Tim Foolery

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Trinidad: The Turtles (and other wildlife) of San Souci

We made it to the beach area of San Souci and just a couple miles up the road was the Grande Riviere. We stayed at a small bed and breakfast called Le Grande Almandier, which served our needs well.  Our needs were simple though – a safe, clean place to sleep that was beach/turtle adjacent. Check and check.

We arrived midday and had a late lunch, which was perfectly acceptable – nothing to write home about, but considering there really isn’t any alternative, it was pretty good.  After lunch we went to our room to relax. The room was quite spartan, with two full size beds and a washroom. We did “upgrade” to a room with air conditioning. It was hot and the A/C wasn’t optional in our minds.

After getting settle (by this I mean dropping off our suitcases and realizing there is no reason to stay in the room) we head down and grab a beer at the hotel bar. Carib, of course. Then we head out to the beach.  We had already arranged a night beach tour with the hotel to see the turtles. You have to buy a pass/permit before you can go out at night.  We figured we would just spend some time relaxing on the beach until dinner time — but we were shocked to see leatherback turtles in the surf and on the beach.  Of course we get as close as we can to these animals. They seemed not to know we were there, even though we were less than 1 meter away.  Some kids thought it would be great to touch or try to ride the turtles – I miss the days when parents would actually raise their kids.

Momma leatherback dropping off her eggs

We watched these giants for about an hour then headed back to the B&B. We hung out at the bar and chatted with some other vacationing ex-pats (two British couples, one older and one younger) for a while.  By now it was getting close to dinner time – it always surprises me how early the sun goes down at the equator.

Dinner, like lunch, wasn’t spectacular, but did the job and was washed down with some more Caribs (theme?). After dinner we met up with our guide to head to the beach.  Our group had about a dozen people, including the ill behaved kids from earlier in the day. The guide used a red tinted flashlight to guide us around the beach. He said the red hue wasn’t visible to the turtles and didn’t distract them from their egg laying duties.

The guide provided limited commentary but I think the intent was just to watch nature do its thing. We did. The kids were still obnoxious.  We remained with the guide for about 2.5 hours. By the time the tour was over, I was done. I guess my attention span isn’t that great to begin with, but watching children run around a big leatherback turtle laying eggs only goes so far.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a great experience that I am very glad I did, but I do think once is enough for me.

We headed back to the bar for one final beer before bed and I headed up to the room to use the washroom. Once I opened the door to to the washroom I saw a long tail and little furry legs run behind the toilet. A large spider was sitting on the wall next to the toilet — is this an ambush?  I’m telling myself this wasn’t a rat, but a lizard with a fur coat.  Looks like tonight I will be sleeping with one eye open.

The beaches around Le Grande Almandier and San Souci were beautiful and seeing the turtles really was great.  The B&B was a good value, all in – plus I didn’t get attacked by the conspiring lizard in rat clothes and the spider.

Have you gone on a turtle safari? Have you ever opted NOT to get the air conditioning room? How did that turn out for you? Do you wonder when parents decided it wasn’t their job to raise their children any more?  Have you been looking for a domestic source for Caribs, too?

The beach from Le Grande Almandier

Le Grande Almandier – from the beach

Good god it was hot. Thankfully
we upgraded to an A/C Room

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