Big ride, big ride! I have been longing for it for months now and I can’t wait to jump on and rev real hard through the mud!
The comment comes from a 60-something-year-old woman (based on my estimation; I don’t ask her age) in anticipation of a scheduled ATV ride at Team99 Vybez Fun Park inGuayaguayare. She and her friend are on a Big Ride Tour courtesy Candy Coated Experiences in keeping with Tourism Trinidad Limited’s Sweet Sweet Trinidad Campaign. I am also a passenger on this enthralling journey along with some other eager local tourists, bored because of the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions and hungry for every piece of the beautiful country we took for granted when international travel was open.
“I love my country and I love adventure. This experience includes a prelude of pit stops from Port-of Spain to Manzanilla to Mayaro to Guyaguayare where the climax ATV ride happens. Some people told me I am too old to ride an ATV but I will prove them wrong!” my 60-something-year-old friend tells me.
We are at our first stop, a doubles booth in Cumuto. Mid-bite into my baigani (the melongene version to an aloo pie), I listen to the excited chatter of fellow adventurers and before we know it we are at another site in Valencia drinking coconut water as the vendor recalls how she chopped off her finger while cutting coconut.
Some coconut water and jelly later we are en route to Mayaro as Candace Guppy Sobion, co-owner of Candy Coated Experiences with her sister Tenielle Guppy, explains that the commute to reach to the Big Ride destination is just as eventful as the actual ATV ride. Coconut trees frame the perfect paradise scene of Trinidad’s Southern strip which also houses the popular diverse wetland, Nariva Swamp. Many people visit this part for the tasty sea food, inviting beaches and just to relax within the ambience of fishing villages popular for cascadura and crab hunting. But our purpose for this Candy Coated excursion is to experience riding an ATV along a mud trail.
“Big ride, big ride…” Lyrics from the Big Ride Rhythm featuring Blackboy and Ezra blasts through the maxi taxi’s radio which set the tone for exploration. A lady with colourful tights laughs at the fact that she took a day off from work to attend the tour and the newspapers (me) was covering it… She also expresses her love for T&T and her regret that she never visited Mayaro before.
“Girl, me and friend travel the world. We went on cruise all over but with the Covid-19 lockdown, we have decided to appreciate and support our own,” she avows. She is younger that my 60-something-year old friend but not as daring as she states her caution in riding an ATV- “I want to do it but I am a bit scared I fall off.”
Indeed, I am all pumped and ready for the ATV adventure. I didn’t know these adventure opportunities existed in T&T until Guppy Sobion invited me to sample this new brand of eco-tourism.
As so rightly stated by Heidi Alert, acting CEO of Tourism Trinidad Limited- “Few of us realise the wide range of options, including adventure sports, that Trinidad offers… From stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, rappelling off waterfalls to paragliding to ATV rides, cycling, and so many hiking adventures to nature’s best beauty spots.”
“So we will quench our thirsts with some refreshing watermelon before we do our ATV ride,” Tenielle Guppy announces as the maxi stops in Kernahan, the watermelon capital of Trinidad. Refreshed and ready, we depart Kernahan drawing nearer to Team99 Vybez Fun Park as hearts race and smiles widen.
In a matter of minutes we are carried through security briefings and a helmet and high fives later we are all posed up on ATVs ready for the big ride. What happens next becomes a blur of pure adrenaline mixed with euphoric wow-what-did-I-get-myself-into-but-I-love-it moments! As we ride the ATVs through muddy trails speeding past friendly cows, egrets and an occasional iguana, we scream, we shout, we conquer with mud-slicked eyelashes and revved up egos.
By the time I hand back in my helmet and dismount my new four wheeled toy I admit that the big ride was an epic experience; no river, waterfall, Carnival fete nor beach lime can measure up to it.
“Wow, I did it! Another tick on my bucket list!” my 60-something-year-old friend exudes, hugging the lady with the colourful tights as we all celebrate her success.
To be engaged in such an activity at her age is a noteworthy feat, one I wish I could accomplish when I get older.