No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2015


June 19, 2015

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After five days in Trinidad it was time to move on to the Tobago section of our trip, but not before one final trek through the rainforest on the arduous Adventure Trail at the Asa Wright Nature Center. After that, we headed to the airport and hopped on the short flight over to Tobago and on to the coastal village of Speyside where we checked in to the beautiful Blue Waters Inn.

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Kathy loves hiking and she wanted to make sure we hiked the most difficult trail on the Asa Wright property prior to departing and after much prodding she was able to talk me in to it. The trail certainly lives up to its name, The Adventure Trail, and it was quite an adventure for me. The recent brief rain, just before we started the hill made it even more tricky as the leaf litter was very slippery and the steep rising and falling of the trail through the rainforest was tough.

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My hike started out in a precarious situation as the trail lead right over a huge thirty foot tall leafcutter ant hill. These huge constructions are generally easily traversed, but the recent rain, made it a muddy mess and with each step my feet would sink about a foot into the anthill causing a fury of huge angry ants to emerge. I eventually slipped and fell onto my back, which might have been laughable, other than the massive ants that immediately began attacking my jacket.

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The ants were close to an inch long with massive mandibles that cut right through the fabric of my shirt. Thankfully I was able to get out quickly, but Kathy had to literally brush hundreds of angry, bitey ants from my back. It was less than pleasant. Thankfully the rest of the trail was much less dramatic and we even discovered yet another beautiful waterfall and pool.

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Our next stop was the Blue Waters Inn in Tobago. We checked in to our beautiful beachfront room and started exploring the area and the town of Speyside where the hotel is located. Speyside is on the leeward side of the island across from the island of Little Tobago. Speyside has some of the best coral reefs on the island of Tobago, and is a popular dive site. The reefs are less disturbed than the more famous Buccoo Reef in southwestern Tobago.

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Kathy and I walked in to town from the hotel and checked out the small village that is obviously dependent on the coral reefs, tourism and fishing as its major industries. We checked out the famous Speyside Waterwheel. The waterwheel was made in Scotland and brought to Tobago in 1834 for processing sugar and is on the remnants of an old estate that over the last 180 years grew sugar cane, cotton, coconut and other fruit trees. The walls still stand from the storage areas next to the wheel and this portion was a hotel in the early 1900's that burned in 1970.

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We had drinks in a little bar aptly called the Birdwatchers Restaurant and Bar then returned to the hotel along the road that offered incredible vistas overlooking Tyrrel's Bay. The grounds of the hotel are forested and have trails running through them and are home to a variety of wildlife. It is not as diverse as in Trinidad, but is still pretty cool and if you add in the bonus of the beautiful beach, it is pretty sweet.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Field Trips

June 18, 2015

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Field Trips

Though we spent most of our five days in Trinidad at the Asa Wright Nature Center, we did venture out on occasion to visit some other famous nature sites around the island. These field trips took us out into the countryside, to the shore and deep in to a mangrove swamp. Each trip was with a fabulous personal guide supplied by Asa Wright and Caligo Ventures and each one was special in its own right.

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Our first trip was to the Aripo Livestock Station in the Aripo Valley about 30 minutes from Asa Wright. The government run livestock station is basically just a wide-open series of fields that are home to a portion of the nation’s livestock, mostly cattle. The wide-open fields, criss-crossed with streams and drainage ditches provide a prime habitat for many of the marsh and open area birds that are found in Trinidad.

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There are literally hundreds of birds to be spotted on this spot, making it a favorite of the birding community. Personally I found the cattle and friendly dog we saw there just about as interesting, but there were a number of colorful and supposedly rare birds that were pointed out by our guide.

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Our second stop was at the famed Matura Beach which is one of the primary beach communities in Trinidad where endangered sea turtles emerge from the ocean each night during the nesting season to lay their eggs in the soft sand. Matura Beach is one of the most active in the country and one of the largest concentration of the rare Leatherback Sea Turtle nests anywhere.

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Thankfully the beach, which was once heavily poached for both turtle eggs and the turtles themselves, is now federally protected and thanks to the work of the NGO Nature Seekers, the instances of poaching have dropped to near zero at this beach. Each night during the season, staff and volunteers from nature seekers scour the beach, identifying nesting turtles and leading guided tours for tourists to watch the female turtles as they build their nests. At times, hundreds of turtles come ashore in a single evening and then there is the very, very rare instance when no turtles nest- which sadly was the case on our visit. Still it was a lot of fun and very educational and we certainly plan to return.

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Our final field trip away from Asa Wright was to the Caroni Swamp which is home to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary.  The Caroni Swamp is the second largest mangrove swamp in Trinidad and includes the mangrove ecosystem along with a large marsh expanse, numerous channels, and brackish and saline lagoons, and with extensive intertidal mudflats on the seaward side. 

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The boat tour of the swamp traverses the mangrove channels where a large variety of birds and wildlife can be seen. The main attraction is the large nesting colony of one of the National birds of Trinidad the beautiful Scarlet Ibis. These bright red birds return each evening to their roosts in the mangroves and we were able to witness the spectacle of thousands of the birds returning, literally turning the green mangroves into a bright red speckled panorama. 

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The field trips were a great way to explore the biodiversity of the island and to get a better understanding of the rich natural history and beauty that is found there. I always enjoy being out in the natural environment and witnessing things like the amazing gathering of scarlet ibis is just incredible.

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