Beyond the grand residences of Maraval at the northern fringe of Port of Spain, buildings give way to abundant rainforest and the road climbs through a succession of hairpin bends to where a junction is marked by two 4m-high stone pillars. To the left is the North Coast Road; continuing straight ahead, Saddle Road squeezes through a narrow gorge of solid rock before meandering downhill through pastoral Santa Cruz valley, a very scenic half-hour jaunt past cattle pastures and farmland south towards the urban bedlam of San Juan.
The valley’s neat cocoa groves, flower gardens with orchids, crumbling mud-walled tapia houses and dilapidated gingerbread mansions are punctuated by towering samaan trees and impressive clumps of bamboo, mango, sapodilla and banana, though a thriving nearby quarry has gouged messy yellow scars into the hillsides. Cricket legend Brian Lara spent his childhood in Cantaro Village, about 3km along the road. The place has a friendly, suburban feel, its lively main street lined with roti restaurants and rum bars. At the back of the village is a cricket stadium built in Lara’s honour, with a placard outlining his remarkable world Test records.