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The Covigne River Gorge

Dr. Joanne Paul- MBBS (UWI), FRCPCH (UK), FRCP (Edin)

Wake up in the morning early and drive to Chaguaramas. Park the car and start walking as the night transitions to light. The major stars are still out but it is not pitch black and there is a background of dim light. Mosquitoes are swarming and you walk faster and jump around to escape them. Under the cathedral of bamboo trees, you walk as the howler monkeys are waking up and the older males are marking their territory. It sounds eerie with the dim light, bamboo creaking and monkeys howling and growling. You walk up the pathway. The trail to the abandoned plane starts. The soil is dark and pregnant with the rains over the past few days. The path is slightly treacherous as you have to brake at the slippery ends and try to ovoid the soft and sludgy areas where your feet escape into the water filled earth and get soaked with sludge, insects, plant debris and the unknown.

 

Under trees and branches you go, thrilled by the sense of adventure. You come to the Y junctions and choose right or left as you follow the trail of the red and orange ribbons. Another hour goes by, and you have not yet come to the abandoned plane. Did you miss it, did you take the wrong right or left? The air is more humid now as you go higher. You can see the sea over the heads of the trees. There is a tinge of salt with the breeze. Butterflies speed by. Trees soar from gulley then skyward. Large beetles lurk, and you walk past to avoid them. Mist unfolds and disappears in patches

 

‘Should we stop and turn back?’

‘Surely by now we should have seen it’

‘Let’s do 15 minutes again and then give up and turn back’

The need for completion and destination and accomplishment is strong. The group people want to reach a goal.

 

Suddenly new sounds. Branches breaking. Maybe footsteps, not sure. Definitely voices now. A short while later a couple of walkers reaches the group.

‘How far again before we reach the plane?’

They look at the team quizzically.

They ask, ‘which side did you come from?’

For a while both groups are unclear. There is another side? Eventually it is discussed that the plane was passed a while back now and you are probably closer to the Covigne river gorge. Why not follow the pathway they say. You could either go back or go forward and see something new, maybe only 30 minutes again, mainly downhill. The couple though are lean and sinewed. The girl is wearing a full-bodied suit with shades and head covering. She seems to almost have no extra fat and is all toned muscle. The guy is bandy legged with a jersey and longer pants. He is also as lean and fit

 

You and the group choose to go forward and see more adventure. You do a body check. You feel a bit tired now. Your body fat jiggle at the side reminding of your limited endurance. You look back and see the maze of forest and trails. You walk instead forward.

 

The couple speed along and are soon much ahead. It is uphill and downhill then mainly downhill. The path downhill is more slippery than before, and you have to be extra careful. The legs are now more tired, and you are slipping more often. A next hour goes by, and you are still going downhill. Ahead a bachac nest has been disturbed and there are fiery bachacs all over. You jump and scramble past. Some run up your leg and you dance around when you are in the clearing, trying to hit and kill them before they bite you. You have almost reached the end of downhill to the river. The couple are kindly waiting. They now lead as the group trek through the river, into the small pools, along the rocks. The river water is refreshing on your feet as your lower legs are submerged in some pools. You wash your face with the water, suddenly more revived.

You reach the gorge, and it is beautiful, almost as if you were in a safari jungle-based country. It is dark and narrow with rock faces interconnecting. You climb gingerly in between and body slide over large expanses. Then along more river then back to forest pathway and then to road. The sun is high in the sky. You walk along the road until you reach the park. Persons are with their cars, bikes leaning, liming, bonding. You exchange names. Akita is the girl and Darryl the boy. They kindly drop you back to the car. You thank them for their kindness. You go now to the beach nearby. Ouch the water is cold although the sun is hot. The beach has a fair amount of people. Everyone just liming and chatting. Some children get excited with schools of fishes darting in and out. A five-year-old boy is jumping into the waves with pure glee. You taste the salt water on your lips. The group drive back home. You reach back to your house, bathe and lie still.

 

Your country, sometimes so beautiful

 

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