Flew from Sydney to Los Angeles.
During our seven hour wait for our ongoing flight to Miami, we visited the Tar Pits and Museum at Rancho La Brea. The Tar Pits are pretty ordinary now but the Museum is still very bright, well maintained and as fascinating as ever. It is amazing that they have collected so many skeletons of animals which lived hereabouts a few tens of thousands of years ago. Being able to see the displays reminds one of our very recent, and perhaps very tenuous, grip on this world. In the afternoon, we flew on to Miami where we were put up in one of the chain hotels, I can't remember which.
In the morning we flew on to Port of Spain in Trinidad where we had to overnight again. The hotel was no more memorable than the one in Miami.
On to Tobago very early this morning where we were met by Ivor who hasn't changed a bit. Because there were so many people in town for the wedding, Ivor had arranged for us to stay in a guest apartment closer to the airport than the town. As we were some way from everywhere, he also arranged for us to hire a car for the week.
Lunch was at Joy's mother's house and we met up with all the family members we had known in London and lots of others.
We found a cute little restaurant nearby where we had breakfast most days before going on to the house where the visiting family members were staying.
The family assembled included Ivor's mother Mrs Wong, Ivor's sisters Shirley and Janet and Shirley's husband from Gulfport Mississippi, Ivor's brother Gerald from London, Janet's son Alex from New York, and other cousins I can't place now. Ivor's younger brother Sidney was unable to come because his ex wife had stolen his passport and he wouldn't have been able to get back into the USA without it. It was said that I could never have met Shirley as she wasn't in London when I was there, so I can't explain why she seemed so familiar.
Each day they would provide us both with lunch and on one occasion Mrs Wong herself did the cooking.
In the afternoon, we all went to the Roman Catholic Church in Scarborough for the wedding. There were masses of people there and the clothes people wore showed a tremendous range of styles, from very hot close fitting floral dresses on some of the Tobagan ladies to the sober conservative attire of the parents of the groom and the visiting Australians. During the service it rained like mad but nobody seemed put out at all.
After the service we were warmly welcomed by the parents of the bride who were much impressed that we would travel so far to attend the wedding. This wedding was something of a dynastic coupe because the bride is daughter of the sole hardware importer in Tobago and the groom is son of the sole food importer in Tobago. Both of them plan to work in, and eventually take over, the family businesses so between them they will control everything anyone on the island wants to buy.
The reception was held in a restaurant which was the only place on the island capable of seating the vast number of people there. Even then the tables were all in the garden under tents. Despite intermittent cloudbursts, everyone had a rip-roaring good time, even Mrs Wong, now in her nineties who was carried in her chair onto the dance floor at some quite late hour by four of the grooms college mates so that she could join in the revelry.
After a latish breakfast, we all went out to the Reef in a boat and most people swam in the beautiful water of the Carribean.
Jean and I drove to a place called Arnos Vale where we had lunch in style in a restaurant developed from an old sugar factory. It sounds grim but the machinery is embedded in a beautiful rain forest and the whole thing is quite charming.
Ivor took a day off work to show us the island. I drove and he navigated. We went up the spine of the island seeing how the local population live by subsistence farming though I noticed that they all seem to have cable TV.
We visited one of the must see sights of Tobago which is a waterfall in the National Park. The bird life of Tobago is fascinating for an Aussie birdwatcher and, with the help of a field guide I had bought at the airport, I had already identified many species in town and here I saw many new and exotic species. They are all listed elsewhere in the Strolls in the Bush section of the site.
As we were following the guide up the valley towards the waterfall, it rained several inches in a few minutes and we were totally drenched. We returned to the guide hut and dried out before continuing our tour.
We stopped to look at another waterfall nearer to the road and found it running a banker because of the recent rain. We drove on to Speyside where we had lunch.
Jean and I went to Pigeon Point for a swim in the beautiful Carribean and as I floated I watched a Magnificent Frigatebird circling in a thermal to gain height before heading off about its business.
In the evening we entertained Ivor and Joy to dinner at Pepi's by way of thanking them for their hospitality. When it came time to pay the bill, I was told that Miss Joy had attended to it and no amount of pleading would make them change the arrangement. Clearly I was a one time visitor whose druthers were unimportant whereas Miss Joy was the island's supplier of all food and was not to be denied anything she wanted, even my bill.
We had had a most marvellous time in Tobago. Everyone was most hospitable and the friendships we had made in London in the sixties had survived unscathed the thirty odd years of separation. We really felt like members of the family and were more than glad that we had decided to come. All the inconvenience of the journey were as nothing compared with the wonderful welcome we had been given in Tobago.
We flew back to Miami where we spent another totally forgettable night in the hotel. In the morning we took advantage of an offer of a free breakfast which turned out to be an attempt to get us to join the hotel's loyalty programme. Even when we explained that we would be back in the motorhome in a month with no prospect of ever using any hotel again, they still kept on so we left
We flew to Washington in a Boeing 777, the most uncomfortable aircraft it has been my lot to fly in. The seating is 11 abreast, 3 - 5 - 3 and of course I got the middle seat. Jean was a little better off but the man next to her in the aisle seat had crutches which made getting up to go to the loo a very challenging enterprise. To make the experience a whole lot worse, we sat on the tarmac for an hour and a half while they got some new software for the flight computer, I was terribly reassured by this. We finally arrived in Washington and transferred to a less uncomfortable plane for the journey to London. When we reached Heathrow, I hired a car and set off to drive to Thetford. Somewhere on the M11 I nearly fell asleep so we had a rest break on the side of the road before completing the journey.