The unsettled apprehension on boarding the light aircraft from heavenly Tobago to Trinidad was intermingled with excitement and curiosity.
A combination which I quietly bore as the twenty minute flight ended in a bumpy touch down.
I bit my lip as I strained to recognize roads, and buildings. A fruitless task I quickly realized as I rarely frequented the capital as a child and therefore would only have vague recollections from 20 years back.
What I saw through the car window was a place bustling with life, industry, traffic and people along the road selling goods to make ends meet. A truly different atmosphere from the Tobago fishing village I experienced a few hour before.
Here follows a photo journey.
PORT OF SPAIN
First views (above) of Port of Spain from a high vantage point . Surrounded by hills and mountains, it is a built up, bustling city with all manor of races, creeds colours living together fairly harmoniously.
BEACH, BEACH AND MORE BEACH
The most famous beach in Trinidad is Maracas bay and the winding coastal road leading to this white sand paradise is simply spectacular.
If you can keep your composure whilst perhaps feeling a little car sick, then just poke your head out the coastal side of the car and prepare to have your mind blown as you wizz by and catch glimpses of dizzying high cliffs, filled with lush vegetation and the crumpled azure sea far below.
We drove up the Northern coast, to the village of Blanchisseuse with friends. And again…with my head far out the window I spotted this tiny fishing village far below. Of course I stopped the troops and dragged every one out to take a photo.
The ground was blistering hot on my soft bare feet as I snapped away, hardly believing my luck.
Below is a friend’s friend’s beach. Public in theory, private in practice as no one except the owners of the beach house have access to the beach. I’ve never seen a coconut tree growing at such a precarious angle! (Acrylic on canvas)
CREATIVITY AND CULTURE
Trinis are always up for a fete (party), dressing up nice, a dance, music and a good time. This is a place where you could actually get sick of partying!!
At the Emancipation village we had all of these things rolled into one. Just look at those incredible or rather edible head dresses!! Are you thinking cotton candy?
Emancipation day is celebrated for a whole week. It is where the Africans of Trinidad celebrate their emancipation from slavery, many events, concerts, dances, drumming performances and arts and crafts are on display for all to enjoy. Just check out these two fabulous beauties below!!! I can’t wait to paint them!
This lovely lady is part of an organization that protects the rain forests of Trinidad. She
makes bold tribal pieces of wearable art jewellery from seeds, wood, and other natural materials.
She’s modeling one bold piece around her neck!
Her name is Akilah and you can find her eco jewellery business on facebook here
Fancy a fruit? These pottery fruit are made by a lady who works with simple glazes and local clay. She also made a coconut tea pot which looked quite real from further away.
The leather craft was outstanding, in my opinion. There were gorgeous handmade sandals, purses, bowls and bags (I bought this one. And don’t you love his big smile!!!).
I interviewed one of the artists at the Emancipation Village who’s art work caught my eye.
HEALTH IS WEALTH
Most Trinis love their Carib (Trini beer), have a ridiculous sweet tooth, and the men tend to like their women plus sized!!! Unfortunately these appetites take their toll on the population and it is not uncommon to see one legged men on crutches due to diabetes and unhealthily large women.
Even shop manikins were a realistic size, which was a delight to see, rather than our British spindly size zero manikins that make you depressed before you even enter the shop!
And at least these have some bottom to speak of. So refreshing in an odd way!
The city I was born in and the second largest city on the island is San Fernando. I visited the house I grew up in only to find it was no longer there. Realized the long steep hill I called my street was in fact a tiny short hill that had been enlarged through childhood eyes.
First view of Sanfernando.
San Fernando is much poorer and less plush than the capital Port of Spain, but somehow I finally felt I was home. I recognized streets, houses, even the old rum shop which as a child old men used to sit daily outside playing backgammon, whistling crudely to passing ladies.
It’s still a rum shop, but gone are the old men and that slower pace of life.
The three lovely people below agreed to pose for me after I explained, in my best Trini accent that I was an artist and intended to paint them.
The lady below, a herbalist, sold me many strange medicines with even stranger names.
Granny’s backbone is an odd bent piece of tree that when boiled and drunk, would aid arthritis, blood circulation and several other ailments.
I also bought a calabash from her and painted one half of it as a decoration.
She is scraping out the insides of the inedible calabash for Baptists to use in their religious ceremonies.
I loved this stuffy, old launderette (below) with its vintage machines still in working order.
Lush foliage, fruit laden trees, rich fishing, swamps, rainforest, mountains. Just a glimpse to feed your eyes!
Noni fruit (above). Smells revolting, like a mix of stinky toes, old stilton and vinegar. And yet it’s worth so much money for its medicinal properties. Apparently you just let it rot down and drink the juice.
Five fingers. Just ready to pick!
Bread fruit, above. No! you don’t make bread with it but cook it with coconut milk and meat. The dish is called Oil down. It is similar to potatoes in taste.
The Caroni swamp is one of the few places in the world to see the beautiful Scarlet Ibis. The swamp is an incredible interwoven tangle of Mangrove trees teeming with wildlife and is especially exquisite at dusk.
Also the best time to see flocks of scarlet Ibises and white egrets flying to roost.
There is so much beauty on such a little Island, and the people are warm, vibrant and full of creativity. If someone could solve the traffic problems, the corruption in politics, and clamp down on crime, along with passing a law limiting the amount of sugar added to all super market products Trinidad would be even more fantastic!
I had an amazing visit and would like to thank all my family and close friends for making it so.