After three weeks at the hotel mum and dad moved into a rented house. I think it was up San Fernando Hill. Mum wasn’t dead keen on the position as it was rather lonely and being on the edge of a rainforest, full of snakes, millipedes and super sized lizards. The other refinery wives lived on a nice estate provided by the oil company. It was rather lonely for her as dad worked long hours. There was a house either side of us. One neighbour had an Alsation dog which bit dad one morning on his way to the car in our drive, so he had to have a rabies jab just in case. The other neighbour used to sit on his balcony playing the guitar and singing Andy Williams songs. He was pretty good.
All the same, mum and I would have preferred to live with the other oil refinery families next to the Texaco Club which had a massive swimming pool set amongst closely cropped grass. We did go once a week but it meant staying all day if we hitched a ride with dad both ways. Sometimes we would get a taxi and on one occasion mum mentioned to the driver she had bad ear ache since the long plane journey. His advice? “Madam, you need to fry a few cockroaches and then pour the oil in your ear!”
If dad was off work we would laze around the pool a bit and then he and I would swim as mum wasn’t a swimmer. He taught me to dive from the top board. I only did it once and it was a long drop finding myself at the bottom of the pool but I soon came up. I had my first proper burger there as anything American seemed to be the thing.
On Sundays, we’d drive through sugar cane plantations to Mayaro Beach on the eastern side of the island to laze under the coconut trees and swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Soon locals would climb the tall Palm trees to collect coconuts, hack the top off and provide a straw. Service with a smile. The water was quite choppy and the beach sandy and clean.
One Sunday we saw a man in the middle of the road next to the sugar cane walking on the spot near a rather large tarantula!
Most Sundays we were joined by a colleague of dad’s and his girlfriend. They had a row pretty much every time we saw them and the man was a sulker and wouldn’t speak to his girlfriend for days.
I always enjoyed the longish drive to the beach, as there were so many fascinating sights and sounds. Many of the houses in Trinidad were built on stilts, supposedly to make it harder for the creepie crawlies to enter the house. No idea if that worked but our house was on ground level.
Mum employed a lady to help around the house, Anita, a middle aged Trinidadian who always brought an umbrella, not matter what the weather. One day Anita found a shoelace snake at the front door. She swiftly chopped it in several pieces and rushed to the back door. She told us when you find a shoelace snake at the door, you will always find one at the other door and she was right. It was sitting on the back door step.
One night Anita was babysitting me and Sandra. We were sent to bed at varied bed times as I am 10 years older than my sister. At some time during the night we were burgled. Anita said she was asleep! Mum and dad were out at the Naparima nightclub dancing the night away. We used to put white powder on the floor to kill the millipedes (not much chance of that) and when they got home, mum and dad saw footprints leading to Sandra’s bed in their room, obviously checking she was asleep. There was sugar everywhere, as Anita filled her umbrella with sugar to take home! So Anita had to go.
This led to several changes in our San Fernando household.