Service and soirée

It was an early day today, we had to wake up with the Sun, a beacon shining rays of light on my exhausted self. I rolled out of a very comfortable sleep at 5:45 and got ready quickly for the bus at 6:30. We drove about an hour from Bacolet to Charlottesville on twisting winding roads that made even the strongest of stomachs questionable, the views along the way were breathtaking so bring a camera and take a dramamine. Beautiful blue waters framed by a clear blue sky, cream sandy beach, and green everywhere. Flora and fauna completely unlike that in Washington. Every view made you stop and stare until it was hidden again by the brush, it made you catch your breath and contemplate whether you were really here or just dreaming.

Charlottesville was a small fishing village on the Caribbean coast of the island. It was accented by brightly colored buildings, pinks and blues and greens, interspersed with clean cream stucco. The beach was lined with shanty fishing shacks and the bay had more than a dozen row boats with fishing lines out of either side. We stopped the bus and met up with the other group of PLU students spending most of their stay in Trinidad rather than Tobago.

As one, we made the half-mile trek up a hill to Lucille’s Farm, the location that our service project took place in. It was a steep incline in places and had a stream making the path muddy and slippery in others. Miss Lucille, as she was colloquially known, was known in the community for teaching the local children to garden up on her farm above the village. She told us that she felt it was important to give children an activity to keep them busy and to teach them where their food came from so that they were conscientious of it. Her orchard was filled with bananas, grapefruit, papaya, mango, avocado, cocoa, and a myriad of others that the children had planted and raised and that Miss Lucille said their children and grandchildren would tend to for decades to come. She showed us how to plant papaya trees and had us plant a new row of trees in the small, fenced off area of the orchard that the newer trees were growing in. We cut bamboo sticks to mark the papaya trees with using a machete, and rounded out the busy time by collecting bananas from the trees further up the hill and collecting fresh eggs from the hens in her chicken coop. All of the food was to be used in Miss Lucille’s restaurant down in the village. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about and engage with the community, but I don’t know whether we were more a help or a hassle to Miss Lucille. She was patient and kind and made a wonderful teacher for the morning.

Once we had completed the service portion of our day we wandered down the 154 steps to Pirate’s Bay Beach, trying not to think about the fact that we would have to climb those steps again. This is one of the most gorgeous beaches in the Caribbean and well worth the hype. It was secluded and protected from any harsh wind or waves. You could see the reef not too far from the beach, climb on the water-worn rocks, and the water was cool and refreshing compared to the rapidly heating weather. We posed for photos and wandered about and took a child-like pleasure in the beauty of the ocean and the beach and the scenery.

We ate lunch as a group in the town at a small restaurant, the name of which I don’t remember. They served a buffet style lunch of rice, lentils, salad, fried plantains, and an option of chicken or fish, and three sauces - garlic, pepper, or a sweet and sour sauce. I choose to try the fish, a fresh-catch that had been fried recently. It was superb, however, please note that all of the meat I have had thus far has had bones and so you have to be careful not to eat too quickly and may be picking bones out of your mouth while you eat. I went back for more of the sweet and sour sauce as soon as I had a taste, it was absolutely fabulous and I coated everything on my plate in the stuff. It was an explosion of flavor.

Following lunch we drove back to Bacolet, this time my full stomach eased the rough car ride and I was able to slip into a mostly sound sleep for the hour-long car ride. We got back by mid-afternoon.

I spent the rest of my afternoon and early evening working on assignments, studying, and preparing my ambitious dinner. I had planned to make a buddha bowl - brown rice, chicken spiced generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, red pepper and sweet potato roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper, avocado, and spinach. This was all to be topped with a honey citrus sauce - ¼ cup lime juice, 1 tablespoon each of sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, and honey, and 1-2 cloves of garlic. I was unable to find spinach or avocado and so planned to go without avocado and to sub in other greens for spinach. This was all until I found out that not one of the ovens in our three kitchens were hooked up and I had no way to roast my sweet potatoes and red onion. I also was limited to an electric two-burner stovetop. I was completely unable to boil water and so had to cook my rice for a much longer period of time. I also was unable to find boneless chicken breasts and so had to cut the breast meat away from the bones myself. The only knife in the house was quite dull, making all of this quite an ordeal. By the end I was frustrated and had mostly given up on my ambitious dinner, completely abandoning my hopes of recreating one of my favorite meal-prep dinners from home.

I started getting ready to go clubbing with a small group of students at around eight o’clock and we departed at 9:30. We started at the Jade Monkey, one of the nicer clubs on the strip, where I ordered a tequila sunrise. We drank our initial drinks quickly to move on to the next location on the strip. Within the first hour I was feeling the alcohol, the drinks were stronger than I was accustomed to. The second place we stopped was called the Hangover, it was an upstairs club that was giving out free shots. Some of the group had flaming shots, which had to be drank through a straw. I ordered a rum punch which they prepared with two shots of White Oak Rum, a shot of For Loco, and some pineapple and orange juice mixed in. It was delicious but dangerous, in the way all delicious mixed drinks are. The music was great and we all had an awesome time dancing and drinking. We ended our night back at the Jade Monkey and then our driver, Kester, brought us home. I came back and fell into bed.

#Travel #TrinidadTobago #Tobago #Vacation #StudyAbroad #studyaway #Lutesaway #Service #Charity #LucillesFarm #Bacolet #Charlottesville #PLU #clubbing #partying #JadeMonkey

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