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The Secret Trinidad Garden

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The Secret Garden in Trinidad

by Chrissi

The day after Christmas, feeling lazy and a little bored, Jack and I decided to take a dinghy ride and explore the north shore of Trinidad. The sea was kicking up a huge swell, making dinghy landing impossible, so after a few minutes of being tossed by big and frightening seas, we gave up on the north shore and headed into a tranquil and unknown bay, the location of which I cannot tell. We motored around in the shallows, searching the trees for guava and sapodilla. We found a small area crowded with coconut palms, and went ashore there. Most of the nuts on the ground were very old and dried up, but a few were alright for eating, so we made a small pile of them to bring back to Naga. We had brought along our rubber knee boots and machete, so not finding anything spectacular in the coconut grove, following an overgrown path into the jungle seemed like a good idea.

Onward we trekked, under vines and over branches, past thorny bush and razor grass. The mud sucked hungrily at our boots, and the smell of rotting vegetation permeated the thick air. After a while we came to a break in the dense growth, and the jungle gave way to a sun drenched clearing. By clearing, I mean you can see the sky. You still cant walk three steps forward without being tripped by madly growing plants. And there, like an oasis in the midst of the harsh surroundings, we discovered The Secret Garden.

Lime trees, orange trees, grapefruit trees, the fruit was falling off the heavily laden branches and rotting in the dirt beneath! I screamed with joy, ripped off my t-shirt, and began filling it with sweet ripe citrus. Looking up from my task, we saw a building, and thought, whoops, this is private property, we better ask permission before we go taking all this fruit. The building was small, just ten or twelve feet square, and there was a padlock on the door, but nobody was home. From the look of things, nobody had been there in a long time. The citrus grove was overgrown with weeds and other plants, and the fruit really was just rotting where it had fallen. We spied some sugar apples, out of season and moldering on the branches, and we knew that this place had been long abandoned. Yippie for we, free food, cant just let it go to waste! This was not just a citrus grove, there was a great big sorrel tree, some pomme citere trees, sapodilla, papaya, and banana plants all over the place, falling to the ground from the weight of their fruit. No kidding, we just picked four huge bunches of banana off the ground, the largest one weighing around forty pounds! The birds were having an after-Christmas feast on a ripe papaya high up on a tree, and jack shook down a foot-long beauty for our own banquet. With hands, pockets and t-shirts filled with edible wonders, we went back to the dingy, dropped it all off and went back to the garden for more.

We couldn't possibly eat all that we had taken, but we knew exactly what to do with the surplus. Share. One of our neighbors here in Scotland Bay is a rather poor family with three children. They live on a very interesting boat. It's a Waram catamaran, the hulls and spars are all lashed together with lines and ropes, the deck beams are sewn together, not screwed with epoxy, and the hulls are as many different colors as a bird has feathers. The sails he had used for the past six years were made from plastic rice bags before they had me sew up some dacron ones from some old used oversized sails. Very enterprising people, cruising / living on a shoestring budget, yet somehow managing to make their dreams come true. A mound of citrus and a huge bunch of bananas was very welcomed. We passed out our good cheer and fresh produce to some of our other neighbors, even the ones who had annoyed us by anchoring too close.

We proudly tied the big forty pound bunch of green bananas from the back of our boom, where it now rests, hanging in the sun to ripen. What I am going to do with them all, I don't know. They will all ripen at once. Banana bread, banana pie, banana preserves, dehydrated banana, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, banana omelet, or just plain sweet ripe all-by-itself bananas!

And papaya, oranges, limes, grapefruit (pink and yellow,) sapodilla, and don't forget, that wonderfully versatile coconut. We plan to go back in a few days, look around a little more thoroughly, see if we cant find pumpkin, squash or provision, Jack says if someone planted all those fruit trees, surely there's vegetables there too. Can't tell you where the Secret Garden is, because it's a secret, but before we leave Trinidad we will pass on the knowledge of this fabulous treasure, and keep that fruit from rotting in the dirt.




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