When I told people I was going to Trinidad, a few of them asked me, “what about Tobago?”
Of course, my friends and I always planned on visiting both islands during our trip, but “Trinidad & Tobago” is simply too long a name for any country to have, and I’m too lazy to say the whole thing every time I refer to the place. Plus, all I got was one stamp on my passport!
I decided to split this series in two mainly because I didn’t want it to be too long, but it’s just as well. Although the two islands do have some things in common, overall, they are markedly different. Trinidad is much bigger; it’s more like a country, with several grimy urban areas. Tobago is a lot smaller and it caters more to tourists. In fact some of the people we met there, didn’t even bother to visit Trinidad. Their loss.
We rented a car at the airport from a local business owner whose picture I sincerely regret not taking. He was a big guy who told us not to worry about big companies run by white people, and we were happy to give him our business. We ended up with an old Nissan, a real hoopty… but a solid one that never broke down on us.
I waited at the above location as my friends sorted the hotel room. We all ate lunch at said location – chicken, rice, beans, and a local dish called callaloo. We had left Trinidad at noon, and we finally got settled a little past 3pm.
The hotel was right on the beach. The only problem is it was a ridiculously long walk from the lobby/car, and there was a wire right in front of our balcony spoling the view. Things could have been much worse.
As soon as we got to the beach we were accosted by a local dred trying to peddle his wares… I’m not sure if he actually made them or if that even matters.
If any of us had been alone, we probably would have shooed him away, but we ended up talking to AUF for a while. Sure enough, like some typical tourists, all three of us now have a bamboo incense holder with his name engraved on it. Ha!
He was not the only person we met on the beach that afternoon. Roger – the other dred pictured below – seemed more reasonable, and he wasn’t trying to sell anything special. The big kid on the other hand was all about trying to take us on some fishing expedition. Of course, he failed, repeatedly. There were more… some cool, others not.
The hotel we were at had a nice pool. Although I regret not swimming in it at all, I don’t understand how people can go to the beach and be content staying by the pool. “Typical white people,” in the words of the bartender. My friends and I ordered a few more drinks before hitting the beach again. And just in case you were wondering, the bottle pictured below was thrown in the trash shortly after having its picture taken.
The surf on Turtle Beach may not have been as ‘rough’ as Trinidad’s beaches were, but we had a great swim anyways. In fact, the nicest sunset of the trip went undocumented because it happened that evening and nobody wanted to get out and take pictures. No regrets there, but I will have a waterproof camera on the next beach trip.
We had a great first night out on the island. It was a Sunday, which meant everyone in Tobago was spending the evening at Sunday school. As it turns out, that’s a good thing. It started off with a couple steel pan performances down by the water in Buccoo. Pretty impressive, but as you can see from the picture to the left, the crowds were not that big at first.
They grew considerably. A little later in the evening, the place had become flooded with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Locals and tourists. A really big party, and lots of fun. I can only imagine what things must be like around Carnival… especially in Trinidad. I definitely want to go back to Tobago though, Carnival or not. They know how to have a nice time over there. Very chill indeed.
The best ‘meal’ of the trip came that night in Buccoo – a flying fish sandwich prepared outside the venue place with a steel drum performance. It was honestly one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life, and I only wish I’d had another while I had the chance. It was a lesson learnt the hard way – in Tobago, eat what you want when you can because you can’t find it whenever you want!
Another highlight of the trip came later that evening when we got back from Sunday school. It was around 4am and we wanted to go chill out on the beach. We were seeking a moment of peace, but just as we were walking up, security escorted us to a spot where a giant sea turtle was laying its eggs. Even though it was dark, it was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever witnessed. Simply amazing.
Unfortunately, the SOS guy on site was a major prick. I’m quite tolerant of these people, but this guy really was an asshole. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of him getting beaten up or drowned in the ocean. I tried to benefit from his knowledge but he could do nothing but condescend. Of course, we couldn’t shine any lights during the process. I took the shot below in the dark with my Fuji X-Pro1. I wish I framed it better…. Immediately afterwards, I took another shot with the flash from my point-and-shoot. That’ll be on my Facebook page.
The next day it was back to the beach. Strawberry daiquiri for breakfast. I’ve had better but it’s the thought that counts. By the time my friends woke up, I’d already started feeling nice. I probably should have eaten something.
We went out briefly in hopes of finding a sandwich half as good as the one we’d eaten the previous night. We didn’t have much luck, and I’m ashamed to say that we had some lousy flying fish sandwiches instead of something new. No harm done – back to the hotel for more beach time.
My camera missed the rays of God that evening, but they inspired me to walk along the beach and get a couple other shots. I had noticed the fishing boats further up the beach and decided to get better acquainted with them. I didn’t come away with anything too special, but I’m glad I took the time to get up off the lounge chair.
The sunset turned out pretty nicely later that evening. I didn’t get any spectacular shots or anything, but I had to do my best to try and document the color of the sky at the time. Although this picture might look nice, it really does nothing to capture the essence of that moment in time. It wasn’t as nice as the night before, but I did miss a few magical moments because my hands were wet or I was in the water. That’s one of the reasons why I need to get a quality waterproof camera. If you have any recommendations please let me know.
The next day was a major bust. One of my friends and I were planning on going to the forest reserve. We got up nice and early, battling our hangovers and stomach aches from the previous night’s dinner. It was raining non-stop and that didn’t encourage us to find the place after getting lost the first time. I dropped my friend back off at the hotel and tried on my own, but I was struggling on many fronts. I failed miserably…
My next move was not a smart one. Instead of going somewhere and shooting in the rain, I decided to go eat roti, something I hand’t really done yet. As soon as I sat down, the sun came out. I ate fast and rushed back to the hotel only to catch a few minutes of sunshine. Still, it was nice to be back on the beach, and eventually back in the water.
Soon enough it started raining again. It rained hard for hours. There was no let up. We had no choice but to swim in what felt like a monsoon. It was fun… although it would have been even funner with the sun shining. It rained every day of our trip. I should be three shades darker than I am right now.
It finally started to clear up as the sun was going down. It made for a nice sunset, so I went inside and got my camera. By that time, I had started to feel the effects of a week of constant partying and chasing the sun behind the clouds. I was tired and my stomach was becoming less cooperative with every passing minute… but I don’t think I really realized at the time. Considering my surroundings, who can blame me?
Our last night in Tobago was great. It started off shaky and slow, but it got a lot better with time.
After we got back to the hotel later that night, I tried (unsuccessfully) to take some nice shots of the moon. My friends’ shadows got in the way at one point, and the shot that came out looked pretty cool. We decided to put ourselves in the frame with some interesting results. This one of the better ones.
The next morning, I woke up as early as I could in hopes of benefitting somehow from something we hand’t seen too much of – morning sun. I was on the beach by 9am and I did catch a few rays. I had a nice swim and just sat on the beach for a few minutes watching the waves come in. Obviously I walked along the beach for a while too.
I knew it was coming and I’m glad it started while I had time to see it. Around 10am I saw the fishermen starting to bring their boats and nets in to shore. The seagulls were going crazy and the crowd was getting bigger by the minute. Birds and people flocked to the fish. It was quite a scene, and a nice way to end an excellent trip.
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FUJI T&T SLIDESHOW