Sunday, July 20, 2008

Caroni Swamp Bird Sanctuary

The tours of the swamp start at 4:00 pm and end about 6:15 pm, just before dark. They asked several times if we had bug spray. Yes, there were mosquitoes and they bit me through my clothes where I hadn't sprayed! The swamp is full of mangrove trees of three varieties. We saw no other kind of tree, since they need to grow in the mud and the water. The literature talks about a visitors center. At first we thought this must be it, but no, it was a ways down the road and it had docks and a small lake by it, but it was closed. We walked around it for a few minutes before the tour got under way.

Our tour group as we are leaving the dock. We had the cutest set of twins behind us that chatted with us during the 2 hour tour.
The dock

Termite nests are in many of the trees. They are food for many of the birds. We saw snakes up in the trees, a small alligator, an iguana lying on a branch, tiny 4 eyed fish swimming in the water. Two eyes are above the water and 2 below. So much of what we saw was too far away to get good pictures.

The roots from the mangrove trees come down from the limbs above.

We sat at the front of the boat, which was great when the guide addressed us.
True birdwatchers can hang out here.

One of the many birds found in the Caroni Swamp. We didn't see as many varieties of birds as we had hoped, but I am sure on a different day, it would be different.

We wove in and out of several of the channels that run through the swamp. The swamp goes right up to the edge of the ocean. The fresh water rivers empty into this swamp and you can see the various currents. We were there at low tide. It raises up over 2 feet during high tide.

This boat came up by us as we were waiting for the birds to fly over and caused some of the flocks to alter their course.

This why we visited the Caroni Swamp bird sanctuary, to see the scarlet ibis. They have a wing span of 31-36". They are bright red with black on the tips of their wings. In the evening, they return to the nesting sight as we sit below in the boat watching them fly overhead. We aren't allowed near the nesting sites. It is about 5:30 pm when we took this picture. We took lots of pictures of them, but because they are so far away, it doesn't look as impressive at it was to watch them fly over in masses and we could see their beautiful red color.

A must see blog

You may want to check out Sister Robison's blog. There are some cool turtle shots taken in French Guinna that the kids will enjoy.

You will get to see some other parts of the mission as well as you view the awesome shots of the missionaries and the people they work with on a daily basis.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

P day

The Trincity Mall is fairly old. They have added a whole new section to it. It is typical mall with a large grocery store attached where we like to do our weekly or monthly shopping.

Trinidad has their own Coke plant, which is along the east west main road that goes across most of Trinidad. Notice the cool headge with the words carved in them.

We had lunch at a new Irish Pub that opened on the second floor on the Trincity Mall. The food was pretty good. We had fish and chips. Two more nice restaurants are located next to the Pub.

The food court has many of the same fast food places as our food court at the Valpark plaza. When we came out of the movie we were shocked at all the people. It was packed with teenagers and young adults. There must have been something special going on because we saw lots of people, including families, really dressed up. The movie complex has several theaters, which was probably some of the draw. We attended at 1:10 show. Talk about ads! and previews! It was 45 minutes worth.

You may notice that there are a few bees in our back wheel well. This was taken when we got home, so over half of them are gone by this time. We went to the mall about 10 and left at 3:30. While we were shopping, eating and going to the movie a swarm of honey bees decided this was a good place for a new home. This must be the time of year that they swarm because the lot security guy said it isn't usual for it to happen in this parking lot.

The tower is a monitoring spot for the police. It is at the end of the large parking lot. This mall seems to have adequate parking. It was pretty full when we left after seeing "Kung Foo Panda." It was a great movie. It sure reinforces the true concept that you can achieve your goals if you are willing to put in the preparation time. Sometimes we do all the background work as he had done, but don't take that final effort to make it. I would love to see it again.

The flag of Trinidad and Tobago is seen flying on our way to the Trincity Mall. It is the only flag we have noticed in our travels.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Unusual Protein

Just in case you think we may not be getting enough protein in our diet, you might want to hear my “breakfast” story.

We had been to PriceSavers (a membership store like Cosco) a couple of days earlier and I was really excited to have purchased a huge box of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. It was delicious and I enjoyed my first serving on the morning after the purchase. Of course I wanted to keep them fresh and insect-free so I carefully closed the package and put it back in the cupboard.

The next morning I again decided to enjoy my new box of cereal. So, I got the box down, poured a generous bowl full, added the milk and started eating. It was delicious! While eating away… about half the bowl, I noticed a tiny ant crawling along the edge of the bowl. A bit disgusted, I brushed the ant off and continued with my delicious breakfast. Then I noticed another ant, and another, and another, all crawling on the edge of my bowl. These were very tiny, red ants… hard to see.

When I finally decided to look more closely, I discovered my bowl of cereal was literally swimming with little ants (half of which I had already eaten). I dumped the rest of the bowl and examined the rest of the box of cereal. It was teaming with little ants. Apparently they had discovered my cereal the night before and were enjoying a feast.

Needless to say, when we now open a box of cereal, we store the uneaten portion in the freezer. And we have had no problems since.

I guess since I didn’t get sick when I ate what must have been lots of ants, they must have been healthy to eat. I have heard of certain cultures that do eat ants regularly, I just don’t want to become one of them.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Becoming A Stake

Saturday, June 28, 2008 we were privileged to attend the meeting with President Johnson, the area president, the district council, the mission presidency and the couples in Trinidad. We were seated in the living room at the mission home, with the district council members sitting in chairs in the middle of the room and the couples on the couches along the sides of the room. President Johnson started the meeting by asking the district council why they wanted to be a stake. He drew out the reasons and benefits of having a stake in Trinidad. The council members articulated the blessing of having a stake. We were impressed with the quality of the answers and the depth of understanding of the commitment that it is going to require of them. He challenged them to start acting like wards and like a stake. The most impressive comment made was that when you are a district, you draw on the church resources, but when you become a stake you contribute to the church for the benefit of others and you are self sufficient.

Once Trinidad becomes a stake, the couples will no longer assist in the wards, only the branches. The same will be true of the missionaries, they will teach and baptize and confirm, then the ward takes over with the fellowshipping, ordinations, etc. He asked them if they were ready to take on the extra work and responsibility that becoming a stake will require and they seemed very excited to do it.

Currently, there is one high priest on the island who is a native. Actually he was ordained a high priest in Nova Scotia where he has lived for several years. All of the rest of the leaders are elders. A couple of the branch presidents are return missionaries from their community and add a lot of depth and they are good examples to the older members. A stake will create a need for 6 bishops and 12 counselors plus all of the stake positions, the presidency, patriarch, and the high council members, all of whom will need to be high priests.

President Johnson created a diagram of the organization of a stake and asked each member of the district presidency and the council members, “who are your sheep”? We all learned a great deal. No one has more than 12 sheep for whom they are directly responsible. It made so much sense how each was to function and train and support.

He ended the meeting by saying that we were ready to become a stake and he would recommend it to Salt Lake. Two members of the seventy will come sometime between September and November and organize the stake. President Robison had been hoping for Aug 24th as the date for it to happen. Evidently it won’t be that soon.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Mission Home

The back entrance to the mission home, obviously the Elders are here. We don't use the front door. It is always locked.

Sister Robison does lots of presentations and slide shows of the zone conferences. The Elders are looking at some of the pictures she has taken. She is awesome with what she does with them. She is an excellent trainer. She does the bulk of the teaching.

The kitchen where we prepare the meals for the zone conferences, leadership council, transfers, etc for the missionaries. We served sloppy joes this particular day. They were a little different because one of the sisters insisted that we butter all the buns before we put the beans and meat on them. She was not happy that dad didn't want butter on his.

The dining room table in the mission home. We have had dinner here a couple of times.

President Alleyne of the Curepe branch on the left with some of the other council members is known as Mr. Breezy because he owns a taxi business. He knows everyone and helped dad get his driver's license. He comes in the office frequently.

President Johnson, the area president and the Colemans after the meeting to discuss the possibility of Trinidad becoming a stake. President Johnson will give it his endorsement. He was impressed with the leadership of the district.

The items in the vase all came from the backyard of the mission home. It makes a beautiful display.

Sister Robison gave the President a bunch of rubber duckies, which are displayed around the mission home and in the office. His goal is to keep them all under water and when an Elder malfunctions, one of his rubber duckies has popped up, sometimes we have seen more than one up at once.

Our Missionaries

Elder Clarke and Elder Bowens serve in the Port of Spain area and attend the POS branch. Elder Clark is from Jamaica and Elder Bowens is from St. Vincent. They are both very strong in their testimonies and very bright and effect missionaries. Elder Bowens has been a member less than 3 years. He couldn't read prior to his conversion. He learned to read through the Book of Mormon and the gift of tongues.

Elder Barton and Elder Webb at each end of the mission experience. Elder Barton has been out a couple of weeks and operates like a pro. They are in the Diego Martin area and attend the Port of Spain branch. Elder Barton baptized a nine year old last Saturday. Elder Webb is an excellent trainer and is doing a super job with his trainee.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


The milk we drink comes in small cartons (The Hannay's couldn't haul enough of these home). We keep them in the cupboard until we want to use them, then we refrigerate and drink it within 3 days so it doesn't spoil. It tastes like regular milk. You can see my slim fast drink (no Instant Breakfast here) to get a perspective of the size of the container.
Many of the products that we buy say "export" as my bag of potato chips ( made in TX) or "made in USA for International Sales Only" as my small container of Quaker Oats. We think all the "seconds" are sent here and places like this.

Feezing in Trinidad

Yes, we are freezing in the office. It has been in the high 60's for the last 3 or so weeks, since the rainy season began. We frequently go outside to warm up. Dad bought a jacket yesterday to wear in the office. Someone came today and took the temperature getting a 64 degree reading. If we were walking or playing tennis, the temperature would be perfect, but we sit, sit, and sit. They will try to adjust it to 70. We will see how it is tomorrow. I have been wearing my panty hose for warmth. I am glad I brought 2 jackets and a sweater. They have been worn a lot lately. All of the stores in the mall are cold and many of the clerks wear sweaters and jackets. Weird! when they could just adjust the AC and save money.