossed some plateaus, caught some deep breaths, sipped water, stretched, joked, checked out the sea beneath, took pictures, fought off the huge mosquitoes (in spite of the protection of insect repellent), wiped away the sweat that was pouring out and prepared for the descent.

I should have remembered immediately that 'almost there' in Trinbagonianese usually means 'a good distance'.  Eventually that understanding kicked in and the encouraging comments on the endless descent were taken in stride. 

I am grateful to the entire team, especially, Damien, Alan, Tash 1 and Tash 2 :), Sharlene, Colin and all those who hung back to lend moral support.  I was thrilled to make a strong finish on my own feet, with the assistance of strong hands. 

We cheered and posed for pics, then it was down to the beach where real refreshments, the kayaks, numerous bathers and sparkling sea-water awaited.

For me it was an unequaled opportunity to soak up the sun and the salt.  I dug my feet into the sand and all was well. 

There was so much pleasure in quietly observing adults enjoying the holiday 'down-time'; watching children playing in the sand, splashing around and squealing in the water; hearing the zipline whizzing across the cove; following the kayakers as they ventured out and remembering that once again, I had returned to Macqueripe.

I believe that I was much more than the custodian of the camera on this day!  Every experience that we have creates an image, a memory that finds a place within us.  We must call up the really good ones to re-charge us on our journey. 

The photos tell more of the trail story ... 




 So much fun
a whole lot of wellness !




Guys just wanna have fun ... right?   Last week-end, one of our trail-spotters, AG and some friends, went on a fun rally trail sponsor...