Trinidad and Tobago are just 11 km off the coast of Venezuela, surprisingly though there is very little sign of the South American culture. Instead the country’s culture is much closer to the British African and to the East Indian heritage. Trinidad, the dominant partner in this two-island nation, is one of the least touristic islands of the Caribbean. It doesn’t have any resorts and its capital, Port of Spain, has definitely more bustle than charm. The ethnic diversity and the harmony give a wonderful feeling to every visitor. Its “little sister”, Tobago, has just the 4% of the nation’s population. It’s pleasantly relaxed with nice beaches and reef protected waters, a paradise for a diver like me.
My first stop was the island of Tobago. When I got off the ferry in the capital Scarborough, it didn’t appeal to me so I headed to Crown Point, the southern point of the island. I was lucky to get a room at a family-run guest house, Ms Sandy’s. Sandy herself was a quiet African Caribbean lady that lived there all her life and of course she was my source of information. Without any delay I hooked up with a dive club and the next day I got the feeling of the underwater world of Tobago. Diving here is a great, challenging experience because the current gives a whole different perspective to the dive. I had my first close contact with sharks and that experience completely changed my opinion about this great predator. Tobago, besides its underwater world, is still a gem to be discovered. It boasts an extensive rain forest with great bird watching and a small share of waterfalls and trails. After that I moved to the north of the island, to Charlotville. I had heard stories from Ms Sandy about the locals being discriminative with the tourists, something that I didn’t want to face although I hadn’t heard any stories about that from other travellers. After a day’s stay in Scarborough it was time for me to head back
Trinidad has one of the best carnivals in South America and the capital, Port of Spain, is the place to be for it. Since I was there I wouldn’t miss it for the world. After a short trip to the north, to Maracas Bay and an overnight at Blanchisseuse, I headed back to Port of Spain.
I had arranged to meet with Sebastian, the German backpacker that I had met the previous months in St. Vincent. We weren’t able to find a hotel since everything was already booked but we were lucky enough to find somewhere to stay through “couch surfing”, an internet site where travellers exchange free accommodation. The funny thing was that the house we got, belonged to someone that wasn’t staying in Trinidad but in the USA so we had it all to ourselves. And if that wasn’t enough, the balcony was overlooking the street where the parade would be held. That was the beginning of an unforgettable four-day carnival party, for me the second best after the one in Brazil.
We spent most of our day joining the street parades that went on and on for almost 24 hours. Tens of thousands of Trinidadians, together with visitors, parade and dance throughout the night, accompanied by steel drums, brass bands and soca trucks with DJ’s. Lining is the carnival’s dance where men and women come really close and dance. All this sweating and dancing, touching and flirting make the carnival an unforgettable experience. I spent four great days there that gave Trini, as is the common local name for Trinidad, a place up high in the highlight list of my Caribbean trip.
Quite unexpectedly –and that made it count more- my visit to the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago fulfilled all my hopes of good times that only the Caribbean islands make them a lifetime experience.