Photo by Travis Snelling
Trinidad & Tobago was interesting. Such a mix of different cultures and such a contrast between the different islands. Trinidad, with its capital Port of Spain, is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and sits just off the coast of Venezuela.
While Trinidad is such an industrialized & busy place (compared to many Caribbean destinations), Tobago is anything but. Tobago is as laid back and island as it gets. This photo was taken during a day long island boat tour that ended with a beach barbecue and rum-punch fuelled dance party on a private island called No Man’s Land. The young fisherman pictured above scaled the wet, jagged rocks to reach that fishing spot with just a bucket, some bait and a spool of line to fish with just his hands.
Since the second half of our trip was spent in Tobago, it was a welcome change from the hustle-bustle (with emphasis on hustle) of Trinidad. Here’s a good story that’ll give you an idea of what I mean:
We arrived at Piarco airport in Port of Spain around 5:30am. Walking out of the airport, the taxi dispatcher quickly corralled us and convinced us we needed an island tour until our 3pm checkin at L’Orchidee. The dispatcher, Raj, quickly scanned the waiting drivers and picked a younger guy, Harry, out of the crowd and gave him quick instructions to take care of us.
I didn’t bother asking where we were going until we pulled up to a house in Tunapuna while a large motorized gate began swinging open for us.
Turns out this was Harry’s house. Well, more accurately, his parents house.
Within a few minutes his mom was making us fried egg sandwiches with fresh eggs from the family chicken coop. She had also handed me a very healthy pour of local made white rum. This was around 6:30am.
After breakfast Harry took us to the corner store where he asked the store owner to take care of us. We ended up getting some Carib beer and ice to pack in a cooler because we were going to spend the day with Harry touring around the island.
Having travelled up the coast of Trinidad, stopping along the way at various spots to get out and explore. One place we stopped was the Royal Botanic Gardens, where Harry introduced us to David who walked us around the grounds explaining in encyclopedic detail the history Trinidad and Tobago and all its flora & fauna. Having tipped David for his effort we finally reached Maracas Bay – a beautiful beach cut out of lush forest and home to what is quite possibly the best sandwich I’ve ever had: Bake ‘n Shark.
We were full of beer and shark and had accomplished an entire day’s worth of activities and it wasn’t even noon yet. With a few hours still before checkin we decided to back to Harry’s place to relax and get out of the afternoon sun. As we sat in the shade around back, a car pulled through the gates and a familiar face emerged. Raj, the airport taxi dispatcher had come home for lunch.
And that’s when I realized we just spent an entire day being hustled and I was totally fine with it. Raj set us up with his son Harry. Harry set us up with his friends at the corner store and the Royal Botanic Gardens. In exchange we got an amazing and unforgettable tour to see parts of an island that we probably wouldn’t have found on our own – certainly not all in one day. I say “hustle” but only in the best way possible, if there is such a thing.
The beauty of all good deals is both parties getting what they want and feeling they gave up relatively little for it – which is exactly how we felt.
Trinidad and Tobago is a great destinations with so much to offer and I look forward to returning one day to hopefully meet more interesting people and discover other hidden places.
For anybody interested in seeing the island with Harry, here are his details: Hardath Persad Taxi Service.