4 August 2015 by Paula
It’s day 3 for Joanna Ostapkowicz on her research trip to Trinidad:
“Day 3: Mountains, Maracas beach and more mangos: the Central North West
The North West is Trinidad’s mountainous region, with steep roads heading out to the coasts. The roads cut through mountain rock, sometimes with only bamboo groves keeping the road from slipping down slope. It is here that we found some of the largest examples of our key species – such as this magnificent Andira sp. (Angelin), perched along the Marienne River.
Wherever you are in Trinidad, it seems you’re not far from a mango tree – which provides a sweet ‘on the go’ snack. There was heated debate on which is the best variety – from honey-sweet doux-doux (or dou-douce) to Julie, Starch, Black, Cutless and the appropriately named ‘belly-full’ mango – but the best way to find out, in the tried and tested method, was to sample as many varieties as possible. What sacrifice in the name of science! My vote went to the doux-doux.
We sampled 15 specimens that day – not mangos, but our key species – with many sampling challenges due to the height of the trees. However Harris’ proficiency with ad-lib bamboo garden tools secured these hard-won specimens for our study.
Many people come to the Caribbean for its beaches, and Trinidad has some beautiful examples – such as Maracas beach, which heaves with people on the weekends. When we arrived, towards the end of the day, it was quiet, with only a few ‘bake and shark’ stands open (the beach snack of Trinidad and Tobago made of fried bread, shark and all manner of sauce combinations). In contrast to what most people think of when you say you do research in the Caribbean, this was to be one of only two – yes two – visits to a beach in Trinidad during the month I was there, all en-route to sampling sites. Due to the pace of work, I had little time for sand and surf, only managing a beach-side visit in all my fieldwork gear – not conducive to a dip in the lovely waters. But then there are other perks to working here… did I mention the mangos?”
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