Back in the hustle and bustle
San Juan Travel Blog› entry 45 of 123 › view all entries
Arriving in Trinidad from Grenada gave me an immediate sense that this place is a bit different from its chilled out neighbours. I couldn't help but notice the increase in scale of everything - roads are better and are multilane, towns are bigger and have big commercial outlets and Port of Spain has some proper sky scrapers. In a way I was glad to back somewhere where getting the simple things is a lot easier.
I'm couchsurfing with Pernell here and was lucky enough that he picked me up from the airport. He's a cool guy, very laid back and we had a good chat on the way to his place in San Juan from the airport. He's waiting for a new boat to arrive from the States, so he's been busy making a lot of calls to customs & excise!
Trinidad is the kind of place that doesn't have masses of touristy sights to see, but it is a place to soak up the way of life and get out and enjoy yourself. Limin' down St James in P-o-S has been a great way to spend the weekend, with a few eccentric locals added into the mix, including a guy who creates massive structures on the street made from old beer bottles (unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me at the time).
We took a little excusion down to Maracas Bay, which is the other side of the mountains in the north. Its a beautiful little spot and it was a great place to try the national snack dish of 'bake and shark' - the 'bake' is the pitta/roll/bread that forms a kind of sandwich, and in the middle you have fried shark meat, with salad and any number of sauces (jerk, tammarind, ketchup, mustard, mayo....) - the result is absolutely delicious and I challenge anyone to try it and not like it!
Saturday morning we took a look in Port-of-Spain as it was the Emancipation Day celebrations (celebrating the abolition of slavery) - lots of people getting in the spirit in traditional African dress and a few steel pan bands playing which added to the atmosphere.
Not far from Pernell's place in San Juan is the Caroni Swamp and at 4pm each day you can take a boat trip out on the swamp to spot wildlife, predominantly the ibis (the national bird, which is bright red) as they nest in part of the swamp. The trips are reasonably priced (only TT$50, £5), but you do have to sit on rather uncomfortable seat for nearly 3 hours without getting out to stretch your legs. We saw caiman, herons, a large number of crabs and a couple of brown snakes (I'm not entirely sure of the species, but they were asleep so they didn't look too much of a threat). If you've got plenty of time on Trinidad, its a decent way to spend an afternoon, but having been to the Pantanal, I wouldn't call it a 'must-do'.
Today our plans have been thwarted by the weather which has gradually got worse the further south in the Caribbean I've gone. It looked ok earlier this morning and we planned to go out on Pernell's current boat to go 'Down the Islands' (that's actually what they call the group of islands off the north-west coast of Trinidad), but as we neared the boat club in Chaguaramas, it got dark and then absolutely tipped it down. There was no way we could out in his small boat in that weather - we would've been asking for trouble, so we decided to try and head over to La Cuevas Bay (near Maracas Bay) where they have a party and BBQ every Sunday, hoping the weather would clear up later. No-sir-ree, as we claimbed into the hills the rain got heavier and heavier (lucikly we were in a 4x4) and quite the soon the inadequate drainage that Pernell had told me about showed its true colours - there was water rushing everywhere and soon the roads were becoming flooded, not good. Traffic was starting to back up as people went slow and about half way there, it stopped altogther and it looked like there was no way through. It was a good time to call it quits and turn back as there was no way anything worth while would be going on in the rain when we got there anyway.
So tonight Pernell's friends have suggested going to the Irish Bar in P-o-S, so we'll see how that goes...