Thursday, January 24, 2013

Colourful Trini Deliciousness

Before really getting into the fetes and parties that surround Carnival time in Trinidad and Tobago, I quickly want to show you something else: the beautiful edible colours that make this place so special. Not that you can't get most of these things in other places, not that there's no markets in other places, but I like Trinidad best and this is my blog... so what are you going to do, right? 

A little while ago I had a nice CouchSurfer, Catherine, staying at my place while my friend Don was also still in the city, so one Saturday (January 12th, to be exact) we decided to go explore the island a little bit. Okay, no. We decided to go explore a few places that are close by Port of Spain. To say we explored the island would mean that we went all the way East or South and we did neither of those things. But we did have a look at some of the suggestions Catherine's travel guide had to offer and settled on visiting the big market in Tunapuna. 

I love markets. Not so much the shopping, that's rather annoying and I'm actually pretty bad at it. But I love strolling around a market and looking at everything that's on display and at the people and the activity in and dynamics of the place. What I like best: the colours. 

I'm going to stop talking at this point and just show you those colours I'm talking about. I wonder if you'll like them as much as I do. Just bear in mind, the original is still so much more vibrant that any picture I could ever take... 

Don't you want to just get all these things right now and start cooking and experimenting with tastes and textures? And then, when the dish is finished, find people that will eat it. Imagine what the place was like now, the smells and the noise and the pure vibration in the air... and the colours. They're the most important thing. 

After spending about an hour in the Tunapuna market we went on to Arima  and walked around the town for a while, then found another market. But no more pictures, you know you can only take so many, right? I don't actually know that. But people very often tell me, so I didn't bring my camera out in the second market. 

That same afternoon we also went to Waterloo. The Temple in the Sea. But that is so special to me, it's reserved for its own blog post. You'll see it soon. 

Yes, and Carnival too... 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tobagonian nature.

I know, I know... I'm a walking and talking lack of discipline and I don't follow through with the things I promise. I know! Sorry, I'm trying. But as much as I wanted things to slow down before Carnival events started drawing my attention to my serious sleeping trouble so I could write the old stories before the new ones happened, I couldn't. More stress, more things requiring that I focus my mind on them instead of myself, more days passing without writing. But here I am, with words and photographs, so let's get past this and move forward, let's look at more Tobago. 

Specifically, let's look at Tobago's beautiful natural gems: beaches and waterfalls. 

On day two of Don's and my stay there, the 1st of January, everybody went to the beach. Ravi, his girlfriend Melany and her kids and their friends, Melany's sister, Zinga and Lindon, even Navin. We all headed over to Store Bay and then settled our hungover (not me) and tired (me) butts down in the soft sand of Swallows Beach. 

We brought leftover BBQed chicken with us, leftover ham that Ravi still had from Christmas and that I cut up into bite-sized pieces with one of Ravi's awesome kitchen knives (Not quite like a machete, but so sharp it cut through that ham like it was butter that had been sitting in the sun... Yes, I like knives.) and we also brought more drinks, although I still kept away from them, just like the night before. 

Let me show to you right now why people love the beaches in Tobago so much: 

The clear blue sea at Swallows.

The beach and palms and trees at Swallows. 

People practically bathing in the sunset at Swallows. 

I like this picture. My favourite from that day. 

Me looking out at the sunset at Swallows. 

Now, I said I'd crashed the night before. Unfortunately, that wasn't really so. It wasn't the real crash, because I still couldn't sleep proplerly that night and, well, it was visible the next day. Again, I had a great time with everybody, but I was definitely not at the top of my game. So, guess who went to bed again early. Yes, me. The old lady strikes again. 

The next day, though, was much better. I was still working with a big sleep deficit, but slow recuperation is better than none and January 2nd was an adventurous day for me.

Why is that, you ask? Because we went to a waterfall. Not special for many, but very much so for me. I might not be a big nature person, but I love the water. The sea, lakes, rivers, even puddles. Man, puddles are fun! Therefore, going to a waterfall was really cool. The one we went to is called Argyle Falls, it's in Roxborough on the SE coast of the island, about an hour's drive from Signal Hill. Well, it was an hour's drive for us. Lindon kept on claiming that had anybody else been at the wheel (and by anybody else I think he referred to himself) it would have been no more than 30min. But, personally, I'm glad we drove slowly. Here's the reason: 

Traveling in the back of the van. No, it was not a kidnapping!! 

If we had gone at full speed along that winding coast road, I'd probably still be full of bruises from tumbling around the back of the van and being thrown around every time we hit one of the many potholes. Those things are so numerous, they should be on a coin here or something. 

We stopped along the way to take pictures of the scenery. - I got out of the car for this shot so it really, really was not a kidnapping. 

We got to Roxborough, paid the admission to the compound and started our way towards the falls. 

At this point I'd like to point out what I was wearing. Not because it's particularly interesting, but because to those who know me it might be funny. Maybe even to those who don't. What would you wear if you were to go on a little hike through the forest to see some waterfalls? Shorts, a shirt, some kind of sporty footwear? Most people would do that. Not me, no. I went in what I'll call a "little black dress" (LBD, every girl has at least one of those) and flip flops. Did you think I'd say high-heels? Come on, not even I am that out of it. But I am that girl that climbs over rocks and marches through the forest barefoot, so of course I'm also that girl that goes on a forest hike in flip flops. Besides, it's not like I have proper shoes. Dear real hikers, deal with it. 

The walk to the waterfall. 

Almost there! 

Look at that path, being in flip flops was no problem at all. It would have been a problem if I had decided to climb up the side of the mountain to get to the top of the waterfall, but I was having so much fun climbing around the rocks in the water (to the other side of the pool and back and then into the middle again and around and back to shore...) I didn't even think about going anywhere other than in and out of the water. And like a real pro I did all that while still in my dress. I had brought a swimsuit, but those are for beginners. 

More pictures: 

See, I didn't just get all those pictures off Google, I was really there myself. 

Lindon, Ravi and Melany - Don was swimming at the time, so unfortunately he's not in this picture. 

Argyle Falls, Tobago. Beautiful. 

This waterfall trip happened on the 2nd of January and I was there until the 4th, but it still basically concludes the stories I have to tell about my time there. Not that the rest was boring, but we didn't do much on the 3rd. Don was dealing with a cough (that I managed not to catch until I was already back in POS) and everybody else was just relaxing. That's why on my last evening in Tobago I went to see a movie with Zinga and her boyfriend instead of going to some bar or party and liming with strangers - perfect end to the relaxing trip I'd needed so much. 

Wait, no. Not the end! 

My dear sweetheart Marcho Che had arrived in Tobago the night before and we knew that with him leaving Trinidad the day after coming back from Tobago we wouldn't see each other again. Insert ::sadface:: here... But because he's my dear sweetheart, he came out to the airport in the morning so we could spend some time together before I went back to Port of Spain. I figured it would be nice for him and Don to meet because they were going to be on the island for the same amount of time and they could do stuff together, snorkeling and suchlike. Don was going to Buccoo Reef that afternoon so I invited him to come to the airport (between the reef and the house, so no detour) with me so I could introduce the two of them. 

What a mistake I made. 

My so-called friends "keeping me company" while I waited for boarding.

Nah, I'm joking. They did spend a lot of time on their respective phones, but not the whole time we were there. Still, I decided to steal that map out from under Marco Che's arm to have a closer look at where I'd just been - because the pros look at the map when they leave, looking at it upon arrival is for beginners. Like swimsuits. 

Here's what I found: 

Booby Point. BOOBY POINT! I want to go to there. 

After a while, though, the time came for me to leave my friends behind and head to my gate to catch the flight back from Tobago to Trinidad. It was still a good thing, because I was definitely ready to go home, so no ::sadface:: here. 

Mi hermoso Marco Che: una belleza total, adentro y afuera!!

The first flight of the new year 2013 thus is what really concludes the Tobago story and all stories for a while, because I felt my throat being a little scratchy in the car on the way back to Saint James and by nightfall I had a full-blown flu. Yay... 

But you know what the good thing is? 

The good thing is that the next story I post here will be about the madness that is pre-Carnival time in Port of Spain. So give me a little more of your patience and keep looking forward to the next blog entry, I'm going to sleep now. 

Another crash happening right now! 

Yours truly,
the old lady. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Can you believe it? 

It took 3 times coming to Trinidad and Tobago before I finally went to the second island that names this nation. Three! But I finally went. After over a year, when people now ask me "Yuh been Bago yet?" I can say "Yes!" instead of "Well, no, haven't had the opportunity yet, well, mumble mumble...".

It took 6 years of online friendship through HospitalityClub and CouchSurfing before I finally met my friend Don in person. Six! But we finally met. After six years of knowing a lot about this person but not how tall he is or what his voice sounds like, I can now finally put him on my list of "real life" friends. 

Can you believe it? 

Well, in both cases it was definitely worth the wait. 

On December 30th (ages ago, I know...) Don arrived at Piarco International Airport and came to surf at my place before we headed over to Tobago the next day to spend New Year's in what so many people have described to me as paradise. He got here after a long trip all the way from Pennsylvania, so we didn't do much that night. We only went down to the Main Road for a couple of beers (he drank those, obviously) and went to sleep early, because the next day more traveling was on the schedule - as well as partying. 

So on the morning of the 31st a neighbour took the both of us back to the airport, where we checked in, had breakfast and then took some pictures of and with the very pretty and very caribbean Christmas decorations they had there. 

This picture got my hopes up really high, but Subway didn't actually give me a Semmel for breakfast. 

It's a steelpan Christmas tree in the background!

After a while of fooling around in the steelpan exhibit (actual ones, not fake like on the tree), it was time for boarding and then heading over to our tiny little plane. Bad news: Our flight was delayed so we had to wait for a while in the little gate area. Good news: Our flight was delayed and my dear Paola was online so I got to chat with her on gmail while waiting in the little gate area. Yay! That was great, because we don't get to talk to each other as much as we'd like, but we did get to have a lovely conversation to finish the year on a positive note. 

Tobago has its own check-in, departures and arrivals sections at Piarco.

The teeny tiny baby plane that took us on the incredibly long journey of 20min over to Tobago.

When we arrived I called our CS host Ravi who then came to pick us up from the airport with another CSer, José. They took us to Ravi's house where another friend of his was already waiting. Why? Because Ravi had to get some work done and wasn't going to be at home and they didn't want us to get bored, so his friend Navin took Don and myself to a nice hotel where he knows people and we had drinks at a poolside bar and walked around the waterfront. How thoughtful are those people? Extremely. 

Palmtree, blue skies, hmmm...

Will you look at the colour and clarity of the water?! Don't you tell me you don't want to jump straight in there.

While chilling at the hotel bar another CS friend of mine came along: Kevonne, from Arima. She happened to be in Tobago at the same time and came to meet us right after arriving. We had been in touch before the trip, because we wanted to meet up while we were over there and maybe even spend Old Year's Night (you don't say New Year's Eve in TT...) together, but we hadn't been able to make it to a meetup in Port of Spain, because we had both been busy on and around Christmas

Around 6PM or so we went to get a little bit of food because it was going to be a long time until dinner that night and Don and I hadn't eaten since our not-Semmel-breakfast that morning. Afterwards, Kevonne went to her guesthouse to change while Navin took Don and me to his place and then we all met up again to head back to Ravi's, who was by then on his way back home. 

I don't remember at what time we arrived there, but I went almost straight to sleep. The days before had been stressful for me emotionally and I was extremely tired. Right now I'm not sure how much I've mentioned this on the blog, but I don't really sleep much/well. I'll be up for ages and sleep between 4 and 6 hours a night and then after a while comes a day where I crash. Unfortunately, in that cycle, the crash day was the 31st of December. Oops. 

Here's the thing. Kevonne and I had been trying for the longest time to find a nice party or event for New Year's Eve Old Year's Night, but in the end we stayed at home. Well, Ravi's home. He had a lime at his house, with BBQ and friends and he was a really generous host and invited us to celebrate the big night with them. And on top of that he let me bring Kevonne along as well, even though he'd never met her before and I basically just showed up at the house with her in tow. 

So while everybody got ready for the party,I went to take a nap, only I couldn't sleep then either, but at least I got to lay still and quiet for a while and my body could thus regain some of its strength, even if my brain couldn't. Yes, you may laugh at that. Tired after a certain point is like drunk, so it was definitely comical. 

I got back up at 11PM and headed outside to the front of the house where everybody was already in full lime mode: Ravi, Don and Kevonne, Navin, the neighbours Lindon and Zinga, José and some other people. 

People liming. 


Delicious BBQ chicken and ribs with fresh salad, all prepared by super-chef Ravi, and an incredible potato salad made by Lindon.

It was a really nice party, even though I didn't get to experience much of it. On top of it being the switch from 2012 to 2013 it was also Zinga's birthday so there was a double reason to celebrate. Everybody sang, everybody did the countdown, everybody toasted to the new year and then at 1PM I had to go back to sleep. Yes, I'm an old lady. 

But despite the fact that I was extremely tired, I had a very good time.

This guy came and sat next to the house door for two days, according to Ravi and Lindon that's a good omen. So, obviously, 2013 will be a good year. At least for Ravi, because it was his front door! 

Now, I know that this blog update is coming very late. I'm sorry for that. I had no working internet connection in Tobago and when I came back I came down with the flu and then something happened and for the longest time I didn't feel up to writing, because I simply wasn't feeling positive. I'm better now, which is why I'm writing, but I'm also very busy now. Lots of projects going on, which I will also tell you about in time. For now, I want to tell you as much as possible about Tobago so that we have the old stories out of the way when the Carnival stories start. And that's tomorrow.

Phew... lots to do!