I joined Island Hikers for a Saturday hike to Yarra Gorge and River, located in northern Trinidad. The group assembly point was at Maracas Bay, just after a row of restaurant shacks, all of whom were still closed at 7:30 in the morning. There were a few early birds on the beach but it was mostly quiet except for the ever growing hiking group. Once everyone had signed in, paid the $40TT (about $8CDN) fee, we were given these instructions on how to get to Yarra Gorge:
“Follow the road until you hit Blanchicheuse Secondary School on your right. 20 meters later, there is a road on the right so take that. Don’t cross the bridge! Take the road. Whatever you do, don’t take the bridge.”
I don’t know about you, but that made me want to take the bridge. Unfortunately (or thankfully), I wasn’t the one driving. The caravan of cars wound through the mountain roads and through La Fillette, a village that had a strong air of poverty and isolation. People stared at us as we drove past; I couldn’t help but wonder if the caravan was the excitement for the day. Then we came to a split where one direction had the road to our hike meeting point and the other had the infamous bridge which looked rather innocuous after all.
This is where life jackets came in handy. Following the river meant walking through the river itself for about 90% of the time. Much of that is wading. But some of it required actual swimming. And the water was cold. Refreshing, yes, but the initial dunkings were freezing. In some spots, the flow is swift and water was not clear so we couldn’t really see the logs, branches, and rocks waiting to bash our legs. Those who didn’t take life jackets generally ended up seriously regretting it – their manly prides were cut to shreds.
The whole experience was fantastic. Being in the middle of a rainforest, listening to the silence beyond the rushing river. Sometimes the stillness was eerie and other times, it was just peaceful. I certainly got my adventure and a tiny taste of what it would have been like to be an explorer. The day ended back at Maracas Bay – I enjoyed a shark and bake along with a sorrel Carib shandy. They are only rewards suited to capping off this phenomenal experience!*
- So….in order to be fair and transparent, about a week later, my sister and I both started showing symptoms of chikungunya. Being continually immersed in water meant that our mosquito spray got washed off and unfortunately, the chikungunya mosquito bites during the day. Oops. We’re fine now and good news – now that we’ve had it, it is likely we won’t get it again. So more rainforest adventures for me!