It’s March 1st. Temperatures today are colder than they have been on most days in January! The first day of spring, they tell me, is just three weeks away. I find myself longing for warmer climes. The app on my phone tells me that temperatures on the island of Trinidad range from lows around 23 degrees C to highs around 30 to 32 degrees C – about 50+ degrees higher than my current temperatures in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada [approx. 54 degrees N].
I am thinking of the beach at Manzanilla, affectionately referred to as “Manzan”. The name Manzanilla was derived from Spanish sailors in the 18th century. At that time the area was thickly covered with Manchineel trees. The fruit of these trees resemble small green apples and thus the name Manzanilla (“small apples”). [Be warned these little apples are poisonous]. Place names in Trinidad and Tobago tell an interesting story of colonization, immigration and indigenous cultures [ perhaps the subject of another post?].
Manzanilla is approximately eight miles from the town of Sangre Grande where I grew up. Going to “Manzan” was always a treat but the eight miles always seemed such a long distance. It seems shorter now from my adult vantage point. The Eastern Main Road to “Manzan” is a narrow, winding road. The challenge is not so much avoiding oncoming drivers but negotiating the unexpected potholes, bumps and slumps along the way. A guide [local driver] is better than the best, well-intentioned set of directions. The road is much-improved from the early years but there are still some memorable sections.
Calabash Hill, over the years, has always displayed a bumpy surface from the continuous, slow, downslope creep of the hillside. Nowadays the bumps are less dangerous but gravity still seems to be the winner in the ongoing battle against human efforts to stabilize the hill. Another section of interest, subject to the same type of mass movement as Calabash Hill, is what I call “Final Hill”, about 1 km from the beach. From here you get your first full view of the sea and a hint of the water quality you could expect: bluish-green- a fine day for swimming; brownish froth on breakers- not so fine.
It’s good to get into the water but the beach is not only for swimming and wading in the surf. You can relax at the tables or benches or with your back against a stump or coconut tree [preferably in the shade], enjoying the feel of the refreshing wind on your face. There is always a breeze.
The beach has changed over the years. The shoreline at Manzanilla continues to retreat under the relentless attack of the ever pounding surf. The sun is sinking in the west. It’s time to head home. You want to get home before the sun goes down because driving at night is even more of an adventure than driving during the day! Darkness comes quickly. Night falls in the Tropics unlike Prince George, my present home, where night creeps in gently on cats’ feet prefaced by an extended period of twilight – the gloaming.
Manzanilla, reminiscing and dreaming does not quite get me there. Maybe it’s time for another visit.
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