Saturday, 16 June 2007

Fort George

The making of my mango chutney was put on the back burner on Friday as I went on a school outing with my daughter's class. It had been years since I visited Fort George and I enjoyed it so much , I had to post the pictures. The fort was built in 1804 by the British as part of a defence strategy to protect the island and main harbour. While the fort ceased to be a military outpost in 1846, it was converted to a signal station in 1902 and functioned as such until 1964. Located on a breezy picturesque mountaintop 1,000 feet above Port of Spain, it was built to provide impregnable fortification against hostile rival colonial powers.

Ross, my husband, grew up on a ridge just below the fort and spent many a summer holiday trekking up the hill with his brothers to look for grapeshot. Among other things, they unearthed a stash of grapeshot (large, rust-encrusted ball bearings used as ammunition), a sword handle and a metal plate. The canons, the dungeon (with its gun barrel bars) and the typical period architecture are well preserved reminders of a different world.

This moth landed on the balcony of the verandah and was quite oblivious to our presence. Look at his patterns. Isn't nature's symmetry beyond amazing? No doubt this is a sophisticated camouflage for a predator and serves our moth well , but that should not take away from the miracle of his design. My friend Geoffrey Gomes, a well known nature guide, once told me that he sometimes goes up to a forested bluff after nightfall, sets up a white sheet in front of a light, and sits back for the show. What comes out of the inky darkness can defy description. Odd things like blue cockroaches. Moths and others insects of all colours and shapes gravitate to the light and land, to be showcased, on the white sheet. At the end of the day, we sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in the rainforest.

This is the view of the mountainside, just beyond the giant mango tree. The abundance of bird and wildlife in these hills is remarkable, a constant reminder that we are really South American in our terrain rather than Caribbean. From the Western end of the fort, there is a clear view over the small island chain that dots its way to the Venezuelan mainland , a mere seven miles away.
TThe children were fascinated by this dungeon (I was a bit as well!). Look closely at the gun barrels that make up the bars. I wonder who made this decision? And how many lonely and frightened men slept here?