Every Monday is Caura
"Every Monday is Caura!" - If you're a Trini, there's a good chance you're familiar with this song lyric..maybe not the entire song, but at least this refrain. It's catchy. I like it, until it sticks in my head on repeat..just this one line. Over and over..you guys know what I mean. Anyways, this song is not just based on random inspiration by Ravi B and Rakesh Yankaran (Check it out on Youtube). It's based on the fact that for many Trinis, maybe not every Monday, but a good number of Mondays, the place they will be at is Caura river.
Personally, I've never understood this, and I've been to Caura only a handful of time in my lifetime. Maybe the reason is twofold - I don't enjoy bathing in river water. It's cold. No. It's freaking cold. Also, I work on Mondays so umm...I just can't.
Anyways, I have family who love Caura, who the refrain of that song was written about, and as this is the year of adventures, when they suggested our long overdue cousins' lime at (of course) Caura, I said yes, and actually got excited about it. This was mainly because I was very curious to revisit this place with an open mind, sunny skies, and delicious curry duck, and see what draws crowds here regularly. I also thought it would be a good first blog post about the beaches and rivers in T&T, because as far as I know, it's the most popular river in the country. The term river lime is synonymous with Caura River.
So, some history about Caura River, and the area. It was in the past (or is partly still called that...I'm not certain to be honest) called the Tacarigua River. It used to be teeming with aquatic life. While we did see fishes in the water, locals tell about when there used to be crayfish aplenty and much more varieties of fish in the waters. This is now a thing of the past because of pollution levels in the river, which makes it difficult to sustain these ecosystems. This pollution comes mainly from the chemicals used by farmers in the area. Alot of the previously bushy areas have now been cleared for either farmland, or houses, also resulting in some soil erosion.
Caura is an adaptation of the Arawak word, Cuara. It's actually a sad story. This was once a settlement for Arawaks, until the authorities bought the lands and had the population moved, and all the buildings in the village demolished. By 1946 the village was gone, all to build a dam which was supposed to supply the entire North Trinidad with water. However, a year into the project it was abandoned amidst escalating cost, and much scandal. This must be so hurtful to the displaced persons (some of who would still be alive today in neighbouring communities) who had an entire thriving life and village but were displaced for no reason, as the reason borne out of greed, never materialised.
Now...also if you're Trinidadian, you'll probably think that Caura limes are mainly for East Indians and this is one of their watering holes. Me, being East Indian (as far as I know until I do the detailed ancestry history DNA), I'm not going to feel limited in my views and opinions to being politically correct. I never mean to insult anyone, and if I do, I do apologise, but know that you're taking it too seriously, and missing the point of MY view. Did I see mostly East Indians? Yes. Were there other races? Duh. We live in Trinidad. I personally don't know anyone who does not have friends who are another race. This is the beauty of living in Trinidad and Tobago. Why isn't it more popular with other races? I don't know. I haven't done the survey. Maybe, they don't want to associate with the Indians at the river? Maybe they're inherently racist. Maybe that's how the East Indians like it? Or maybe, they just don't live close, or are like me, and are strongly anti-cold water, or they're germaphobic, or they just don't know about Caura. The point is, people choose to go to places they enjoy based on their personal preferences and this is generally quite innocent, and not sinister in any way. It's other people who are simply trying to cause trouble that make it seem otherwise. Everyone is welcome, and embraced, and where altercations occur, I'd bet on the odds that these are based on drunkenness and ignorance with no bearing on race.
So, this past Monday, I went to Caura with my cousins. It wasn't last minute as is normally the case. I needed to know in advance to get a vacation day approved (and work a truckload of overtime to clear my schedule) to make it happen. The other persons at the lime were either self-employed, already on vacation, or simply freed their schedule in whatever way was suitable to them. But, it happened! And it was a truly lovely day. We went to one of the pools that is not readily available to the public, that is, parking was available on the roadside, but we were able to park in someone's yard. The river runs parallel to his land, so we were able to park there (for a fee but only because my cousins know him), and have privacy for the most part. There were other parties as well, and in true Trini fashion, there was friendly interaction. We shared music, and no it wasn't only chutney. We even borrowed garlic when we ran out to make some more chow, and that's the kind of Trini warmth that makes any outing extra pleasant.
I asked my family why they so often chose Caura, and the responses varied from it being close to where they live (they live along the East West corridor), to it offering you lots of options in terms of the various pools, as well as the secret spots that they know very well. I think it has a lot to do with history as well. Once a place becomes a regular, familiar haunt, there's emotion attached to it associated with all the past memories, birthdays, gathering, the meeting of new friends, anything really, and that will always hold a special place in your heart as opposed to a new, lovely place, but one devoid of memories.
Caura has several pools. I'm not sure of the exact number, but I do know that when there are events, the most popular pools (Pool 1 and Pool 2) are filled to capacity, with persons choosing to occupy every clearing along the river bank. It's the popular location for many curry duck competitions. In fact, I think there's one this coming weekend, or Monday. I personally would not want to visit when there are these competitions or any event because I'm not a fan of traffic, congestion, overcrowding, and just the thought of so many people in that river water means I would not go in..not even for the blog guys! But, they are so well attended because people enjoy it, and that's wonderful, because to each his own. But...on Monday when I went, it was quiet, and spacious, and it was just a rejuvenating experience in nature surrounded by amazing individuals. I went into the water, and yes it was frigid but the sun was very hot so it wasn't unbearable. Am I a river convert? No. As long as I shower with scalding hot water, that will never change. But...it complemented the overall experience. Oh..and the straight shots of Johnny while in the river contributed to some much needed heat as well.
So to summarize...
What's a river lime at Caura like?
It starts off with an extremely scenic drive to get there (approximately twenty minutes from El Dorado), where you get to pick the pool that appeals to you, and if you're not ready to commit...then don't. You can pool hop to your heart's desire. You will have adequate, delicious food, most probably quite spicy. The drinks will flow in abundance. There will be cutters (finger food) and chow (spicy, seasoned fruit) to go with your never ending supply of drinks. Your cooking, swimming, and relaxing will all be to the sounds of a car DJ and sound system. You'll either walk with your own, or you're sure to find one who will be providing music for the entire area. Most importantly, this will all be done in the company of loved ones - friends and family. It's an all round good time, and an experience you should have at least once in your lifetime at Caura, but regularly at any location for general happiness.
Also...there was no White Oak at this lime. Strange. Very very strange.
Local Tip - Exploring is all well and fine, but please be safe, as there are quite bushy areas and in recent years, huge snakes have been found at the site.
Have you ever visited this most popular river lime spot?
Is it one of your faves?
What are your favourite rivers in T&T?
Let me know, and remember to share this post. It can be the basis for your next group lime (friends, co-workers, etc.) or family lime.
Light and love always!