Today I write my very last post of 3, on our Trinidad & Tobago adventures. Be prepared it will be the longest, I promise you, it will not be boring. It has been many, many years since I returned home to Trinidad. For those who have read my ” about” page , you will know already what brought me to NYC in the first place ” I migrated to NYC in my late teens because I was obsessed with the movie Fame and believed everyone danced in the streets and on top the roofs of cars. Upon arrival, and realizing this was not the case, I decided to pursue my studies at Brooklyn College and graduated with a BA in Liberal Arts”.
A few weeks ago I booked a flight for The Epicurean Man, Karate Boy and I to Trinidad & Tobago. It was their first ever, it was my first in 18 years. I knew it was going to be emotional, beautiful, overwhelming, to re-unite with all my family and friends in Trinidad. Before I take you on a photo journey of my adventure back to Trinidad, below I copied and pasted some facts about Trinidad & Tobago from the website Discover Trinidad & Tobago, this is their link below.
1. So where is Trinidad and Tobago, exactly?
We’re at the southern end of the Caribbean island chain, just seven miles off the coast of South America. You can see the mountains of Venezuela clearly from Port of Spain.
2. Two islands, quite different?
Yes — they’re about 21 miles apart, linked by regular air services and daily ferries. They’re quite different in character too, so it’s like getting two destinations for the price of one.
3. How are they different?
Trinidad is extrovert, lively, full of music and activity and energy. Tobago is more introvert, more peaceful, with wonderful clear water and white-sand beaches. Tobago is where Trinidadians go to relax.
4. How big are the two islands?
Tobago is quite small, only about thirty miles by ten, with a ridge of forested mountains down its spine, surrounded by cliffs and beaches and fringing reefs. Trinidad is bigger, about 65 miles by 50, though long peninsulas on its western coast add to its breadth. There’s a beautiful mountain range along the northern coast, and lower ranges of hills in the centre and south of the island, with flat or rolling plains between.
5. What about the people?
About 1.1 million overall (1.3 million, depending on who you ask), with only 50,000 in Tobago. The language is English. In Trinidad, the population is very mixed, descended mainly from Africa and India – each about 40% of the population – but also from Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, even China, and a few from the original Amerindian settlers. There are some wonderful ethnic mixtures; over 20% of the population identifies as being of mixed ethnicity.
6. Is Trinidad and Tobago very different from other Caribbean islands?
For one thing, it has lots of oil and natural gas, so it is wealthier than its neighbours in the Caribbean, and is not dependent on tourism. For a visitor, there’s more of a sense of being welcomed into somebody else’s life and home, rather than being channelled into special tourist enclaves where you don’t really experience the country itself.
7. Toss a Coin – Heads or Tails … You Win !!!!
There are two sides to every story. On one side, there’s Trinidad: energetic, exciting; a melting-pot of races, cultures and ideas. This, for the most part, is a place of stimulus and excitement rather than relaxation. It demands participation: in a sport, a festival, a journey of discovery. A place that gives back what is put into it.
The flip side is Tobago, serene, philosophical, dreaming beneath the sun and the wash of the waves. Tobago, where the sea’s blue is startling and the roads wind like snakes along the steep green hillsides, is the place for dozing in a hammock, snorkeling on a reef, sipping a rum punch at sunset. A place for rest, or romance; for regeneration.
Toss a coin, take your pick; choose one island or both. Heads or tails — you win. Expect an unforgettable experience.
8. Talk de talk: some local parlance to get you talking like a TRUE TRINI
- Bacchanal: scandalous, social commotion, a rowdy event
- Fête: party (both noun and verb)
- Lime: hang out with friends (another noun and verb)
- Maco: to be nosy (or someone who is nosy)
- Mas: Carnival, masquerade. E.g. to play mas
- Wine: both a noun and verb, describing sensual Trinbagonian dancing; ask for a demonstration!
For some reason, the first question a fellow Trini asks those who have not returned in many, many years is ” so what did the air smell like once you got off the plane and outside” ? Well for me it smelt humid, wet and like HOME. I had organized our Trinidad & Tobago adventure down to a detail. I knew we only had 10 days to get so much re-connecting and exploring in. The first leg of my trip was in my home-town San-Fernando. There ,we were the guests of my dad’s brother Uncle Robert and his wife Aunt Irma. This was our base from where we visited with other family members. The middle leg of our trip was in Tobago ( I already published 2 posts about our Tobago adventures at Stonehaven Villas) and the last leg of the trip was in Port-of-Spain ( the capital of Trinidad) by my cousin Natacha.
Port – Of – Spain Adventures
Natacha had planned our itinerary for the last 3 days in Trinidad. An Adventurista like myself, I knew major fun was in store for us. First stop was Maracas Beach , famous for it’s Bake & Shark and it’s backdrop of mist-covered mountains, fishing village and beautiful crescent beach. Off we all went, including my cousins Brandon and Amaya and beautiful Granny.
Immediately after our wonderful time at Maracas, my cousin Tach had a treat for us. She was taking us to Paramin, a community that literally lives in the hill-tops, one can practically touch the clouds it seems. Tach had worked on a documentary the year before on Paramin and was welcomed by it’s villagers.
” Paramin is like this: a people who live virtually cut off from the rest of the world. They speak Patois(or Kwéyòl), a variety of the (Caribbean) French Creole language, quite unlike the Spanish spoken among elders in other parts of Trinidad. The farmers work their land intimately, with a tenderness that would not be out-of-place in a pediatric nurse. Their crops of cabbage, tomato, thyme and sweet peppers provide the basis of a famous brand of seasonings and pepper sauce, prepared by hand and bottled here with the same sense of detail and correctness”.
It felt like a death-defying ride up to Paramin, Tach said I was being a drama queen. My Granny exclaimed “thanks for letting me see Paramin before I die”. The Epicurean Man & Karate Boy were in awe by all the majestic vistas Paramin had to offer. Once we made it down the hill safe and sound, I shouted ” It was well worth it!”.
Sunday, our last day in Trinidad , Tach and her dear friend Philip who with his two teen-age sons are competitive sports fisher-men. They were so nice to treat us to a day Down De Islands-Boca Islands, a diminutive chain of Caribbean islands that span the Dragon’s Mouth between Trinidad and Venezuela on the coast of South America.
The gang drove to Chagaramas, on the northwesterly tip of Trinidad, to meet with Philip his wife and two teen-age sons. As we cruise past the diminutive Caribbean islands of Gaspar Grande (fondly know as Gasparee) and Monos, on our journey to Chacachacare – the most westerly point in Trinidad – you cannot help notice the beautiful island homes. We spent the most lovely day at one of these homes, swimming, and liming. The Epicurean Man, Karate Boy and I were blissfully happy but a bit sad knowing this was our last day in Trinidad.
I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to take my two guys with me on this very special adventure heading Home. And we plan to return for the holidays. I love you sweet, sweet Trinidad… and all my family and friends back home.