We packed a lunch consisting of whatever we happened to have in the fridge. This turned out to be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, two apples, and a bottle of tap water. Once our bags were fully packed with bathing suits, extra clothes, a camera, traveling money, towels, and of course our lunch we set out on our expedition.
It had been raining all week, and we encountered our first difficulty trying to catch a route taxi out of Las Lomas, while standing at our usual waiting spot on the corner of the road. What we didn't realize is that down the road from where we were waiting, it was completely flooded over and very few taxis were running that day. Fortunately after some time of waiting, we squeezed into the back seat of a taxi that was working. With four passengers in the back, three in the front and some extra fare given to the driver for the longer route around the floods, we arrived in St. Helena. From St. Helena we traveled to Arouca, then to Arima, then to Sande grande, and finally to our destination: Manzanilla beach. The whole trip took a little over two hours. Not bad at all.
Now, according to local Trinidadians, Manzanilla might not be worth a two hour trip traveling by taxis and maxis (mini buses). We were informed that the water was too rough for swimming, muddy, and that there was hardly any beach at all to lounge around on. Well, there descriptions were not far from the truth.
Our first glance, however, of that rough ocean filled us with exhilaration and bouts of joy. We saw its vastness, its rough waves crashing against the sand, the mountains towering along its sides, and its waters continuing on into the infinite space (probably, we speculated, to the end of the world, at that point where the waters fall off the earth). Our joy only increased to discover that the beach seemed to be pretty much deserted, and we had the feeling that maybe we actually were shipwrecked on a deserted island. We picked out a small cove to rest our belongings and to eat our humble lunch. Now previously, a pb&j, an apple, and a bag of chips we bought along the way, might have seemed like a pretty sad meal, especially on Thanksgiving! But a picnic on the beach can change quite anything, and we savored that lunch to its last bite. Even though our stomachs still felt a bit empty after, we had the excitement ahead of us of partaking of Manzanilla beach.
We spent our time lounging in the shallow waters and experiencing a small bit of ocean life. The sands were covered with little "chip chips" (small clam like creatures with beautiful colored shells). We watched the chip chips burrow into the sand and the mud skippers skip across the waters. Afterward, we spent quite a significant amount of time scrounging the sand for empty chip chips, collecting their shells for an upcoming junior youth mosaic art project. We even stopped for a moment to sing and chant a few prayers (though we were interrupted by several stray dogs for a few minutes in between).
Later that night, back at home and completely tired out, we continued the Thanksgiving feast with grapefruits (shared with a book 7 participant) and delicious melted cheese sandwiches. Finally, we ended the night with a dose of our new, favorite British comedy, Jeeves and Wooster. "What ho!"
All in all a good day, though we did think often of our families at home and missed them. As good as Thanksgiving food is, the family is much more delicious.
"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh