Woken by awe. ‘Awesome!’ shouts the figure in pyjamas leaning over the balcony. ‘Come and see, come and see this now!’. A bay 100ft below us with a scattering of narrow fishing boats at anchor, houses with metal roofs embedded into the hills of palm and banana, the sound of waves. And magnificent frigate birds…sweeping and diving into azure. Disbelief at dawn. Fishermen dragging a seine net into the shore. There seems to be flocks of parrots. We seem to have made it.
…We booked 10 days in a lodge at Castara Retreats. These lodges seem simple: polished floors and large open verandas and fretted wooden shutters, each one angled to make most sense of the spectacular views. But it is a deceptive simplicity, for there are hammocks and a dock for an iPod and the kitchen has a proper coffee machine, and the stack of novels turned up books for us all. It is not a hotel. It is owned by an English couple, but managed by a local couple, Porridge and his wife, Jeanell, warm and capable and unflappable in the face of requests. They produced the best book on the birds of Tobago one night, a bottle of disinfectant for a wound another.
…Castara itself offered the chance of easy days. The warmth of the sea was a shock for our children used to the cold waters off the coast of Scotland. The joy of playing in the waves, getting knocked over in the waves, the snorkelling. They loved disappearing into the village with a fistful of dollars and returning with fudge (delicious) and a carmine sorrel drink (peculiar). Foraging in the village for supplies was an art. If you wanted fish and rice and salad, you were in heaven.”