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Tales from Grenada, Part II (or Trini Geography)

After my meeting in the morning in St George’s, I got a taxi directly to the airport. It was a beautiful day and when I commented on the great weather (having spent the previous couple weeks in Guyana and Trinidad in cold rain), the driver assumed I was from those foreign cold northern parts. Once I assured him I was an island girl, from Trinidad, he wanted to know from where.

“I from Central.”
“Oh, Central. You know even though I Grenadian, I from Trinidad too. I from the East.”
“Really? Where in the East?”
“Barataria.”

Barataria. All the way in the East. Right.

Now, I know I may not have the normal view of where is considered North, East and West in Trinidad, but I have learned to accept that St Augustine for example may be considered “the East”. But still…Barataria? Look at the map (# 1). It’s just outside of Port of Spain? Sigh. It’s something that bothers me sometimes, these directional terms used in Trinidad, and I accept that it may be peculiar to me and the way I think, so I’ll explain.

Here’s the map of Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe it was growing up in a mathematical family, but I always viewed Trinidad as more or less a rectangle with some squiggly bits at the corners. Which means that I imagined lines bisecting the island straight across the middle, vertically and horizontally. So when I thought of North and South Trinidad, I thought of North as above the horizontal line and South below. This was modified somewhat with the idea of “Central” Trinidad, being of course from South of the major East-West Highway route, up to a bit before San Fernando (# 4) (Pointe-a-Pierre maybe). East was therefore East of the vertical line, and West on the other side. But in any event, once we moved down to Central, I called everything North of the Churchill-Roosevelt, “North”. It made sense to me – I got there by driving North from home.

I learned however, the when you come up the Uriah Butler Highway and turn East, all that is East, even though you’re still in the “Western” sector of the island. After all Trinidad developed along roadways, cities, towns and villages springing up on the sides of the major arteries, so why not have our divisions of direction based on the highways. The East-West highway system of Churchill-Roosevelt, Beetham, Wrightson Road etc is a good dividing line, above which everything is North. But don’t get me started on those people who call everything below that line SOUTH. That would mean that a good 3/4 of the island is “South”. And I am from Central remember – almost smack on the centre of the western coastline. Not South. South starts somewhere after me. I swear. But then, some people have no idea of geography. When I had my first job in Port of Spain, everyone else in the office was either from Port of Spain or West of the city. One of them asked where I was from, and I said around Couva. Blank face.

“You know, after Chaguanas?”
“Oh! You mean down Arima side?”

Sigh. For those non-Trinis, look at the map. Arima (# 2) is below the Northern Range mountains, just in the Eastern sector, while Chaguanas (# 3) is clearly in another direction, as you head southwards from Port of Spain. Big sigh. But then again, city-people sometimes have a different sense of distance and direction than the rest of us (no insult intended to the masses of intelligent people who are from Port of Spain or San Fernando). Barataria is between San Juan and Port of Spain. I went to school there, and I remember I used to go to Alliance Francaise in Port of Spain for French classes. One of the town students asked me which school I was from, my uniform being unfamiliar and when I told her, she exclaimed that I had come from “so far!” for classes. So far. No more than 6 kilometres away. And my taxi driver calls that the East. Well, East of Port of Spain I suppose. And that counts for everything? I mean it’s practically on the West Coast. I don’t think I can wrap my mind around it. If that’s the way it is, I’ll just be an eccentric and go back to my bisecting lines down the middle.

And no, I didn’t forget that this is entitled “Tales from Grenada”. All this ran through my head while I was in that taxi in Grenada. And I had a great time on that part of my brief trip to Grenada – we talked about Trinidad, and family and food , and by the time I got to the airport I was still in a very good mood about our neighbouring isle.

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8 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. lolz…once i have to turn onto the EASTERN main rd is East lolz 😀 😀 😀 😀

    1. The TriniGourmet on December 24th, 2006 at 8:48 pm
  2. –> spoilt townie… orig. from Mt. St. Benedict tho… WAH WAH! HOLLER!

    2. The TriniGourmet on December 24th, 2006 at 8:49 pm
  3. yah – Eastern Main Road is a big clue, but my brain still doesn’t work that way without a wilful nudge! :-)

    3. chennette on December 24th, 2006 at 9:27 pm
  4. hee 😀

    4. The TriniGourmet on December 25th, 2006 at 12:25 am
  5. People who live in “North”, “West”, “South” and “East” are stooopid!

    It’s only people in Central who have a clue. Just wait til Chaguanas gets bigger then we’ll be just like you!

    5. Lilandra on December 25th, 2006 at 1:29 am
  6. Maybe you should put one of the banner/bighugelabs/widgets instead of the flickr widget from wordpress?
    it’s an image?
    and it probably updates?

    7. Lilandra on December 27th, 2006 at 1:09 pm
  7. brilliant idea – glad to know you are helping me out with trivialities rather than say, marking papers…
    if only your students knew :-)
    but, seriously, thanks – never thought of it!

    8. chennette on December 27th, 2006 at 1:48 pm
  8. I’m pretty sure my students know. After all, I’ve promised them many times to email their assignment grades and still haven’t done it.

    9. Lilandra on December 27th, 2006 at 8:53 pm

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] Chennette has an interesting commentary on the average Trinidadian’s skewed vision of cardinal points: “Maybe it was growing up in a mathematical family, but I always viewed Trinidad as more or less a rectangle with some squiggly bits at the corners. Which means that I imagined lines bisecting the island straight across the middle, vertically and horizontally. . . .“ Georgia Popplewell […]

  2. […] the nice taxi-trip (see Tales, Part II) I ended up in the airport at Point Salines with familiar faces. The Caribbean Star crew that […]

  3. […] as divided by the Demerara River, are almost as bizarre to my linear-thinking mind as the Trini Geography concept of “East […]

  4. […] There may be some who might believe that Caroni is “South” Trinidad, but if you look at the map, it’s in the Northern half of the island. Those of us from south of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway* tend to regard Caroni as Central […]

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