Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 18th 2016 Contents RADHICA SOOKRAJ
Tucked between cocoa estates along the towering
peaks of the Central Mountain Range lies the village
of Los Atajos, where the descendants of French settlers
still speak patois.
It is a place hidden away from time where people
still drive old model Mitsubishi Lancers, battered jeeps
and Datsun 280s. The villagers, most of whom are
farmers, spend their days toiling in the nearby cocoa
estates and fig plantations which grow on the rolling
hillsides of Mount Tamana, Mount Harris and Brigand
Unlike their French ancestors who valued education,
illiteracy levels are high in Los Atajos and those who
want a tertiary education usually leave the community
Los Atajos, which means shortcut in patois, now has
pipe-borne water, electricity and good roads. However,
while these amenities are valuable, villagers say the
area has been opened up to criminals, pilferers and bur-
Ninety-year-old Stephen Lacaille, whose ancestors
migrated from the French colonies to Trinidad under
the 1783 Cedula of Population edict, said the new gen-
eration needed to adopt the values of their elders.
On April 6, one of the villagers, Chanice Marchand,
23, was held at gunpoint at Boodoosingh Service Station
in Flanagin Town and robbed of $5,000 in cash and
valuables. The robbers fled through Los Atajos but they
were pursued by police who shot and killed two of
them. Since the robbery, Los Atajos residents have been
taking extra precautions to ensure their safety.
Sitting on his porch with his hat slung over his creased face,
Lacaille said he missed the days of long ago when people cared
about each other.
"Back then people were not selfish. Everyone helped one
another. We didn t have crime like now. If you had to build
your house, everyone would come and help. If you had prob-
lems, the entire village will sort it out," Lacaille said.
He added, "I could remember when people used to cut
down mango trees and use the trunk as posts. They would
take the cement barrels, cut it and beat it until it was flat and
use it as a roof. The poorer ones made their roofs using needle
grass and bamboo." Lacaille said he was around when Sangre
Grande had no electrical lights.
Saying people were no longer kind-hearted, Lacaille added,
"We worked hard long ago filling water from the springs and
washing in the river. Now people have everything they need---
water, roads, lights---and they still not happy."
Clifton Giuseppi, 84, who owns a 200-acre cocoa estate,
echoed similar sentiments. Giuseppi s grandmother,
Maria Jennings, came to Trinidad from another Caribbean
island and his grandfather, Miguel Marcano, came from
"I grew up with them and they spoke broken French
and Spanish. They passed this down to me. I can speak
patois and understand Spanish. The children nowadays
are not interested in learning these languages," Giuseppi
said. His son Anderson, who works as a full-time cocoa
farmer, said better educational facilities were needed for
the children of Los Atajos.
"The closest school here is the Brasso Venado Gov-
ernment School which is three miles away. We have the
Flanagin Town RC School where classes are still being
held in the church," Anderson said. Since 1933, over four
generations of Flanagin Town residents have received
their primary-school education in the old church building.
Today, the termite-ridden church is still being used for
classes and Anderson said this was not good enough.
He said residents got hope when construction of a
new school building began in 2012. The school was sup-
posed to be finished since March 2015, but it is still
Anderson said most children who stay in the village
end up being farmers and construction workers. Those
who get their education rarely return to the community.
He said if the village had proper recreational facilities,
youths would be more inclined to stay.
Patricia Awong, whose brother Henry is the chairman
of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation,
said because of the absence of recreational grounds, chil-
dren have no choice but to play on the streets.
"We have football, cricket and basketball games on
the road. Since the roads got paved, more people are coming
into these areas, so the children don t have a proper place to
play," Awong lamented. She added that more police patrols
were needed to curb crime in the area.
"The Brasso Police Station is too far from us. This used to
be a safe area but not anymore," Awong said. Christine Sampath,
who cultivates bananas and short crops, said Los Atajos was
one of the most scenic parts of the country. Pointing to the
peaks of the Central Range, which rose about 300 metres (100
Continued on Page A28
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Rising temperatures and longer
summers have helped the iconic
Alaskan moose conquer vast new
stretches of frozen tundra
according to a new study.
Changes in climate have seen a
rapid increase in the size of plants
that the moose depend on in
winter to survive.
The large, lumbering creatures
have moved hundreds of
kilometres northwards following
the spreading shrubs.
Scientists believe the moose
will continue to colonise new
territories as warming continues.
The windswept, treeless tundra
regions of Alaska saw a rapid
decline in moose numbers around
the start of the 20th century but
there has been a rise in sightings
in these northern and western
areas since 2009.
This study argues that the
changing fortunes of moose in the
tundra were due to environmental
reasons and not overhunting as
some had previously suggested.
While caribou are able to dig
down through the snow to find
forage in winter, moose can only
eat the shrubs and plants sticking
through this layer.
The researchers then
investigated the relationship
between shrub height and
temperatures in Alaska dating
back to 1860.
They found that global warming
in the 20th century led to a longer
growing season and they
estimated that shrubs increased in
size from around 1.1m in 1860 to
around 2m in 2009. (BBC)
More moose on the loose in a warmer Alaska
Christopher Ragoon and Sapphine Awong get hands-on
and assist their parents with bananas for sale.
PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
the Central Range
Los Atajos residents battle crime, illiteracy
Links Archive April 17th 2016 April 19th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page