During a recent email exchange with my publicist, we were discussing fun facts about the author—the author being me. While ruminating on my travel experiences, my mind wandered to the pets I’ve had in various countries throughout the years, and some were not your normal ones. Continue reading
My father was a workaholic. However, one year he decided we all needed a vacation, so we packed up the car and drove to the perfect spot—Toco. The seaside town is a fisherman’s paradise, but the area held good times for us kids as well. Toco is the most northeasterly village on the isle of Trinidad and is where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
My parents rented a two-story house on a remote strip of sand near Grande Riviere. Here, the river flows into the ocean. In the mornings we would bodysurf the ocean waves and in the afternoons river swim, hardly seeing anyone on this isolated stretch of beach, which for an entire week was our private shoreline.
One morning, we hiked along the riverbanks through the rainforest to a magnificent waterfall and swam in the huge pool below, the water cool and the falls refreshing as the waters cascaded over us.
Grand Riviere is one of the primary nesting grounds for leatherback and hawksbill turtles. Although it was not peak breeding season for turtles while we vacationed, we did spot several giant leatherbacks that had come ashore to lay their eggs. Today, Toco is a popular tourist destination and one of the most visited turtle beaches in the world.
Living in this paradise, we hoped it would never end, but in late 1966 my father told us his next overseas job would take us to . . . Africa.
Next week: “Ibadan, Nigeria: 1966-1968.”
For school, my parents enrolled me in St. Joseph’s Convent. Our principal, a tall, stately woman as I recall, was Mother Superior Theresa Corbie. However, the nun I feared the most was Mother Sebastian. An ominous figure in starched white, she crackled with every step as she bustled down the passages of the cloistered buildings. Her pale Irish face, as white as her garments, only glowed a warm pink if she was angered, but most times she wore a blank stare that made me wonder about her next move. Often my knuckles gleamed red from the whack of her ruler, the disciplinary stick never far from her grasp. It wasn’t until I joined Mother Sebastian’s mandatory embroidery class that I came to respect her and see her in a completely different light.
One hot afternoon as I leaned over my embroidery hoop, pulling through a strand of saffron-colored silk, I looked up to see Mother Sebastian hovering over me, eyes on my cross-stitch. She frowned. I tensed. “Well done, Patricia.” She smiled, and for the first time I noticed her sparkling blue eyes and the tufts of red hair that poked from behind her ears where the temples of her glasses rested. In that moment she became a teacher and not the disciplinarian I feared. Today, I carry fond memories of Mother Sebastian, so fond that she will play a pivotal role in Clonx, thriller number four in the Darcy McClain Series.
My eldest brother attended Mount St. Benedict. Founded in 1912 by Benedictine monks, the monastery is perched on a mountainside with spectacular views of Port of Spain and the airport to the east—a spiritual retreat from the hectic outside world and a must-visit destination if you are in Trinidad.
Less than a year after we moved to the West Indies, Dad brought home our first pet—one of a type we had never seen before and never expected to ever own.
Next week: “Trinidad, Part 3: Julio.”