TateTales

TateTales

TateTales





We met a guy who knew a guy… In Castara’s Coffee Shop I asked a guy about taking us out in a boat. His name was Hilly. He arranged for a guy named Jed to take us out in his boat. Small boat, rough seas and an exciting trip along the rocky coast to picturesque Englishman’s Bay. On the way Marika and Will fished, but no bites. We put on our masks, snorkels and flippers and flipped out of the boat into the Caribbean Sea. Below us was an amazing coral reef. We saw more colourful and different sized fish than we could count. Endless groves of fan coral, dotted with brain and branch coral. Needlefish, banded butterfly fish, queen triggerfish, blue tang, blue chromis, sergeant major, scrawled cowfish, blue hamlet, harlequin bass, fairy basslet, indigo ... read more
Will's beach ball game
Reef snorkelling trio
Bromeliads growing on hydro wires


Sun... Sand... Sea... Saltwater... Surf... Swimming... Sandals... Snorkeling... Sandcastles ... Shells... Stars... SteelpanBand... Superb...... read more
Marika's Caribbean Sea diving platform
Steelpan band in Castara Village
Will at work


Tobago sports the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere dating way back to the mid-1700s when the forest was protected as the watershed for plantations. Almost all Tobago’s fresh water comes from this rainforest. Newton George was the lead in protecting the rainforest for decades. Now he is known, not only in Trinidad and Tobago, but internationally as the islands’ pre-eminent nature guide. He picked us up early this morning and drove us to the rainforest where he led us on hikes for hours. He caught and showed us a beautiful black and red coral snake. I always thought all coral snakes were venomous, but not this species. "The colours were cool and it was cool that it wasn't a bird after seeing so many birds", said Marika. Imagine carrying something as long as a ... read more
Will Marika and Kim watch Manikans dancing
Coral snake . Photo by Marika
Will chillin' in a hammoock


By the time the plane cleared Trinidad and was over the ocean, we were already starting our descent to Tobago. While Port of Spain was a convenient launching site for our mountain rainforest and mangrove swamp adventures, I can’t imagine it as a tourist destination. For good reason. As opposed to the rest of the Caribbean which is largely tourism based, Trinidad is oil-economy based. No big surprise with Venezuela as its neighbour. Only steel mill in the Caribbean for example. From solely a tourismo point of view con is that the city caters to the business and worker crowd and not the tourist crowd. Good in that there is not the same sense of hostility I have felt elsewhere as a middle-class white tourist in other people’s country where they depend on “my” tourist dollars. ... read more
Stilt=man dancing
Marika plays her birthday present
Will Marika and Kim under Castara waterfall


We all want to thank all of you who have posted comments. Each of us enjoys all of them and we always get excited to see who has commented and what they have had to say. Also, always scroll down the page for more pics. If you could only do 1,000 things before you die, the New York Times bestseller by that name thinks eating at Veni Mange is one of them. Good call. Chock full of art and personality, it is the place in Port of Spain where local food and creative cooking come together. “Not just a meal, but an experience” says Will. “An interesting taste of Trinidad” says Marika. We shared Will’s oxtail stew, Marika’s grilled red snapper fish with tamarind sauce, Kim’s fish broth and yam cheese balls, and my curried pork. ... read more
Veni Mange
Cuddly silky anteater
Will and guide Shawn Madoo


Harry picked us up at 7:00 and whisked us centimeter by centimeter through Port of Spain’s morning traffic jam. Then up through the mountains. The rainforest gets lots of, well… rain. This causes frequent landslides as mud and rock wash out the roads. This in turn causes lots of the guard rails to be missing in action. All this to say that the roads were so narrow, full of potholes, bumpy, twisty and downright scary (Disneyworld’s Rock ‘n Roller coaster has nothing on these roads) that I closed my eyes when we were driving beside cliffs that fell away from the mountain all the way down to theTrinidadian valley far below. When chatty “Brother Harry” our born-again evangelical cab driver told us that there are buses that race daily through this mountain road it didn’t help ... read more
Will on liana vine
Wasp condos
Will and Marika in rainforest


Who knew a flight attendant could be funny? Our Irish Westjet host punctuated our cross-oceanic fitful snoozing with cracks like “And if your lifevest fails, WestJet will let you keep it as a complimentary gift.” He was fun and helpful, trying to figure out which islands we were flying over through the dark. Harry met us at the airport at dawn with a sign with our name at it and we drove to the Hyatt and checked in right away to a room that looks like it is floating on the Caribbean Sea. We hung out in the infinity pool, wondering if the distant coastline was Venezuela. A long walk through Port of Spain to Queen Savannah Park where we drank iced coconut water after Tony, a coconut street vendor lopped the top off (of the ... read more
Cooper's Hawk
Infinity pool ahead, Caribbean behind
Southern Lapwings


Marika, Will and Dad headed by boat to the local snorkeling hotspot and we spent an hour or so spotting a rainbow sushi buffet of Pacific Ocean fish. Pufferfish were the coolest sporting iridescent blue spots and fish that looked like they may have been parrotfish and triggerfish. Nicaragua was just too close to ignore so we had a BIG 19 hour Nicaragua day Monday. Up at 4:30 and onto a small modern bus which took us to the town of Liberia for breakfast. We then had about an hour drive to the border and crossed without incident but saw dozens and may be 100—200 huge transport trucks idling their hot engines to keep their air conditioning going. Apparently they wait from two to four days to cross and boy is it hot there!!!! We visited ... read more
Will and Marika head snorkelling
Nicaragua volcano
Family with volcano crater lake behind


After eight days of intense and fabulous jungle and cloud forest edventures we are taking it easy. The Pacific Ocean at our hotel on the northwest coast of Costa Rica is perfect. No cold shock as you reach THAT depth entering the ocean, gentle swells and no rocks – just smooth sand. Aaaahhhh. Marika is growing fins as she rarely leaves the pool. Will is a regular in the local beach volleyball scene – when we check in with him sometimes it looks like he is playing with Costa Rica’s national team – big muscular athletic types and Will holds his own with his serve. The swimming pools are endless and replete with fountains and waterfalls. We asked for a mountain facing room and have been rewarded with howler monkey sightings from our room. Lots and ... read more
Marika reads on a built-in pool tile chair
Howler monkeys from our balcony
Marika and Dad in the Pacific


MayDay was a relatively low key transition day. We were met at Monteverde and driven a couple hours through mountainous backroads to the edge of Costa Rica’s largest lake, Lake Arenal, where we were met by a boat. The captain, who reminded me of my nephew Jordan must have picked up our vibe because indtead of taking us to meet our driver on the other shore, he first took us to an abandoned hundred and fifty year old cemetery that is in the process of being submerged in the lake. Then he drove the boat iinto series of thickly matted weeds lining part of the shore and we saw birds with astonishingly yellow underwings and looong toes that can walk on lily pads and caimans of differing ages and size. We then docked and were driven ... read more
Caiman in Lake Arenal
Our hacienda
Garden in our shower




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