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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Travel – February 21, 2014…..

Trinidad and Tobago
Mt. St Benedict’s Monastery 

I thought I’d change gears on this one, and the following introductory comments were drawn from a January 2014 CIA World Facts Book.

First colonized by the Spanish, the islands came under British control in the early 19th century. The islands' sugar industry was hurt by the emancipation of the slaves in 1834. Manpower was replaced with the importation of contract laborers for the Cocoa industry. The discovery of oil on Trinidad in 1910 added another important export. Independence was attained in 1962. The country is one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean thanks largely to petroleum and natural gas production and processing. Tourism, mostly in Tobago, is targeted for expansion and is growing. The government is coping with a rise in violent crime.
Many oil rigs around city harbor

Trinidad has over 1.6 million people. Building on the island is at an unbelievable pace. Our short walking tour to the downtown Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad was a clear confirmation of the CIA facts book. The city was large, with lots of people and an enormous amount of traffic. We decided not to go on an organized tour. There really was not much interesting offered, and the traffic really could not guarantee that you would make it back in time for the ship’s departure.
Dock at Port of Spain

Instead we walked off the boat without a map and just wandered. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, but we did it anyway. We first met a local city provided tour guide in a red shirt standing on the corner and asked where the nearest shopping was. She gave us directions, which was contrary to where all the crowds from the ship were going. We were not quite sure she had given us good guidance. Later we asked a couple coming from the other direction what they had seen. They looked wide eyed and said they had turned around when they heard that the shopping was a very long way away and the pick-pocketing was rampant and they had seen police with machine guns. They had turned around before reaching the shopping area. At that point we decided to follow the local guide’s instructions.

Market just outside port
Independence Street

We crossed the street and headed down Independent Street toward the center of downtown. We hit the main downtown city shopping area. It included a number of indoor shopping malls and outside markets. It was interesting to walk around the markets. There were a lot of people walking around, both local residence and tourists, however, it appeared little trade was taking place. The shop owners were just standing around watching the crowd. The only thing I really saw as maybe a final team member of a pick pocket team stuff a purple wallet inside his pants. Seems that this trade is also popular in all types of crowds. Everything is normal in a big city…no matter what part of the world you are in. And so it goes for time in eternity.

Tug boat seeing the ship out to sea

There are some places to visit like Queens Park Savannah, the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Asa Wright Nature Center and the Mt. St Benedict’s Monastery. Our friends visited a few of these places. They loved the guide and the information about the island, but other than the view they were not too excited about the tour. I enjoyed going back to the ship early. I love being at sea!! 

The next few day we will spend at sea!! You might wonder what we do at sea. Well, hang on! My next blog will give you an idea what happens where you cross the equator on board a ship!! The adventure continues!!

John and our friend Cindy

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