We set out early to drive to a cluster of plantations located in the center of the island. It was not too long before my driving partner requested a stop at one of the many food huts and trucks standing along the few busy roads that scar the lanscape. Surprinsingly breakfast consists of a heart attack tortilla often filled with curried goat. Whilst he ate, I listened to a native band playing Bob Marley with South American flutes, illustrating in one tune the mix of cultures that makes Trinidad unique.
The closer we got to Tamana's cluster of plantations the least practicable the roads were. Eventually we left the 4x4 and hopped on a pick up truck that could nagivate the muddy dirt tracks that crisscrossed the cocoa land in the rainy season. I was offered to sit next to the driver but much prefered the adrenaline of standing at the back of the truck holding to the steel bars for life. So much more exciting than London underground at rush hour. We reached as far as we could and continued on foot, climbing the hills of Mario's plantation with his cacao chief, tall boy, a 68 years old Trinidadian whose familly had been working cocoa for over 3 generations. Mario, a soon to be retired banker, had bought the disused plantation 5 years ago, cleared it of the invasive jungle and replanted new cocoa trees which were already bearing pods. He looked at me bemused as to why a very white city girl would want to come into the jungle but quickly warmed up as he realised this was neither the first nor the last time I was in plantations. He smiled and shared his dream of one day producing his own chocolate on the island although the reality for now was that he makes more money from his crop of bananas. Tall boy cut a few coconuts from the trees and we drank some fresh coconut water to wash down the heat of the bird hot peppers also growing wild on the plantation. Tamana's plantations lies on the slopes of Tamana's mountain famous for its caves and bats. Farming here is not for the fainthearted.
We left Tamana wild beauty to visit Ortinola, one of the oldest plantations in Trinidad.In the lush green Maracas valley, set amidst the montainous rainforest, lies a magnificent estate created by a colonial grant in the late 18th century and operated in the cocoa boom of the late 1890s by Cadbury. Like many plantations on this island it was left to rot till Russell, nicknamed Timmy, a lawyer with a vision, bought it and painstakingly restored it over a decade to its former grandeur. As I looked out from the Great House to the mountains of cocoa, I promised myself that if I ever get married, it would be in this soulful exotic paradise of natural beauty.
Have a lovely week,
Miss Anne x