Monday, March 25, 2013

Not your first destination vacation choice!

For p-day this week, we went to another of the 4 tourist attractions in Trinidad with some of the office senior missionaries. I have already reported on two of them.  It was nice, but I'm just saying if you get to pick a Caribbean island to visit on vacation, this might not be the one!  Perfect mission to request, though!
 We passed this home on the way to the Asa Wright nature center.  It was unusual in that it had no roof.  Clearly people are living in it.  Laundry was hanging on the line, and you can see the mother and child by the right side of the house. 
 Peruse the three-lane-highway we traveled to get there.  I admit to praying along the way a few times.  We are so freaked out by the frequency of accidents; yesterday we passed a vehicle that flipped, went off the road and burned. We didn't get a phone call, so no missionaries involved.  There really are no rules on the road at all, at least that anybody pays any attention to!
 We passed an intricate system of gardening for a certain vegetable that is widely eaten here.  It was across the whole side of the mountain.  You can see here underneath the intricate wire lattice system that supports the vines.  The vegetable kind of looks like elongated avocados.  There is one here in the shade part in the middle of the photo, but it is hard to see.
 Look closely at the top of the wire structure that holds them above the ground for easy picking underneath the vines.
 We finally arrived at the Asa Wright nature center.  I loved this saying, and thought we need one up at the cabin. Asa Wright was from Iceland and very wealthy.  She visited Trinidad, loved the rain forest and purchased acres to keep safe from land development and human encroachment.  One can stay there overnight; it's touted as a bird refuge.  We enjoyed it and met people from all over the world that came to stay for days to watch birds.  We didn't see many on our guided tour, but talked to a lady from CA who said there are many other walks with unusual birds including to a cave that has very rare oil birds and other unique species, if you are a birder! 
 Here's a picture of her, thanks to google!  She lived there until her death in 1971.
 These are leaves, not flowers!
 All these colorful hummingbirds played outside the deck where we awaited our tour guide.
 Here's Elder Monson in front of a wild nutmeg tree!
 These rattan vines are found throughout the rain forest and made into furniture.  Incredibly strong, and the guide explained that the different colors of rattan wood are created from the length of time they are buried under the ground.  Less time equals a lighter color and left up to a month, a dark walnut color is the result.  They grow to huge lengths, up to 100 feet. 
 Elder Monson holding onto a bamboo cluster.  It actually grows 6- 9 inches per day!!  Someone on the tour said that bamboo has been used to torture prisoners by attaching it to their skin and letting it grow through the body! 
 A beautiful and unusual flower.
 This is a termite colony.  We saw huge ones in Caroni Swamp. (remember the birds?)  The guide  said they are loaded with beta carotene and have kept people alive by eating them.  He also let a man on the tour stick his finger inside and taste it!  He asked him what it tasted and smelled like.  The guy said, "carrots!"  Weird, huh?  Elder Monson hung back to sneak a bite for the road.  I caught him just in time!
 This beautiful archway is in front of the gift shop and registration building. 
 Here are two friends for my grandchildren to see!  #1
 #2! I'm glad we didn't come upon him unawares!  We didn't see as many birds as we had hoped, but there were some serious insects!
 A place to go for a dip at the end of the tour, if you want! We did see a huge iguana that sped away twice before we could take his picture.  Too bad.  However, we decided against a dipping after noting the plentiful insect population around. We headed out and were thrilled to arrive home without accident.
 There are tons of these stands everywhere!!  We are just dying to try pig tail, ox tail and cow heel soup!  Aren't you?
 Filling up at the gas station, we noticed this bizarre sign.  A sister explained that naked lights are front and back car lights that have busted covers, just bare bulbs that might ignite a fire when you fill up!
 The  no rules thing.....yeah, it goes for vehicle emission testing, too.  There are no regulations so all of this comes from one truck  driving down the freeway. We ride behind cars and the smoke engulfing us is blinding!
 This is, of course, the left side of our vehicle.  My relaxed posture is in stark contrast to the incredulity at my right as Elder Monson continues to repeat, "Can you believe that?; Did you see that?; That guy is really cutting in front of everybody and doing such and such!"  I've become accustomed to Trinidad! Nothing surprises me.....until tomorrow and it's my turn to take our lives into my hands!
On our way to church, yesterday, we passed this church group following after a huge sound system playing music while they walked, danced and chanted along the street for Palm Sunday!  We went to a very remote branch which took us three hours round trip and found there 8 adults and one lone 12 year old boy.  This young man never has his own Sunday School class.  We asked him after Sacrament meeting if he would like us to teach him in his own class.  He was thrilled.  We asked him if he had any questions.  He asked, "Who is Jesus's father and who is God's father."  Those were great questions which led to a very sweet lesson.  At the end of it, Elder Monson asked Shawn if he would like to say the closing prayer.  His prayer was one of those times we are so thankful we have this opportunity to serve a mission.  He said, "Heavenly Father, thank you that Elder and Sister Monson could come and teach me Sunday School today.  Thank you that I could learn new things about Jesus and thank you especially that I came today to have this experience."
This young man told us his mother was in the hospital because she drinks rum all the time.  His sister is in jail and is a drug addict.  He comes to church with his grandmother and is the only one in the family that comes.  At the end, we asked him if he had any more questions.  His response was, "How can I keep this feeling of peace when everyone around me is screaming and swearing and being mean?"  We helped him memorize a scripture: "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."
Have a great Passion Week celebration as you prepare to remember the most significant event of all eternity!

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