Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Going between the various Guianas is surprisingly difficult as it turns out: it either involved 6 hours on a crowded minibus, hurtling along poorly-maintained mud roads at around ninety miles per hour, or it involves flying via Trinidad & Tobago, and more precisely, Port-of-Spain, the capital. I chose the latter, knowing that the former awaits me on the leg between Paramaribo, Suriname and Cayenne, French Guiana.

Travelling via Port-of-Spain seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out another former British colony and have a brief glimpse at proper Caribbean life. So that's exactly what I did.

I booked myself into a pleasant little guesthouse - run by 2 of the loveliest people you could hope to meet - on the edge of town and tried to research the tourist hotspots in Port-of-Spain. As it turns out, there aren't any really. The tourist attraction is the people and the country itself, which isn't the worst tourist attraction I've ever visited... not by a long shot.

The first thing one would associate with any Caribbean nation is fantastic weather. Well the weather in Port-of-Spain wasn't in a compliant mood. I don't think I had one day there when it didn't rain. And every time it did rain, I seemed to be caught outside and hadn't had a chance to bring my sensible cagoule with me. This was the sort of weather I had wanted to escape from, but the Devil had decided to vomit in my kettle once again.

As you should know, the majority of T&T's (that's what they call it there) inhabitants are black, and there is also a sizeable Asian community, meaning any 'Honkies' (white people) who go there will stick out like... a white person in Guyana. This can, and indeed did, lead to some racist banter to which I was subjected. Now obviously it wasn't a violent beating administered by a group of 20 Trinidadians or a lynching; it was fairly harmless repartee directed at me as I strolled around town, usually from passing cars. Some highlights include: a car full of young guys slowing right down next to me and playing Vanilla Ice at full volume; another car, with a similar group of passengers slowing down next to me, whereupon all occupants showed me their palms, which of course are white. Besides this there was an assortment of things shouted at me and various car horns being sounded. Initially I thought/hoped there just happened to be a load of women driving past and that I 'still had it', but the truth was not much worse to be honest. I must say that it really didn't bother me one jot and some of it was actually quite amusing.

So what about the town itself? Well, there's a nice promenade named after T&T's most famous son, the cricketist Brian Lara, a man truly revered around those parts. Other than that, there's a pleasant botanical garden - reputed to be the oldest in the Caribbean and not much else.

Brian Lara's statue on the promenade named after him.

T&T is also home to some unique and genuinely excellent cultural aspects, such as 'doubles', a couple of slices of flat fried bread, very similar to a thick chapati, with curried chick peas on top. The trick is to eat it with no cutlery and ideally without making too much mess. In fact, much of T&T's food has its roots in Asia, which makes for a surprisingly excellent culinary experience.

Doubles in all their glory.

Another cultural delight of T&T is their own particular brand of reggae -  heard at all hours, from all places - called 'Ragga Soca'. This is a combination of traditional Caribbean reggae and the Trinidadian Calypso style, which makes for some interesting listening.

So what did I take away from Port-of-Spain, or Trinidad in general? Well, apart from some postcards, not an awful lot. I felt a lot more relaxed, as most of the Caribbean is incredibly laid-back and a welcome change from the chaos that envelopes most of Latin America. In the end, I can't say I'd recommend Port-of-Spain as a tourist destination. In case you hadn't gathered already, I've really struggled to come up with anything interesting or insightful to say about this particular place, pleasant as it is.

I'm sure it'd be nice enough for a beach holiday, but that really isn't why I'm here, so I shall simply say that beyond a stopover destination for flights between the Guianas, I wouldn't bother with T&T. Although who am I to say where's good and where's not?

Until next time, when I intend to wow you with tales of a little island of Dutch in a sea of Spanish. Until then, and please; don't have nightmares.


  1. Hi
    I'm currently putting together a website cataloging all of the world’s cricket statues - - as such I was wondering if I could use your photos of the Brian Lara statue? You would of course be credited by the photos.

    1. No problem. You have my permission to use the above photograph.