"Chacachacare, at the west of the first Boca, is horseshoe shaped and very hilly. The hills slope towards the inside of the horseshoe. At the junction of the arms of the horseshoe, the land is flat and marshy. At times of spring tidesor in rough weather the sea often passes over the isthmus. Boats can be hauled from calm water on the east to La Tinta, so called on account of the colour of the sand, which is black, the water being clear, but the sand beneath it makes it look black.
In 1791, there were many people living on this island, cultivating ground provisions and sugar apples (Annona squamosa). During the time of slavery large quantities of cotton were grown, which after emancipation was abandoned. Later, when the price of cotton was very high, the industry was re-established by Messrs. Gerold and Urich. There were also three or four whaling stations carried on by Messrs. Gerold and Urich, Tardieu and F. Urich and Partners.
Looking across the Boca Grande there is a view of the Venezuelan mountains eight miles [12.9 km] away. On a clear day they appear to be much closer. On the land side of the bay there is a fringe of deadly Manchineel tree [(Hippomane mancinella)]. Tall cacti and aloes grow on the cliffs on the southern shore. There is a pebbly beach—Bande de Sud—inside which there is a lagoon from what in the early days the islanders attempted to extract salt.
About 1887 a stone pier and a large house for the use of a sanatorium was erected on the island by S. Chittendon. At present there is only a lighthouse on the west and the Leper Asylum on the island."
Will had promised Arlene way back in Savannah that he'd be home before Christmas, but due to unfavorable winds we encountered after Puerto Rico which blew Lillie Mae onto the Venezuelan coast, we didn't make it to Trinidad 'til Christmas day. That was too late for Will to be part of already scheduled family holiday events, so because he felt real bad about it (and because Christmas is an even bigger deal in TT than it is here), plans were duly finalized about a week later to take Arlene and her sisters and nephews and nieces on a day trip aboard Lillie for some belated family time.
After some discussion, the decided upon destination was Chacachacare, a Trinidadian national park and uninhabited island in the Bocas del Dragón. The morning of the expedition found Arlene and Will's beautiful, warm-hearted family boarding Lillie Mae with coolers full of island delicacies and shandy and other beverages for the outing, and about an hour's sail after casting off from our berth in Chaguaramas Bay we were anchored off the allegedly haunted island Christopher Columbus had named El Caracol because it coils upon itself like a snail.
Until a few decades ago there was a leprosarium on Chacachacare, and most of the buildings still visible from offshore were once part of that facility.
Though I passed near the shoreline on Lillie's inflatable a time or two with Arlene's nephews, I didn't go ashore because my camera was malfunctioning and it would have involved a fair amount of slithering around on razor-edged rocks and I might have spilled my beer, and maybe also because I'm sorta old and stuff, I dunno. Will and Arlene have hiked all over the island though, and they say you can see ransacked file cabinets from the leprosarium's administrative buildings strewn up and down the forested pathways along-side clothing and other possessions of the lepers who were once banished to this remote place.
The company and the sun and sea and sights and sounds around such a mysteriously jungled island on such a gloriously exotic tropical day were more mind blowingly, peak-life-experience fantastic than anything a landlubbing blue collar Kansan might hope to experience in the usual run of events, but nonetheless by mid-afternoon I had got sorta drowsy. As everyone else chatted merrily away in the cockpit or went ashore on the inflatable, I was just sitting there on Lillie's bow fiddling with my camera and sipping on a beer when I noticed... wtf man?
There was some kinda damn... thing emerging from the briny depths about 20 feet to starboard!
Thankfully, in those days I was faster with a camera than ol' Wild Bill Hickock ever was with his six shooters, so even though my dear old Canon Rebel EOS T3 had by that time been pretty much ruined by salt water and 100s of 1000s of snaps taken over just a few weeks time, I managed to fire off a couple shots as the whatsit surfaced, chuffed an audible burble of air and saltwater just like a dolphin, then sank back out of sight before anyone aboard Lillie Mae but myself even noticed a damn thing.
And here is where I am asking all my marine biologist homies out there what they think. What the hell was that damn thing? It's a little hard to tell two and a half years later complicated with perspective-related foreshortening of the images and so forth, but near as I could tell at the time the visible part of whatever that critter is appeared to be four or five feet in length. Making note of the apparently very rough, reptilian, alagae-coated skin covering it presented, coupled with the fact that it blew air out of somewhere on what certainly must be the Creature's headish area, is there anyone out there who can give me some idea as to what the heck the Creature of Chacachacare might possiby be?
And by the way - many thanks to all a'y'all for your expressions of kindness when tr ig passed, including Loriannnnne who I erroneously accused on Facebook the other day (mainly because I'd had too much whine but that ain't never no damn excuse) of terminating OS with the express purpose of keeping me from finishing this post.
All images ©2017 by nanatehay