Lifestyle / Photography / Travel

My trip to Trinidad (and Tobago) – 1 of 2

It’s taken me a lot longer than I wanted to post this, and as the title implies, there will be a sequel.

I got back from Trinidad 10 days ago. I only spent about 10 hours back home in DC before flying to Colorado. That trip didn’t go so well for me…. and part of the cause has to be buried somewhere in Trinidad & Tobago. While I won’t be sharing all the details of that trip, hopefully this will give you some idea of what it was like there. If you’re anything like me, you should definitely go.

Most of the pictures in these posts were taken with my Fuji X-Pro1, using either a 35mm lens or a recently purchased 14mm lens. All of those are RAW captures, moderately processed in Lightroom. The evening Tobago shots and panoramas like this one were taken with my Sony DSC-WX80.

When I told people I was going to Trinidad & Tobago, most of them would look puzzled and ask me why. The obvious response was, “why not?” Even before the plane touched down, I knew I wanted to do it all over again.

One of my friends booked his ticket a couple months ago. Me and another friend followed suit shortly thereafter. The last time we took a similar trip was when we went to Aruba. I look forward to going back there with a girlfriend or family, but Trinidad & Tobago is a good place for a group of guys looking to have a good time. Even though luck wasn’t always on our side, I don’t think we had any regrets – I know I don’t.

We stayed in Port of Spain for the first three days, right across from a cricket stadium. A highway separated us from the heart of the city where we spent most of our evenings. After relying on taxis and the kindness of a stranger on the first day, we ended up renting a car. It’s too bad they drive on the ‘right’ side of the car and the ‘wrong’ side of the road over there. To that say I had a hard time in the beginning would be an understatement.

Our first destination was Maracas Bay. We set off after the first of many noon showers. The roads are very narrow, and there’s usually a potentially devastating ditch on either side. Not exactly a fun place to drive, but everyone came out fine when it was all said and done. We reached the beach by about 2pm and we were quite impressed.

Maracas beach

Luckily for us, it wasn’t too crowded. After having a swim, it was time for Richard’s Bake & Shark – supposedly a must have for tourists and locals alike. We weren’t disappointed. They put two or three pieces of fried shark meat in a bread called bake (similar to coco bread). It’s hard not to OD at the fixings bar that serves everything from mango chutney to mustard and cucumbers. We’d be back.

Bake & Shark

Although it wasn’t as sunny as we would have liked, it was a beautiful day. Not too hot. Perfect for eating and drinking on the beach. Perfect for just chilling out… or as they say in Trinidad – liming. I’m a liming professional on trips like these and we did our fair share of just relaxing… under the clouds. Good times.

Cloudy Maracas

As soon as we’d arrived, we were greeted by a friendly smile and informed that beach chairs cost 20TTs (about $4). The man running the show was known simply as Chair Man, and he was very hospitable. Of all the people we met on the trip, this guy took the crown. He was hanging with a local dred who cut up some coconuts for us to drink out of. It was nice hanging out with these guys for a bit, and Chair Man proved to be particularly cool.

Chair Man & Maracas Rasta

Considering how bad the roads are, we decided to leave before sundown. It was hard to stick to that decision, but we were surprisingly disciplined. Knowing that we had a night of partying ahead of us helped push us out of the wavy water that had me feeling like a child again. We knew we’d be back the next day too.

We pulled over on the way back to take in a view we’d spotted on the way from Port of Spain. I’m not sure how my friends did, but my pictures simply didn’t do it justice. We stayed for as long as we needed and got back in the car.

The View

The plan for the next day was to wake up early and drive up around Blanchisseuse to take a rewarding hike. We ended up leaving the hotel around noon and never quite made it. We stopped in Maracas, where one of us got a chicken roti. It should have been two of us, but I was too busy taking pictures and sulking since we’d left so late. It was good roti… but not something easy to eat in a car.

Roti please...

On our way to Blanchisseuse (a name we couldn’t stop repeating), we stopped at a village called Las Cuevas. It was full of locals and stray dogs. There was a beach, but we had no plans to swim, so we didn’t actually walk down to the sand. Still, it was a very interesting scene.

Las Cuevas beach

We only stayed for a few minutes, taking in the sights and sounds. A drink there would have been nice, but for some reason we still thought there was hope for our hike. I made the mistake of not shooting the cricket players on our way into the village. They weren’t there when we left.

Las Cuevas Fishermen

The ultimate prize of the day was a waterfall with a swimming hole. I don’t think we even came close to it. At one point we were driving through a forested area alongside a stream. The vegetation was so impressive that we had to pull over and walk around. Sadly, that’s about as much hiking as we ended up doing on the trip. I know… not cool.

The Stream

Although there was no more hiking, the rest of the drive was fun… especially since I wasn’t driving! Small hilly roads through the rainforest. Little shacks and homes all over the place. Abandoned cars with plants growing out of them. A veritable scene with all sorts of interesting sights. If I had brought along my 5D, I probably would have shot off a few from the passenger seat. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures on the drive. I was too busy taking it in.

It rained several more times on the road, but by the time we made it to Blanchisseuse, it was still very overcast. You can see what I’m talking about in the very first picture of this post, as well as the one directly below. Despite the nasty weather, we still had a great time. As you might be able to tell from the panorama shot, there was a fresh water lagoon right next to the seawater; that was pretty sweet.

Blanchisseuse!

After swimming in Blanchisseuse for a bit, we decided to head back to Maracas. When we got there, the sun was peaking through the clouds. It was nice while it lasted… even if that wasn’t for very long.

Chair Man wasn’t there to greet us again, but he did come over to make sure we were taken care of. We ended up staying until sundown and eating more bake and shark. He had suggested a bake and shrimp which was not available, and a bake and kingfish which had bones in it.

I really liked Maracas Bay, and I’d love to go back some time soon.

Mo Maracas

Later that night, we made one of the biggest ‘mistakes’ of the trip. Everyone from Trinidad is always ranting and raving about the KFC there. They swear that it’s way better than anything we have in the US. While we initially dismissed countless people making this claim,  we decided to take the plunge. The original plan was to buy a bucket earlier in the day and to take it with us on our imaginary hike. That would have been a disaster!

Your typical KFCrap

Let’s just say that what we had was just as shitty as the KFC in the US. The whole experience was crap. We waited endlessly in the drive thru for a 12 piece bucket and some typical sides. We took it back to the hotel. I ate standing up over the garbage can – fitting, given the ‘quality’ of the food. It was all over in minutes. I wish it never happened.

We ended up going out and having a great time, and the street food more than made up for the nasty KFC. The food in Trinidad & Tobago is great and it comes in all sorts of varieties. By the end of the night, we were just looking forward to ‘liming’ on the smaller island – three nights in Tobago was sounding good.

I enjoyed our stay in Trinidad. The place has a culture all its own thanks to centuries of mixing. Beautiful women speak with beautiful accents. Everyone speaks English, which is nice. The food is terrific and varied. The weather could have been better, but that didn’t spoil the experience. I’ll be back.

yes, I know it's soft...

yes, I know it’s soft…

Gallery for Trinidad AND Tobago will be on the next post.

5 thoughts on “My trip to Trinidad (and Tobago) – 1 of 2

  1. Pingback: My trip to Trinidad (and Tobago) - 1 of 2 | Tra...

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  4. Pingback: My trip to (Trinidad and) Tobago – 2 of 2 | Karim Haddad

  5. Pingback: Thoughts on my Fuji 14mm | Karim Haddad

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