Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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Archive for the ‘Tobago’ Category

Timelapsing Through Trinidad

Posted by Rishiray on March 28, 2014

Timelapsing Through Trinidad : Here’s a great timelapse video shot in the island of Trinidad by photographers Kevin Huggins and Anthony Fung. The journey takes you from the beaches, to the cities, to the country side and back to the beaches. It is flawlessly produced and has a powerful soundtrack that enhances the amazing visuals. I’ll quit talking now and let you watch this. I promise, you’ll be amazed.

How They Did It


For 10 days in August 2011, Anthony and Kevin set out on an “epic” adventure to timelapse some of Trinidad. In their words

“The adventure was awesome… some of the TLs not so much… but hey it was literally all about the journey… and shooting a tremendous 25,000+ stills”

I must confess that the music is definitely more epic than some of the clips. Still, hope you enjoy the vid :)

Music: “Globus” by 1M1 Music
via Music Loops

Photographers & Videographers:

  • Kevin Huggins
  • Anthony Fung

Camera Equipment:

  • Canon 5DMKII
  • Canon 7D
  • Panasonic GH2

Posted in Caribbean, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Eating Blue Food Roti in Tobago

Posted by Rishiray on October 3, 2013

When you’re working in the Maritimes, you’ll find a ridiculously friendly people who have no clue about the Caribbean. They’re all super curious and have tons of questions. Most of the questions are the usual mundane type … but then one question caught me off guard …

If you’re a twin island republic, do you guys have the same type of food or does each island have a unique flavour to it?

This got me thinking about the differences in the food between Trinidad and Tobago. You can absolutely find Roti and Doubles in Tobago … but would I recommend it? Absolutely not! My lack of a recommendation isn’t because it’s terrible but because of the simple fact, that the % of Indo-Tobagonians is much lower than the % of Indo-Trinidadians. This would lend a reason for the lack of good Roti and Doubles in Tobago. That being said … you will find a type of roti in Tobago, that you will absolutely never find in Trinidad.

Dasheen Roti

Typically, a dhalpuri roti is made from flour with a filling of spicy yellow split peas (Dhal) and then come curried vegetable or meat. In Tobago, the annual Blue Food Festival, coordinated by the Tobago House of Assembly and the L’Anse Fourmi, Bloody Bay and Parlatuvier Village Councils puts a spotlight on a very common root crop called “Dasheen”.

A bit of backstory on the Blue Food festival …

In Trinidad, Dasheen is not that upmarket, in fact, it’s associated with a much lower socio-economic demographic. As a root crop, so low on the social food totem pole, it’s commonly called “ground provision” or “Blue Food”. Dasheen is a heavy, hairy tuber  when peeled, sliced in it’s raw form is creamy white, but once cooked, the “blue food” epithet comes from the transformation in colour to various shades of blue, most commonly a light gun metal hue. The leaves of the Dasheen plant are the main ingredients of Callaloo, which is almost a national dish in Trinidad.

This being said … October is “Blue Food” time in Tobago. The purpose of the festival is three fold:

  1. Firstly to provide an opportunity for local cooks to show just what they can do with Dasheen.
  2. Offer up a sales aspect to sell the food that cooks were dreaming up.
  3. Bring people from off island to a more remote part of Tobago along with the promise of large quantities of beer and rum for an epic lime!

At Blue Food Festival, you will find a dizzying array of dasheen based dished like dasheen sweetbread, pone, saheena, biscuits, currant rolls, ginger snaps, kebabs, crochet, fritters, ice cream. You’ll even find a dasheen wine and creamy punches. Some of the more obscure uses would be to make a dasheen tuile or shepherd’s pie.

Back to the Blue Food Roti …

The last time I went was in 2007 and it was a packed … and you had to take buses to get to the area. It was all worth it for my Stew Beef and Dasheen (Blue Food) Paratha roti.

Posted in Caribbean, Tobago | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ask a Trini : Let’s fix Trinidad’s tourism slogan

Posted by Rishiray on May 10, 2013

Every time I see an slogan for Jamaica, Dominican Republic or Cancun, it makes my blood boil a little each time. In April 2013, the Caribbean Tourism Organization sponsored a conference in Trinidad on Sustainable Tourism Development. This was a nice little dog and pony show to communicate to the 100 interested people that we take tourism seriously – as though Trinidadians or the the Government of Trinidad actually takes tourism seriously. I was browsing through the last three years of presentations – not a single presentation on social media or how other countries/tourist boards have used social media to increase their brand awareness.

I have to admit my bias in being only interested in initiatives that would increase Trinidad’s tourist product awareness, simply because other islands (Jamaica, Barbados) have superior brand awareness. Thankfully, there were none – so it saved me a lot of toilet reading, and allowed me to focus on my Economist iPad magazine and some gossip blogs.

Here is  question for you: What’s the slogan for Trinidad & Tobago? Or even “What’s Trinidad’s tourism slogan?” If you could have answered “Trinidad & Tobago – the true Caribbean”, then you’re waaayyyy better than I am – because I really had no idea. I have no goddamn clue about what that slogan actually means … does it mean that everywhere else in the island is not the “real Caribbean”? If it was, then gimme the fake Caribbean with customer service, low crime rate, stunning beaches and no pollution !

Really? The True Caribbean?

Why bother competing with the other islands on their natural beauty, beaches and tourist infrastructure? We CAN’T … the other islands are just better at promoting their product, while we haven’t truly identified our product. Here’s an idea, lets promote what we are great in … our people and culture. We can’t even articulate what we’re about, yet we want people to come to Trinidad.

I was reading through a list of other countries slogans, and there are certain countries that pitch nothing but a vague thought as a means to sell their destination:

  • Anguilla Feeling is Believing
  • Florida Keys Come As You Are
  • Hungary A Love for Life
  • Taiwan Touch Your Heart

How about these one word slogans – don’t these just pull at you?

  • Brazil Sensational!
  • Incredible India
  • Cool Japan
  • WOW Philippines
  • Uniquely Singapore
  • Amazing Thailand
  • Discover Peru – and I’m definitely going to discover Machu Picchu and Cusco.

Some place brand themselves as value destinations … hence the two word slogans

  • Italy Much More
  • Germany Affordable Hospitality

You want a slogan … here are a couple samples for Trinidad’s tourism slogan …

Trinidad & Tobago – The Culture Island!
Trinidad : Culture!!!
Trinidad: The land of festivals!

I love the talk of initiatives, but our first idea should be to re-brand Trinidad’s slogan, because we are not the True Caribbean, in fact we are

Trinidad and Tobago : THE Different Caribbean!

For your reading pleasure… here is a sample list of tourist slogans from http://touristvstraveller.wordpress.com. Fiona’s site made my life a million times easier for this blog post. You should visit her blog for some more interesting reading and for a full list of other travel slogans.


  • Antigua and Barbuda – The beach is just the beginning…
  • Argentina beats to your rhythm
  • Bermuda – so much more
  • Bolivia awaits you
  • Brasil – sensational!
  • Canada – keep exploring
  • Colombia – the only risk is wanting to stay
  • CoColumbia
  • Costa Rica – no artificial ingredients
  • Autentica Cuba
  • Dominica – the nature island
  • Dominican Republic has it all
  • Ecuador – love life
  • Guyana – experience, explore & enjoy
  • Honduras – todo esta aqui
  • Nicaragua – Unica. Original!
  • Paraguay – You have to feel it!
  • Peru – Empire of Hidden Treasures
  • Puerto Rico does it better
  • Uruguay natural
  • Venezuela is your destination!

Posted in Ask a Trini, Caribbean, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Tourism in Trinidad … here’s 10 quick thoughts for improvement.

Posted by Rishiray on April 22, 2013

The TT government is trying to make tourism in Trinidad a viable industry. When I see articles like this in the newspapers, http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-04-15/tt-moves-prop-falling-tourism-industry … I really wonder what is the in the brain of the leaders – like our Tourism minister talking about a “Coming home year”. The idiocy of the idea is just rampant – why would anyone want to come to Trinidad, when the global awareness is so poor? When Trinis won’t come home … you know you have a problem. However, I can’t solve all that is wrong with tourism in Trinidad, in an article, but I can offer 10 thoughts on improving the tourist experience in Trinidad

  1. Support the idea that every Trini is a brand ambassador, both at home and abroad. Only when we can truly go outside in the world and send people to our country, without fear of our friends being shot or being able to find a reliable taxi at midnight, can we start selling the country.
  2. A clean country is a clean people. Trinis are notorious litterbugs … it’s disgusting through Port of Spain, Chaguanas or San Fernando and see so much trash on the streets. Cleanliness is one of the first items, tourists mention when they’ve visited a place. Have you ever heard that Canada or Singapore are dirty places? Think about it …
  3. Here’s an idea … actually enforce the litter act and have fines/deterrents for people who litter and burn trash
  4. Create a taxi stand at the airport – not just hustlers. A taxi is usually the first interaction, that a visitor has with Trinidad. Poorly trained or shady taxi drives instantly put a visitor on the defensive, and sets the tone that all Trinis are thieves or out to rip them off.
    1. Institute metering at the airport for taxis.
    2. Have clearly marked prices/signs for taxis.
    3. Ensure that only accredited airport taxis can pick up passengers at the airport.
    4. Have a positive/negative feedback mechanism for visitors using taxis. If places like Uzbekistan and the Philippines can have it, then we sure can too.
  5. Trinidad is not just Carnival … we have culture, architecture and some amazing food. Here are some ideas off the top of my head …
    1. A Trini food tour going for Doubles in Curepe, Aloo Pies/Saheenas in Debe, lunch at Breakfast Shed, herb picking in Paramin etc would be a phenomenal idea for the TDC to implement.
    2. Tours of old Sugar plantations, rum distilleries and old building associated with the trade … another nice to have.
    3. How about cultural tours of Indo-Trini, Afro-Trini and Sino-Trini cultures
    4. Pub crawl or party bus going through different bars on Ariapita Ave? If the Latin Americans can perfect this … why not us?
  6. How about a tourist information booth at the airport that works and that has well trained staff?
    1. I’ve heard that pamplets and printed materials work with people who read? Can we assume that tourists read?
  7. Communicate a plan with the masses and get the people involved. Trinis are notoriously “laissez faire”, but if we incorporate the business people into the plan and explain how the long term viability of tourism will help everyone, then maybe Trinis would get off their asses and help, but I know we are a people who have to be “incentivized”.
  8. Use Caribbean Airlines in the same way that Iceland uses IcelandAir … weekends from London or Toronto are the same price. Subsidize airfares from countries where you want to increase the tourist quotient. Trinidad has zero or little international brand awareness outside very specific communities. Think about it …
  9. Work on a social media/online campaign that makes sense … want to see a great one? Visit the ad campaign channel for Newfoundland & Labrador
  10. Sponsor social media discovery of tourism in Trinidad. Bring in travel bloggers and media specialists to highlight all that Trinidad has to offer!

Have some ladoo .. 😀

Posted in Ask a Trini, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Why have a Trini Travel Blog?

Posted by Rishiray on April 11, 2013

Trini travel blog – Why bother writing one? As the presence of the blog has grown over the last 7 years, I’ve gotten many an e-mail from Trinis around the world. What’s funny is that I’ve also gotten e-mails from other readers or stumblers across the world and a persistent question is “What’s a Trini?”

My answer is that a Trini is anyone from the twin island republic of Trinidad & Tobago. Trinis are also the hardest partiers in the Caribbean … there is no doubt on this one, even from the Jamaicans (as much as they argue with us). No matter where you go, you’ll always meet someone who’ll say ‘Oh yeah I have a friend who is a Trini!’ or ‘My university roommate was from Trinidad!’. T&T is a small twin island country, but we have a profound world influence in sports and music. We have a saying “Trinis are like salt, we’re in everything!”.

Geographically, we’re at the bottom of the Caribbean, the very last island in the chain, right off the border from the mainland of South America.
[mappress mapid=”95″]

The more I’ve travelled around the world, the less surprised I am to find Trinis wandering around, yet when I hear the sing-song accent of a Trini, it makes me so happy. That being said, when I first started writing, I could find nothing when I googled “Trini Travel Blog”. Even today, I still find search results from non Trinis. This blog was really started to keep track of my own personal travels and it’s grown over the years, to tell of one Trini’s travel experience. Over the years, there have been more Trini travel blogs that came online, but not enough for my taste. It’s always good to have multiple Trini travel perspectives, since I know Trinis really do get around.

Here’s a cold Thursday morning image for you from Speyside, Tobago
Trini Travel Blog
I’d love to have some thoughts from other Trinis though? Let me know of your own adventures or another Trini travel blog.

Posted in Ask a Trini, Caribbean, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

213 life lessons learned, while speaking Trini across the world …

Posted by Rishiray on November 1, 2012

It’s been 16 years since I left Trinidad. That’s a long time to leave home … but I still get compliments about how fresh my accent is. I always get comments such as :

“You don’t sound like you’re from Trinidad at all”
“Your Trini accent is made up, right?”
“Is that what Trinidadians sound like? I have another friend from Trinidad and he doesn’t sound anything like you”

I go back to Trinidad quite frequently in relative terms. At least twice a year for the last 7 years. You only “lose” an accent, if you actually want to. I’ve managed to create two somewhat different linguistic identities. One for business and one for friends and family back in Trinidad. Anyway, this post isn’t really about my accent but rather a couple life lessons I learned, while keeping my accent.

1. Putting your happiness on lay away … is stupid.

Friends and strangers who read my blog always wonder why I shouldn’t wait till I’m retired or have all the bill paid off to wander around the world or do what I want.My response is always the same … those people have made a critical assumption : Everything will remain the same as it is NOW!

This is a delusion. They assume that they can follow their parents or grand parents and work towards that “one thing” they want for years, then everything will be great and fine. My question is always, “What if, what you got in the end, isn’t what you wanted?” … then what the fuck do you do? Well you can’t really do anything … because by then it usually too late for most people to make a change.

There will always be some new priority, emergency or just a change in perspective. I truly believe that this search for some esoteric “long-term pure happiness” from one particular situation or achievement is a marketing and TV movie dream. If you’re content with what you have, live in the now, all while enjoying the progress and changes, you’re making, then you’ll always be happy. Work towards a dream but don’t let it define your happiness.

2. I’m not waiting on my ship or someone else’s ship

Many people have this strange concept that there are “mysterious” forces at work in the universe. That you’re somehow destined to be lucky or not. How some deity/karma/rabbit’s foot/horseshoe/lucky underwear will force things to magically fall in place for them. You are “due” to win the lottery or will get swept away by prince charming any day now. “You deserve it” (as if others don’t).

I don’t believe in the flying spaghetti monster, monotheistic religion or beings with a goat’s head and human body. I don’t disparage people’s beliefs, but I do get a little crazy when they want to apply their belief to others who don’t believe as such. The happiest people I know are those who got up off their asses and did something about their own happiness. Happiness takes tons of work and it takes tons of work to remain happy. True Story!

As a practical person, I see the world as a very logical place with physical and social rules and understanding this has helped me live well in it. The universe owes you nothing, you owe it to yourself to be the master of where your life ends up.

3. Travelling isn’t that hard … seriously. And it’s not expensive either.

Look at this ad.


It’s everything that is wrong about the idea of travelling. White sands, white people, indentured servants … I wish I was a white plantation owner in the 1700’s looking at this ad … my thoughts would have been … “What’s the big deal? This is Tuesday afternoon with the other plantation owners … these people are damn fools!!”

People get up every day and go out the door to travel the world. They live, work, survive and thrive. In fact, the travel industry has made it very easy – but they have also created the perception that while it’s easy to get out … that getting out should be very expensive, and if you’re not spending a lot of money, then you’re just having a fucking shitty time in comparison to everyone else.

My advice … just get on that plane or train or bus … have enough money to eat, and everything else will work itself out. You’re not going to be first person to attempt travelling or the first person to do it.

4. Destiny is a stripper in Montreal. That’s the extent of what Destiny is. There is no such thing as Destiny.

There you go. I’ve freed you. I’ve saved you tons of money in therapy. Thank me anytime with a scotch.

I hate when people attribute the good or bad of a situation to Destiny. This is a standard excuse by most people for why they’re not happy or haven’t done something with their lives. Yes, I know that you’re cursing, thinking about kids born in war or the slums of Brazil/Trinidad/Sierra Leone … those circumstances suck! However, I believe that your limitations are not set by who you know, where you were born, what genes you have, how much money you have, how old you are right now, what you did before or other things that you can claim are your stamp of failure for life.

If you are determined enough there is a shitload of opportunities in life that are totally achievable with minimal cash, regardless of who you are.

5. You will actually learn how to interact with people

I’ve always been a loud, brash, somewhat obnoxious person in public. That’s not a bad thing, but it does put you at odds with certain personality types. Roaming around the planet has taught me to how to be more social, adapt, be more flexible, and, most importantly, understand non-verbal communication a lot better. It has helped me figure out situations even when I don’t speak the language or can’t understand the situation. It has made more independent, more open, and just a better person. There’s no reason to be scared that you might not have “it” in you. You’d be surprised how often you can surprise yourself.

6. Don’t spend time trying to impress people … live your life and being happy is the best way to convince people

Enough words and enough arguing. Just live by example and soon you’ll have people on your side when they see your results and how passionate you are. No need to “convince” them. Just show them that you are there, tell them how you got there, and they will start to realize that maybe you aren’t that crazy after all.

7. Always ask for directions
You don’t know everything. Full Stop!!!

In many cultures, there is a stigma that asking for help makes you look weak and ignorant. Well I have news; nothing makes you look weaker and more ignorant than pontificating about things you have no clue about. Don’t dance around the issue – just say I don’t know. Honesty is way smarter. Remember no one has it all figured out. No one!!!

8. Possessions own you, not the other way around
I admit, I’ve bought a lot of useless, unnecessary crap. I’ve spent a lot of money on clothes I don’t wear, shoes I don’t walk in and liquor I don’t drink. (Well I’ll eventually find some great use for all my scotch). The real reason that we buy expensive useless shit, is because there is a certain validation that comes with expensive crap from other sheep/people/consumers. The need to buy new crap dictates your life – it fixes you in one location with that house and furniture, and it governs how much money you need to earn. And it almost never actually enriches your life in any way. The less you own the better.

9. People aren’t the stereotype unless you’ve wandered along in their country
Not all Irish people are drunks, not all Americans are stupid, not all Brazilians samba and play football, most Germans hate Hitler. You get the idea. Go out, see the world and deconstruct your stereotypes without even trying. Look and respect people’s differences, try to adapt to them yourself and realise that to them you might seem backwards in many ways.

10. Making mistakes is ok and trying to please everyone is pointless, stupid and tiring.
NO words necessary there.

11. Don’t be cheap on the road.
It’s one thing to be frugal or thrifty on the road, especially if you finally mustered the courage to live that dream. When you travel on a budget and need to make your money last, it’s easy to be cheap. however, always to use the following question to prioritize an expense …

Will I come back here again, in my lifetime?

Be honest with yourself in answering that question in your mind. If you lie to yourself and you could not eat the food in Italy, drink the wine in France, or have sushi in Japan, you’re going to regret it for a long time. Being frugal is good, but it’s also important to splurge and not miss out on doing once-in-a-lifetime things. Who knows, for example, when you will get another chance to sail the Maldives or see a man hanging from hooks in Sri Lanka?! Being cheap only fills you with regret.

Posted in Consulting Lifestyle, Monday Morning Consultant, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Corbeaux doh eat sponge cake … Johnnie Walker Black and Trinis

Posted by Rishiray on May 8, 2012

This morning while in the line to head to the US, I met a Trini and we chatted and followed the typical Trini social script, then he invited me to his house for a drink … no problem, right? He mentioned that he had a 1.75L bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, we could polish off with Coconut Water. So this got me to thinking about Trinis and Scotch!

Trinis have an affectation for scotch, you’ll note I don’t use the word affection. This is because the unofficial drink of the Trini masses is Johnnie Walker Black and coconut water. I do love a freshly chopped Coconut from the cooler, I really cannot stand the taste of coconut in anything else … and if the coconut water isn’t fresh, it immediately starts oxidizing. I don’t put much stock in the “moldiness” of it, however I do put stock in the fact that the older the coconut water, the more rancid it tastes.

In Trinidad, the official drink of Trinidadian men as long as I’ve been able to remember, is Johnnie Walker Black and coconut water. I don’t know how people can stomach this shitty drink … for example in Trinidad, you will actually see people going to a fete to drink Johnnie Walker Blue Label with coconut water. Anyone with a taste for decent scotch will pass on a Black and Coconut water … but this goes back to Trinis and their affectation for scotch.

We make great rum back home … Angostura 1919 or 1824 are very good rums that go well with cola or even coconut water, yet the desire to seem “uppity” or “bourge” (short for bourgeouise) has driven the middle class non-intelligensia to scotch because of that class connotation. There are even songs about Johnnie Walker and coconut water, of course by Rikki Jai.

Even worse, is the drinking of Johnnie Walker Red Label … it is akin to drinking paint thinner, but the review is basically that you always mix Red Label and not sip it. I’m ok with Red Label … because no one ever claimed it to be good. On the other hand, the painting of Black Label to be an example of “good” is heresy to a Single Malt drinker.
Then again … I’m not really the greatest fan of Johnnie Walker Blue Label either. Lord knows that going to one of the “high colour” society fetes for Carnival will bring on the Blue Label.


I’ve endured many a marathon drinking session watching people drink Johnnie Walker Black and Coconut water … in fact, I even offered my younger brother samples of two very good peaty Single Malts : Lagavulin 16 and Oban 14, which are quite decent by anyone’s palate, but they pronounced them undrinkable … in fact, words such as “this tastes like shit!!” were spoken … proving yet again a Trini Proverb …

“You can take an ass to water, but you can’t make him drink!

Here is an awesome Trinidadian rationale about why we love Johnnie Walker Black by a Disgruntled Trini (Note the Trini lingo in here)

Reason being is because Trinis are a set of waggonist

most if not everyone break out with rum and coke
but somebody tell yuh that Johhny is the real thing and convince you that Johnnie is the real scene
you didn’t find out for yourself it was not a natural progression it was just waggonist behavior

In the big scheme of things Johnnie Walker Walker is cheap scotch that is not world ranked and in truth and in fact Johnnie Walker Walker Red is more popular but is hardly seen in Trinidad. Secondly Trinis is the only people that does drink Johnnie Walker and Coconut and Johnnie Walker and _______.

My folks recently went to Scotland and they said they did not even see Johnnie Walker Walker. When they went out to drink Scotch the glass was warmed and you drank it neat.

I guess it is the power of advertising that makes people feel that Johnnie Walker Walker is the epitome of Scotch. What does real piss me off is the Corbeaux and sponge cake attitude of Trinis. The people who does go party and rum shop and drink rum and beers and will never buy Johnnie Walker Walker for themselves weather it be for monetary or some other reason. Those same people as they reach in a wedding or buy a padna house the fuss thing they reaching for is the Johnnie Walker Walker and will drink it till they vomit.

I do love the phrase Corbeaux and Sponge Cake … since it means that it does not matter how well intentioned the act, the individual is incapable of appreciating something for what it is.

Anyway … here’s hoping that your next drink will be a good one …. and here is my Shameless plug for Glenfiddich Explorers for 24 hours in Barcelona or Palau

Posted in Monday Morning Consultant, Tobago, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Good morning and fuck you “IslandPeople” … Girlpower 2012 fete review – February 17th, 2012

Posted by Rishiray on March 5, 2012

I had to think long and hard about how to express and post my utter contempt for IslandPeople and their horrible organization at last night’s event GirlPower. I for one will NEVER ever attend or RECOMMEND an IslandPeople event again – in fact for the next three years, I’ll set a reminder to write a post to remind people that IslandPeople doesn’t give a shit about them and their hard earned money. You can e-mail these jackasses here: info@islandpeoplemas.com – of course, don’t expect a response. Here was the preamble in the Guardian … if you know you can’t deliver, then move the fete.

For instance, at the time of writing this blog, Tribe had their own difficulties with PR and communication … will they change? Absolutely not … since they don’t have to change … after going to GirlPower 2012, I see that a lack of concern or attention to negative feedback is endemic through the “big band” and “big fete” organizations. Why should they give a shit about the consumer when :

One segment of the population will take out “Carnival Loans” to be seen in fetes
Another segment of the population robs from another segment to get the money to fete
Another segment only looks for foreign man/woman to help their escape from the shit that Trinidadian society has become


Anyway back to my rant. When I think of an “All Inclusive” fete … I’m NOT expecting that the event organizers will open the doors to “VIP” people at 11:20pm and  midnight for “General Admission”.

The VIP section was a joke … uttery fuckery. There were almost as many VIP people are there were general admission and of course how they separated the crowd at floor level was yet another disaster. Coming into the VIP area, nothing was setup till after midnight in terms of food and bars. You pay for the VIP section so you have better customer service, faster food and less people in your section. It’s as simple as that. If you make the entire fete VIP, then do it like Moka. At least Moka, while expensive – you get absolutely what you paid for.

At this time, the food stalls weren’t even ready for opening, which created a huge backlog that kept going for the entire night. Again, a bit of perspective needs to be applied here … this isn’t world hunger or genocide in Darfur … just some poor organization, horrible service and completely assuming that Trinidadians are asses and will accept anything. (For all intents, they will … since even a terrible sound system, poor event planning, 30 minute line ups for food, segregating the stage level with a fence, malfunctioning toilet facilities. Note that the picture below was just after 11:20pm and the lines are building up … even with very few stalls for food.

At 11:45pm on the General Admission side … this was the scene … 11:45pm!!! Dark and completely deserted with 1000’s of people waiting like assholes on the outside.

By 12:30am on the VIP side, it was a complete madhouse with much, much more people on the VIP side than the General Admission side, because the General Admission people were still trying to get in.

Of course, the disorganization was endemic. Even when trying to patrol a fire exit and safety concern … here is the following video (Derek from IslandPeople was polite enough to ask if I was recording the scene and of course I couldn’t use my blog’s name, then tried to explain the situation – which was useless …. the perception of the situation was poor and explaining a shitty situation to pissed off people is useless)


As for the routines and stage performances, everyone gave their canned typical performance since I forgot that Soca Monarch was on the same night …  Kes, Destra and FayAnne all gave good performances….here is Kes’ routine again with the Rabbit. (I saw this routine at Tribe Ignite, GirlPower, Triniposse and Moka – I was sick of it by the end … but that’s not Kes’ fault)


At 5am or so … the show finished after Destra … no announcement was made. Machel, of course didn’t show up … typical! OF course, no one offered any apology, fruit fly or anything … it just time to get the fuck out of the fete. We didn’t even try waiting for food, because the lines were a mile long.

So IslandPeople … FUCK YOU and YOUR FETE. NEVER AGAIN! I HOPE OTHERS READ THIS. Trinidad Carnival Diary has the same opinion as I do on your fete skills.

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How much does playing mas in Trinidad cost? Carnival in Trinidad is EXPENSIVE … don’t doubt that!

Posted by Rishiray on March 1, 2012

With the post Carnival cool down over, it’s back to real life and figuring out the bills. The number 2 question, I’ve  gotten from readers is how much should I budget for my Trinidad Carnival plans?

Here is a detailed cost breakdown for Carnival 2012. I’ve included all Carnival and touring related costs. I recognize that this cost breakdown will differ depending on your own experience, but this is a rough average for any foreigner who can organize their own accommodation and transportation. If you’re looking for a packaged experience, expect to pay significantly more for everything.

Carnival 2012 Cost Breakdown

Overall costs are summarized below

As you can tell, playing mas in Trinidad is not a cheap event by any stretch of the imagination, especially if you’re going to fete and drink EVERY night while you’re there. Going to all inclusive fetes can get tiring by the end of a 7 day stretch since you’re going to see the same routines on stage, hear the same music and see about the same people, especially in the all inclusive fetes.


My cost estimate should be fairly close for most foreigners assuming you’re

  • Without a friend’s or families’ place to stay and have to rent a house or find a hotel. (Adjust upwardly if you’re using a full service hotel)
  • Without a family or friend’s car to use
  • You’re coming from some part of the Western region of North America with a month’s advance booking for your flight
  • Partying all week – you can adjust your estimate using the detailed breakdown.

All in all … Carnival in Trinidad is EXPENSIVE … but completely worth it on your bucket list … unless you’re playing in Tribe (then you can really play in Brazil to get the same experience from a costume perspective … shitty, poorly made, Chinese sourced costumes but great organization and facilities)

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10 reasons why I love Tobago but hate going there!!!

Posted by Rishiray on January 4, 2011

This is a general shout out and blogger rant to all the people in Tobago who work in the tourist industry or what purports to be a tourist industry.

I don’t live in Trinidad anymore – some days I’m sad about this, but all it takes to remind me that I’m glad to visit but not stay in Trinidad is a two week refresher in Trinidad itself. However, the frustration I feel at Trinidad, is nothing compared to the contempt I generally feel to those in the Tobagonian tourist industry.

A couple points about why tourism in Tobago cannot and will not ever grow or be significant

  1. Tobago needs the tourism but the tourists do not necessarily need Tobago yet the powers that be that control tourism cannot see that the problem is the people themselves.
  2. Customer feedback is a waste of time. Abject, absolute waste of time. Tourist “people” in Tobago ask for an exit survey when you leave. You can make the most wonderful suggestions – do not bother – it is a colossal “make work” project, so a politician can say that they are trying to improve things.
  3. Tourists need efficiency and facilities. The airport is neither efficient or has facilities. Until some money is spent to upgrade Crown Point – it will just be the same unconcerned staff with their nonchalant attitude about you, your time or your business. I always fly to Tobago from Trinidad, either very early or very late – since I don’t want to have a problem with these people – they couldn’t shit in a swimming pool.
  4. Have you all heard that computers have revolutionized the world – “we can use them to make things go faster”. Customs and immigration use a considerable amount of time going through papers and documents and using stamps but never seem concerned about getting the people through as soon as possible.
  5. Smiles are free, even if your people seem to be broke all the time.  When I have to beg for a coffee or almost slap someone in a grocery to give me a bottle of rum, while she dusts the aforementioned bottle of rum and people are behind cussing, will make tourists homicidal.
  6. I’ve never had to pay a bill or use a bank, but I have heard of waits of two hours at a bank for service. Which tourist in their god damn mind would come back?
  7. Hustlers made people hate Jamaica, and unless you’re a German woman looking for a black Tobagonian penis (Germans are especially unwelcome in Tobago for the way they behave); hustlers are not welcome. I hate people grabbing at me and trying to hustle me for anything.
  8. Why should Sugarlips, Tight Chest, Dimples  (actual names on the beach… seriously) be hustling to rent  chairs and umbrellas on the beaches (at Store Bay for example). Having these hustlers is just terrible and gives tourists the impression that Trinis and Tobagonians are some hungry, starving people who can’t find jobs. These guys can’t hustle me, since I’m hard with them and don’t even talk to them until I am ready …
  9. Everything is so expensive. Food is brutally expensive, when compared to other islands. I have no issue with being charged US prices, but then give me US or Canadian service with the same portion size.

    You all claim it is expensive to import things into Tobago … what about other islands, don’t they have the same issues? Tobago still has a long way to go in order to meet the standards of the other islands and tourists are having to pay too much for what they get in return. When the tourists go to other islands, they realise this and never return to Tobago.

  10. Spend money on “Tourist” police, like other tourist destinations. Police who specially trained to deal with tourist and civilian matters.  Spend money on presence also – as a Trini, I can handle myself in Tobago, but other people have issues with this.  Trinis like value for their money, don’t you think that tourists also like get value for their money.

Fix all of this and maybe then one old British couple won’t be able to wreak havoc on perception of Tobago and then they will want to come and spend money in Tobago.


PR professional for Tobago tourism

Originally printed at http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/PR_professional_for_Tobago_tourism-112841024.html By Abby Brathwaite abby.brathwaite@trinidadexpress.com
January 4, 2010

The advice of a crisis communication expert will be sought for help in dealing with the damage to this country’s tourism industry as a result of a cutlass attack against a British couple in Tobago last year.Minister of Tourism Rupert Griffith made the announcement yesterday after a meeting with tourism stakeholders at the Ministry of Tourism head office.The meeting was in response to record low tourist arrivals in Tobago and also came on the heels of a public campaign by British couple Peter and Murium Green, who were hacked across their faces in August 2009, to warn tourists about the crime situation.The Greens have complained that their promised compensation was not forthcoming.
 “Among some of the decisions we took here today was on the Greens issue is that we see the need for an intensive PR (public relations) campaign for damage control because of the effect it is having on the tourist situation not only in Tobago but Trinidad and Tobago,” Griffith said. “We want to engage a crisis communication PR agency whereby we will seek to get all the facts surrounding the Green issue and we will set up a marketing strategy to do some damage control.”

Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London, who was also at the meeting, said hiring this expert should not be seen as an admission by the THA that they did not handle the situation properly.”From the perspective of what was already done I do not think that the Tobago House of Assembly can be faulted we got to accept the reality and that is according to international standards we would have treated with this situation in an exemplary manner,” London said.

“But the perception out there is something that must be treated with and that is one of the areas that we may need some expert advice. But the fact that we are doing it does not indicate that we are dissatisfied with the way that we treated with the issue.” He added that additional compensation for the couple was not discussed at the meeting and said that they (Greens) could still access compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act. Cabinet is yet to appoint a board to administer compensation to victims of crime.
Tourism stakeholders will meet again tomorrow in Tobago where it is expected a decision regarding the hiring of the public relations expert will be made. London also noted that a major cruise ship company, Royal Caribbean, will not visit this country for the 2011-2012 season, until an outstanding sum of $6 million which was stolen in Grenada, but ended up in Trinidad, was returned.

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So you think can swim … Tobago Style … Castara Bay, Englishman’s Bay, Parlatuvier Bay, Bloody Bay

Posted by Rishiray on December 29, 2010

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When you’re from Trinidad, you think that the world has things that are better, prettier and more well known. I can safely say that driving along the Leeward Coast of Tobago has to rank amongst the prettiest drives with some of the beach vantage points in the world. Many Trinis/Tobagonians take these things for granted, as most do not have a basis of comparison to other more celebrated places.

The stretch of four large beaches after Moriah that are easily accessible by road … there are a couple other more remote beaches, but for a long day trip (8am – 6pm) from Crown Point, if you take a swim at these 4 beaches

  1. Castara Bay : The home village of T&T’s 3rd Prime Minister is in a small friendly village with a decent beach facility and villagers who actually welcome a tourist or two, unlike places in Trinidad. The village itself is known for the fish and there is a fishing facility in the middle of the beach. While you’ll always see some fishing activity, please ask before you run over and volunteer your muscles in the search of a great story to tell your friends at home. There is another smaller beach, known as Heavenly Bay, just around the headland on the northern end of the main beach, but I personally have never made it over there.

  2. Parlatuvier : This beach is surrounded by the village itself. There is a school that is practically on the beach – how cool would it be to go swimming instead of playing cricket or football at recess and lunch time as a young boy. The bay is quite the photographed princess with her rugged rocks closing in from the sea. The water does get deep rather quickly though but this is good since there is excellent jumping and diving from the long pier.

  3. Englishman’s  Bay :  This is probably my favorite beach in Tobago. It’s definitely not touristy like Store Bay or Pigeon Point, since you have to drive down a dirt track to get there (if it rains, the track can be muddy) – there is good snorkeling and generally calm seas – depending on the day of course.  Although it’s gotten a bit more developed in recent years, it still feels like the complete deserted beach you could imagine if you were shipwrecked on a Caribbean island.

    It’s a lovely green-blue sea surrounded by a wall of shady almond and coconut trees. When it rains, the Rockly River that runs at the back seems filled with energy and sandflies *lol*. The beach slopes steeply down to the sea which has short but often large breakers, which is challenging for the new sea bather but if you’re a good swimmer and adventurous, this is definitely Da’Beach.

    By the way, Eula’s is the only restaurant around these parts, but remember you’re only 45 mins away from fresh food in Pigeon Point or Store Bay. Is convenience worth the risk of no running water around your food? Just my thoughts!

  4. Bloody Bay : This beach for all its natural beauty is set a little way from the main village, unlike most other beaches, hence it seems always deserted, except for yachties and fishermen. The beach facility here is almost brand new with a “tourist” office … that never seems to be open.

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Heading to Speyside & Little Tobago

Posted by Rishiray on December 28, 2010

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The drive from Crown Point to Little Tobago or Bird of Paradise Island, involves going down the Windward Road through Roxborough into the sleepy village town of Speyside. Once you’re there, there are two ways you can get to the Little Tobago island reserve.

  • Hire a fishing charter that will cost about $350 ($58USD) each. They will offer a nice guided tour around the island and information you can download from the internet
  • Hire a local fisherman to take you in one of the little pirogues for an adventure filled, bumpy ride across the channel to the private beach and nature reserve. You can negotiate a price with the fishermen for the tour also, in the little pirogue between 150 and 200 TT ($25 and $32 USD) for two people. On a slow day, you can surely bargain harder but do you want to piss off the fisherman who is going to ferry you over rocky waters?

Guess which one, I preferred?

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Store Bay, Tobago … nothing much needs to be said …

Posted by Rishiray on December 26, 2010

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Getting from Trinidad to Tobago is an easy plan; no hassle, short flight, no crazy drivers that one has to worry about in Trinidad. If you’re in Tobago, after taking the 14 minute flight from Trinidad, your next steps should go something like this …

  1. Call pre-arranged taxi rental company to pick you up from airport and head straight to the rental company. Fill out paper work and take car out.
  2. Depending on what time you get in, there are two logical options
    1. If you come in anytime BEFORE sunset, go directly to the beach – Store Bay or Pigeon Point. They’re close (2 min drive in either direction) and proceed to eat and get your water or tan on.
    2. If you come in anytime AFTER sunset, go directly to the hotel, check in and go for dinner and check back to hotel for drinks. If you’re new, you won’t know any places to go for drinks. (MyTobago.info maintains an excellent listing of places to eat in Tobago – updated every three months and has pertinent info.)

In High Season (Christmas time [Dec 15- Jan 3rd] or the two weeks after Carnival) Always prearrange your accomodations and rentals from Trinidad … if you don’t, you will probably not have availability or you will be charged a king’s ransom – either way, not a great start to a trip.

We couldn’t find a taxi, so I went up to a guard, asked him where to find a taxi, he directed me to another guard booth. She said there was none, but then asked a friend who with her liming to give us a lift to our homestay. Of course, he couldn’t do it immediately as he was looking in the parking lot for his keys to his house (seriously!) … so now it is the three of us (female guard, her friend, and me) looking through an empty parking lot for a bunch of keys. After we found the keys, the friend gave us a lift to the hotel … no cash, compliments of the car keys 😀

After getting to the hotel, it was late – hence dinner and drinks – however trying to find an open bar on Christmas night is next to impossible – but we were quite lucky to find a local bar that was serving.

In the morning, we collected our car and went off to Store Bay for a couple hours in the water. The other thing about Store Bay is that it is the collection point for tours to the Buccoo Reef, Nylon Pool and Coral Gardens. Driving into Store Bay, many guys will wave at you trying to sell you tours at different prices – there are only 4-6 boats that do the tours on any given day – twice daily (leaving between 11 and 11.30am or 2 and 2.30pm).

The tours consist of the following sequence of events:

  • Journey to the Buccoo Reef
  • Snorkel in the Coral Gardens
  • Swim in Nylon Pool – use the coral sand to exfoliate your skin
  • Stop off at No Mans’ Land for some BBQ and Rum Punch (optional and usually on a weekend, depends on weather, and depends on nice you are to the tour guides)

If you want to get a decent price – talk to a couple guys. They’ll give a piece of paper with their names and phone numbers and ask them their price (a good price is something between $50 and $70 TT ($8 – $11 USD)). All the boats are fairly do the same route, all have glass bottom sections and they all leave around the same time.

Once you’re set, then you’re off for breakfast at the Store Bay food sheds and then hit the beach and go on your tour. BTW – if you’re in Tobago, you have to do the tour – it’s completely worth it, just to bathe in the Nylon Pool.

Store Bay

Nylon Pool

No Mans’ Land

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Tadjah night hunting in St. James

Posted by Rishiray on December 18, 2010

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This is the reaction I got tonight from the folks at home (note Trini English)…

  • <Dad> Where are you out to tonight?
  • <Me> Hosay
  • <Dad> Huh? Yuh mean in St. James? But it not safe down there … it have so much crime there
  • <Me> I’ll be fine …
  • <Dad> Who yuh meeting?
  • <Me> People ….

Anyway for years I’ve heard about Hosay in St. James, but it was one of those things you learnt about in your Social Studies class, but no one I knew ever went to Hosay, especially as it was in “North”.

In a nutshell, Hosay is observed with a parade full of colorful tadjahs in commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussain (Hussein), the grandson of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the year 680 AD. There are 5 families in St. James that each make their own tadjah in their own idiosyncratic style.

Hosay parades take place in two Shiite communities in Trinidad: St. James, in the western section of Port-of-Spain, and Cedros, in the South. The colorful procession in St. James is the largest (five tadjahs) and draws thousands of spectators of all religions every year. The Shiites of St. James spend a considerable amount of time and money in the building of miniature temples (tadjahs, taziyas, hosays, mausoleums) with bamboo, wood, paper, and tinsel to depict the tomb of Hussain.

These tadjahs range in height from 10 to 30 feet and are hauled through the streets on parade days accompanied by the beating of drums (tassas) and two standards in the shape of half-moons, each carried separately on the shoulder of one man at a time. The half-moons (one red and one green) symbolize the deaths of both Hussain and his brother Hassan; red for the blood of Hussain that was shed at Karbala and green for the poisoning of Hassan, 11 years earlier. The drums and flags are symbolic of those used in wars in the 7th century. (I’ve lifted the history and account can read from Best of Trinidad)

So back to the hunt, so armed with knowledge for our local expert Anisa, we went walking through St. James for all the other Tadjahs. Some tadjahs were already locked up behind bars, but with Anisa’s help, we were able to stroll around and walk into people’s yards to take pictures.

Anisa also explained the family history and the order of the tadjahs in the parades. It’s based on longevity as follows:

  1. Panchayatee (Bay Road) Hosay – belonging to the entire Shiite community and located on Mathura Street (previously on Bay Road)
  2. Ghulam Hussein Hosay – named after one of the local icons of Hosay and located on Western Main Road
  3. Cocorite Hosay – belonging to the community of Cocorite at the western end of St. James
  4. Balma Hosay – belonging to the Emamali family and located on Clarence Street;
  5. Bisnath Hosay – belonging to the Bisnath family and located on Bournes Road.

Definitely enlightening to find out the process, the number of volunteers and the overall cost to upkeep this tradition. Each family raises money to build their particular Hosay – which is no mean feat in itself.

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100 things to do in Trinidad & Tobago … your condensed list!

Posted by Rishiray on December 17, 2010

So you’ve just just touched down in Trinidad, but wondering what things to do in Trinidad & Tobago? Should I hang out in Trinidad, spend two days, then bask on the beaches of Tobago? Every post on Lonely Planet, Couchsurfing seems to ask this, when it comes to Trinidad. Aside from the ridiculously obvious ones … there is actually tons of things to do in Trinidad … but it would take the full year to do this list in Trinidad, since many festivals coincide with religious holidays.
This is my personal list of 100 things to do in Trinidad … building over time. (This list is in no specific order of importance)

1. Have a piece of Trini KFC at the world’s busiest KFC restaurant in Independence Square, Port of Spain. (Beijing doesn’t compare …)
2. Go to South Trinidad to a little town called Debe (pronounced Day-bay) … and have one each of the following – “doubles”, “aloo pie”, “saheena”, “baiganie”, all with slight pepper and wash it down with a freshly cut cold coconut.
3. Get video at night from Lady Young Lookout
4. Tour the Carib Brewery in Champ Fleurs
5. Go drinking in a traditional Trinidadian rumshop …
6. Have a cold coconut outside the Queens Park Savannah at 1am
7. Order Char Sue Kai Fan in a Chinese restaurant with tons of pepper.
8. Go to a traditional Parang Lime
9. ………………………………………….in Paramin
10. Attend a traditional Hindu wedding and eat your food off a washed Suhari leaf (it looks like a Banana leaf but it’s a bit more pliable)
11. Driving through the Coconut trees on the Mayaro – Manzanilla stretch
12. Go see the view from Fort King George
13. Then drive and see the view from Mount St. Benedict
14. Go birdwatching at the Wild Fowl Trust in Point-a-Pierre
15. Then do some birdwatching at the Caroni Swamp & Bird Sanctuary
16.Turtle Watching in Grande Rivière (Mar-Aug)
17. More birdwatching at the Asa Wright Nature Centre
18. Take a trip “Down the islands”
19. Go bat watching at the Gasparee Caves
20. Have a “Bake and Shark” at Maracas Beach
21. Play All Fours in a rumshop lime – note… Trinis do not play Dominoes
22. Go surfing at Toco
23. Make a footprint in the Pitch Lake
24. See the Sunset from the Temple in the Sea
25. Hike to the two highest points in Trinidad : El Tuchuche and El Cerro del Aripo
26. Have a lunch picnic in Galera Point, Toco
27. Attend the Panorama Steel Pan finals (Carnival Season only)
28. Play Mud Mas
29. Tour the Angostura Distillery and learn about Angostura Bitters
30. Watch the West Indies cricket team play at the Queens Park Oval
31. Have dinner with the Yachties
32. See the sunset from Naparima College
33. Have a Christmas dinner with Ponche a Crème, Pastelles, Black Cake and Sorrel
34. Walk the entire length of the Brian Lara Promenade
35. Have breakfast at the Breakfast Shed
36. Take a picture at the Maracas Lookout and have some preserved Mango.
37. Cross the stage for Carnival
38. Play mas in Carnival Band
39. Go to a cooler fete
40. Go to an all inclusive fete , then another, and another
41. See Machel Montano perform
42. See David Rudder perform at the Normandie Hotel
43. Learn to wine!
44. Go see the Nylon Pool
45. Hike to the Paria Waterfalls
46. See the mud volcanoes in the Devil’s Woodyard in Hindustan
47. Learn to make deyas in Edinburgh Village, Chaguanas.
48. Go to a Chutney fete in Rienzi Complex, Couva
49. Attend a political rally – PNM, UNC, NAR,COP – doesn’t matter – same bullshit anyway – but entertaining nonsense.
50. Go to a Calypso tent.
51. Have drinks at Smokeys & Buntys
52. Go to Argyle Falls in Tobago
53. Hosay in St James. There are 5 Hosay yards connected to the St. James observance, the Cocorite Hosay Yard, Bis (Bisnath) Yard, Balma Yard, Panchaiti Yard and the Ghulam Hussein-Ali Hosay Yard.
54. Phagwa in Saith Park, Chaguanas or Felicity.
55. Divali Nagar (City of Lights)
56. Midnight Doubles at the Doubles Factory in Aranguez
57. Visit the Dattatreya Mandir in Carapichaima.
58. Visit the Treveni Mandir in Hardbargain
59. Take picture in front Hardbargain village sign
60 Touch all four corners of Trinidad

  1. Toco (North East)
  2. Icacos Village (South West)
  3. Amoco Jetty – Guayaguayare (South-East)
  4. Tetron Base – Chaguaramas (North West)

61. Visit all the islands, “Down de Islands”
62. Go reef swimming off Little Tobago
63. Go “shopping” in the malls : Gulf City, West Mall, Valpark, Long Circular – note not made for North American, European or Arabic standards.
64. Go see the view at day and night from San Fernando Hill
65. Go to a Curry Duck lime and play some Windball Cricket
66. Head down to Manzanilla Bay for Ash Wednesday
67. Have dasheen parata roti at the Tobago Blue Food festival in Bloody Bay
68. Walk the pier at Pigeon Point
69. Fete at Store Bay
70. Drive the Windward Coast of Tobago and go beach hopping.
71. Take a picture by the Arima Dial. (Thanks to Kalima Clarke)
72. Visit the Cleavor Woods museum. (Thanks to Kalima Clarke)

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