friend who I had not seen in many years needed help getting his sixty foot Bertram from the Trinidad Yacht Club to St. George Harbor, Grenada. I am a sailor; not a powerboat person, but I agreed as I knew the navigation equipment was still most likely of World War II vintage. Cap’n Bill’s budget was limited. You see, most of the boat maintenance budget was now going for doctor bills and elaborate tests to discover why my old ship mate was losing his memory. I had diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease a couple of years earlier, but that was simply by history and repeated, repeated telephone conversations that Bill rarely recalled.

On the morning of our planned departure I had no choice but to take the suicide buggy, or taxi as locals call it, from Chaguaramas Bay along Western Main Rd. to the yacht club. Before getting in a hired vehicle, I always give it a quick look-around. The sun reflecting on the faded yellow paint allowed me to see numerous scratches and dents. The passenger side tires were of the temporary, flat replacement type with yellow painted rims and over-sprayed tires. Both were deflated evenly, so I assumed equipment safety would not be an issue. I opened the door and could see the snoring driver behind the black tinted windows. It was still early, I reasoned. The interior seemed to have only a few stains and obvious knife cuts, the majority of which were in back of the driver’s seat. It looked comfortable enough, and well kept otherwise. The little statuette on the dash of The Virgin Mary with party beads around her ankles was reassuring. Clapping my hands together loudly, the red-eyed driver jumped quickly to life. “Holy Mother of God, Mon!” I now knew that he was probably not passed out… just praying. “To Trinidad Yacht Club me mon!”

I was an unusual ride for Trinidad. There was only one close call in which my taxi and an oncoming rusty, white Datsun pick-up exchanged mirrors. Neither was able to find there respective parts after almost an hour of searching. On close inspection, I saw that the mirrors clearly disintegrated on impact. Alloy and BB sized bits of metal and glass reflected brightly on the black asphalt.

They cursed at each other, and their fists frequently punched the air. My driver’s red, black, and green poncho and the other’s tie-dyed shirt were eventually drenched with sweat. The dreadlocks and beads around their necks whirled around with each aggressive body movement. woking taxis

Finally, they were exhausted. The truck driver rolled a cigarette, turned up Bob Marley to 200db. and leaned against his vehicle. My driver slowly inched his way over to join him. They shared the cigarette. I stood some distance away under the only shade I could find, smelling a fragrance in the air that I had not smelled since leaving Jamaica.

Off we went again, averaging warp speed; swerving from curb to curb to avoid pedestrians, police, and children. They were all close enough to throw various items at the car, hit it with night sticks, and shout obscenities. My driver kept saying, “God forgive them… God forgive them… !” All the while he continued to drink something that smelled like rum and coconut out of his Gatorade bottle.

Our only stops were to allow a wandering dog or chicken to cross the road. Oh… we did stop at one Zebra crossing. Mind you, there are no zebras running in the streets like most other representives of the animal kingdom. These are black and white stripes painted on the road where people dare to cross.

He ultimately stopped in the middle of the busy street and said,” Get out mon!” I got out, threw him a dollar and a handful of Mexican pesos, and ran past the sleeping guard at the club gate.

The yacht club was well maintained and organized. Everything was freshly painted in either white or sea blue, except the brick buildings and long cedar docks. It seemed to be a very busy morning. Upon entering, I first noticed the 16-36ft boats stacked five high on both sides of the drive. These racks of expensive boats extended over the hill until they reached the ramps at the dock. Powerboats were being lifted in and out of the water or being put back in there racks by huge forklifts at their captain’s request. Sounds of two-stroke, 200hp plus outboards could be heard all around, and the burning gas and oil combination slapped the nostrils immediately.

I strolled down the dock with my sea bag slung over my shoulder. I thought of the last boat my friend and I served on together, him an engineer and me the chief medic. Ah… the good times we had in Sydney and Perth. I remember sitting together far out at sea listening to static on the radio until we could finally start to pick up a Sydney radio station. Our excitement grew as the signal became stronger. Once ashore, the Aussie’s always bought warm beer for us, and always wanted to arm-wrestle the American blokes. The wholesome looking girls seemed very attracted to the Americans. Many said it was because all they knew about Americans came from John Wayne and Roy Rogers movies. Since… we have lived on our own private boats rarely being in the same part of the world on any given year.

I spotted Four Square at the end of the dock, gently moving with each powerboat wake. You would never guess that she was nearly 30 years old. She looked very ship shape in her white with green trim; her lines were coiled neatly on the dock, and her brightwork shined in the overhead Caribbean sun. I knocked on the hull with my usual two raps. Bill soon came on deck; I stepped over on the transom. Bill recognized me I am almost sure. We greeted each other like the long, lost friends we

were. I frequently re