Bucknell Women's Water Polo Training Trip to Trinidad (Updated Jan. 11)
The Bucknell women's water polo team is in the midst of a week-long training trip (Jan. 7-14) to the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Sophomore Barbara Peterson (Palo Alto, Calif./Castilleja) is providing periodic updates on the team's adventures for BucknellBison.com. Check back throughout the week for additional updates and pictures.
Day 5 - Jan. 11, 2013
Today was the best day of the trip so far, in my opinion. We had an entire day of relaxation and team bonding, foregoing both morning and afternoon practices for a boat tour of the islands, team dinner and steel pan performance.
We started off the day with, of course, breakfast, our favorite meal! And then shipped off to sea. A father on the men's Trinidadian National Team was nice enough to share his boat with us for the day and take us around the island. He bumped some Caribbean soca music as we got on the boat. The cruise was absolutely gorgeous. After sailing for a couple of miles, we stopped the boat at a small island so we could swim around for a while. The coaches decided to take the lead on a scenic hike through the island onto the other shore where we could see Venezuela in the distance. Even though the hike only lasted five minutes or so, it proved to be a large obstacle for most of the team. Emily Nowlin remarked that she felt like she was on Survivor.
After our stop, we grabbed a quick lunch that included lots of PB&J sandwiches, Oreos and fresh fruit before continuing on to our next destination. We ended up stopping at a jumping rock that stood around 40 feet tall. Kat DeRuff and Krystle Morgan were the first off the rock. By the end of the day the entire team jumped off, and the bravest of the bunch ventured over to an even higher jumping rock that stood at around 50 feet high. McBride, and eventually Kyle, also went of the highest rock. It was a successful day to say the least!
On the way back to shore, a couple girls had the chance to take a speed boat and "surf" on the back of the boat (which is basically wake boarding on a small surf board).
Next, the team headed back to the hotel with a quick turnaround to a 6:30 p.m. dinner at a local restaurant. We enjoyed fresh fruit frappes with strawberries, pineapple, kiwi and other fresh fruits and pizzas for appetizers. I ordered a thai shrimp curry dish with coconut milk, basil and white rice. After dinner we got to experience another part of Trinidadian culture--the music.
Carnival season is underway, which also means that the island is getting ready for all of the carnival festivities. Our hotel even had a couple of girls dressed in full carnival attire in the lobby. They were wearing bright yellows, reds, and oranges and adorned with feathers. Carnival costumes are typically very colorful, bright and loud.
The steel pan performers started out by just practicing their songs, but amazed us all by the end. They played a rendition of Phantom of the Opera that was awesome. All of the performers were perfectly choreographed and in sync, not to mention spirited. By the end, a couple team mates were even dancing in the crowd. We also got the chance to meet a couple of the Trinidad girls outside of the pool, who also danced with us.
With another great day under out belts, I think all of us are sad that our time here is dwindling!
Day 3 - Jan. 9, 2013
Today we had a full day ahead of us with a morning practice, beach adventure and scrimmage with the Trinidad national team on our plate. We started the day out early with another 9 a.m. practice, working on ball skills and fundamentals. After our workout we embarked on a 40-minute journey into the mountains en route to Maracas Beach, which is just north of the Port of Spain.
As we headed up the mountain road, we found ourselves with great views of the city and and a closer look at a couple of Trinidadian neighborhoods. The streets were filled with local fruit stands, school children and colorful homes. As we climbed higher into the mountains, the scenery became much greener and more jungle-like. We made a stop towards the top of the mountain range for a quick photo-op of the water below us as well as a chance to get some authentic Trinidadian snacks. Adam recommended we try something called the Mango Chow, which consisted of fresh mangoes, cilantro, garlic, lime, salt and some habanero pepper. Other snacks included sweet coconut rice and fudge.
The biggest treat of all turned out to be the Bake and Shark, found at the street vendors across from Maracas Beach. The Bake and Shark is a very popular Trinidadian dish that contains fried shark. Adam claims that his last meal would most definitely be the infamous Bake and Shark. We were all curious and excited (yet slightly fearful) to try this dish. The Bake and Shark is served in a pocket of fried dough and accompanied by a vast assortment of condiments including garlic sauce, cilantro sauce, mango relish, sweet and sour sauce, mustard and of course hot sauce. It was absolutely delicious.
After our lunch at the Bake and Shark shack, we all hit the beach. Even more beautiful than the last beach, we found ourselves amongst many palm trees, light sand and clear water. We also found a good deal of waves. Kyle Gorham and John McBride, our two coaches, joined us in the water and led the team in catching some waves. Most of them ended up with a mouth full of sand, but we had fun nonetheless. For the next couple of hours we spent time body surfing, just floating around in the warm water and lounging on the beach. It was our best day yet.
Maracas Beach and our Bake and Shark would not soon be forgotten! But it was time to get ready for our night scrimmage. We started out with a chalk talk, going over our offensive and defensive strategies. After this we all jumped in for a quick warm up and got ready to play. Everyone got a chance to hit the water and work on their polo. It was fun finally seeing the team playing together after all the hours in pre-season, especially because we got to welcome back two of players that were abroad. Steph Ovalle enjoyed a semester in Granada, Spain, while Sarah Frank spent her time in Costa Rica.
We ended our day with another delicious dinner and typical Trinidadian dish -- Jerk Chicken. Some of our players found the dish slightly too spicy, and we quickly weeded out the weak palates from the strong ones. After getting our fill of jerk chicken and macaroni and cheese, we headed back to the hotel for some rest.
Day 2 - Jan. 8, 2013
Filled with fresh papaya, pineapple and smoked salmon, the lady Bison were happy to enjoy a tropical breakfast before another day of training. Practice today was at 9 a.m. in anticipation of a game against the Trinidad national team that would take place later at night. In the middle of practice we were surprised by a small tropical rainstorm, yet most of us still managed to get a little too much sun.
Next, we grabbed lunch and enjoyed some local Trinidad grub. The more adventurous members of our team tried a Goat Roti, which contained potatoes, goat and a cilantro curry sauce. Others went to Subway.
After lunch we went to a small beach just 15 minutes away from the pool. The beach was breathtaking -- sheltered by the forest and cliffs we walked down several flights of stairs to reach the water. Everyone quickly made their way into the ocean and we even found a ledge to jump off. Kyle, our assistant coach, ventured near the rocks to find some tropical fish and get a workout of his own. The team enjoyed the sun and surf for a couple hours and then shipped back to the hotel prior to our 7 p.m. game.
After some light napping, smoothie orders and more pool time, we headed back to the pool. This time, we had the chance to enjoy the island at night. The streets and mountains were filled with lights as we rode in our tightly packed cars with the windows rolled down. Driving in Trinidad is an experience within itself. Adam Foley, my car's driver and the coach of the Trinidad national team, filled us in on the immense traffic that clogs up the island from 2-6 p.m. every day. We also giggled at the local radio station host, and got to listen to Trinidad's lingo.
Before getting in the pool, the team got in a good stretch and got ready to play. We started off the game strong, getting the first goal and kept building from there. We worked on our 6-on-5 and front court offense, aiming to create opportunities for our two primary set players, Krystle Morgan and Hannah Sunday.
After the game, we had one of our most delicious meals. We were greeted by BBQ chicken, sweet rolls, salad and mashed potato balls. The team sat in a circle and dug in, barely talking in our post-game hunger. We arrived back at the hotel at around 10:30 p.m. ready for sleep and another day of practice.
Day 1 - Jan. 7, 2013
After meeting up in the JFK airport, the lady Bison made their way to Trinidad's capital city, the Port of Spain, to start off our first abroad training trip. Surrounded by the Gulf of Paria, we found ourselves at the Hyatt of Trinidad right on the water.
After a quick breakfast, the team started the day off with a morning practice. The pool is outdoors and hidden amongst the lush mountain range. We were in awe at the houses tucked in the mountain side and overlooking the entire city. Doing our first swim and leg set as a team, we began to get ready for the upcoming week and season ahead of us.
After practice, we explored a local mall and grocery store and then headed back to the hotel. We also got to experience the colorful TTD, Trinidad's currency (and struggle with converting from American dollars). In the afternoon, most of us found ourselves lounging in the infinity pool and enjoying the hot Trinidad sun for a moment of relaxation before our next practice. The pool looks straight out onto the water and was a great way to enjoy each other as well as the beautiful scenery.