The first thing I noticed when I stepped out of Piarco National airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad was the intense heat. I have been to other tropical locals before, but I have never experienced oppressive heat such as this. The heat covered you like a thick blanket of humidity and it did not let up. As Trinidad is just off the coast of Venezuela and south of the Lesser Antilles, it is much closer to the equator than other islands of the Caribbean.
Buzzing around Port of Spain and little suburbs within such as St. Augustine, St.James, Tuna Puna, Curepe and Woodbrook, I was dumbfounded at the amount of traffic. Cars are in abundance and not cheap cars either. It is obvious that the Trini population love their nice rides with nice rims. I later came to discover that the average family owns 3 to 4 cars! This explains the never-ending traffic jams on the confusing roundabouts and narrow roads. Right seated steering wheels are not the only reason I could not drive in Trinidad, the traffic is utter insanity. The neighborhoods were clean, garbage placed in bins and yards well maintained, giving me the sense that locals take pride in their city. Walking downtown Port of Spain on an especially hot morning, I was neither harassed or felt unsafe, despite the numerous warnings I heard to, “be extra careful” before my trip. When I passed an open market selling jewellery, beachwear and clothing I was expecting to be slightly harassed to buy something. To the contrary, nobody looked up from their newspaper. I really got the feeling that Trinidad does not have to thrive from the tourist dollar, as they are wealthy in their own right from the oil and gas industry. The attitude I felt in general was simply enjoy our country and party with us, but while you’re here you’re not a tourist, you’re one of us. Trinis enjoy life to the fullest, as they work hard and play even harder. Discovering many neighborhoods, I at times forgot I was in the Caribbean and it felt as though I could have been in coconut grove, FL. Trendy espresso cafes, modern towers, wine bars and nightclubs lined the streets, the beautiful locals dressed in the latest fashions mingled and schmoozed, reminding me of the after-work 20 somethings in downtown Toronto on a Friday night. The pulse of the city was energetic and progressive. At other times I was reminded I was indeed in the Caribbean when I passed the quintessential rum shop on the street corner, with elders sitting outside enjoying a Carib and engaging in lively conversation about the good old days, or when I saw the shirtless and shoeless Rastaman on a rickety bike or the fruit stalls selling sugar cane and coconut water.
What amazed me the most about this country was the lush, green mountains that surrounds it. Mountains can be seen wherever you go, and are in such close proximity, it almost seems like you could reach out and touch them. History can never be forgotten in Trinidad, as you can clearly see the three peaks as Columbus must have seen them as he neared dry land. I had the opportunity to drive up one of these mountains en route to Las Cuevas beach. Nice warm waters, although the sand was on the brown side, and the waves a little rough. The sand flies enjoyed an all you can eat buffet on my legs, so repellant is a must. But when I saw the thick, white mist slowly rising from the mountains on our ascent and the shade of deep green that was nothing short of breath-taking and this made those bites a small price to pay. One regret I have was not being able to go to Tobago due to time restraints, but this surely gives me another reason to return.
Enjoy my array of photos from the land of steel pan, Carnival and sweltering heat.