Lilies of the Lake
July 18, 2005
We recently took a trip down to the Pitch Lake in La Brea on Trinidad's south west coast. Although recent rains had flooded the area, rendering access to the lake itself impossible without wading through thigh-deep water, the impromptu pools offered an unexpected reward — small water lily plants, topped by these lovely, brilliantly-coloured, very fragrant flowers.
Some young villagers playing nearby waded in and harvested these two for us. Of course, their only motive for doing this was the hope of making a quick buck.
La Brea, though home to this geographical wonder of the world, is a poor, neglected community and the villagers often resort to preying on unwitting tourists around the Pitch Lake. Sometimes this is no more harmless than insistent offers of “tour guide” services, or perhaps, as in our case, flowers for sale. It is usually safe to simply ignore these not-so-subtle requests for payment, but in the past tourists have been robbed while visiting the lake.
This time when we went there were a handful of official, uniformed tour guides around. Although hiring them is not a requirement to visiting the Lake, it is advisable to travel in a group and be cautious about displaying jewellery, or expensive electronics.