I found out Friday night at around 9:30pm that there was an air traffic controller strike set to begin at midnight last night, when my flight was scheduled for 4am. Needless to say, I was fairly nonplussed about the situation and had to scramble to check out of my hotel and get to the airport to try to get on the last flight of the night at 11:30pm. I paid the cabbie extra to use whatever means necessary to get me there as fast as possible. The airport was supposed to be an hour an fifteen minutes away; we made it in 50 minutes and I was the last person to get on the flight. That flight would be the last flight leaving the airport until the strike was settled which apparently could be weeks. That’ll ruin a lot of peoples holiday and new years plans. Again, I was pretty psyched to be out of Suriname and in T & T a night early.
I was staying at the Hilton in Port of Spain and the hotel staff couldn’t have been nicer to me. They accomodated me when I arrived at 2am without charging me for a second night and they even gave me a free beer while I waited. The hotel was beautiful and everything was wonderful.
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying northeast of the South American nation of Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. It also shares maritime boundaries with Barbados to the northeast and Guyana to the southeast. The country covers an area of nearly 2000 square miles and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and 21 smaller islands. Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the main islands; Tobago is much smaller, comprising about 6% of the total area and 4% of the population.
I really enjoyed my time in Port of Spain, Trinidads bustling and modern capital, and my tour of the island (not to mention some much needed time in the sun). Port of Spain has everything you would see in San Juan, the only other major Caribbean city that I can compare POS to. The difference is the POS has a lot less traffic and air pollution and I feel like it had more of a distinct identity and thats saying something because of how much pride Puerto Ricans take in their island and themselves.
The highlights of Trinidad for me were just walking around the town and interracting with the local Trini’s. My favorite moment was when I was in the main Savannah (like Central Park) in the center of POS watching a youth Cricket team practice and snapping some photos. One of the older men in the stands called me over and I quizzically went over to him and with his proper T & T accent offered me a Stag beer and asked what I knew about Cricket.
I happily accepted the beer on the comfortably hot afternoon and mentioned that I had watched the last two Cricket Word Cups and knew that the West Indies had actually just hosted the 2007 World Cup a few months earlier. He giggled and mentioned that was more than most Americans and I smiled back. Then he introduced me to someone he said was the greatest Cricketer in the history of Trinidad and Tobago. His name was Brian Lara and I shook his hand and said nice to meet you, having never heard of him before. They were very nice and I stayed for a bit before continuing my walk around the Savannah.
The ironic thing was that I went to a sports bar that night in POS to watch the NFL Patriots beat the Giants to complete their perfect season and all the sports memorabilia on the wall was about Cricket and I would say that 90% was dedicated to that guy Lara that I had met. I thought that was pretty cool and after Wikipediaing him, I saw that he certainly was real deal and I had met their greatest national hero and he had given me a beer. Also, his nickname is “The Prince” and I thought that was even more ironic since this is ThePrinceofTravel.com!!!!
The culture of Trinidad and Tobago was very distinct for the Caribbean, much like Jamaica in a different way. It is much more cosmopolitan and more urban. I only wish that I had more time on Trinidad and Tobago to explore a little bit more and to see the mountains and the other side of the main island. However, I am sure I will return there and besides POS is home to one of the worlds largest Carnival parties outside of Brazil in February.
I am now back in New York City for tonights New Years Eve festivities. I wanted to wish everyone a healthy and happy new year and thank you for your support in 2007 as I launched this site and try my best to update it often and keep it interesting and fun to read with a little bit of everything-not just travel. As always, I will listen to any suggestions and look forward to more of your emails and comments. Thanks again and enjoy your New year Eve and continued great travels in 2008!