Sunday “Morn’n Morn’n” Trini-Style

How quickly new becomes norm.  . .  Our Sunday morning routine, for example. It came about as a form of penance. One Sunday morning we decided to pay for our night before indulgence with a hike up Lady Chancellor Hill, a long, shady, winding road rising up from the city of Port-of-Spain. 

It’s named for Lady Sylvia Chancellor who “was born the year Queen Victoria died”, 1901. From what I could dig up, Lady Sylvia was a philanthropist who lived and died in England, so I have no clue why the hill is named for her, except that her obituary said she was a “tough” old bird and her hill, 3.2 k long with an ascent of 600 feet from base to look-out, is a “tough” old hill.

On a clear morning the view from the look-out is spec-tac-u-lar!

On a clear morning the view from the look-out is spec-tac-u-lar!

It has to be way early Sunday,  don't ya know , for the road through St. James to be this empty.  

It has to be way early Sunday, don't ya know, for the road through St. James to be this empty.
 

On the drive to "the Hill"—either to fortify himself and/or postpone the impending punishment—Curtis pulled up beside a road-side stand in St. James selling “doubles.”

Vendors wake in the wee hours to cook up a batch of curried chickpeas and fry up stacks of bread for the day. 

Vendors wake in the wee hours to cook up a batch of curried chickpeas and fry up stacks of bread for the day. 

Popular  doubles  vendors will have a crowd around. "One for here, one for take-away" and they sell out early.

Popular doubles vendors will have a crowd around. "One for here, one for take-away" and they sell out early.

Doubles sauces include mango, shado beni (a green sauce made from a cilantro-like herb), tamarind, and pepper sauce, if desired (I like it “slight” meaning a dash, Curtis likes more)

Doubles sauces include mango, shado beni (a green sauce made from a cilantro-like herb), tamarind, and pepper sauce, if desired (I like it “slight” meaning a dash, Curtis likes more)

Wrapped and twisted in wax paper, my doubles ready to take-away

Wrapped and twisted in wax paper, my doubles ready to take-away

Doubles is? are?* hands down and dripping with sauce, the most popular Trinidadian street food. A "doubles" is a curried chickpea sandwich, really, but so much more: a shot-put sized round of flat bread, called “bara” is topped with a dollop of curried chick peas, splashed with sauces, and a second “bara” is placed on top.

According to Wikipedia (my go-to source for quick info) “Doubles was invented in Princes Town, Trinidad by “Emamool Deen (a.k.a. Mamoodeen) and his wife Rasulan in 1936.” They started by topping a single round of bara with curried chickpeas. However, customers would ask them to “double the bara, hence the name ‘doubles’ evolved” 

We bought a couple of doubles (2 for $8, about $1.30 U.S.) drove part-way up the hill to the Horticulture Society parking lot, sat on the edge of a planter, gobbled down our doubles, then hiked the hill.

The next Sunday we did it again. And now it’s “what we do.”

While we walk/climb/creep up Lady Chancellor, because  "Trinis", Trinidadians,  we pass, regardless of age or how winded, calls out “Morn’n Morn’n!” or “Guh-day! Guh-day” always two times—doubles—we do that too.

“Morn’n Morn’n!

* Is they is or is they are? My friebor Brian pointed out that doubles singular or plural is still doubles

SO FAR AND YET SO CLOSE . . .

** I can’t just push on with my usual day and let my guests fend for themselves, can I? Especially not in Trinidad where they can’t drive, the only place close enough to walk to is the mall—or around in a circle, and if they leave the building without a “fob” (of which there are only 2) they’ll be locked out forever and have to sleep under a car and catch a long green lawn lizard for lunch . . . What sort of host would that brand me?

Recently . . . okay, last October, sis-in-law Marilyn came to visit. I placed the TT Travel Guide on her bedside table, handed her a pad of sticky-notes and told her we could go anywhere in the book she wanted. (Being new to Trinidad myself, I’d never been anywhere in the book, either, so it would be an adventure for both of us.)

Yes, I did warn Marilyn that I’d already suffered 2 flat tires, run out of gas and driven on the wrong side of the street more than once, as well as the wrong way down a one-way. . .  Eternally “yar,” Marilyn rose to the challenge.

Our first few outings were timid enough: jaunts around town; up up up a scenic hill; over and around the mountains to the beach…on a narrow, shoulderless pitted roads . . . during a rainstorm. . . .

On the day of our last outing, Marilyn flipped to a sticky note which directed us South on the highway to a Hindu Temple, “Waterloo Temple in the Sea.” At high tide it’s surrounded by water; at low tide by mud flats. It serves as testament to Sewdas Sadhu, who built it, “single-handedly”--spell check doesn't like this word apparently, it suggested: highhandedly, underhandedly, offhandedly, evenhandedly--over a 25 year period, by carrying stones on his bicycles and preparing and dumping bucket after bucket of concrete on the seafloor at low tide to build the foundation.

According to the book, the way to the temple seemed fairly straight forward---it was NOT!  Others might have been tempted to turn back. Not us! If Sadhu could do what he did, we could, with air-conditioned confidence, find it!

Good thing we passed a “doubles” vendor on the side of the road, and hostess mindedness—and tummy growls—compelled me to crank a U-turn so Marilyn could try one of these fist-sized gloppy curried chick peas-drizzled-with-chutney-cucumber-and-pepper sauce (if desired)-sandwiched in fry bread morsels or we might still be looking . . .

It was low tide and the scene around the temple island was mudflat and religious relics mired in muck. Not the most photogenic, but inspiring none-the-less as they reminded Marilyn of something more she’d read in the guide book—the Chaguananas Pottery makers, where red clay is fashioned into all manner of pottery and fired in open wood-fueled kilns.

Although Southeast Asia is far from Trinidad—on the other side of the world--our visit to  Benny’s Pottery Works, “the oldest and most famous” of the traditional pottery workshops transported me right back to Java or India or Nepal. . . The methods are the same. The workers possess the same wiry builds, same stance with cigarettes dangling from their mouth, same quickness and expertise.

So far and yet  close . . .

*I’ll only say this one time, never again, and only way down here at the bottom of the post. So if you’ve read this far, this is to you: Forgive me for slacking on the blogging. Truth is I've been so busy "filling my writer's well" (as my friend Richard Harnett puts it) I haven't taken time to blog. Stick with me, I'll be better about it, promise???