To say Matt had a hangover the next morning would be insulting to how unwell he both felt and looked. With the best intentions, he had set his alarm for 0730 but proceeded to turn it off and sleep through until 0830, at which point he pushed himself to get up despite being next to non-functional and barely managing to dress himself. We ventured next door, our final casa for our stay in Trinidad, for breakfast which was as healthy as always but seemed more like a chore for Matt rather than an enjoyable meal.
We spoke to the casa owner, an amenable and good natured man, and his daughter who managed a lot of the translating given her job working with tourists; after which we headed downtown to try and scavenge some water all the while being offered cigars with questionable origins. Sparkling water in hand (the only water left in the picked clean supermarket) we nabbed what the guides referred to as a coco-taxi which would ostensibly take us to the beach. As I was to find out, a coco-taxi is an egg-shaped fibre glass go-kart with two seats in the back and a set of handlebars and seat for the driver in front of that; sounding like a hair-dryer filled with jet fuel and going about as fast as a moped, the realisation that the driver was wearing protective gear and we weren't was disconcerting to say the least.
Arriving at the beach for a little after 10am the dive team had already gone out on the first run of the day so there was little else to do but wait. Matt was no more animate than when he had woken up so we picked a spot between the hawk-like gaze of the security guards and he settled down to snooze. With little else to do I watched the patrons of the beach move back and forth and worried about storing our day-bags in the back of the dive house. Around noon the boat returned to the hurricane wrecked pier and deposited a menagerie of people including Leo who informed us as to the state of play regarding me learning how to dive. A couple of other recent additions to the beach, Britons no less, had dived before but had requested a refresher so an introductory lesson was set up after the afternoon dive sometime after 3pm. Matt meanwhile had perked up somewhat and decided to go on the afternoon dive despite the possibility of throwing up into his mask underwater.
I busied myself watching the ebb and flow of equipment from the dive house and the interchange between pockets of people milling around. Several very attractive females seemed interested in going diving which made for good viewing, especially when one of them seemed to have tremendous difficulty keeping her breasts under control and in the scrap of clothing she was using as a bikini. As the marina emptied, I padded back to the still vacant sun lounger I had used in the morning and continued people-watching, breaking up the sun-drenched monotony with sporadic wanders down the beach.
Returning at just after 1430, the boat emptied and I waited for Leo to finish up, helping move equipment when I was sure I wouldn't get in the way. The two Brits, a clean cut male and dreadlocked woman, were joined by a well-set Spaniard and a bubbly Korean who seemed all but inseparable compared to the other more aloof homelanders; meanwhile Matt had ingratiated himself with the two young and busty females who I had spied earlier. Leo instructed the five of us to shoulder some equipment, a weighty and painful task with sunburned shoulders, and follow him into the hotel courtyard to a sizeable and still occupied pool.
Running through the function of the vast array of equipment, Leo managed to be humorous and eloquent in English as well as his native Spanish. Confident we were now aware of what all the tubes and pressurised canisters did, we were let loose into the pool a little earlier than I was expecting. Re-learning mouth breathing was made all the more difficult when practising mask cleaning underwater and, despite the relative depth of the pool, buoyancy training was difficult and would be something that I would never fully master; all of this compounded by tourist children who seemed to be constantly crossing our paths in the pool.
Leo worked past his usual leaving time meaning after the pool session and requisite tidying of equipment he dashed home, leaving Matt and myself to head back to Trinidad in a taxi which we shared with a wide-eyed, red-haired woman of indeterminate age. Getting swiftly changed, Matt had organised to meet with the nubile, Norwegian females and summarily forgotten a significant portion of their address in Trinidad. Making a considerable detour to a supermarket to acquire some rum, bumping into the shock of red hair we had shared a taxi with, we found Radio Trinidad (the sole part of the address Matt recalled) and began to narrow down the casas where they could be staying. After only a single false positive, we were sitting with two Norwegians and a Scandinavian in the cool but humid evening. The clothingly challenged young woman from the beach was content to sit, draped over her uni-brow boyfriend while the blonde (and apparently single) one seemed to delight in contorting herself into as many positions as possible which displayed her striped, multicoloured underwear.
The small talk over rum made me realise just what being bi-lingual really meant; far beyond being able to simply speak another language, the idioms and colloquialisms were uncanny, broken only by their painfully European outlook on the world. Avid smokers and suitably unimpressed by Cuba, they were condescending but surprisingly naive given their loquaciousness on all matters. Agreeing to meet up with them later at the Casa de la Musica, Matt and I headed back to our own casa for camerones and all the usual trimmings.
Suitably stuffed and falling asleep (or as Matt referred to it: a power nap), we headed out to the CdlM in the encroaching darkness, I busied myself memorising the route there. Lightless streets, wandering dogs and ankle-high obstacles littered the path which, all things considered, only took ten minutes at a brisk walk. The supercilious blonde was already seated in between two very well-set British men who had evidently followed her siren call, the other woman and associated boyfriend were no where to be seen. Small talk and Cuba Libres ensued as Matt buried himself in climbing talk with one of the men while I tried to stop time using only the power of my mind, then started associating famous faces to patrons. The live band started up and the CdlM began to fill, at which point a Cuban Leonardo di Caprio prostrated himself before the resident female for a dance.
My ambivalent and futile adoration cemented as she showed off enticing hips in a blue and white dress, I quickly enacted my party trick of disappearing without a word, even before the two other members of the group could arrive despite saving them seats in the packed CdlM. Platitudes were muttered as I made my away back to the casa with Matt following sometime after 1am.