R&R in Europe

Castaway and the Handsome Dutchman have made a brief return to Europe to resolve our visa (and a number of other administrative) issues and to catch up with the PlayStation Junkie and the Lush Fanatic. Once as an inexperienced stepmother, in an attempt to encourage bathing, I introduced the Fanatic to Lush. Little did I realise that years later, I would be required to enjoy an hour and a half in the Oxford Street branch. An hour and a half is a long time, even if it is the biggest branch in the world. The Handsome Dutchman and PlayStation Junkie wisely opted out of this activity and only joined us for afternoon tea in Liberty. Sadly, Castaway was only allowed the briefest of looks at Liberty’s Beauty Hall and Accessories Hall and only a glimpse of the shoes. I could only think wistfully of the Shoe Gallery in Selfridge’s at the other end of Oxford Street as we never made it that far. 

Perhaps it is all for the best. There are many things waiting in the container for us in Trinidad, if we ever get customs clearance. Yes, we are still living out of a suitcase and still living in the hotel. We are still acclimatising and working out what works well in the tropical heat.  Choosing the right clothes and shoes for heat, strong equatorial sun and a variety of biting insects is not always straightforward. We are in the height of dry season, so the weather is hotter. As we approach rainy season, we will need to think about insects even more seriously. From previous travels, I already had vaccinations for Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B and Yellow Fever. I also have a pre-exposure Rabies vaccination. This covers me sufficiently to get to hospital where I could receive further treatment, which is readily available in Trinidad. However, there currently are no vaccines available for Chikungunya, Dengue or Zika which are all mosquito-borne. At least we do not have to deal with the risk of malaria, but for the others, the only thing to do is avoid getting bitten – more difficult in the rainy season but even more important given the insects’ habits at that time of year. My current routine following showering in the morning is to apply SPF50 then tropical insect repellent on any skin which will be exposed. This has more or less worked. Despite never straying from the shade, I have a face full of freckles and so far have only been bitten on the soles of my feet (who would have thought it?) and on my fingers (after washing my hands). We have always been attacked when we have been near the swimming pool at dusk which starts around 1630 – even walking past has been enough for the beasties to get us. Luckily, over the last weeks, we have been able to outwit the insects and stay healthy. Long may that continue. 

Our routing to Europe this time took us briefly to Grenada and Barbados, so we are making a start with our wish to visit as many Caribbean islands as we can during our time in Trinidad, although this time we only saw the airports! Island hopping is not as easy as it first appears as flight connections can be somewhat haphazard and flights a bit pricy. I also need to be on the lookout for safety as some airlines operating in the region have a very poor safety record. So far many hours have gone into planning, investigating and booking flights and hotels. Availability is always limited and so working far in advance is essential, especially when trying to co-ordinate flights with the PlayStation Junkie and Lush Fanatic. At the moment, I have everything in hand for the next four months but still feel behind where I need to be, given our plans for the rest of the year. For the moment, though, I am just enjoying our short break in Europe before heading back to the heat, the insects and the bureaucratic challenges that await me on our return!

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