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Touring the Homeland: Trinidad

Red Flag means Danger

So, in case you are a new reader to this blog, I am a Trini – I come from Trinidad and Tobago, and specifically, born and raised on the island of Trinidad. Trinidad is the most southern island of the Caribbean, right off the coast of South America. Being that close to the continent we were once part of, means we are blessed with rainforests and moutains, flora and fauna not always found on our fellow Caribbean islands further away. In addition to being the land of the hummingbird, with the Scarlet Ibis being one of our national birds, we also have a species of deer and an ocelot. They’re a bit smaller on the island than their relatives on the mainland, but that’s normal since we’re a smaller landmass. The human Trinis haven’t made it any easier for the forest-dwellers by dissecting their historical connections between the Northern, Central and Southern Ranges and making their habitats that much smaller. And don’t get me started on the forest fires…Papa Bois must be constantly vex…

I live in Guyana, more or less consistently for the past 5 years. There are things to explore here – Georgetown, Kaieteur Falls, the massive rivers like the Essequibo and the islands in the rivers. And their wildlife is certainly impressive (even if I’ve only seen certain species in the zoo as I am not a jungle explorer). But home is home, and the beauty of the place where I still consider my permanent residence is always at the forefront. So I was extremely excited to host a couple friends from foreign last month, when they visited Trinidad as part of their honeymoon (they stopped in Grenada first). I’d met Jess while I was studying in Edinburgh years ago, and we’ve seen each other since then in California, where she now lives, Toronto and back in Edinburgh for our first reuinion. She was the first of my friends I made in Scotland to visit T&T and I’d been planning for about a year to figure out essential things to see over a few days. I’d exposed her to Trini food back when we shared a kitchen, and her new husband got his taste in Brampton, Ontario when we were attending a wedding and I found a Trini roti shop that did good work. So scenery and food. Must-haves on this tour of Trinidad. I had must-sees and must-haves for Tobago too, but they didn’t make it there this trip.

BWee and the Northern Range - coming homeSo, if you had 6 days to show people Trinidad, what would you choose? My list  ended up being -

I had more on the list that couldn’t be done, like -

The Trini DoublesAnd there were specific food tours or foods that had to be eaten -

Central Range 2It was an intense 6 days of driving around, mostly through green and beautiful Trinidad but I think my guests enjoyed it :-) And that was in spite of the dire warnings they got in Grenada about Trinidad…(tsk tsk, and Grenada is my favourite non-home Caribbean country too…) My friends even made it from Long Circular Mall to West Mall by MAXI-TAXI on their own (i.e. without me) and then back to their hotel, in the NIGHT…and found people were willing to give them information and direct them all along the route. And all for US$1.  They even found a panyard. We’re not all thugs and predators in T&T.

So what would make your list of must-see or must-do (or indeed must-eat) in Trinidad?

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9 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. I love Trinidad so much I cannot wait to come back…I did not get to do much in Trinidad but I got a nice tour around the island and tasted real doubles…saw roti being made in the restaurant…saw a bit of Chinese culture…ate in James street… and really the air is different everything feels different in Trinidad…is green fig pie vegan or it has in salt fish??

    2. Taymer on January 8th, 2011 at 9:29 pm
  2. Hey Taymer – if we’re ever on the island the same time I’ll take you down to Debe! It’ll probably be your fried food intake for the year…

    We don’t add saltfish to our green fig pie in our family, we treat it more like a potato pie, so it has dairy – milk, butter, cheese – but those things are easily replaceable I am sure with your skills.

    3. Chennette on January 8th, 2011 at 11:27 pm
  3. I am curious…what were your top places and food picks for Tobago? I think all the places and food you chose for Trinidad were spot on :)

    4. equalease on January 10th, 2011 at 2:12 pm
  4. My essentials for Tobago are sometimes less specific because I haven’t been in a while :-) That being said…
    Tobago requires a drive around most of the island I think…why not :-) and if possible take the ferry from Trinidad.
    All the beaches, but Pigeon Point because…
    Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool
    Tobago Cocoa Estate
    There are also some hiking and birdwatching things that could be done

    Food
    - Cocoa estate
    - Crab and dumplings (I know you didn’t find it…)
    - Blue food generally
    - I hear there’s a great brick oven pizza place…

    5. Chennette on January 10th, 2011 at 4:52 pm
  5. Well, my boys went home for Christmas and THEIR list was:

    -Grandma Fatima’s cooking, especially crab-an-dumpling, curry everything, pelau

    -Doubles!

    -Visit to Brasso Seco to see our friends there

    -Ajoupa Pottery (other grandparents)

    -Feeling the sun!

    6. Nan on January 11th, 2011 at 10:02 am
  6. Ajoupa ended up on the list too since they stayed there, and I managed to have all my family members traipse through to see the view while my friends were there :-D

    7. Chennette on January 11th, 2011 at 10:56 am
  7. The thing to worry about is creating a good impression of our food. I am sure you know much better than me that not all doubles, shark and bake and roti are the same so I know you will choose carefully. I had a friend from the US vacationing in November and he had a very bad experience with doubles. Yes, he ventured on his own. Avoid Curepe Junction doubles. Ken and Rishi are the best and most consistent doubles in that area but they are not at the Junction.

    Don’t forget Coconut Water around the Savannah. As for oysters in Couva – maybe. Debe should be interesting. If I think of anything else I will post :)

    8. aka_lol on January 11th, 2011 at 12:06 pm
  8. Fortunately, for most of the time I accompanied my friends (they came in December). They got doubles from our go-to lady in Piarco and otherwise would have gone to tried and true persons in Couva or elsewhere. No chances in making bad impressions! That is so true. Especially when we only have a few days and you may not get to try a particular dish more than once. It’s also why we cooked for them twice :-) Mom’s food is the best, ergo, it’s the one they need to eat!

    10. Chennette on January 13th, 2011 at 1:30 pm
  9. *sigh*
    Why don’t we have money so we can buy that ajoupa place

    *sniffle*

    12. Lilandra on January 31st, 2011 at 12:49 am

5 Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by izatrini.com, Trinidad and Tobago and Beth Misenhimer, Chennette. Chennette said: new post-what are your essentials for a visitor to #Trinidad and #Tobago? http://bit.ly/gfkJIr #travel [...]

  2. [...] also provides information on the history of T&T and traveling to the islands. She lists some essentials for visiting Trinidad, even suggesting an Indo-Trinidad tour day among others. So what made her [...]

  3. [...] have no affiliation with La Vega, mind you. It was just part of the recent whirlwind tour I took my friends on last month. It was a beautiful sunny day, to enjoy the scenery, the butterfly garden (small and we passed it [...]

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