Yes, I'm Limin tonight, you?
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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I land in a very warm Port of Spain airport, grab a taxi with a friendly driver called Martin and it takes an hour to drop me off at the guesthouse, pretty busy traffic at that point. Now, they speak very fast in Port of Spain, but when listening to the radio in the taxi, the radio DJs spoke like the Caribbean guy off Eastenders, slow and repetitive. There was some political drama going on and they had a phone in about whether you were happy with this situation or not, but all they wanted was a yes or no, but not an opinion, I kind of think it would have been a waste of your time, ringing the radio station, hanging on waiting for your turn then when live on air saying īnoī.
Pearls guesthouse was recommended in the lonely planet and when I arrive the owner is expecting me. Very friendly guy, not too talkative, but he shows me my room, tells me where to go for certain mini buses and gives me the wifi code. Very helpful indeed. The rooms are fairly large and there are shared bathrooms. Due to my very early start, I go straight to bed for a few hours kip. Around midday I wake and today would be about getting the boat ticket for Caracas and maybe squeezing in Maracas Bay and a trip to Tobago tomorrow.
So, a friend recently questioned why I haven't mentioned anything about being sick. Normally and quite often I am sick when travelling (or when drinking, ahem!!) but (touch wood) so far I have not. Now, I was almost reaching when I met the owners sister. I popped downstairs to settle my bill before I left for the day. She got up off the sofa and was barely wearing a nightie and was trying to cover herself in a small blanket/towel. Now, I'm trying to think of a comparison you may know......... it was maybe a Roseanne shaped person (you remember the show Roseanne right?) and one of her boobs was almost out......oh boy.......I was happy to run out and pay later, but she kept talking and talking, although I had no idea what she was saying. So, yes, still yet to be sick, but that was close!
Before I grab a mini bus to get to the ticket office for the boat, I grab some lunch from a local place in Port of Spain, chicken with some rice and beans. Very very tasty. Probably the kind of food that once might have made me sick, but I'm guessing my stomach is getting stronger these days?
I walk to the sea edge to find the mini buses. They are perfectly air conditioned and only leave when full. Once we go, I have no idea what I am looking for in order to tell the driver to stop, so I mumble to him when I pay, pier 1 please sir! The route takes 30 minutes, people are constantly being dropped off, picked up, it's such a simple and convenient form of transport.
I see my stop and I get off. I tell the guard on duty I'm here to buy a ticket, he allows me through but not before he asks me if I need some beer for my trip. I'm good thanks, I answer back with a smile. I proceed to the ticket desk and straight away when I ask for a single ticket she wants to see proof that I'm leaving Venezuela. What is it with these regulations? They should understand that I'm backpacking, will spend about 7 days in Venezuela before I leave for Colombia. However, if I buy a same day return (another $100 more) she won't need to see proof of leaving Venezuela. So she's happy to deceive the immigration officials but not happy to proceed with the honest truth. In my stubborness, I refuse to buy the same day return and walk away cursing under my breath. I sit on a bench, I consider for a few more minutes the ease of just getting the same day return and getting on with my day, but then money is tight and I can't afford to throw it away. There will be another solution.
I cross the street and hail a mini bus back to Port of Spain. I walk to an Internet cafe to try book a bus ticket from Caracas to Cartagena in Colombia. This doesn't work out. I give in and know the solution will come to me later in the day. So, I didn't make it to Maracas Beach. I stayed in the city of Port of Spain, took some pictures and then tried to find another Internet cafe that the tourist information told me about. I walked around for thirty minutes trying to find it but it was not in the area they described. Then I was approached. Some friendly guy called Markas, he made some brief chit chat, said I walk too fast in Trinidad and he showed me where the Internet cafe was and then left. I thought that was pretty nice of him, I was hesitant at first but he didn't ask for money so I guess he might be genuine? Until I leave the Internet cafe an hour later when he finds me walking through Independent plaza and just wouldn't leave. He followed me all the way to my guesthouse. He said he was in the protection market, has clients who he entertains, has invested in street music sellers, I just wanted to get to my guesthouse where there are locks on doors. The only way to get rid of him was to agree to meet later. I asked him to meet me in two hours.
So, I get to my room. I have two situations on the burn. I still need to sort out this ticket to Venezuela or I'm not going and then I have Markas. For the first problem, I found a solution in buying my onward ticket from Bogota and to help things further, my ticket from Central America to the USA. This won't prove that I'm leaving Venezuela, but it shows I'm leaving South and Central America. So fingers crossed that will work. I head out to grab some food and I ponder on the Markas situation, on the one hand, he could show me a good time and I could get to see the Trinidad nightlife, on the other hand, I was definitely going to lose a large amount of money and end up in a dangerous situation, so I did the sensible thing and I told on him! That's right, I went back to the guesthouse with my take out veg and meat and talked to the guesthouse owners and straight away they said, no way man, you're not going out with him, he's a hustler, leave it with us, we'll sort him out, and I walk upstairs with a big smile and enjoy my dinner. The lady who almost made me vomit seemed very angry and I would have loved to have seen what happened when he did show up. You know, I could have told him I didn't want to go out, but I just didn't want to confront him not knowing what kind of reaction he might take.
A pretty boring day ends, but the sun was shining, I'm in a super laid back country and tomorrow I will get my ticket and then head to the beach.
Miles walked 3.32
Day 71 March 15th - I wake early and head out for what needs to be a relaxing day. The plan is to show the lady on my itouch my booking confirmations for my flights and add a big smile, maybe then she'll issue the one way ticket!
So, head back down to the waterfront, catch a mini bus that takes 30 minutes again to reach the Pier 1 dock. I see the same guard again and again he asks if I need beers, lol! Luckily when I reach the ticket booth, there is someone more senior working with the girl. So, I explain I have booked a flight from Bogota to Panama (not in my itinerary, but it was cheaper if you add on the cost of a bus to San Jose) and I gave them the booking code. The senior person went online to check it was authentic and then I was issued the single ticket. The girl became very friendly when all was OK and advised me on where to eat at Maracas Bay and that I should go to Tobago. Well I was planning to if she had issued the ticket yesterday. Success! I'm off to Venezuela! On the way out of Pier 1 I look to my right and see a little beach and stand there for a few minutes admiring the view before i hail another mini bus.
Back in Port of Spain, I walk along the waterfront to an area called the Breakfast Shed. That's right, it serves breakfast and lunch and seeing as it was around 11am I had myself some macaroni pie. It was fine, not great but cheap.
It was smaller than I expected, but for me, that was perfect. I spotted Richards Bake and Shark on the way to where we stopped, this is the place the girl at the ticket office recommended, and there was a very long line. There were around another ten bake and shark cafes/huts, but none had the line of Richards. Something to look forward to. I started on the eastern side of the beach and walked west. The sun was out, people were chilling out and at last, I could finally relax.
Finding myself a tree, I lean on my rucksack and let time drift by. I am the World Champion at killing time, but this was different, the only thing I'm thinking about is how long before I go get some bake and shark, seeing as I just had an early lunch, I better wait a little longer.
I rest in my spot for around a couple of hours, listening to some music in one ear and the ocean in the other. I went for a paddle, but did not want to go for a full swim. Before long, I could not hold out and walked over to Richards and joined the line. The food was then best! A warm doughy roll was cut open, 2/3 pieces of shark were placed into the roll and dropped on a tray for you. You then turned around to walk around a table that had 8 different sauces, salad and dressing, I added a little bit of each, except for pineapple. The green spicy sauce was the best, similar to what Di and Josh get at the Dominican place in Washington Heights. Gotta love that green sauce!! I grabbed myself a local Carib beer and the next ten minutes were bliss. Similar to Ukrainian town in Chicago, there were unusual noises coming from the ginger gringo table. It was sensational. Could I really justify a second one? Ha, I didn't, I was full!
I wandered back to the beach and walked along to where there may be a bar showing the Man U Marseille game. I walked as far as I could but there was no bar, just people hassling me, so I turned round and went back to the safer part of the beach.
The next couple of hours, I sat with the look of a puppy dog waiting for a mini bus ride back to Port of spain. I waited and waited, and well, there was nothing else I could do. If it got dark, I'd have to grab a taxi or try thumb a lift, but after a couple of hours, one turned up and I sat next to some big dude singing to some reggae music. It's these kind of opportunities where you really get a feel for local life and this was one happy singing big black dude. When back in Port of Spain, I picked up some drinks and headed back for a little Siesta.
In the evening I wanted to sort out a few things on the Internet and while walking to the cafe, guess who I bump into? Yep, Markus. He walks over, grabs my arm and tells me I made him sad. I pushed him off and carried on walking in my usual fast pace. He was still wearing exactly the same clothes from last night and was basically full of s**t. Oh man, that could have been another perfume shop moment!
Port of Spain at night isn't the best place to walk around, the main avenue is packed, but the side streets are dead and a little scary. After finishing at the Internet cafe, I grabbed a slice of pizza for dinner, some more fluids and walked back to my guesthouse. For anyone visiting Trinidad, Port of Spain is just the airport you need to visit, not the capital. It has spice and life but it looked pretty dangerous as well.
Back to my room, I'll pack in the morning!!
Miles walked 4.56
Day 72 March 16th - Up super early, well 530am, pack quickly and the wine I bought in Guyana for the cash back, I leave for the guest house owners. I contemplated taking it for the Angel Falls tour but they were so good to me and looked out for me so left it with a little thank you note.
Said goodbye to the owners and walked down to the waterfront to grab the mini bus. Arrived at Pier 1 the two hours they suggest before departure and it rains. It pours! But I have shelter. You wait in line to pay departure tax, have your bags weighed then wait somewhere else till immigration turn up for the exit stamp.
Once i boarded the boat, I was leaving Trinidad and setting off for Caracas.
It seems my little summary of the last few countries have been, I would love to visit again, but the real reason behind Trinidad visit was to get to Venezuela from Guyana, there were no real other alternatives. Carnival in Trinidad looks amazing, I saw some clips on TV and Tobago looks even more beautiful than some parts of Trinidad. But, I can say I stayed in Port of Spain and I survived!