Destination: Taking a Chance on Trinidad & Tobago

Joi, do you guys want to go to Trinidad with us in November?”  When my good friend De called and invited us to join them on a trip to Trinidad and Tobago, my only knowledge of these islands was that they were somewhere in the southern caribbean.

Never one to turn down a travel adventure, I heartily said, “We’re in”.

On our way to Las Cuevas Beach

The tropical and mountainous terrain of Trinidad is stunning.

After I sat down my phone, I picked up my laptop and googled “Trinidad & Tobago“.   Within minutes, I was shaking my head and saying, “Go Figure”.   I knew the islands were close to Venezuela, but I did not know how culturally rich and diverse they were.   Trinidad and Tobago’s population is a microcosm of the world.

Home to the steel drums

Trivia – Trinidad is the home of the steel drum.

Population: approximately 1.5 million inhabitants. Capital city: Port of Spain.  Language: English (official), Hindi, Spanish, Chinese, French.

Today, this small island country is self ruled and has the third larges economy in the Americas!  Unlike other Caribbean countries, oil and refineries, not tourism, are the key drivers of the economy.

Historical Tidbits – (to interesting not to share)

This blog isn’t intended to be a geography lesson, but learning about the turbulent past helped me understand the culture and customs of the Trinidadian people.

  • 1498 – Columbus claimed T&T  for Spain on his way to the mineral rich continent of South America.
  • 1595 – Sir Walter Raleigh attacked the city for information regarding the “City of Gold”.
  • Later the Catholic Friars enslaved the local population in their efforts to bring Catholicism into the new world.
  • 1783 – The French got into the act when they petitioned the Roman Catholic Church to give them land.

Canons

  • 1797 – Population 17,000  comprised of Spaniards, Africans, French republican soldiers, retired pirates, and French nobility.
  • 1797 –  British General Sir Ralph Abercromby  conquered T&T without firing a single shot.
    • Under British rule, the English, Scots, Irish, Germans, and Italians flooded the island looking for an opportunity in the new world
  • 1833 – England abolished slavery.  Plantation owner’s, to make us for the deficit of workers, lured the Chinese, Indians, and Portuguese to the island as indentured servants.
  • 1962 – Trinidad and Tobago obtained it’s independence from Britain.

roadside vendor- pickled mangos

Today, Trinidadians are an eclectic mix of all these nationalities.

The Beaches

Las Cuevas Beach

Being an island, I expected the beaches to be beautiful.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Las Cuevas Beach was my favorite of the ones we visited.  

Hyatt Regency Port of Spain

While in Trinidad, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Port of Spain.  A very nice hotel with a beautiful patio.  I loved lounging by the infinity pool.

Visiting Tobago

Of the five days spent in the islands, we allotted only one day for Tobago.  In hind sight, I wish we’d have reversed it. Tobago is the yin to Trinidad’s yang.  Where Trinidad is modern, overrun with traffic, and crime ridden, Tobago is laid back, unpopulated, and peaceful.

Speyside Fisherman

Fishermen working their boats.

Beach in Speyside

A quiet beach on the east side of the island is the town of Speyside.  Jon and I went scuba diving which was excellent.  The reefs and marine life are extremely healthy.  

 

T&T collection

Final Thoughts- Would I go back: 

While the country is more prosperous than others in the Caribbean, it is also a hotbed of violent gang related crime. Trinidad has a murder rate that outpaced, per capita, the City of Chicago in 2016. This major tourism faux pax is the reason not to visit the main island of Trinidad.  I’m giving the island of Trinidad two thumbs down and not recommending it for your travel bucket list.

 

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