Despite the creaking bamboo plants whipping above us and the slippery red mud under our feet, we trekked forward towards the waterfalls. “If you have fast legs,” we are told, “you can make it in 20-25 minutes.” We made it in 23:10 including all the stops to comment on our lack of fitness.
But I must back-pedal, because I can’t start our Caribbean adventure a week late!
After spending 9 nights in the US (3 in California visiting mom; 6 in Portland visiting more family and friends) – I won’t get into the itinerary of our time there as it mainly revolved around beers and bbqs – we hopped on a plane on March 25th from Portland, Oregon to Port of Spain, Trinidad (via Houston)! There were a few hiccups on the way, namely that Matt was meant to have a visa for Trinidad & Tobago 21 days in advance and we only learned that an hour before we departed, but it got sorted by paying double the cost upon arrival.
We arrived at night and were met by Oswald, a driver organized by our host, Maurice (check out Johnson’s B&B on Trip Advisor!) and zipped along to our hotel, about a ½ hour from the airport. Initial observations of Trinidad were that it was bustling, busy, neon, more built-up and industrial than expected. Got to the hotel and went looking for dinner.
On the streets we met a local guy named Marcus, who ended up becoming first friend, then foe. The night, though, he was pretty awesome and helped us find some great dinner and a cold beer, as well as taking Matt onto the grounds of Queen’s Park Oval, which is apparently pretty cool in cricket circles. We were weary but excited to check out the city and arranged to meet Marcus the following morning for a guided city tour.
Now, we’re not much of tour people but we thought seeing things as a local would be a great introduction to the city/country and we weren’t wrong. After our free breakfast at the hotel, we met Marcus at 9am and started walking around town. Highlights: Mahatma Ghandi Square, Woodford Square, Steelpan Drum Yard, the “ghetto” (we walked past Trinidad projects and gangs), Mt. St. Benedict and the monastery, Chaugaramas, and – of course – visiting Brian Lara’s house. He was in a meeting at the time (so we were told) therefore we didn’t get a chance to meet him.
One thing we really liked about the day also: transportation is fast and cheap. There are always local taxis/maxis/buses ready to go and all much cheaper than tourist taxis and faster as well. The fact that Trinidad & Tobago isn’t very touristy is both good and bad; bad because tourist facilities such as money changing and internet cafes are rare and always closed on Sundays; good because you don’t feel like they are giving you a tourist price when you ask a maxi or in a store to purchase goods. You may be white, purple, green or orange, but there is never a feeling of discrimination or that you’re being singled out because you stick out like a sore thumb which, trust me, you do.