We've been here for over two weeks now. There is a really thriving art and music scene here. Almost daily we meet more artists: painters, musicians, potters, writers, film-makers and more. Rory and Bunty took us to a concert at the National Academy of Performing Artists for a concert of the faculty and some visiting faculty from the US. We followed that up with a trip a few blocks away to the “pan yard” of Phase II, one of the favorite Pan drum Orchestras. They were in “practice-mode” preparing for the first phase of competition which will culminate in a huge show, Pandemonium, in the main open air stadium downtown Port of Spain in less than a month. Pan orchestras are something really exceptional about Trinidad. They are made up of up to 125 players playing anywhere from two to nine drums at a time. Each drummer's drums are positioned into a metal rack on wheels. They practice their one song that they will compete with each year, specially composed for them, over and over again; maybe as many as 100 times a night; night after night for about a month in advance. The leaders are celebrities in their own right, with stories of last minute 'saves' in the competition. There is a documentary called Pan Odyssey which tells about this phenomenal thing.
On the other end of the day we wake surrounded by bird song and sip our coffee with a binocular in one hand. I've mentioned the hummingbird but some of the other highlights have been the Turquoise Tanager, the Orange shouldered Parrot, Violaceous Euphonia (love that name) and the Toucan. But the most spectacular bird on the island is the National bird of Trinidad, the Scarlet Ibis. To see them we booked a tour into the Caroni Swamp where the birds come at sunset to roost in a particular grove of trees. Thousands of bright red large birds all congregating on a small green arborial island. The world's largest Christmas Tree! At the base of the island, the skirt, are flocks of the Snowy and the Cattle Egret, both intense white. Place this all against a steel blue sky! WOW!