Right in our backyard, just off the Demarara Road 16 miles from Arima and south of Blanchisseuse lies a paradise waiting to behold in Brasso Seco Paria. A place where the air is so rare (literally) and the rest of the world feels like a memory, once you make your way up the mountain.
Where the air is rare
Paria was featured in two North American guidebooks – including Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, the air is clean and pure, the food (and drink) naturally organic with almost everything made with love in coconut milk, the people are friendly (as in Grenada!) where many indigenous people and their descendants still reside. The overall population of the Paria community however has dwindled from just about 1000 inhabitants in the 1700-1800 century to about 300 people today due to historical factors, as well as the decline in the cacao and coffee industry which was the mainstay and main form of survival.
The Tourism Action Community (TAC) which was an initiative of TIDCO (former Tourism Company) has assisted with the revival of the land for coffee and cacoa (tree, pod and raw bean and cocoa the finished product), in addition to other crops such as christophene, citrus, ground provisions and other fruits. As such, some of the population is engaged in this project as a means of income and passion for their history.
There are also guided tours to explore the many exciting things to discover such as the waterfalls, beaches, nature trails, turtle and bird watching. There is also limited overnight accommodation in case visitors do not want to make the (long) trek back home depending on what part of the island they reside.
There is much flora and fauna to discover. Mountains, lush vegetation, agriculture and flowers of different species. I was told T&T has over 400 species of birds with many found in Paria and if you sit long enough, you may be lucky to see the many tanangers, thrushes, piping guans, toucans, endemic and doves.
Eat, drink and be merry
The best part of being in Paria in my opinion, apart from the unpolluted pristine air at those altitudes is the homemade organic food, desserts and fresh juices on sale. The homemade pastelles, smoked meats, lunches cooked with roucou (reddish plant colouring used for flavour).
The homemade chocolate tea and coffee. The all-natural fruit juices – I was happy to visit on a day to partake of the jungle juice – a citrus mixture of grapefruit, orange, lime and lemons.
The 60% dark chocolate bars – rich in healthy anti-oxidants and Paria’s homemade ice-cream are delicious accompaniments to a day well-spent exploring another side of the island.
The items on sale also makes for great gifts to take home for dinner, or take back for friends in the case of the non-perishable items such as the pepper sauce and packets of chocolate tea (to grate and boil).
You’ll be coming round the mountain when you come
Of course living on a tropical island where most of the population lives in the urban and suburban catchments within close proximity to public transportation, schools, hospitals/health centres and airport/boat terminals, there’s one downside to experiencing these scenic escapes off the beaten path. You must have a very good working vehicle with very good tires and at least two very good drivers who aren’t afraid of heights and a few sharp bends and blind corners! Especially in the event that it rains or you happen to be returning in late evening where visibility is low.
Once you can condition your mind beyond those barriers and call ahead, you’ll be in for a fun, great adventure and some serene relaxation depending on your company and your goals for visiting!