Road Rage!

Trip Start Feb 07, 2004
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Flag of Trinidad and Tobago  ,
Monday, September 6, 2004

Again hiring a car from the airport in Trinadad I headed for downtown Port of Spain (POS). With around 1.5 million people on this island, opposed to about 85,000 on Tobago, the roads are much better, faster and crazier! The people here are also less laid back, and a sense of urgency became apparent as I endeavoured to cross intersections in downtown. There are often no traffic lights, so everyone nudges across these intersections at the same time whilst attempting to dodge the numerous pedestrians. It didn`t take me that long to get the hang of this system (reminded me of my days driving the old Corolla!), but what did continue to confuse the hell out me was all the one-way streets! Barely knowing where I was, let alone where I was going, again with only a dodgy map to guide me, I did many extra miles thanks to these one-way streets!

After finding my hotel, unscathed, I headed out on foot. What immediatley struck me was the numerous Chinese restaurants here, more than I think I have ever seen in a single location before. This made searching out my preferred Indian food a little tougher. Also noticing that the variety of digital cameras here is far superior to Venezuela, I replaced my now buried mobile phone camera here, and picked up a Caribbean travel guide! The next day I aquired the US cash that I needed for Venezuela (black market exchange rate for US$ is 30% better than the oficial rate in Ven).

With the shopping done, I headed off to St Benedictine´s Monastery to watch the sunset (lady at tourist office said it had great views of POS) and experiment with my new camera. It wasn´t the easiest place to find, and the road is accuately described in the guide book as "serpentine". After numerous U-turns I finally located the monastery only to discover that it faced east! With no sunset to gaze upon, I looked at the monestry and wondered what compelled me to spend previous lives in such places. I did experience a slight blasphemous sensation as I sipped my beer, and realized that a fortified wine would be more appropriate at such a place, perhaps DOM Benedictine as the monastery´s name suggests....interestingly, further up the road was a rehab centre. I wondered if it was as old as the monastery, and if the monks were its first clients??

Dissapointingly, I wasn´t able to locate a local "steel band" during my brief time here, but I will always remeber the one-man-bottle-show that entertained us outside Monty & Bunty´s old, dirty, almost toothless, grinning man, dancing on the corner (nothing unsual so far) who arranged various glass bottles into small towers, sometimes using a little water to help balance them. To highlight his creations, the guy would pour some metho around these towers of up to 4 bottles in height and then light the alcohol (which surprised me as I thought he would have preffered to consume it!). But as often as not, one or more of these towering infernos would collapse, and in his effort to save the bottles he´d knock over another! His expressions amongst the broken, burning glass was definately worth the TT dollar!

The drive out to Maracas Bay is indeed beautiful, and again I dreamed of eating the road up on a bike.... I had my first "Bake and Shark" at this beautiful beach, a famous meal comprising of lightly fried dough, shark, and then whatever salads and sauces you want. And here I was able to see the sunset that I had missed the previous night at the monastery. However, the drive to the airport the next morning wasn´t quiet as relaxing...with the confidence of a full week behind the wheel, and running a little late for my flight (can you believe it?) I pushed the little 1.3l motor to the limits along the highway and in the process managed to get not one, but two angry waves from other motorists! Missions accomplished, I returned to Venezuela.
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