I adore my day job, but it is tiring. I forget every year how wiped out I am the first few weeks school starts, until I get used to all of my energy going into making reading and writing the most fascinating thing a 6th grader could ever do. We chose our first weekend to travel to the other side (only 30 miles away!) to go to one of the nicer beaches on the island. We woke up early Saturday morning, skipped the market (but made it to the soccer stadium to pick up tickets for the World Cup Qualifying Game, Trinidad and Tobago vs. Guatemala) and then drove east. You’re probably sick of hearing me say how crazy the driving is, but we’re glad every day we get to our house safely. And these one-lane roads were even thinner and windier and had more pot holes than the ones in the city. So that’s why it took two hours.
We were hot and as I’m not yet used to a curried food right when I wake up, I was hungry, too. I was the crabbiest I’ve been in awhile, I remember. We were so excited to lie down and relax on a beach. Just as we saw the sign for Toco, 2 km, our cell phone rang. Our friends, who were meeting us at the beach, called: “Hey, can you come get us? We just got in a wreck.” Everyone was okay, but there had been one of those one-lane bridges on a two-lane road (really, why?), and the truck on the opposite side had been on a hill and hadn’t been able to stop and had not only hit them, but had crunched on top of the car, just inches from the windshield. We flipped and drove back an hour and picked them up. They were pretty shaken up, understandably. No one really felt like driving much after that so we headed to the guest house for the night. It was nice, lots of fans and open areas where we could see parrots!, but I was glad that I saw the mice in our room the morning after and not the night before because my pillow had definitely been made of small, lumpy things not entirely unlike mice. (I know there are other things that are small and lumpy, but after I saw the mouse, I couldn’t think of any.) Suzanne, the owner, was so kind and fed us dumplings and delicious curried crab. Aaron loved the dumplings and asked me to get the recipe. She had a strong accent that I couldn’t fully understand, which is okay because I think I can figure dumplings out. The crabs were good, but I was super hungry, so I hated them a little bit because after all the work of crunching shell-on-teeth I was ready for something larger than my baby fingernail.
The next day, Suzanne hooked us up with some guides to take us on a turtle-viewing tour. To get to the beach, we got to ride on a truck like what convicts ride, kinda like a metal-covered picnic table. Luckily, this one had an open back with a platform and iron bars, so I rode outside and felt like I was wind-surfing. There were lots of potholes that quickly taught me to bend my knees at the right time to absorb them because otherwise, my feet didn’t always land back on the edge where I was standing. There were also vines hanging down from the trees to dodge, so wind-surfing isn’t the most accurate analogy. We walked along the beach looking for turtles for a few hours. It’s fun being with other ex-pats who attended similar teacher conferences because it’s such a crapshoot where you end up: we all almost went somewhere else. But there are times like that beach sunset walk where we look at each other and say, “We could be in Kuwait right now! We could be in China! Qatar! Hah!” It’s pretty resounding that we all feel like we’re in paradise.
The turtles at this beach get to be 8 ft. by 10 ft. Trinidad is famous for them. The guide said the biggest one he had seen was 6 by 4 ft. We found some babies caught in a super polluted tributary. One of the expats is this Canadian, Nick, who has two adorable daughters. He jumped in this water that looked like Guinness, that much foamy white and thick, dark liquid, to save the baby turtles. When he had a handful, he yelled out, “Sienna, Savannah, come help me save the turtles!” And all three of them became my favorite heroes as the girls held out their little 4 and 6 year old hands, all focus and concentration, to their gooey Dad and rescued the tiny black turtles. To save them, you line them up a few feet from the water so that they can smell the beach and know where to return. This is funny because it looks like how you used to try and make ants race—nobody knows where they’re going. But they all eventually made it into the water and the idea is that they’ll come back and hatch after a trip or two around the world.