West Indies - Home Of Brian Lara.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
The Carlton Savannah Port of Spain
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Trinidad and Tobago  , Trinidad,
Friday, November 18, 2011

"I was so relieved when you said Hello and I realized you spoke English!" said our driver with a big smile, as we headed away from the airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

“When the hotel said you were coming on a flight from Caracas, I thought, Oh, no they are going to speak only Spanish and I won't understand them” he added.

It made us laugh, as we have spent the last 6 weeks in the reverse scenario. We haven’t been able to communicate with taxi drivers who speak only Spanish. Now we have crossed a mere 159 nautical miles of water from Venezuela to the island of Trinidad and, praise be, we are back to English! It feels so good.

As the airport pick up ride continues, our driver chats to us about random things but mostly cricket. His chatter is music to our English starved ears. He knows all the famous Australian cricketers of the past 20 years or so. He tells us about the famous Trinidadian West Indian Cricketers and he talks especially proudly of Brian Lara, one of Trinidad’s famous sons. Every roadside sign we pass is in English. We are driving on the left hand side of the road. The radio is playing familiar English songs and the DJ is speaking English. It feels so good. It also feels good because although our travels in non English speaking countries have been wonderful, inspiring, and adventurous, this change to English now marks a turning point for this trip, we are heading slowly home via Miami, Los Angeles, New Zealand and Cook Islands. We'll be in Adelaide for Christmas, to meet our new Granddaughter, Bethany and back in Perth Boxing Day.  

From now on English will be spoken, menus understood, pepper will accompany salt on the table, and best of all no more toilet paper in the bin! (for the uninitiated, many countries including all South America countries, require that toilet paper be put in a bin instead of flushed away - it is onerous, smelly and annoying but something you just have to do. Signs warn that if you block the toilet you will have to pay for repairs!) 

We arrive at the Carlton Savannah Hotel and find it luxuriously beyond our expectations. Trinidad has a huge niche industry in hosting conferences and conventions (even had CHOGM here in 2009) and most hotels are purpose built for this. On searching the internet we couldn’t come up with anything truly budget, but this hotel was much cheaper than the standard conference hotels aka Hilton, Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza etc. but to us, feels up to that standard. We have a king size bed, coffee machine and broadband internet. This is going to do us very nicely for our brief two day stay here, we think!

Trinidad and Tobago is, and has been, since 21st of August, in a declared “State of Emergency”. Whilst this didn’t completely deter us from coming, it did influence our choice of hotel, to go up-market for our safety. Today’s newspaper tells us that since the State of Emergency was declared there have been “only” 40 murders, which is well down -  the total number of murders for this year is 306!  Trinidad counts the murder toll like we count the road toll in Australia. Bear in mind the whole population of both the islands that make up the country, Trinidad and Tobago, is only 1.2 million. The newspaper has a front page headline section that says it is "DAY 90 of STATE of EMERGENCY". Part of the state of emergency is a night time curfew but this doesn’t worry us. We’ll be happily tucked up in our king size bed by nightfall!

A walk in daylight around the area took us to a supermarket for some food supplies, so we can eat less expensively and more healthily, and to sight see the Botanical Gardens and the Presidential Palace. We engaged our friendly driver to take us for a trip to see the National Emblem, the Scarlet Ibis at the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. This entailed a 2 hour boat trip into the swamps where we saw amazing amounts of birdlife, caimen, crabs, and some unusual fish called 4 eyes fish, which swim with a pair of eyes above and below the water. But it was the Scarlet Ibis that held our attention. The colour is just so vivid and from a distance they looked like waving scarlet flowers on the swampland trees.   

We are relaxing in our surprise luxury, and will be ready to take on a series of three long flights that will bring us to LA for one night, then across the Pacific, and the International Date line, to Auckland, New Zealand. Closer to Australia than we have been since March.

Tourist Tip: Caroni Swamp Expeditions are operated by Nanan's Bird Sanctuary Tours www.nananecotours.com nantour@tstt.net.tt and leave daily at 4pm to about 6pm.

VISA INFO: We were required to pay a visa waiver fee of 62 US dollars each (800 T&T total)
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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