I always find the, usually, 2 ½ hour ferry ride from Trinidad to Tobago provides a physical opportunity to step down a gear and unwind from the frenetic Port of Spain pace in preparation for tranquil Tobago. This time was no different. Landing on Tobago you just feel as though you’re on a Caribbean island. Everything just feels smaller and more manageable. Less frenzied. I realized I was starving! The text I’d sent to a friend living in Tobago in an attempt to locate fish broth turned up nothing, after all, “It’s Sunday in Tobago… “
So my friend collected me from the port and we sped off in search of what promised to be an illusive lunch. But, just minutes out of Scarborough, on the grassy verge of the highway, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, was the angel Mary. Mary’s Exquiste Delight. There was delicious sweet potato, cassava, beetroot, boiled plantain, eddoes, fish in a spicy, tomato sauce, cou cou, callaloo and even rabbit. Al prepared with love, spices and herbs. The most enticing to me was the Tobago delicacy Crab and Dumpling. Now, keep in mind I was hungry, in addition to which, the last few times I had eaten this dish in Tobago was at various vendors in Store Bay and it had been a series of disasters. Tasteless and peppery, tasteless and watery and just tasteless. This smelt good. The sauce looked rich with body and character. Tasty character. I outlined the previous disappointments and cajoled good, natured, Mary into allowing me to sample the sauce. Finally! The mecca of all Crab and Dumpling. This was not “made for tourists” this was made for the critical local palette! Possibly the best crab and dumpling I’ve ever had. The bad news… Mary only sold her manna on Sundays.
I’d have to wait a week!
Finally, I’d managed to get to where my friend was staying in a villa on the coast. It was great to see her and in such peaceful surroundings too. Perfect for catching up and relaxing.
Wisps of what would be white clouds, if they were more than wisps, pass across the blue square of sky bordered by the wooden eaves/gales of the indoor courtyard. As I lie in the hammock, I feel the cool breeze soothe my skin and I hear the rustle of the plants on the larger of two tiled courtyards. Quiet alcoves tucked away, perfect for curling up with a book or a snooze, others just right for lunch for two, and still more with open seating areas just right for a lime. Shutters wrap around two sides of the villa. To the west the sea stretches to the horizon, from another side the view is of lush vegetation and the fluffy seedpods of bois flow. Each of the four bedrooms has it’s own verandah. I make myself get up and walk outside into the glorious sun. I dubiously jump feet first into the small, but deep, plunge pool and thankfully it’s true… my feet don’t touch the bottom. My head breaks the surface of the water and I turn away from the ocean below and swim into the water cascading down from an upper pool. The sun is low on the horizon and I descend the winding stairs to watch the sunset from under the thatched roof of the jetty. This is paradise. No, it’s Villa Soleil.
Another friend who I see more on the internet than in real life persuaded me to come to the hotel where she teaches yoga. How wonderful I succumbed.
As I lay on my mat, on the polished wooden floor, staring up into the apex of the round, thatched ajoupa a feeling of tranquility enveloped me. I felt assured, invincible. Not as a superhero might but a calmness where I felt I was capable of anything and that everything would be okay simply because I can attain my potential. Nothing mattered. My body and mind were completely relaxed. I was, in fact, restored. What was responsible for the magic? The restorative yoga guided by Tanya. Her voice led our bodies easily into postures where we relinquished control and simply relaxed. Effortless. As the light changed the sounds of the night turned on, as did the sounds in my tummy so after class I floated to the thatched, dining area for dinner. Kariwak’s hallmark is its fresh ingredients, many from its organic garden that includes beds of all sorts of herbs that brush onto you as you walk past. I started with a flavourful split pea and mint soup accompanied with freshly baked bread rolls. In addition to being delicious it tasted, what I can only describe as, clean yet it felt substantial but there was still space for the main course. Again, the food felt light and clean but was filling. Grilled mahi mahi with a lemon and mustard sauce, tomato stuffed with spices like coriander seeds, steamed patchoi and herbed mashed potato. Nectar from the Goddesses. For me the “nightcap” was Kariwak’s own aromatic spice tea of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and bayleaf with locally made honey. Mmmmmmm … I was ready for bed.
After a lazy, rainy, day in bed interspersed with yoga and meditation I decided to leave home late in the day and headed off to the beach to meet a friend. We got there just in time for sunset, had there been one. After watching the sunset, through the clouds, at peaceful, grey Grange Bay it started to drizzle faintly. So, my friend and I thought we’d escape to a sheltered sea view - El Pescador, a quaint bar on Buccoo Bay where ceviche is served. It was already dark when we arrived but it was just light enough for the red and blue colour scheme to add to the balmy coziness. From the open restaurant above the jetty, we listened to the sound of the waves lapping against the jetty and watched the fishermen unload their boats as we ordered two starters. A squid marinated in aromatic vinegar salad and ceviche made with snapper marinated in lime. Divine. Both melted in our mouths. The friendly waitress and the smiling Venezuelan chef added to the ambience. A perfect end to a rainy day in Tobago.