I really am going to get better at this...I have been back from Trinidad for a little over a week already and I haven't posted anything about it. What could possibly be distracting me from such an important task?? I'll tell you: 24 just started the new season. I had to catch up.
Now that I have my priorities in order and check marked...I just got back from Trinidad! Woo Hoo! For those of you scratching your noggins, wondering where on Earth this island is...I am here to help. Trinidad is the southern most Caribbean Island. It is located just 8 miles off of the coast of Venezuela. As you can imagine, the weather was fantastic down there.
For the most part, it was a pretty low-key trip with nothing too exciting happening. We spent most every day down at the pipe yard working with our equipment. The pipe yard happened to be about 200 yards from the ocean, so the view was unbeatable.
I got a spectacular sunburn, that later turned into a fantastic tan, that burned again...and is now tan once more. This picture is of me drinking from a fresh coconut that we found growing near by. We actually found about 6 of them that were ripe and ready.
The food was amazing down there. One night we went out and got shark sandwiches. Most mornings we would stop by these little street vendors and get what is called a "Double". It is a slice of pita bread with a bean sauce poured down the middle of it, with another slice of bread over the top. The bean sauce was pretty spicy, but the overall taste was amazing. We usually got two or three each morning.
We also stopped at another street vendor and got some mango. This was by far the greatest piece of fruit that I have ever tasted in my entire life. The consistency of the fruit was almost of a creamy pudding. The moment it touched your tongue, it started to melt. And the flavor! Wow...amazing!
We had the chance to go to church in the city of Port of Spain. It was a small branch of about 25 people. We were the tallest, and whitest people there. But we were welcomed with open arms. It was fun to see the new missionary, (pretty fresh out of the MTC), get called upon at the last minute to give a talk. Ahh...the memories!
Our lodging was kind of chaotic. We were working on getting an apartment, however, every day seemed to present a new challenge with the paperwork. This meant that almost every night we were in a different hotel. Most of the time we were in Port of Spain, which is on the northern tip of the island. However, the yard we were working in was located by a place called Pitch Lake. Pitch Lake is on the southern most tip of the island. So each day we were commuting the entire length of Trinidad.
Port of Spain is a beautiful town with a very diverse cultural background. It happens to be the capital of the country. We were able to see the Prime Minister's home, the government meeting house, and the President's Home. The funny thing about the President's home is that it is located right in the middle of their national zoo. He has elephants and other animals just wandering through the yards. I would run for office just for the opportunity to live in a zoo.
But I think they have something with keeping their politicians in cages.
For several nights, we stayed down closer to Pitch Lake. Pitch Lake is just that...a large, natural reservoir of pitch or tar. We drove past it each day and were able to see tar in its natural habitat. It was rather boring.
However, staying in that area of the island did prove to be an adventure. When we went down there for the first night, we were strictly instructed that once we were dropped off at our hotel, we were under no circumstances, to leave the premises of the hotel. Apparently Trinidad has the highest murder rate per capita in the world. It also is the number one location for sex-change operations. (Oh wait...that is Trinidad Colorado).
So we were staying in a pretty dangerous neighborhood. To get to the hotel, you had to pass through a secured gate with armed guards. I think even if we wanted to leave the hotel at night, we would have had a hard time getting in and out.
Which brings us to the night of the Triple Play. I call it the Triple Play because within 5-10 minutes, 3 things happened that still just blow my mind. Ok, Play number 2 isn't that unusual...but it fits with the story. Ready? Here we go:
Once upon a time, there were 3 very tired guys and one very friendly taxi driver that were heading back to a hotel for the night. Along the way, they discussed that hunger was the overall feeling at the moment. A shopping mall was coming up and the taxi driver, who happened to be a local, knew that it was a safe neighborhood, and therefore, safe to stop with these Yanks.
We pulled into the Burger King parking lot a little after 7:30 PM. The four of us walked into the restaurant and walked up to the line this side of the counter. There were about 10 other customers waiting there...but one thing we quickly noticed was that there were no employees on the other side of the counter.
So my buddy walks up to the counter and hollers into the back, "Hey! Are you guys open?"
A woman came rushing up from the kitchen and said with panic in her voice, "Someone just died."
Then she ran back.
We craned our necks to see if we could see what was going on. We saw that there was in fact a body laying down back there near the stove. We decided that it would probably be best if we were to leave. So we did. [Play #1]
As we were walking outside, a lady, probably close to 40 or 41 years old, well-dressed, walked out with us. She started talking to my buddy Mike. She was explaining to him that she was HIV Positive and had a drug problem, but that she also had a child and needed money. I interjected to say something, and she turned, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "I was talking to HIM." Then turned away.
Fine...be that way. [Play #2]
So while Mike was being asked for money, I started looking around for another place to eat. I quickly noticed about 20 feet away, a young woman of about 22 or 23 years old who was yelling at me. I looked around to see if it was me she was screaming at, and noticing that there was no one else in her line of sight, realized that, yes...she was yelling at me.
What was she yelling you ask? An excellent question. I won't go into great detail of what exactly she was yelling...but let's just say that she was offering "services" for free. No charge. (She said that a lot).
However, this was not enough...apparently I wasn't understanding what she was saying. Maybe her accent was too thick. Maybe I didn't speak English. Whatever the case for my non-response to her offers, she decide to step it up a notch and DEMONSTRATE what it was she was offering.
So....off came her pants and she proceeded to make clear, in no subtle way, exactly what it was that she was offering me.
As I looked everywhere around except at her, I noticed a Subway Restaurant. I grabbed the guys and said, "Hey look! Subway!" [Play #3]
Later that night, after we had our food and were eating, our taxi driver made some phone calls. His wife happens to work at another Burger King in a different part of town. He called her, and she called the Regional Manager to see what was going on. Sure enough, someone had died in that Burger King when we walked in. There had been some work done on the gas lines in the kitchen, and no one had re-lit the pilot light. The kitchen had filled up with gas and someone had been there too long and breathed in too much. What a sad way to go.
So that was my trip to Trinidad. Now I am back in town for a little while. I have caught up on sleep and cleaning...and most important, I am right there with Jack Bauer as he once again comes to the rescue!