October 24th, 1997

TTYA, Chaguaramas

Trinidad, W.I.

Dear Friends,

They say a cruiser's plans are carved in jello. We often don’t leave when we plan to and frequently end up in an entirely different place than where we set out for. Occasionally this can be blamed on weather or currents but more often it is a result of the wonderful freedom this lifestyle allows us. If we like where we are we can stay longer, if someone suggests a good anchorage we can seek it out…. No matter where we are, with no schedules to keep the world seems to turn a little slower and the bloom of each day can be savoured just a little longer.

In our last note we were on our way to Venezuela for a few weeks visit. We did in fact leave as planned and traveled by ferry to Margarita Island and then Puerto La Cruz. The trip was very relaxing with someone else responsible for the navigation, mechanics and the boat itself, it left us free to enjoy the beautiful moonlit night with a glass of wine while we swept past the rugged coast of the Paria Peninsula. We arrived in Pampatar at 8:00 am. We took the half hour taxi ride to the 'other' ferry dock where we caught the ferry to Puerto La Cruz.

phot1402.jpg (50106 bytes)Ferry dock in Port of Spain

We spent a week with our friend Luca and revisited the town where we had spent two months last summer. Not much had changed other than the prices. We found that the cost of everything had risen quite significantly since our last visit. Luca was flying back to Switzerland at the end of the week so we helped him prepare the boat for his month's holiday and enjoyed our brief visit with our very good friend.

The morning of Luca's flight we took the bus to Cumana, a very beautiful drive along the coast of the Golfo de Santa Fe, along the many bays of Mochima National Park. We stayed overnight in Cumana , then caught the 7:00am bus to Caripe the next morning.

phot1403.jpg (69050 bytes)Street vendors in Cumana

Caripe is a small town nestled high in the mountains overlooking the vast basin of the Orinoco Delta. It's only real 'claim to fame' is that it is located 10 miles from Cueva Del Gauchero one of the largest cave systems in the world. The cave itself extends 10.5 kilometers into the mountain with the first 1.5 kilometers open to tourists. Aside from it's length one of the unique features of the cave is that the first very large cavern is home to thousands of Gauchero or Oil Birds. The birds roost in the cave during the day and leave en mass at sunset to feed on the local fruit trees.

I have seen a few other caves where artistic lighting highlights the stalagmites and staligtites. In this cave it was found that the birds could not tolerate the lighting. To preserve their habitat the cave is explored in small groups with only the light of small kerosene lanterns to show the way. Though we followed well constructed paths through the tour this gave the effect of seeing the cave as it may have been seen by some of it first explorers. In several places the path took us through small passages that connected the larger chambers. After the first large chamber where the birds roost flash photo were permitted. I have included several photos to give you an idea of the experience. Focusing in the almost pitch dark presented a bit of a problem but some of the photos came out quite well.

phot1404.jpg (59109 bytes)Entrance to Cueva del Gauchero

Inside the Caves... photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4, photo 5, photo 6

We had originally planned to visit Marinella in the Amazon region but were unable to contact her. This and the much higher than expected costs of travelling made us decide to cut our trip short. We spent a few more days in Caripe enjoying the cooler temperature and beautiful scenery then retraced our steps to Cumana, Puerto La Cruz and Margarita. We stayed 3 days in Porlamar on Margarita Island before returning to Trinidad by ferry.

phot1411.jpg (82360 bytes)Mountain stream near Caripe

phot1412.jpg (51889 bytes)Go Go Evelyn waterfall

We have spent the last few weeks back at our second home at 'TTYA' finishing up some more repairs and maintenance. We will leave tomorrow for Grenada then head further up island to resume 'cruising' from where we left off last year in Guadeloupe. We are both looking forward to be moving again. Trinidad is a wonderful, welcoming place but the giant fibreglass magnet buried deep in Chaguaramas bay tends to hold all of us here longer than we expect. For Pirate Jenny the magnet is loosening its grip and with Neptune's good graces we will bid a very fond farewell and hope to return to this enchanting island again in years to come.

phot1401.jpg (60104 bytes)Dinghy parking at TTYA

phot1413.jpg (50693 bytes)The Spinaker Bar at TTYA

A little closer look!

Best wishes to all,

Bart & Evelyn