Trinidad and Tobago

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They were here again – the Paparazzi!  We strolled confidently towards the melee, the crowds parted, camera shutters clicking.  They began “I want one of you together”, “She wants her picture with you”.  We obliged, we were ready!

It was our 14th time playing Mas at Trinidad & Tobago Carnival.  We recognised the looks of wonder and amazement on the faces of the crowd, reflecting our own feelings that first time on the street. The colour and movement as each Band advanced, the beat from the music truck vibrating in our bodies, seeping into our souls.  Now we were back, feeding our addiction.

This year, more than ever, we were experiencing the seamless melding of people from all ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds at Carnival time, even political differences cast aside in favour of satisfying the human need to play!  Just being present in the throng of masquerades filled us with hope for the demise of prejudice and bigotry, not only in Trinidad and Tobago, but worldwide.

It was 0800 on Carnival Monday – we would be “on the road” for at least another 8 hours.  The band was due to leave the Mas Camp at 0700 but people were still gathering, some carrying their costumes, other adjusting them fervently.  No problem, this was “Trini time”.

The streets of Port of Spain made up our “track” along which we would dance or “chip” or walk, accompanied by the music trucks, the drinks trucks and thousands of spectators.  This was people-watching heaven – girls in beaded bikinis and feathered head-dresses, men showing off their six pack bodies, Jabs Jabs watching Dame Lorraines watching Midnight Robbers.  People of every shape, size, colour and age – all with one objective – to have a time!

The years had taught us that we didn’t have to do the whole thing – we could stop along the route for a cool beer, a roti, a shark and bake.  We had learnt it was best to line our stomachs before we sank more rum, but the sweet liquor helped our legs move faster!

The DJs on the music trucks shouted encouragement to the band as we snaked along the Savannah towards our ultimate goal – the Stage.  My husband and I wined on each other, on strangers, costumes and banners glinting in the Caribbean sun, sipping our rum a  little faster – the judges were waiting. Then we were part of a wining frenzy, people gyrating in ways we didn’t even have the genes for – this was Carnival, what a Bacchanal!

We topped the rise that became the Stage, a chain of smiling security men holding us back, yet curiously, spurring us on.  Then the chains broke and we were free – to dance, to jump and wave, to be who we really were, a year’s tensions to release.

We did our best to impress the judges – spinning like dervishes, smiling like movie stars, moving with our best rhythm. As every individual put their soul into the performance, the whole band moved together triumphantly, encouraging each other, smiling in confident anticipation of our success as “Band of the Year”. We were part of something bigger than ourselves and it made us feel stronger!  As we neared the far end of the stage, we doubled back a little, circled a little wider, not wanting to stop the feeling.

Soon it was over and the trance was broken.  We came back to our senses, aware of the blazing sun and heat again, conscious of the onlookers, and of the kiskadees, in the treetops, cheering for themselves.

It was time for drink and street food and later it was time to look in wonder at the photographs that testify our transformation into “Party People”.

Next day, in Port of Spain, everything is as normal – people about their business, returning to work, observing Lent, as if the party had never happened.

 

Carefully, we pack away our costumes, to bring back home, to keep the feeling, the reminder of the release, of how we can sometimes be.  We are back to “normal” too, until next year…

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Tobago. It’s the sister island to my homeland Trinidad and just like sisters often are, they could not be more different. Tobago is like a dream that you don’t want to wake up from, it’s an entirely different world and that’s what makes it hard to believe that this magical island is accessible via a short fifteen minute plane ride from Trinidad. What makes Tobago so special? It’s everything from the way the sun kisses your skin with wild abandon to the crazy bright colours are the island itself. From the moment you step off that plane you may feel as though you have become part of an exotic oil painting, or that you have entered a different realm intended by God to serve as heaven’s lobby. I suppose it’s different for each person, but for me, I feel the most beautiful, sweet bliss that eludes me in everyday life, I feel true freedom.

There is a small bed and breakfast that is located on a high hill. Here you can see the most beautiful view of Tobago, and on a clear day you can see a bit of Trinidad’s north coast. This is where I always stay. Time simply does not exist, and sometimes I can spend hours looking at the picturesque views from my balcony. The view at night however is a different scenario completely, it is a juxtaposition within itself. On one hand it seems to be a more serene version of what you would see during the day, but on the other hand if you look away from the twinkling lights of the tiny city Scarborough and towards the ocean your ears will help complete the story that your eyes had begun. The gentle sound of the waves washing over the shore sounds almost sad, like a song that has been sung over and over but has been waiting exclusively for you to listen. It seems to know that it will never be heard again, because every night it is a different song that plays until the break of dawn.

These very waves break upon the shores during the day to give a very different experience. Lying on Pigeon Point, when it is deserted, is an experience you will never forget. This time the sounds that the crystal blue waters make as they pound upon the white sands are joyous, they are boasting that they are strong enough to speak but gentle enough that if you dive in and close your eyes, you will forget that the water even exists. Sometimes it pleases me not to even go in but to simply lie on the soft white powdery sand with my favourite book where I am content to stay until I fall asleep. By the time my eyes open, the sun is setting and the scenery somehow surpasses all that has already overwhelmed me. The sun is the deep pink blush of a young bride and the clouds are the veil that form a perfect white frame to its’ beauty. This time the only thing being conveyed by nature is a sense of tranquillity, the kind that can only be understood when experienced first hand. The best part about this experience is that the only thing you ever have to do is wake up the next morning and experience it all over again.

A few days on this island, living that life is al I need to liberate me of the shackles that tie me down in everyday life. There are no time deadlines, no rules, no restraints, you have nowhere to be and nowhere to go in particular which ironically opens you up to the possibility of going everywhere and experiencing everything if you want to. My point is that I achieve true independence here because it is the only time in my life where I truly get to do what I want to do and not under any circumstances but the ones that I have intentionally created. Nothing exists here besides the genuinely dreamlike surroundings, myself and my Creator. The island has intoxicated me and allowed me to become a part of its’ landscape, where my mental faculties will remain for a long time after my body has returned home.

About the Author: I was born and raised in the West of Trinidad with my grandparents. I had never even visited the sister isle to my country until the age of thirteen and have fallen in love with it ever since. I now try to visit the island at least once a year.

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matura riverINSPIRATIONAL WATERS

As I plunged myself into the water I felt all stress, all uncertainties an all negative aspects of my life just disappeared as my toes grazed the surface of the icy mountain water. Being in nature away from my hectic life, such as school or work is one of the greatest recreations that nourish the mind, body and soul. I`m no doctor but I’m sure being in an environment as peaceful and breathtaking as this can certainly heal a person’s body. This piece entails the magnificence of Matura River and its impact on my life. This river can be found in the beautiful Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago.

As I entered the forested pathway to where this hidden gem was located my eyes were marveled by all the lush, green, healthy trees, shrubs, bushes, unique flora and bamboo patches. It’s like my brain kept taking pictures that caused me to day dream on how amazing the view was. At this point blinking decreases no one would want to miss a split second of admiring this natural beauty. The river was as beautiful as a happy bride on her wedding day where the ambiance was filled with grace, elegance and love as it leisurely trickled through every pebble making the water glisten its way down stream, shimmered with poise and immense confidence. The water, depending on its depth and the particles on the ground surface entails a variety of colors; if there was sand the water is aqua blue like the ocean, if it water was green you can tell that’s is really deep with limestone rocks beneath. The shallow parts of the water were crystal clear it’s so clean that the tiniest baby fishes were seen.

The crystal flawless water had its minor hindrances of being a bit cold as your feet touches the water for the first time it felt like tiny needles piercing a tattoo onto your skin. As for the rock in the river, they tend to be quite sharp and unfriendly which caused some discomfort on your feet as if you stepped on upright nails. Okay I’m being overly dramatic it`s not so treacherous once your body adapted to the water and proper foot wear was worn the experience was worthwhile. I just let my body float lifelessly in the peaceful arena swimming, diving and having enjoyable conversations with my family was enjoyable. While floating I love taking deep breaths. I find myself closing my eyes and absorbing all the toxic free oxygen my lung can hold at a time. The aroma was as refreshing as gentle summer rain where pure fresh mountain water was immersed into my system detoxifying my body. As I exhaled I felt all my toxins and negative set back vanishing slowly as I continue the breath.  The closer I am to the river bank the pleasant aroma of the unique flowers indulged my senses. Healthy breathing fosters thinking and thinking positively is true inspiration.

Inspiration from within that allows a young individual like me to have ambition and the desire that nothing is impossible. I can achieve anything I want in life, dreams can come through. Seeing this river that’s so precious makes me think of all the other natural beauty out there in this world .It inspired me to not limit myself to only the Caribbean Islands but to discover, explore and expand my horizon to the entire world that`s is out there. I just have to be as brave and as strong as the river to overcome all obstacles in my pathway with patience and grace as the river does to get where I’m supposed to be. The World contains many hidden gems I just need to seek it out the river inspired me to live my life in a similar way. May my mind be crystal clear, may I carry around my body with poise and confidence may I overcome all obstacles with patience and grace, and if one pathways is blocked for me I shall have the strength in me to create other paths to achieve my fullest potential in life
Time spent with family is a true blessing enjoying this specular body of water with my family will never ever be regretted.

About the Author:  Im just a simple girl living in the Caribbean exploring its natural features and having fun doing it with my family and friends .. Sharmin Mohammed

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islandCome with me and join in our venture into ‘An island in an island’. My boyfriend and I decided to go on a road trip to discover the island of Trinidad located in the Caribbean Sea. The sun was warm and friendly as the people inhabiting the island. The air was cool and refreshing as her friends cool breezes and clean air accompanied her. We had our windows winded down to feel the breezes massage our faces with the pleasant scents from the green grass which raced in our nostrils.
Driving side by side, engulfed with such simple serenities in life, we were on our way to our own paradise beach in Manzanilla. Manzanilla beach is located along the eastern coast of the island and as we entered through the arches of coconut trees, we said goodbye to city life and hello to paradise.
The beach was like an island in our tropical island called Trinidad. Trinidad’s sister is called Tobago and therefore known as the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. We pulled to the side and as we opened the door, we were greeted instantaneously with the sensational sea breezes and a sight suited for the queen. The sun greeted us with the extension of her arms with warmth and hugs, an inviting feeling contagious for all there. The blue green waters were below us and in the near distance, we could see the island on the beach. It was surrounded by water yet its own. It had sands which were originally white and got a golden tan. The sands were tanned with lush green grasses covering the center of its surface, adorned with tall tropical coconut trees. The trees were nature at its best, streamed with perfection and outlined with greens from above. We stood there in awe. Time stopped for us to bathe in Manzanilla’s glory. We took one picture which etched its way in us forever and today we share this invaluable gift with you.
Mark and I have been dating for a year and embrace life with all her mysterious beauty. We couldn’t allow time to move forward without dissolving us, so Mark did what any man in his position would do, he looked into my eyes, held my hand and together, we jumped into the clear waters. Hand in hand we swam to the island and upon arrival, Mark went down on one knee. It was a fairy tale for we were on our own island, in a tropical paradise. We were engaged. It was a momentous occasion. Nature took us by her loving hands and joined us as one.
We made an unforgettable memory in Manzanilla and a tale to tell. You could join us  with unforgettable experiences and making memories.
Myths of treasure islands fly through the air everyday, but we were blessed to breathe one. It was as though this beach proved that myths are real and that fairytales may actually come true. Relationships transform right before your very eyes and you appreciate the power of nature and her charms. She is quite charming. So come to Trinidad, jump in your car and see an island in an island.
About the Author: Therese sees life as a Blessing from God and embraces it with all her being. She believes that everything happens for a reason and that with God anything and everything are possible.

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