Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Letters From Home

Kathleen Linton Smith Family

Fam, I Came home from work late yesterday and Brittin surprised me with her hand made cup"cake" dessert... 
It is Van Gogh's "Sunflower" :-) 
Cana I say, GIFTED?!

First Day of 4th Grade! More exciting than Christmas!
All the students in the entire Elementary school were given their own iPads! WTH??

Brittins First Day of 8th Grade!

1. Sugar Scull T-shirt $20.00
2. Tiffany & Co. Blue shorts $39.00
3. Circa 1970's original steel necklace
4. Feeling like a Rock Star the first day of school?

"The All Great and Powerful"

First Day of 7th Grade...
Now that little apple does not fall far from the tree!

Smith and Christiansen girls

A customers 6 yr old son fell in love with me at first sight. For over a month he has been writing me poetry and bringing me flowers to work.

Last week he officially asked me if he could take me on a date to an Ice Cream shop on Saturday. I said yes and he said he will pay for everything but I will have to drive :) 

He followed up during the week to ask what color dress I would be wearing, I said light blue.

Saturday at 6 I washed the car, shined the tires and dressed in blue. When I arrived he was in a 3 piece suit, light blue bow tie and holding a corsage with daisies and blue ribbon.

He opened every door, pulled my chairs out, got me napkins and held my arm everywhere we went!

After the ice cream, I took him to the mall for the photo booth fun pictures and Bath & Body Works so he could buy me yummy lotion.

We talked, laughed, sang loud to Lady Gaga with the windows down and had him home by curfew.


Yummy lotion! I bought him cologne :)  

Every flavor, every topping!

Mall booth pictures!

 Love you!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A walk in the Tobago Jungle

When we were at Pigeon Point, a man gave us a brochure that featured "Guided tours of the Tobago Forest Reserve"

We enthusiastically decided to take the tour and made arrangements for guide Ellis Clarke to pick us up at the Magdalena the next morning at 7:30

The 20 mile drive from Lowlands to Roxborough takes about an hour because the road is very narrow and winding as it follows the Atlantic coastline north 

We turned left at Roxborough onto the Roxborough Parlatuvier Road and drove for another twenty minutes to the 1,500 foot summit

The road was newly paved and the foliage was dense to the roadway margins

We gathered a few things out of the trunk and started on a trail that immediately immersed us in the jungle

Following our guide

Ellis said that this was the path used by the early island inhabitants of African descent before the road was cut across the island

Goods were balanced on their heads as they walked some 8 miles from Bloody Bay on the Caribbean to Roxborough on the Atlantic to sell their produce and crafts.  

This non indigenous bamboo grows by feet each day

A new bamboo shoot

I reached out to feel it before the guide shouted "don't touch"

I instantly had a blanket of hair like needles in my hand 

I brushed them off as best I could and they bothered me somewhat for a couple of hours before the irritation left

"The Swiss Family Robinson" movie was filmed 3 miles Northeast of where we're hiking

  Our guide Ellis is calling birds 

He made a bird in distress call by sucking air through his puckered lips against his fingers

A great black hawk respond to the call

Kelton Joseph, of the Tobago Birds of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre, says that Great Black Hawks are now the rarest birds in Tobago
“This species of hawk is critically endangered in Tobago. We lost most of our hawks because they are being preyed on by man. One female great black was found dead in the forest between Mt St George and Belle Garden. I am hoping that that particular female is not the female of the one confirmed pair that usually nests between Parlatuvier and Bloody Bay. During my tours into the forest, I have observed one juvenile up at Gilpin Trace and I do hope that no harm has come to that one.
“We must remember that great black hawks are [at the] top of the food chain. We have seen a drastic increase in avian pests such as the orange-winged parrot, cocorico and carib grackle. Why? There is a distinct absence of predators in the forest. The number of the great black hawk has dwindled. We need to have a balance.”

Orange-winged parrot 

 Cocorico, the national bird of Tobago

A deeply worn path
I imagined the people of Africa walking this path in colorful clothes and packs high upon their heads

One of the few vistas across a deep canyon

An old forest hardwood that Ellis thought was felled in the September 1963 hurricane Flora that devastated the island

A slow march of ants carrying their leaf cuttings back to their home of millions about 20 feet long and 6 feet high on the upper bank of the trail  

Waterfall made golden by the orange clay base over which it flows

Modern day senior missionaries far from home hiking a deep forest trail in Tobago

Beautiful foliage with few flowers because sunlight barely reaches the forest floor

Established in the late 18th century it is thought to be the oldest rainforest in the western hemisphere

Ellis pointed out some of the old growth trees that survived the 63 hurricane  

This massive tree is hard to appreciate because of the dense undergrowth.

Bridge over another waterfall and stream

Reluctantly we turned around and headed back to the car 

Our traveling friends had to be at the airport by 2:00 pm to fly back to Trinidad

I turned around and promised myself to return to this beautiful garden

Our return trip was made by continuing on to Parlutuvier on the Caribbean and making a quick stop at Englishman's Bay

Beautiful beach to the left

Beautiful beach to the right

Colorful fabric wraps

Not much to do but swim, eat and doze in the warm ocean breezes

Island crafts

We are planning on another visit to eat at the small restaurant in the gift shop

Steel pans, rattles, jewelry and wall hangings

On to the airport 

One of my favorite birds of Tobago is the  Smooth Billed Ani  

As I've watched it over the past 3 months, I'm reminded of a big black Newfoundland 

Like the Newfoundland the Ani is solitary, quiet and somewhat awkward as it moves through the underbrush

Friday, August 23, 2013

Two journeys, two days, two blogs

We were invited to join another couple from Trinidad that flew to Tobago for some 
rest and rehabilitation
We were happy to accommodate them and were richer for the experience 

 Journey 1

A two-hour walk on the golf course paths 
rewarded us with 
a surprise on the 8th green

We have walked these paths many times and are always impressed with the hanging vines 

We didn't anticipate the burst of color as we walked around a large grove of trees
This morning the vines had burst into bloom
A couple of the seasoned residence said: 
"The explosion of color will be gone in a few of days"

 We call this the hanging vine walk

The palm trees have the vines wrapping their trunks in a green blanket

This morning we noticed the vines had suddenly changed - they were blooming 
 shades of gold

 Nettie is enjoying the transformation

 The vines cover both the trunk and tree tops

A waterfall of gold

 A hanging flower garden

 The blooming vines dominate the trees

 A profusion of color with a rich but subtle scent

  A hanging bouquet of yellow garlands on the 8th green


The Rain Forest