Our next port of call was Trinidad and I spent the morning in a vain quest to find Carnival costumes. I find it astonishing that on an island where Carnival is clearly one of the major tourist attractions, there is no permanent exhibition of Carnival costumes open to the public. As a true fashionista, my main quest on the island was, of course, to see the flamboyant Carnival costumes.
Three taxis rides took us to three different Carnival offices offering small snapshots of the big event: photographs, maybe a mask or two and a couple of full-size models, but nothing showing the truly spectacular event which Carnival in Trinidad must surely be. It wasn't until the final day of my trip, in Olinda, Brazil, that I would see a full array of Carnival figures and even have my final evening played out with a full band rehearsal.
Sustained by lunch, for our afternoon's entertainment we had booked something completely different: a boat ride through the Caroni Swamp, also known more euphemistically as the Caroni Nature Reserve.
Our guide, Madoo, was reputedly the best on the island and so, undeterred by the early evening drizzle, we set off through the mangrove-lined waterways to find the star of the show: the Scarlet Ibis. The Scarlet Ibis begins its life as a relatively drab grey and white bird, but its diet of red mangrove tree crabs slowly turns it a spectacular vivid scarlet.
Unusually for me given my poor observational skills, I spotted a snake hanging out in a tree in one of our forays into a small side creek.
As dusk started to fall, we waited across the lagoon opposite a large island where the first of the Scarlet Ibis came in to roost for the night. There were already plenty of blue and white herons coming in to roost on the same island. Over the next half hour, the sky filled with small flocks of Ibis, usually around 6 to 12 in a group, all landing on the same tree-covered island.
Eventually the entire island looked very seasonal, like a gigantic Christmas Tree covered in red baubles!