Maracas Bay, Trinidad and flight to Caracas, Venezuela
The next morning it was up early for our daytrip to Maracas Bay. Maracas Bay is located about 45 minutes drive north of Port of Spain, over some low mountains on some pretty windy roads. Fortunately, our driver showed up on time (no small feat considering the difficulty we’d had getting everything sorted) and with a relatively good car. He was a cheerful and talkative guy, so everything was going well. The drive was pretty uneventful, and we stopped a few times along the way in the mountains where there were some good scenic outlooks both over the countryside below as well as over the Caribbean in some places.
About 45 minutes later we were in Maracas Bay around 10am and welcome to stay as long as we wanted. We knew we needed to get back by 2pm or so in order to pack up and head to the airport for our next flight, so the plan was to sit on the beach for a couple of hours, grab lunch, and head back.
One of the main reasons we planned the trip to Maracas Bay (in addition to wanting to get out of the city and see just a little of the countryside) was a notorious restaurant. After the “Doubles” we’d had the day before, there was one local food which kept coming up over and over when I read about Trinidad, and Maracas Bay was supposedly where it got started. I first heard about it on Bizzarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and it was called “Bake and Shark.”
“Bake” refers to the bread the sandwich comes on, and is basically a bread roll that is flash fried and then served with a big hunk of fried shark on it. With that much fried stuff, how bad can it be! It originally started at a place called Richard’s Bake and Shark, but has now grown to at least half a dozen places in Maracas Bay along the beach selling the same thing. Richard’s is still known as the best. The rumour is that it’s because he changes his fry oil the most often, but other people say it’s because he has the widest variety of condiments to put on your sandwich.
We had about 90 minutes before we wanted to eat, so we rented a couple of beach chairs from a vendor, and camped out on the beach just enjoying the warm breeze…until a downpour came out of nowhere 15 minutes later and drenched everything. We hid under a building ledge with some locals for about 10 minutes riding it out…..back in the chair for more sun, then another downpour, shelter, repeat three times until it was around 11:30 and time for Bake and Shark!
The sandwiches were amazing, and they had several picnic style tables set up under a canopy so it was almost like communal dining, but nobody was especially friendly or chatty. I opted to have mine with a bit of shredded cabbage, some pickles, and three different sauces: garlic sauce, tamarind sauce, and cilantro sauce. It was delicious…and definitely filling!
After lunch we headed straight back to the hotel, showered up, and our driver came back an hour later (as arranged) to take us to the airport. He’d been a great guide, and we were happy to give him the extra business.
Our flight out of Port of Spain was to Caracas, Venezuela on Caribbean Airlines. All the info I had stated the aircraft operating the flight would be an ATR, but everything I could find online said that Caribbean Airlines didn’t have any ATRs. This had the potential to be very interesting! When we got to the airport, all mayhem broke loose. There were lines to check in dozens of people deep, and we had less than 90 minutes before our flight. We soon learned that there had been a power outage an hour earlier at the airports, and without computers everything had ground to a halt. Eventually, we got up to the front of the queue with an hour left, checked-in, bags checked, and decided to go see Sharkey for another quick Double before heading to the gate.
Long line for security, and when we got to the gate they were just about to start boarding – perfect timing! Through the gate, down the stairs and that’s when we saw the plane….it was operated by a Spanish airline called Swift, and leased to Caribbean. Even the crew turned out to be Spanish.
Caribbean Airlines Flight 310, Operated by Swift
ATR-72, Registration EC-KVI, Manufactured 2008
Depart 17:20, Arrive 18:40, 30 minute time change
Seats 2A, 2B
During the boarding, the Captain was working the cabin, and introducing himself to all the passengers – especially the women. There were lifted hands that he kissed, and honestly…he kind of reminded me of that dirty old man down the street that your parents warn you to stay away from. We nicknamed him the “Pervy Captain” and there was just something not quite right about him! After the door closed, 10 minutes passed, and he announced we would be delayed an “unspecified length” because now the air traffic control tower had lost power and thus the ability to control traffic. Um, yeah, I’ll wait thanks.
In the end, we were just about 20-25 minutes late, nothing terrible and the rest of the flight passed relatively without incident. A small juice and snack bar snack was offered, and in the end we arrived just about 15 minutes late into Caracas. It wasn’t a good sign, however, when the agent meeting the flight announced five or six names to contact him at the bottom of the staircase…one of which was mine. Turned out there had been no more room, and thus my bag hadn’t been loaded. Don’t worry, however, it will show up tomorrow morning and we’ll deliver it by mid-afternoon. Great – I got to spend the whole day touring Caracas in the clothes I’d already been wearing for a full day. Wonderful! Oh well, nothing to do but move on….
wow – with REAL fruit juice.