The Touring Party - happy at the end of a week of fun and great hospitality
The First Day - 27th March 2013
The Canadian contingent had an overnight flight from Toronto. That’s a tough flight, and even tougher for Leno and Shirley, who arrived without their luggage. There were a number of people in the check-in with what seemed like all their worldly possessions, and so some luggage got left behind … some choice words from ‘Rita girl’! Our driver Ricky showed up to take us to the Hilton, but stopped so that we could breakfast on doubles at the roadside. There was rain during the day but it cleared up before the group headed off to Queen’s Park Oval, where we were able to have an indoor net. It was very hot and humid. We had some bowling help from the Queen’s Park Club youngsters, as well as from Keran and Nazim, who turned up to help us out towards the end. We had a tour of the pavilion, including the shop and the bar, which was an excellent place to watch the cricket in this superb ground. Dinner was at 'Joseph's', a Lebanese restaurant where we had a private room and many different dishes served. Suggested tours for the future: Scotland, Surinam, California and Kenya.
Cedros, the friendly village match - 29th March 2013
There was a prolonged power cut to the whole island, starting at 1:00 am (still going on at 6:15 when we got up). Luckily, parts of the hotel have power generation - including the kitchen - so breakfast was okay. After that we only had to work out how to shave in the dark! Everyone got to the bus at the right time and we set off for the Cedros ground – the traffic was quiet due to Good Friday, so the lack of traffic lights was not a big problem. The drive to Cedros was long and punctuated by stops for fruits, the toilet and general delays! We got there after 3h and found the ground - a pretty small one with minimal facilities, but enough. Keran showed up and cooked a fish soup which was delicious, but missed by Jan and John who were busy scoring! The 30 over match started at 12:30 and Inverhaugh batted first. Too many wickets were lost at crucial times (Roy top scored with 37) but Beefy came through towards the end, scoring 36 at a run a ball, while Ali scored 20 off 20 balls and Jay 5 from 2. We were happy enough with the total as we took the field - but Vince's first over yielded 16, with 3 boundaries - so not a great start. Slowly we pulled them back and when Bart made the inspired captaincy decision to bowl Manuelo (Ron) it looked like a different game, as he took 3 wickets for 10 runs. Bally took a great catch on the boundary to bring in their last man - Colin Stewart - with 24 needed. He hit a couple of sixes and eventually they squeaked home with an over to spare. Nevertheless, it was great to be involved in a really close game. We then repaired to the Cedros Community centre, where we had numerous presentations by Inverhaugh and the Trinidad Masters team, as well as Melo Ram, who had a lot to do with getting the game to happen. He started with a presentation to our youngest supporter (Zeah) who was delighted with her tennis ball. Again, drinks and fabulous food were provided by Keran’s family. After eating we jumped back on the bus where Vinnie persuaded John to give another rendition of 'Jerusalem' - with various other songs breaking up the 150 minute trip back to the Hilton. “Once more with feeling!” to quote Vinnie.
Tobago - 30th March 2013
We had another early start but we got to the airport in good time, and after a couple of false starts we got checked in, including the boarding card for the return. Once on Tobago (a 20 minute flight) we did a short tour of Scarborough (the capital) as well as Courland Point and Fort King George, ending up for lunch at Store Bay where we got some curry crab and dumplings (the local delicacy -, but it did take a lot of effort to eat). We headed off for our reef tour in a glass bottomed boat. , but when Shirley saw the size of waves lifting the boat as we got in, she chickened out and stayed behind with Jerry, Leno, Roy and Sandra. We trundled out to the reef where Fazal was the only one to swim - because they didn't say that masks were available. It was a bit choppy and Jalpa started to feel sick, but the ladies rallied round and Nel applied pressure at the acupuncture points on her wrists, so that by the time we moved off again, she was okay. The next stop was Nylon Bay, where many of us had a swim; easing our aching muscles and enjoying the shallow, warm water. Jalpa came in with Zeah and Jay, and decided to take back some of the coral sand, which is good for exfoliating. So, the men ended up diving for the sand, while the women filled water bottles with sand. We then chugged back to the coast and found the rest of the group, and hung out on the beach. Nigel, Vince and John went swimming in the colder water with some big breakers, but when they came in and went to change, the changing room closed right in front of them! Nigel & Vince decided to stop for Shark and Bakes while the rest wandered to the airport – taking all of 3 minutes to walk there. The gate had no real facilities, so some of us repaired to the bar to wait, and also took advantage of the fried chicken shop. The flight back lasted all of 15 minutes, and on the way back to the hotel we had a long detour for food - which was fruitless (and doubles-less).
Perseverance - 31st March 2013
We started the day at a much more relaxed time; leaving at 10:30 for Chaguanas (about 30 minutes from the hotel), and picked up 7 cases of water and some ice on the way. The ground, which is also used for soccer, had short boundaries and a very dubious bounce in the field. Bart lost the toss and Inverhaugh was asked to bowl. The ball jumped and was very difficult to field, which together with the short boundaries resulted in a score of 239 in 30 overs, which was considered about par for this ground. We failed to chase it down after a slow start, but made over 200 with some late hitting (Bally, Premo and Roy in particular)). John batted for the first time on the tour, taking his first ball on the toe and having to retire hurt rather than spray blood everywhere. He wants to thank The Colonel, Debbie and Vince for all of their efforts to sort him out. Again, drinks and a great meal were provided by the host team, and Keran’s family who made us feel very welcome both during and after the game. Back at the Hilton, the group got together on the terrace for some drinks and general socialising.
The Day-Night Match - 28th March 2013
After our long day, we got up to an excellent breakfast at the Hilton, where we ate plenty because we didn't know what was happening about lunch. Shirley and Leno turned up in a happier mood as their luggage had arrived (although at 2.00 AM). David, Vince, Beefy, Premo, Virgil and John wandered down to the Savannah - Bart and Jan were supposed to come too, but they disappeared and drove past us later. They got a lift from their banker’s p.a. who happens to be here with her Trini husband. We walked around the Savannah (Queens Park), through the botanical gardens and past the zoo, making the most of the opportunity to get off the hotel ‘compound’. We cooled down at the pool before boarding the bus for the 2h drive to Penal; past the now abandoned B C Lara ground (a Sandford victim). The ground was easy to find, and Jai (The Colonel) got the Inverhaugh flag flying. He nearly had an infraction 15.1 (flying the flag upside down - a sign of distress) but luckily corrected it in time. We warmed up and fielded first against Keran (OJ's) team who made 187 in 25 overs due to some heavy hitters. In reply, we had a slow start with Beefy run out without scoring, but Roy was going well before he was run out for 43. Then, our middle order was ripped out by G David - a very, very slow bowler who took the wickets of Bally, Ali, Vince (first ball) and Bart on his way to 4/21 in 4 overs. We were eventually beaten by 40 runs, but on the plus side, Jay batted and his wife (Jalpa) and his 2 year old daughter (Zeah) watched him score 24 n/o at a run a ball. Not that it affected the result, but this was the first time for many of us to play under lights. Dinner and drinks were provided by our hosts (thanks Keran and family) and we boarded the bus at 8.30, arriving back at the Hilton around 11:00 pm.
Las Cuevas Beach - 1st April 2013
The majority of the touring party headed for the beach, after singing 'Happy Birthday' to Fazal. A cake showed up from Peter’s van halfway to the beach, which ended up being desert. Las Cuevas beach was a bit further on than the popular Maracas Bay, with less facilities and less people, a really beautiful spot. Leno organised sun loungers for most of the group, and we found a decent spot with some shade from trees and a fishing boat, before spending lots of time with 'The Doctor' (letting the sea work it's magic on our bruises, cuts, aches and pains). There were some huge waves to play in, so body surfing was fun – Debbie, Bibi and Jayne were clearly enjoying the water … memories of St Maarten! Aruna was persuaded by the girls to put on a swim-suit for the first time and proudly walked into the water with the rest of the group. Ali and Bally turned up with a cooler full of drinks, bringing the party with them (thanks guys!). We packed up at 2:00 and headed back to Port of Spain, passing a line of cars waiting to get to the beach – at least 5 km long. Nigel, Vince and John walked to the local Indian restaurant 'Apsara' where we had a good meal and, as we walked out, Vince noticed Deryck Murray (ex-Windies wicket keeper) dining there. Meanwhile, Bart, Jan, David, Fran and Virgil decided that a sit down meal was not what was needed, so they wandered down to the Savannah for dinner of street food – later being caught up by Fazal & Jai. They found venders selling their wares (while families flew kites) and enjoyed some jerk chicken. As per instructions, they walked back before it got dark. There was another gathering on the terrace at the Hilton.
Golf, shopping and the farewell dinner - 2nd April 2013
About half of the group headed for the golf course early in the morning, and we later heard that someone managed to take out an excavator, which was harmlessly sitting by one of the greens! Most of the ladies (plus David, Nigel and John) visited a couple of local malls and a very good Indian shop where spices were plentiful. It’s interesting travelling with ‘the ladies’. On the plus side we learned some cooking and shopping tips, and on the other side it seemed like getting them back on the bus was like herding cats. Ricky then took us to another mall to try and find a Trinidad and Tobago one day shirt for Nigel, but that didn’t work out. However there were West Indies cricket hats available and the boys picked these up rather than go back empty handed. The golfers joined us at the food court, and then we headed back to the hotel, where David, Jerry, Virgil, Vince, John and Leno occupied the terrace for a while drinking beer. The end of tour dinner was another excellent Indian meal, ending up with presentations to our drivers Ricky and Peter, and the usual opportunity to comment on an excellent tour. The group was together for the last time, so we took a group photograph. Nigel became the group photograph collector using his iPad and promised to set up a website where these could be shared when we got home. We repaired to the terrace at the hotel again for the last time, saying goodbye to Premo and Jackie who had a 4:30 am pick up, and then to Bart, Jan, Jai, Sally, Roy and Sandra as the group broke up.
The Journey Home - 3rd April 2013
The Canadian contingent (Shirley, Leno, Nigel, David, Fran, John and Vince) had one of the later departures, along with Fazal, Virgil, Rudy, Nel, Ashwani and Aruna. John managed to get a shoe onto his foot for the first time since Sunday in preparation for a long day of travel. Travel back was relatively uneventful, and emails followed for the next few days on everyone’s arrival home.
This was another fabulous trip, highlighted by the hospitality we received, but mostly by the way the group gets on together. It is a mixed group, slightly different each time, but with continuity from trip to trip. It was summarized by our driver Ricky, even though he was “unaccustomed to public speaking”. He said his week was not about driving a cricket team around, but about driving and having fun with a large family … he spoke from his heart.
The end of the adventure: Where to next time?