A Day in Three Voices
Part I – written by Lacey Crabill
With an earlier start to our day, we departed Matura Village at 7:30am and drove up to the northeastern coast to Grand Riviere. Along the way, we stopped at Galera Point, the most northeasterly point on Trinidad. Here, we climbed over large rocks on the coastline and watched ocean waves crash against them.
After a little while, we gathered together under the shade of a few trees and had a beautiful testimony meeting where Mia read and others shared gratitude for the blessings and healings they’ve experienced thus far. Afterward, we drove the rest of the way to Grand Riviere where we were introduced to the Grand Riviere sea turtle conservation project and learned about the increased numbers of nesting sea turtles over the past 20 years.
Today, it is believed to be the most densely nested leatherback beach in the world. When they first started their conservation program, they would only find up to 60 sea turtles on their 1km long beach every night during the peak of the season. Now, they will have up to 200-500 turtles nesting there each night at this same time! With each turtle laying up to 85 eggs in one nest, as many as 42,500 sea turtle eggs are laid per night! Yet, even with this abundance, due to other nesting sea turtles digging up previously laid nests (because of the small land mass on which they are digging 25,000 nests annually) , predators, poaching, fishing nets, etc., most of the sea turtles will not survive (the average is 1-2 per 1000 hatchlings survive).
*Learn more at this website: http://www.turtlevillagetrust.org/grande-riviere.htm
Part II – written by Steve Bailey
After lunch (including a thoroughly entertaining Discovery video featuring a decades younger Dr. Scott Eckert) the group adjourned to the nearby beach for an afternoon of kickin’ back and enjoying the sun and surf.
It was particularly nice to get some time on a beach during the day, since up until this point, all of the group’s beach experience had been at night.
We set up camp in the shade and spent the next several hours soaking up the sun, diving for a frisbee, and body surfing with the waves as they rolled in.
Nearby we discovered a small beachfront shop that sold traditional island knickknacks and souvenirs. Two friendly dreadlocked locals even convinced me that the sarongs they were selling were adequately manly, despite the presence of red and pink flowers, to warrant me buying one. It became a functional purchase immediately (serving as a beach towel) as we laid out in the warm sand and watched the rolling surf and diving sea birds.
The group even managed to catch a glimpse of several sea turtles surfacing amidst the waves just offshore. After several hours and more-than-adequate sun exposure (given the current tender and reddened state of most of our shoulders and necks), we shook the sand from our towels, packed our bags, and bid the northern coast farewell.
Though our time there had been limited, the beach at Grande Riviere provided a much-welcomed and peaceful afternoon of relaxation amidst an otherwise busy schedule.
Part III – written by Heather Barron
Happily rejuvenated, we all boarded the bus for the long drive back to Matura. Our trusty driver, Tony, wound us around the northern/northeastern coastline on narrow roads lush with banana, mango and cacao trees, pausing at one lane bridges when there was oncoming traffic, honking signals to acknowledge people he knew, or to alert anyone coming opposite us on blind corners, or to shoo a dog out of the road.
We passed a colorful array of homes, out buildings, kiosks, schools and the like as we went through village after village. Another beautiful day to precede another night of going and looking for turtles.
Some of the group stayed back this night to work on papers/projects, or simply to rest, while others ventured back out to Matura Beach to look for turtles.
Part IV – written by Jewelle Matheny
Francis Donald Superville. What an incredible guy full of one liners, life wisdom and an amazing life story. We pelted him with life questions and he gave us speeches about each topic. Here is a quick list of a few of his sayings:
“Think twice, do once.”
“Everyday is a special day, as soon as you see it as special.”
“Try and fail but don’t fail to try.”
“Go with the flow, Man.”
Since there were no turtles coming up on shore, we basically sat and chatted on logs peering into the ocean listening to background undistinguishable chatter on the radio, erupting in fits of laughter every couple of minutes. Multiple times we donned our raingear only to realize the storm had just barely missed us.
We learned how to spot turtles far off in the ocean with our night vision, After walking two zones (which the beach is broken into 18 zones) , we came across a palm hut. All of us huddled in it and took funny pictures. Then we pestered Francis to pretend to be a sea turtle so that we could collect data from him! After a bit more pestering from all six of his “daughters” (which he called us), he and Sam did a little turtle imitation including “camoflauging” (the process turtles go through to hide their nests on the beach after laying eggs). One adventure led to the next . Soon enough, under Francis’ watch, we were all hiding in the palm fort ready to jump out at the other returning groups. Even though our surprise attack did not go as planned, we successfully scared four people! It was a night I will never forget, even though we did not see any turtles (other than Francis and Sam). We relaxed, we laughed, and we were goofy. We embodied the qualities that Francis so obviously role models for everyone: childlikeness, curiosity, ingenuity and fetterless joy. Francis has taught all of us a lot about loving and “working smart not hard.”