By Omilla Mungroo. “All yuh want to go to the beach?” That was the question a friend asked after we talked about “beach” for days. But of course! We hadn’t gone to the beach in two years! Two whole years! For avid campers like us, that’s a long time to stay away from the exotic beaches that surround us here in sweet Trinidad and Tobago! So when my friend offered to take us to Las Cuevas on the north coast of Trinidad, we started to make plans, only to be told that this would be his gift to us. We were to pack only a change of clothes and our towels.
This was new, because in all the years I camped, or went to the beach with family, we always cooked a whole set of food. Every Trini knows that a good beach lime goes hand in hand with good food. Nevertheless we followed instructions. This was not just a beach lime. We were going for a drive, and didn’t know it yet.
We took the Saddle Road from San Juan, through scenic Santa Cruz, then onto the winding North Coast Road. I felt like a foreigner in my own country because these parts looked so fresh, new and exciting, but the fact that I did not cook anything made me feel a little guilty. My friend read my mind and smiled, “Relax and enjoy the sights. We’ll buy some bake and shark on the way.”
Scenes before the North Coast
Our first stop was brief, along the Saddle Road, at a point where one can see parts of Maraval; the Moka golf course, and its environs. I could not remember ever seeing this place because although I camped in Las Cuevas as a girl with carloads of my family, we never stopped to take in the sights along the way.
Passing the Paramin hills and lush greenery all around, the air suddenly felt cooler. We were on the North Coast Road then, chatting whilst admiring the beauty and closeness of the mountains, cruising to popular Maracas Bay. The beach itself is one and a quarter miles long with three-feet waves; our local surfers’ paradise. There’s a spacious carpark, public restrooms, picnic tables, benches, and food galore! All of a sudden I remembered a song I heard by Denyse Plummer: Nah Leavin’ and I knew then why she sang it.
We bought bake and shark at Richard’s and while strolling to the car I was drawn to a colourful stall with hand-made jewelry which I love. The owner of the stall was very friendly and proud of his goods. The chains, earrings, wrist bands, were made of shells. I love their natural look, so, you can imagine how speechless I was when we got into the car to continue our journey, and my friend presented me with the glossy cream coloured band I tried on! “Merry Christmas!” He smiled, although we were in the month of March.
Past trips to the North coast
I began reminiscing about my family camps but I was knocked out of memory lane when the rolling hills of Las Cuevas appeared in sight. The name Las Cuevas was derived from the Spanish word for caves. It was so named because of the amount of caves you can find on the beach. The landscape had not really changed though. It was still a pretty little sheltered beach, and the ideal time to be there, if you wanted a quiet getaway from noise and city life, was early mornings, before the crowds came. We arrived about 9.45 a.m. and enjoyed the calm, soothing waters till we got hungry, ate our bake and shark, and started out on what would be “de real scene!”
It was about 12.45 p.m. when we left “the caves” and drove through La Fillette and Blanchissuese. La Fillette is a tiny fishing village right after Las Cuevas. We made a short stop to see the prettiest little beach I ever saw, hidden from the main road, down some stairs, but it was a gem of white sand and clearest blue-green water. The perfect place for a photoshoot, my friend said.
By the time we drove through Blanchissuese, it was almost 3 p.m. and we turned back from a rocky dirt road that seemed to be going on and on and on, with no end in sight. We had passed the big silver bridge and drove up the dirt road, but who knows where the North Coast Road ends.
On the way back we stopped a while for a welcome rest by a clear, shallow river. Signs of a fireside by the bamboo stool told us people used the spot to “make a cook”, a regular Trini past-time, not just for river-lovers, but for Trinis in general, wherever they are!
In all the years I camped all over Trinidad I never saw such beauty. The North Coast holds gems in every nook. I don’t think we had enough time to see it all, but what a memorable trip it turned out to be! We thanked our friend for taking the time to carry us, and thanked God for our little paradise — Trinidad and Tobago. Nah leavin’.
December 2013 – Issue 7 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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