Posts Tagged With: Tobago

No Man’s Land and Bioluminescence

“No Man’s Land” sounds like a forbidden country side or lonely desert in the middle of an old historical site. To anyone who knows better here in Tobago, it’s one of the nicest beaches on the island. See for yourself! 

Where was the picture above taken?  From these seats.  I know… I know! Couldn’t you just climb up in one of those right now?  

The best portion of this crystal bath tub is the shallow shore that allows you to walk far into the depths.  By “depths”, I mean knee deep. If you look at the photo below, Ryan is actually taking a picture of my handstand.  You can barely see me, but that’s the point!  

I was thankful that I got to chill on No Mans Land during the daylight to fully appreciate our last evening in Tobago. It’s amost bitter-sweet writing about the final excursion as it was the absolute hi-lite of the trip, yet the least caught on camera.  Why? The moonlight wouldn’t expose our journey through the dark sea and for the grand finale you would have needed a professional camera and crew to capture the magnitude and brilliance.

Before we get into that, lets begin with the preparation for the event. I’ll start with the drive to get to the starting point. For all of you water sport fans, please contain your drool. 

    
The sun was beginning to set and all of the participants arrived for a run down on where we’re going and what to expect.   

 This unforgettable tour starts at Pigeon Point and takes you through the Bon Accord Lagoon until you reach No Mans Land (the stunning beach from above). From there, you paddle or kayak through unbelievable glowing water. Read that again… glowing water! I rarely use the word “unbelievable”, but this, this is only what you see on the discovery channel.  In fact, when you go to www.standuppaddletobago.com and click on the night tour, Duane has a link to a video explaining this natural occurrence called Bioluminescence (depending on your accent, it sounds like bio-loom-en-es-ence).

Bioluminescence is caused by blooming phytoplankton and can be seen if “all keys are right”. I’m pleased to say, that on this night we had a wonderful group and indeed, all keys were right! 

Here’s the first photo taken as we headed to the water each with a glow stick, a floating devise and 2 trustworthy paddlers as our guides.  Duane with the unofficial assistance of Ryan made the group (at least speaking for myself) feel safe, informed and encouraged. I’d do it all over again!

 
From the shore we made our way to No Mans Land, some on paddle boards and others in kayaks. Here are the only photos that turned out blog worthy(ish) from the first stretch.

   
Finally we made our way to the “glowing water” and I’ll have to admit, at this point I was wondering just how exciting it would be. Hmm… 

As we got closer, I could feel my heart rate increasing and my eyes opening wider to try and absorb what I was actually witnessing! The vibrancy was so wonderous I don’t even want to show you the attempted photos. (If you’re even the slightest interested please see the video here or on Duane’s website). 

While coasting on your board, the fish beneath you look like highlighters jetting through the water.  Every splash you make with your paddle creates a rippling effect of neon lines.  Think this alone would be enough? So did I, until he jumped in the water! Surrounding his entire body was a glowing shield of the blooming phytoplankton. I thought this had to be the spike of my thrill but then… then I jumped in! I felt like a child in a life size pool of glow in the dark finger paint. We splashed around commenting on the sorcerer effect and super-human appearance, again like kids would do.  

The most powerful moment for me, was when my school-aged giggles went away. I looked at the motion in the water and realized it resembled, to what I think, energy looks like flowing from ones body, an “ora” if you will. I’ll admit to you all, it almost brought tears to my eyes that I was fortunate to experience such a thing and also saddened my heart realizing there’s only a small percentage that would ever get to do the same.

After the life changing swim, we continued the journey around the lagoon until reaching back to the starting point. The final pictures expresse it all! All of us full of life, energy and completely rejuvenated by natures own brilliant playground. 

  
  When you make it Tobago, please put this on your “must do” list and give Duane an extra hi-five for me!

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For some… it is what drives us

Time to exchange the flippers in for a paddle as Duane loads us up with a surprise.  Have you ever watched a movie in which a group explores through the wilderness, then kayaks through the clear ocean to hike the deep jungle until they fall upon a glorious beach with huge waterfalls covered by rainbows and sprinkles of tropical raindrops… ok, well this wasn’t exactly like that however this experience was way beyond my typical day in the sun!

First was an energizing paddle out to sea. At this moment I felt so insignificant in the wide open water, especially as I allowed thoughts to consciously cross my mind. I have been so fortunate to see a large glimpse of this amazing planet, however I’ve only scraped the surface.  Imagine all of the panoramics that our eyes haven’t seen and the friends we don’t even know yet. What a sensational concept that ignites something within when you really think about it!

For some… it is what drives us.

    

    

 Once we reached Bloody bay, we took a moment to take in the wilderness and all it comes with. A gorgeous landscape and private beach confirms why this is one of Duane’s favorite spots and we haven’t even seen the best of it yet!

   

 
These magical little leaves are responsive to touch, aren’t we all? They lay flat open absorbing the wind, rain and sun until touched or dropped. If stimulated, they fold inward and droop defending themselves from harm and re-open a few minutes later. Pictures don’t do the action justice, but I felt like a kid out there playing with these creatures. 

     

  These ping pong looking balls are actually empty eggs of the fascinating sea turtle. Momma comes here and digs a hole for thousands of eggs in hopes that a few will survive. You can see on the right side of the collage how a few hatched and slid down the sand bank heading for the water. The following photo is Duane walking the path of what appears to be mothers trail.

  

 I’d like to pause here and remind you of the activities park in Malaysia.  I do this because our barefoot rock-crawling hike today reminded me that theres no other feeling that can duplicate the sensation of earth under your feet. Heres a collage from Penang in the post Monkey business in Malaysia.

  

…and today!  

   

I had no idea where this therapeutic jaunt was leading until I heard the faint sound of water splashing. “Duane, did you take us to a waterfall?”! 

 Large enough to play in, deep enough to swim in and hidden to the public means this little escape made for the perfect play day! Who wouldn’t turn into a big kid around here?! 

        

 So at this point, I’ve been shown the landscape of what could be the next beach film, paddled in the open sea, played in a waterfall and now… I’m humbled during our return to shore. With a direct memory of the village in Ecuador, we witnessed a group netting off the beach. Below is a collage from the good times volunteering in the post Does it taste better when you catch it?

 
 This process takes precious time, consistent strength and team work. How rewarding! 
Not that fish was on our menu though. We had fresh fruit and… no knife. Leave it to Macgyver to pierce the watermelon with a screwdriver then split it open and serve it bowl style. Utensils? We used the 10 digits we were born with, glorious! 

 

For our next adventure, we kept slightly inland for a peaceful paddle on a smooth river in Richmond.

    Nothing fancy was needed to absorb the simplicity of the arched trees that created a shaded path for our ride. Enjoy… we did! 

  

      

      
 
For all my soca fans out there, may I get a curtesy laugh for wanting to title the next collage Ducking? 

 I won’t hesitate to end this post with another sunset shot, as it seems Tobago just hands them out as gifts. This look out point is Flag Staff Hill. Duane said that years back they had an organized party up here with a shuttle service and a DJ providing the backdrop tunes for what I can only imagine to be an epic evening.

   
Handstand!    
 

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Under de sea!

For our short journey in Tobago, we’ll be staying with a super fella that could go by something along the lines of “the energizer bunny”, but we’ll just call him Duane. He’s a stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, free diving, kayaking, island tour guiding genius that combines all of his hobbies to provide an incredible experience for visitors. What a wonderful place to have spectacular friends!

The first excursion had us driving to the starting point of a walk… to get to the starting point of a swim… that would get us to the starting point of the snorkeling. Tired yet? Nonsense, it’s play time!  
    

This was the point on the barefoot walk that would have had my mom a bit skittish.  Indeed, you’re looking at the remains of a snake.
  You can clearly see Duane already starting to share his plethora of knowledge. So cool! 

  This is right before we dove in, what a brilliant shot for a handstand.  (Thank you Ryan for the sneak a pic)
     Silly definition of the day: SNELFIE – a selfie while snorkeling. 

I took these to give you an idea of just how far out we were.  This wasn’t your shoreline disneyland of a playground.  I thoroughly enjoyed being encouraged to take the not so easy route to see what was beyond the sandbox.  
   
    
  This was a cool shot, Ryan caught me taking a photo of him taking a photo of me.  You can see Duane’s arm in both pictures.  
     
  This made me giggle (like so many things), look how graceful these fine gentlmen guide through the water.  Then there’s my defense pose after seeing an eel.  We have photo reviews underwater. I love it. 

  

 I feel like the photo below exudes the natural high that comes from being active in the elements surrounded  by healing saltwater and quality people. This picture also announces that my mask was too tight.
 After an aquatic workout like that, a local meal with a few cold beverages seemed to be the perfect way to finish off the evening. At Joanne’s, they post what she made for the day and you simply pick whatever you’d like to fill your take away box.  I went with a small portion of fish, provisions, peas and patchoi.  
One must always appreciate a sunset! First night in Tobago… Magical.  
   

  

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Biggest little island of Tobago

I’m excited to announce a mini trip as Ryan and I took a ferry to Tobago (the smaller island of the two that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago). He’s never been there either, so that alone is thrilling. Although I love to be shown the ropes by a local or even be the tour guide myself, it’s always refreshing to explore new ground with fresh eyes!

Ferry time! We were warned of the journey as it’s been nicknamed “The vomit comit” due to the rocking of the boat and the guests who get sea-sick. Assuming this was an exaggeration, we booked our tickets and joined the ride. Instead of telling you about the puke filled sinks in the washroom or the sound of the poor woman next me reaching into her guts and aggressively dry-heaving for 2 hours, I’ll stick to a few photos and the mention of a new friend, Eric. His kind eyes caught mine as I was on my tipy-toes scouting out the cafe in hunt for a snack. A big smile and quick chat lead to an exchange of information and the possibility to connect again. We’ll see!

  

Snack? Ryan went with an order of a ham sandwich and got a pile of pork next to a bun.  Whatever works. I snagged an apple and paired it with my hidden bag of seeds. 

 

Arrival! First things first, get a set of wheels. Thankfully Ryan was keen on the idea of driving since:

A. They drive on the left side of the road.

B. Driving in Trinidad and Tobago is an adventure in itself! For those of you who’ve been to Mexico, T&T drivers make south of the border look like a merry-go-round!

C. Our rental car was straight from Japan. As if all of the above wasn’t tricky enough… what are “carwings” and should I be nervous?

 Since we had a car and a minute to pass, we thought we’d check off one thing from the “must do list” for Tobago. We dove right into a popular spot which is known for it’s curried crab and dumplings. Store Bay is a popular beach due to it’s white sand, umbrella covered chairs and the many options of food, drinks and sweet treats. I can understand why tourist and locals alike come to take in the afternoon sun!

       
Unfortunately when we arrived, most of the food stalls were closed or hadn’t received their products yet. Still with plenty of options, Ryan went with Conch and dumpling and I got excited over shark, callaloo and salad. Little did I know that it was deep fried shark, a few pieces of lettuce with a brick of macaroni pie. Oh well, learning as I go! 

   
With no specific order, here’s a photo tour from the passengers seat as we made our way through various parts of the island!

    
   

   
    
   

     
   

I’ll leave you with this amazing shot taken by Ryan. 

  
Next on the list….

 

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