A Whistlestop Visit to Trinidad.
While I was in Tobago recently, I popped over to Trinidad for the night.
Flights leave every hour (roughly) and take 25 minutes. But you have to check in 1 1/2 hours before, or you might lose your seat to standby passengers!
Trinidad and Tobago are completely different islands. There’s a lot more happening in Trinidad, while Tobago’s more leisurely and laid-back.
Driving from the airport, we went to the top of a hill, where we could see Trinidad spread out below us.
Freetown grew with a population of escaped slaves.
Belmont was made up of free slaves, but they were given the worst land, up the hill, where the land was harder to grow on.
15 kms away, you can just see the coast of Venezuela. They’re having a hard time at the moment and a lot of them are travelling to Trinidad and Tobago to find work.
We drove around the main areas of the city, Port of Spain, where some of the houses were built in the New Orleans style.
The National Museum was interesting, showing the very varied history of the island.
Then we stopped for lunch in RuStreet.
The food is a help-yourself buffet, made up of traditional recipes – all prepared by Jimmy the Chef, who is Venezuelan!
It was all hot and fresh. And I thought it was a good idea that everyone had to put on a plastic glove before helping themselves.
After lunch, we went to visit one of the carnival suppliers; Harts Carnival.
The Trinidad Carnival is a very important event. More of that in a future article.
I walked in, and gasped out loud. The room was lined with dummies in the most amazing exotic colourful costumes. Oh, they were GORGEOUS!
Off we went again and I asked if I could have a drink of fresh coconut from one of the coconut vendors beside the road. I’d had fresh coconut in Cuba so I knew how tasty and refreshing it was.
There were adverts around the top of the stalls, so they obviously get an additional income from them.
Tony the Coconut Seller, picked up a lethal-looking machete and hacking the top off the coconut, handed it over.
I saw a sign listing the healthy properties of coconuts, but I couldn’t help noticing the physical state of Tony. He was extremely thin and had missing teeth.
On the other hand, he could have been 102!
In the evening, we went to Chaud, It was a very high quality restaurant. Again it served traditional Trinidad food, but the contrast to RuStreet couldn’t have been more different!
After the meal, we asked the driver if he could take us to see some night life. Most bars were closed although it wasn’t late.
The driver stopped at a lively venue where it was packed outside. To our surprise, it was RuStreet!
It was totally different to the lunchtime, with Karaoke in full swing.
In the morning, our guide for the day, Yvette, took us to see the Indian history of Trinidad.
From 1845, after slavery was banned, Indians were recruited – or rather, conned – to come to Trinidad to work on the sugar plantations.
A lot of them were under the impression that they were going to work in a different part of India (The West Indies.) The journey took around three months.
They signed five year contracts and they were free to leave after that. But they couldn’t afford to leave!
They were Hindus, but were often forced to change to Presbytarian to get their children educated.
We arrived at the Temple in the Sea.
I must tell you all about it in another article as it’s so interesting!
The area was packed with mourning families and by the sea were funeral pyres, which worried me.
I know it’s their religion, but I didn’t want to see a burning body.
Luckily I didn’t see anything like that as we were too early.
The tiny temple was built jutting out into the sea.
As we went along the road to the Indo-Caribbean Museum, funeral processions passed us, their loudspeakers blaring.
In the museum were artifacts showing the history of the Indian workers.
A lot of them were skilled at crafts like weaving, pottery, jewellery making, and basket making.
Gradually these plantation workers managed to buy their own land, and mainly grew rice or worked on their crafts.
As a complete contrast, we next visited an ornate temple called the Shoba Vishaan Dattatraya (I think I’ve got that right.)
The temple looked like a giant meringue, and there were groups of brightly-attired wedding guests everywhere.
A huge statue of their God looked like a cartoon character.
Next, we drove to the swamp, where we sat under a shelter and ate Rotis, which are Indian-type meals encased in flatbreads.
They’re not very attractive to look at, and not very elegant to eat. But they’re very tasty.
We waited for our boat to be prepared. It looked home-made, and the engine had to be unloaded from a truck.
Finally we set off with Captain Victor, the owner.
He pointed out various types of fish and bird. And then he suddenly stopped under a tree, making me disappear in a cloud of petrol fumes.
He pointed up and said there was a boa curled up asleep on a branch.
It took us a while to focus our eyes, and I accused him of planting it there, and said it was probably plastic! But after seeing the third boa, who all sat on branches above our head, I changed my mind. And if one of them had fallen into our boat, I’d have probably dived over the side into the murky water!
We saw a gorgeous little Silky Anteater, all curled up and cuddly on a branch.
A pink flamingo seemed to performing a miracle walking on water. But it was strolling along a sandbank.
But the most popular of all just had to be the Scarlet Ibis.
Oh the amazing flash of red as they took off and flew above us. Stunning!
After that it was time to leave and head for the airport.
It had been a short, but memorable trip.
See also; https://b-c-ing-u.com/2016/08/13/10-reasons-not-go-tobago/
Facebook: Adventures of Steely Pan
Flights from £567 return
They can put together great value packages including accommodation and
flights to Tropikist and Blue Waters
Rust Street Restaurants Limited,
20 Rust Street,
Port of Spain
Our hotel for the night was;
Prices from £84 per room per night including breakfast