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August 28, 2002
Up the Coast of Tobago

Customs on Tobago is a little strange. For some reason, they make you clear in and clear out of the same harbor. This can be an enormous inconvenience if you want to start at one end of the island and work your way to the other. Then how do you get back again to clear out? Particularly in Tobago where the currents are so strong, they seem to be some anti-cruiser mechanism. Visiting this island is a lot of work. You REALLY have to want to see it! We decided to head straight up the coast to the northeastern tip of the island and tell a little white lie: that this was our first landfall on their island.

Curt and I are learning new things all the time. One of the things we learned on Tobago is that there's less wind as you get closer to the equator. It sure felt like we didn't have much wind anymore, but we didn't know why. With a little reading, we figured out it all has to do with the Coriolis Force. It's a bit complicated, but essentially, it's related to the earth's axis as it circles the sun. So, it shouldn't be surprising that we had to motor, rather than sail, all the way up to Charlotteville. While we hate to do that to our engine, it did make it nice to get in close to the island while we were underway and see at least a little bit of everything.

Tobago, off the coast of Venezuela is gorgeous! Curt and I just kept saying, "Oh! Look at that!" Or, "Check out that mountain!" I wouldn't say that from a scenic standpoint, it was your typical Caribbean island. It's more beautiful for its lush and green landscape, with enormous steep mountains plummeting to the sea. The cliffs are climbing with palms and vines, and birds are everywhere chirping and diving through the air looking for fish. Over and over I kept saying that it looked like a scene from Jurassic Park. We took a million pictures, but I don't know that you can get any idea whatsoever of how stunning it really is from a mere photograph.

When we pulled into Man O' War Bay, where the town of Charlotteville lies, we chuckled to ourselves to find Jammin', our friends from way back in St. Lucia. They waved as we did a fly-by. They had just arrived in Tobago as well, and hadn't even cleared in yet. We said we'd dinghy them into Customs if they liked, since they still didn't have an outboard engine to get around.

As promised, we anchored (in fifty five feet of water!) and picked them up on our way to Customs. It was a lovely reunion and we were sincerely so pleased to see them again. We tried to catch up while someone went to wrangle up a Customs agent for us. Eventually, a man peeked around the corner where we had been waiting and knocking on his desk. From his hair and swollen eyes, we could tell we must have roused him from his afternoon nap. He got friendlier as he started to wake-up and actually smiled and joked with us some. It was a good thing, as Curt and I didn't have any local currency (TT dollars) to pay our fees. The agent had a one hundred dollar bill in his hand that Jammin' had just given him, and as he could see we were all friends, he said, "Just borrow it from them!" Well, what could Jammin' say but yes? Thankfully too, because the only bank on Tobago was at the other tip of the island where we had just come from (an hour or so taxi ride away).

With our business done, the four of us went in search of a spot to have a cold beer. It was blazing fricking hot here! As we walked down a little alley, I noticed a withered old man sidle up to Curt, mumbling and showing him something in his bag. The three of us had been walking ahead, and paused to be sure he was okay. Curt was laughing, so we slowly kept walking. I noticed Curt give him money and shove something shiny in his our backpack. By now, Jammin' and I were seated in a little lunch spot and bar ordering the first round of beer. Curt arrived with a grin on his face, shaking his head. Seems he had just bought a steel drum from the guy- but he wasn't sure if it was hot since the man seemed adamant Curt tuck it away in his backpack. It even came with music for two little songs to learn: Twinkle Little Star and Michael "Roar" the Boat Ashore.

We only lasted for two rounds in the heat. The sun had slipped low enough that the cover over the patio would no longer shield us from its blaze. As the woman said when we ordered the beer, "Welcome to Tobago. You like de rain, or you like de sun? Because dat's all we got mon'."

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