It has been a nice, mellow week sorting out minor details like my travel insurance (no longer Europe only) and playing Little Big Planet and Super Mario Bros with the boys. Went with Claire and Paul on a kayak trip to the bio-luminescent bay in Fajardo, which was really impressive - paddling through the mangroves at night with an eerie greenish glow around the paddle in the water, safe in the knowledge that there are no large predators in Puerto Rico.
Trinidad is fun - sunny and laid-back and full of music. That much hasn't changed since we left in 1981. Claire, Paul and Dominique came with me for the first two days, and they remember a lot more than I do. I only remembered my school - which seemed smaller - and the pool where we used to swim - which still seems pretty big.C+P were impressed by the lack of cane fields on the way from the airport. And the lack of potholes. As per Kevin's advice, we stayed well clear of Laventille, so I couldn't say if there are still potholes there.
The whole country is getting ready for Carnival. I've never seen such a fitness conscious group of people. There are billboards and TV commercials for healthfood everywhere, and throngs of people of all colors and sizes walking, running, or cycling around the Savannah and up the (steep!) hill behind it along Lady Chancellor Road, where my hotel - the grandly named Alicia's Palace, with a fabulous view - is. It all made sense when we went by a mas camp to see the Carnival costumes. They don't cover much and when you've put down your TT$1000 (US$160) non-refundable deposit after a fit of blind optimism and you know you'll be dancing in front of thousands of spectators - not to mention tv viewers - that's a powerful incentive to get into shape! The highlights, as far as I'm concerned, (not including the company, of course) were the beautiful trees in the botanical gardens, and having ice cream on the balcony at Mangoes on Independence Square. My only regret is not to have seen a steel band playing live.
Tomorrow I head out. My plan was to go to Venezuela next, but after reading the terrifying security reviews on US and French govt websites, and consulting with mission control in Puerto Rico, we decided that kidnapping is not one of the experiences I'd like to include on this trip. Instead it's back to PR for a little while to figure out my next step. Some might call it cowardice, I'm going to tell myself I'm learning to be flexible.
(Picture: a kiosk on the Savannah - I took plenty more, but it takes FOREVER to upload them, so I'm leaving it at that, at least for now)