COME WITH ME……. to an Island I know you will enjoy! The trip will only take you four hours by plane from Miami, so pack your lightest clothing, a few swimsuits and sandals; and oh, don’t forget a straw hat and suntan lotion as you’ll be perfectly tanned before it’s all over. We’re off to Trinidad & Tobago, but before we leave I have to give you some history and background.
Since people here embrace consumerism as much as any large metropolitan city, there is no shortage of items available for your convenience and fashion trends are almost as up-to-date as you will find in more advanced cities. So don’t be concerned if you forget to bring along any small items, you’re sure to find them here.
Trinidad is situated just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. It is 1,980 sq.mi and lies right outside of the hurricane belt. Tobago its sister island, is 116 sq.mi. and although it has suffered some damage from hurricane storms, its natural beauty offers spectacular vistas that make it a compelling resort to visit.
The tropical climate can cause temperatures to vary from 54 degrees to the high 90s throughout the year. There are two seasons – a dry season from January to June and a rainy season from July to December. The island is cooled year round by the northeast Trade Winds, which helps to keep the humidity at its lowest level.
A large influence on the island’s temperature is the presence of three mountain ranges. Located in the North, Central and South of the island, they run in an East-West direction with the highest point being in the northern range, and oil and natural gas deposits buried in the sandstones and shales of the south.
The infrastructure of the island is well-developed because of the presence of available tar(asphalt) from the Pitch Lake situated in the south. The continuously bubbling tar ensures an available source for maintaining the roads.
There are numerous beautiful beaches along the coast, with the best resorts in the East and North. There will be several for you to visit, once we determine how far you want to travel and your swimming ability.
Discovered by Christoper Columbus in 1498, the island changed hands from Spanish, British, French and Dutch colonizers until it was finally ceded back to the British in 1802. Independence came in 1962 and the island became a Republic in 1976. Not surprisingly, all of these nationalities have influenced the culture of our people and what strikes you immediately on landing, is the diversity of our people.
The rich tapestry of races and cultures existing side by side, make it a fascinating place. The population is made up of the descendants of Arawak and Carib Indians who were the native settlers, followed by the Spanish, British, French, and Dutch colonizers, Chinese, East Indians and Portuguese. Later on, Lebanese and Syrian workers from other islands were brought in as indentured laborers when the Carib Indians were unable to meet the labor demands of the settlers. Finally, during the slave trade Africans were introduced and then released following Emancipation.
During the French Revolution colonial planters with their slaves, free mixed-race subjects and mulattos from neighboring islands of Martinique, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Guadeloupe and Dominica migrated to Trinidad where they established an agriculture-based economy (sugar and cocoa). Today, sugar is no longer a staple and in its place are citrus, coffee and other vegetables. There are several local communities which were named by the French such as Blanchisseuse, Champs Fleurs, Cascade, Carenage and Laventille that still exist today.
Under French rule Carnival was introduced, but slaves were not allowed to participate so they invented their own musical instrument – the steel pan. Drums that were used to store oil and other industrial products were recycled and tuned to play music. The steel drum is struck with two sticks tipped with rubber, but today exists in a more sophisticated form. In the 1970s, Liberace introduced the steel band sounds of the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steelband by inviting them on tour with him. Today the unique sounds of steel bands can be heard accompanying classical and jazz fusion artists.
Carnival has remained a world famous event, held during the week before Lent. Parties and calypso contests culminate in two days of masquerading in costumes, with bands processing through the streets prior to Ash Wednesday. During my younger days, we looked forward to Jour Ouvert (translated= Opening Day) which started at 5 a.m. on Carnival Monday with the bands playing as we danced through the streets until dawn, and then headed off for breakfast.
If you prefer to spend your time pursuing eco-tourist activities, the migration of the leather back sea turtles that travel thousands of miles each year to nest on the eastern coast of the island, provides an interesting nature study and subject for research.
Here is a website that will give you more information about the leather back sea turtles:
In Tobago you can cover the sights in one day, but one that shouldn’t be missed here is the shallow Bucco Reef or Nylon Pool, which sits in the middle of the ocean. You travel by boat to get to it and then don goggles to dive below the ocean to view a naturally formed coral reef which lies five feet below the surface. The crystal clear water and a large variety of colorful fish and fauna appear, creating a magnificent spectacle. At the end of your adventure, get ready to head over to one of the local hotels and dine on a meal of fresh seafood, cooked Trini style. Ummmm!
Stay tuned for more about the people, culture and food in my next post.
Here is a post from one of my nephews, who is emerging as talented film producer. Good luck Chris!