South of Carapichaima, the SMR enters Trinidad’s industrial heartland, with the west coast lined by a series of smoggy towns interspersed with oil refineries and petrochemical plants. The liveliest settlement in the area is Couva, with a few lovely gingerbread houses surviving among the concrete, and several places to eat and drink lined up along the road. Just south of Couva, a roundabout marks the turn-off to the massive Point Lisas Industrial Complex, whose belching chimneys are visible from miles around. The complex was built during the oil boom years of the 1970s to produce liquefied natural gas, steel and fertilizers (it has the unfortunate distinction of being the largest exporter of fertilizer in the world), but, industrial as it is, Point Lisas still has its wildlife. Every year between December and June, thousands of blue crabs make the hazardous journey across the main road from the swampland beside the complex to lay eggs in the sea; given the road traffic here, many don’t make it, leaving a crunchy trail of broken shells on the tarmac. Just by the turn-off for Point Lisas, Atlantic Plaza offers air-conditioned respite from the heat in the form of a Rituals coffee shop and food court.

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