St. Benedict Monastery, Rio Seco Falls, & Toco

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
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10
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Trip End Feb 23, 2010


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Flag of Trinidad and Tobago  , Saint David,
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

1) Mount St Benedict Monastery:

The church tower sitting on the Northern Range Hills above Tunapuna is one of the most striking landmarks east of Port of Spain.

This Benedictine Monastic community is the largest and oldest in the Caribbean. It was established in 1912 by monks fleeing Brazil's attempt to take over their land. Founded on the principles of self sufficiency and hospitality to strangers, the monastery complex encompasses, not only religious buildings, but also a farm, an apiary, a home for the aged, a drug rehabilitation center, a vocational school and a guest house.

It also owns about 600 acres, much of it rain forest, which still supplies water and materials for the site.

The community grew in size during WWII when wealthy Caribbean and Latin American families, no longer able to send their children to Europe for schooling, enrolled them at Mount St Benedict. The prestige of the school lasted until the 1970s when troubles on the island caused powerful families to send their children elsewhere. The school never recovered and closed shortly afterward.

The church building attracts worshippers from all over the island and is large but simple in construction. One of the original adobe buildings still stands behind the church, but is deteriorating quickly.

The monastery is famous for its yogurt and also makes jams and jellies from its fruits.

2) Rio Seco Waterfall:

Driving along the eastern coast heading to Toco, when we reach to the little village of Salybia, we will come to a long black and white concrete bridge. As we cross this bridge, on our left, by the big "Rio Seco Waterfalls Sign", we turn into this road and drive all the way until we come to the very end of the road. We park here and prepare for the journey on foot. 

On very friendly terrain, we follow this bench road all the way until we come in contact with the natural forest of Salybia. The trail here is now narrow, but still pronounced. We will reach to a very small stream; we cross it and still proceed along the trail until we come up to another stream, but a bit wider. If you do not want to get your feet wet, well you will have to do a bit of “ballet” across the loose rocks in the water. However, when accomplished, we trek along the last phase of the trail, head up the only small hill if you choose to call it that, and down the gentle hill until you see the true magnificence of the crystal clear waters of Rio Seco. A lovely waterfall also awaits your arrival. This waterfall is one of the finest in the twin-islands, but only one disadvantage though; if you are a non-swimmer, then you will have to be very careful, for one step from the bank and you are in over 7 feet deep of water. However, life jackets and the necessary floatation devises will be in place for your safety. A day surely to remember.

3) Toco:

Toco is the most northeasterly village on the island of Trinidad in the County of Saint David at the point where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Tobago lies only some 35 kilometers to the northeast which renders Toco the closest point in Trinidad to the sister island. The name Toco was ascribed to the area by its early Amerindian inhabitants. The meaning of the name is uncertain, yet its historical significance and value to the country is well noted.

Punta Galera (now Galera Point) is one of the sights of Toco. Galera is a slight corruption of the word "galea", the name originally given to the southeastern point, Galeota Point, by Christopher Columbus. The name was accidentally given to this point as well. The name stuck and it remains a popular tourist destination. The Galera Point Lighthouse in Toco was built in 1897 and today is surrounded by a park and picnic area.
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