Today was pretty strenuous but a good one overall. Tim, Liz, and I began the day by waking up at 5am to meet our guide at 6 to make the four hour trek up Cerro Del Arippo, which is the tallest peak in Trinidad and Tobago. Yes this was a free day, no it wasn’t a punishment, and yes we did pay for it (physically as well as our wallets). We meet Cristo near our house and once I saw him I knew it was going to be a good hike. I hope we can attach a picture, but all I saw from the car was a man wearing military issue black boots with green pants tucked into them, a darker green sleeveless shirt tucked into that, a camouflage hat, a large machete attached to his belt, a green backpack (which I later learned actually said diesel on it) and he was about 5’9” 220. If I had passed this guy on the street, I probably would have crossed to the other side or turned around…quickly. But upon meeting him he seemed like a really nice guy as we drove up to the hiking spot. He is a local shaman (medicine man) in the town near where we are staying and in the 15 minute ride to the hiking spot proceeded to tell us a lot about not only his practices but other tourists and the students he works with from Trinity College (Conn.).
For those of you who don’t know Liz, I kindly refer to her as a preschooler with a Masters degree, and even before we got into the mountains she looked like a 3 year old girl who had been told that she could pick out what she wanted at Toys’R’Us. Tim and I were also excited, but we are not the early risers that Liz is. The hike started at a pretty good pace but we would frequently stop to ask questions, take pictures, and drink water. Some views were good but we were mostly surrounded by trees and could not see a whole lot of the surrounding area. Once at the top we took a lunch break of peanut butter sandwiches that Tim and I slaved over to make for everyone except Cristo, who allowed us to share half of his homemade pita and sausage/meat sandwhich/thing (I’m bad at remembering names). Anyways afterwards Cristo was able to chop us a path with his machete to look for golden tree frogs, which only occur on two mountain tops in T&T and only live in tank bromeliads, so in otherwords they are really rare and hard to find. After little luck finding any frogs Liz decided to try her hand with the machete, which was a little embarrassing. Cristo made it look easy and basically seemed to cut down most small branchs and bamboo with a flick of the wrist, but this technique did not work for Liz. She went for the two handed and full body technique, which still didn’t seem to work out a whole lot. After having a good laugh at her we trekked back down the mountain. After numerous falls and laughter, even with Cristo-made walking sticks (which are awesome), we finally made it back down the mountain covered in mud, sweat, and not smelling the best (esp. Tim man that guy sweats and he decided to wear a long-sleeve shirt as well as pants…). We were all quite pleased with our accomplishment and enjoyed the workout at the least. We dropped Cristo off back at his house (which was a 20 min drive and both Tim and I fell asleep) and then picked up groceries for the rest of the crew. We got back, showered, ate, read, hung out, and called it a night. In the end a good day and I think at least the three of us will sleep very soundly tonight.