I should have blogged about this ages ago, but I've been busy. First, with what I'm on the verge of telling you about. Then later, with work. Yes, work! I love work!!
I left Cartagena on November 11th, the 201st anniversary of the city's independence. Had a one night layover in Fort Lauderdale, but Nico was so kind as to let me stay at his place, even though he and his roommate had just moved in. I've mentioned that. The next day, November 12th at 10:50PM, I arrived at Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
That first night was a-ma-zing. Seriously. My friend Travis, who I know from my previous visits to the island, did me the huge favour of picking me up from the airport and on the ride to the city he gave me two options: 1) go straight home to Nella's house or B) come over to a party and lime with him and his friends. Do I really have to tell you which option I chose? Didn't think so.
I talked to Nella to see if she was OK with me coming home even later or possibly the next day and she was fine with it, so it was off to party. I had a lot of fun there, with drinks and music and dancing and lots of nice people who didn't mind at all that I only understood about 40% of what they were saying - between my having to get used to the accent again and the loud music further diminishing my hearing capacities it was pretty challenging to maintain a conversation at that place. But still, great night. Perfect welcome to the island.
The next day, because we'd stayed at the party until 4:30AM and I didn't want to bother Nella in the middle of the night, what with her having to work in the morning, Travis took me to her house in Diego Martin, about 20min outside of Port of Spain.
That was when the trouble started.
There was practically no internet connection at the house she was living in. Well, there was one unlocked WiFi network in the immediate vicinity of the house, but the signal only barely reached the room and I couldn't connect enough to even open my e-mails or facebook. So I started panicking. Right away, basically, because I was also tired from all the flying and the party the previous night, so it all got to me faster. I did manage to sleep a bit that night, but not very well, and the next morning I went into the city with Nella so I could use the internet somewhere else and figure out a solution.
You know why that is such a big deal, you've read about my work. I told you, right? I get up early every morning in order to apply for jobs that come in from Europe (My 6AM is their 11AM, which is already late...). Then, if I have a project, I spend the rest of the day translating and using all sorts of dictionaries - online. I can NOT be living in a place that doesn't have a working internet connection. So I knew I couldn't stay at Nella's, even though that's what I wanted. She's my friend, after all. And she was so extremely kind to me, sharing her living space with me... I felt like an asshole wanting to move to another place. But then again, I didn't really have an option.
After a few hours of frantic internet research and skyping with Béa and e-mailing with my family in Austria - and feeling sick to the stomach, and not being able to breathe right, and shaking all over, and really just wanting to curl up in some corner and sleep until it was all over - I was working on a temporary solution. Although I honestly could not have done it without my family. Well, probably, but it would have taken me so much longer and I would have lost a lot more nerves in the meantime.
In the end I got an e-mail from Vienna with the address of a guesthouse and the words "negotiated the price, go there, they know you're coming" - I'm paraphrasing here, the original message was a lot longer. And in German.
The problem with going to a guesthouse, though, was that I couldn't actually afford staying in one. It simply wasn't in my budget, I wasn't prepared for such an expense. Not that I'm poor, it just hadn't been calculated into my plans. I hate money sometimes... Otherwise I wouldn't have had the problem of finding a place to stay to begin with. I mean, if you can afford to stay in a guesthouse for a while, then rents in Port of Spain won't be a problem for you. But, as we all know, I couldn't and they were. Still, at that moment I did not have an option. Had I been on my own, I would have come to the same conclusion, but it would have taken me forever to take the step of getting a room. Already, it took a lot of convincing and pushing all the way from Austria to get me to go. "'But, this is so expensive, what if I find something else, I mean I don't know what that other thing could be, but this...' - 'Just effing go! Now!!'" So I walked over to the guesthouse and talked to the owner to confirm what the e-mail had said and we settled it, I was going to stay there for a bit: The Little Inn. A very cute, family-run guesthouse in Newtown, Port of Spain.
I got to move into my room right away, well partly at least, because my big backpack was still at Nella's house. But I was somewhat calmer knowing that I now had steady internet access, so I did some work in my room that afternoon and went to the supermarket, because the room had a little fridge I wanted to fill up with the necessary things.
I'd like to show you some pictures of my little room at this point, but this site is telling me I don't have any more storage for photos and have to purchase an upgrade. Obviously, I'm not doing that. So I'll figure out what's going on with this issue and when it's sorted out I'll post some of the photos I took, because they're nice.
Later that evening I went back down to where Nella works to pick her up and we headed to the centre together to have a drink and talk about the day. I think she understands. She didn't in the beginning - and how could she -, but I got to explain it better when I was out of the immediate trouble. Then, her boyfriend picked us up and because he was hungry and wanted to eat, he took the two of us to a restaurant to grab a bite. Afterwards he was so nice as to take me to Nella's and then to my guesthouse with my luggage.
The disaster was not yet averted, though.
Being in the guesthouse bought me some (expensive) time, but I couldn't stay there for the whole time I was planning on being in Trinidad. At that price, actually, I could barely stay there for a week without draining my funds. It was find a permanent solution in the next days or take the next flight back out of Trinidad, the following Friday or Saturday. I had a week. And I really, really wanted to stay. Really.
For that reason - having to figure it out within up to three days (because flight prices would go up and then leaving wouldn't be a real option either) - I was still plagued with random panic attacks in the next days. I even cried. Twice. In front of people... not something that should happen. I'm sorry, Travis. I'm sorry, Peter. I apologize. But I dare promise it won't happen again.
For that reason - not knowing what was going to happen and what my near future was going to look like - I couldn't write about it right away. I had to solve the problem and figure everything out before being able to tell you. But I definitely wanted to tell you, because of the share-the-good-and-the-bad policy.
And now for that reason - me writing about it - you know that I've done it. I'm safe.
The first thing I did after what I'm going to call First Aid - getting myself into that guesthouse so I'd be able to keep working right away - was post my problem in the Trinidad and Tobago group on CouchSurfing. I love CouchSurfing, becoming a part of that community was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Hands down.
I posted my message on November 14th and on November 17th I moved to the place where I live now, within the 3 day limit. All of it thanks to local and non-local CouchSurfers.
Those three days were very intense and stressful, I was trying to get as much work done as I could, while making calls to inquire about rooms and researching some more online and visiting people to look at possibilities. When the final confirmation came that it was going to work out, oh you can't imagine the relief.
I want to save telling you about where I live now and where I'm moving next for the next time I write. In part because it's getting late and I'm tired and in part because this post is already very long and I don't want to overdo it.
So, now, I just want to repeat how glad I am that everything worked out in the end. And how amazed I am, still and again, by how wonderful people can be. Even during those three days of uncertainty I was able to experience so much kindness and wonder. I always try to concentrate on the positive things I encounter, no matter how small. It was hard this time, but I managed. Grateful for that, too.
And at some point, Béa and I talked about what was going on and we came to a conclusion as to why it was happening. She reminded me about something I'd said a few weeks earlier, back in Colombia. I'm an extremely lucky person, so many good things happen to me that sometimes I can't even believe it. And a few weeks ago I thought about that and figured that something was bound to happen. Either something bad had to happen to me or I had to wake up. One of the two. Necessarily. Because there's a balance in the universe, call it Karma if you want. The point is, no matter how hard I try, I can't give back near as much as I constantly get. So this was really overdue, the universe had to send something negative my way for it to recover it's balance. Now that it's over, though, again I have something to be grateful.
I must be boring you to tears with all this mushy talk about feelings. If I am, then
It was horrible and I hope to not go through something like that again, ever. But it could have been so much worse. And I learned from it. And I got proof - yet again, as if it was necessary to prove anything - how much my family stands behind me and supports me. And now, because of it, I appreciate even more what I have.
Thanks, everyone who helped me.