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Published: June 10th 2014
Trinidad & Tobago are the home Islands of Brian Lara and Dwight Yorke respectively. Two world famous sportsmen are proud to call these Caribbean Islands home, so if it's good enough for them it's certainly good enough for me! T&T is actually a big hitter in the Caribbean thanks to their extensive oil and gas reserves, and a lot of the banking and finance throughout the West Indies now emanates out of the capital Port of Spain. Trinidad plays host to the Carnivale in February each year, where revellers flock from all around to enjoy the boisterous street dancing, calypso and steel drums. However, aside from this once a year event the Islands are not that well known as tourist destinations. As such I was curious to begin my travels on the fifth and final destination of a Caribbean Island hopping adventure. So let's settle in for the ride shall we, and embark on some new Caribbean yarns together. Life is for living and making the most of all this wonderful world has to offer, ain't that the truth!
The journal left off in Barbados at the conclusion of a relaxing week on the island, and I was up at
a ridiculously early hour to get to the airport two hours prior to my flight, which departed at 7:30am. It's only an hour flying south through the Eastern Caribbean before touching down at Piarco International airport, not far from the capital Port of Spain. I didn't get off to the most spectacular start at immigration, as Australians are required to have a visa to enter the country. I found that a bit of a surprise and a bit embarrassing as I thought I had done the research back home in Australia, but my hosts were gracious and escorted me to a money changer so that I could fill out the form and pay for a visa on arrival. I ended up as the last person leaving immigration, and my backpack was looking decidedly lonely when I finally made it to the carousel. I got myself sorted with local currency, and a taxi driver drove me for an hour or more to Maracas Bay. Once again I engaged in great conversation with the driver, and we raved about cricket as the time fairly raced by. I think the taxi drivers in the Caribbean enjoy having me as a passenger, we tend
to chat like long lost friends during the ride.
Maracas Bay is the most famous beach resort in Trinidad, and I had a reservation at the Maracas Bay Hotel for three nights. I checked in with the staff member, who informed me to my surprise that the hotel has no wi fi. Hello, this is 2014 last time I checked! She assured me I could pick up a connection on the beach, which did prove to be kinda true (well for two days anyway). I am a relentlessly positive traveller, but I have to say Trinidad continues to surprise as a tourist destination, and not in an entirely positive way. There is simply no commitment from government to developing tourism on the Island, and compared to the other Islands on this trip it proved to be quite backward. Yet this is the country that has wealth other Caribbean Islands can only dream of. It's totally bizarre to be honest, and is on show with the poor quality of the roads, the footpaths which have gaping craters in them, the woeful internet connectivity around the island, and the limited dining options.
To be fair in Maracas Bay
there are plenty of dining options for Bake & Shark, and more Bake & Shark! Don't get me wrong, it certainly tastes good, but that's the extent of the food on offer along the beach. I didn't see a single restaurant on the entire strip, it's flabbergasting really! Wherever that oil money is going, it's certainly not being spent on improving the infrastructure on the island in what is a puzzling situation. The people of Trinidad are lovely though, and very welcoming so it still makes for a rewarding if somewhat isolated travel destination. I chatted briefly to a few other foreigners while at Maracas Bay, but I didn't see any during my stay at the only large hotel on the beach strip. The beach itself is gorgeous, well this is the Caribbean we are talking about, and I spent loads of time walking up and down the shore or swimming in the warm waters. Fortunately there's a chef working at the hotel, so I could have a break in the evenings from the daily Bake & Shark, which is a Trinidad staple. It consists of baked bread and shark, with condiments to be added at your discretion. It's very
cheap and filling, and the locals can't seem to get enough of the national dish.
The lazy days just seem to keep rolling by in the Caribbean, and before I knew it my three nights at the hotel were at an end. As I only had a week to spend in the Islands, it was time to move on and get back to the airport for an incredibly cheap Caribbean Airlines flight to Tobago. The fare is $50 return for the half hour flight, man that's cheaper than the average taxi ride! My hotel organised a driver for a six am drive out to the airport, and that's when I met Stephen (who I will never forget). The taxi ride was an absolute nightmare, and I will never know for sure what was going on with the driver. In general I have noted the poor spatial awareness of taxi drivers on this island, but my man was in another world. He was on time, friendly and polite, and good conversation. However his erratic driving took a turn for the worse as we got caught in traffic, and he popped the car in park and pulled on the handbrake, as
you do. I turned to him in conversation and was amazed to see him sleeping. Within ten minutes he was driving right up the back of the car in front at around 20kmh without even braking. I cried out, and he slammed on the brakes at the last moment, only bumping into the car in front. Had he fallen asleep again, this was simply unbelievable? At this stage despite my best efforts, I completely and utterly freaked out. I had lost all confidence in him, and was riding the next hour like it would be my last. He kept telling me to relax, but he fell asleep in traffic at least two more times and his driving was so erratic. My mind was racing, I mean this is a young guy we're talking about. Was he drunk or on drugs, or had he been up all night driving? I will never know, but ended up pleading with him just to get us safely to the airport. Towards the end of the trip I was furious, as the ride had been arranged by the hotel, and his driving was nothing short of a farce, and a dangerous one at that. However,
I managed to keep my temper in check and wished him a good day after we arrived safely at the airport, but I've never felt so scared and powerless with a driver in my entire life!
So that has been my baptism of fire here in Trinidad, which started with visa problems and ended with the taxi ride from hell (actually I don't even think he was a taxi driver). Maracas Bay is beautiful though, and the locals are warm and friendly. So as long as you can avoid sleepy and erratic taxi drivers, basically all of you should be here now!
"To beat Barbados in Barbados, to literally take the Cup off their shelf is an amazing feeling." Brian Lara
As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now
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