Trini Bucket List: 10 To-Dos for Trinbagonians

By  |  14 Comments
Everyone dreams about a permanent vacation in the Caribbean… except the people who actually live here. It might be nice to go to the beach on the weekend, but most of the time, “de sun too hot” or “Trinidad too small”.
Then you hear people say, “It doh have nuttin much to do”. Maybe that’s because you’ve hardly gone past the lighthouse. Still, I thought it’d be great to put together a bucket list of things every Trinbagonian should do.
If we take a moment to look up towards the Northern Range, south towards the Pitch Lake, east for our Amerindian heritage or west for our Spanish side, we’ll admit that out of the 5,128 square kilometres area of our twin republic, there’s so much more we are yet to see, and learn, about our unique country. Yeah, some of you were probably expecting something like make love on de lookout (with bodyguards present?), eat a roti and wash it down with a red Solo, or crash a Carnival mas band, but I’m more on a tourism tip today. So here goes…
1. Attend a Hindu Wedding
Two tassa bands, two outfit changes and three wedding gowns later, there is a new ‘beta’ and ‘beti’ in town. To sit in the crowd of an entire village, under one roof, witnessing the marriage rituals, extending congratulations, and then eating with strangers on a communal table long enough, to sit twenty, it’s one of those stories for the grandkids.
Don’t tell me you’ll never be invited to a Hindu wedding either. A friend of mine once saw an open event on Facebook for a wedding (no lie, and they were for real), so it seems as if crashing weddings just got easier.
2. Dimanche Gras on Carnival Sunday
As kids, many of us sat with our parents on Carnival Sunday to watch Channel 2’s coverage of the calypsonians singing witty, mostly controversial songs that highlighted the current state of the nation. Yes, I too remember being bored, but we sat there patiently waiting for the “King and Queen of the Bands” to take the stage. The sheer, majestic visual of the 40-foot, one-man costume was overwhelmingly beautiful through the dull pane of our coloured TV.
Fast-forward a decade later and only adult eyes can really appreciate the craftsmanship of a King or Queen of Carnival, and only adult ears can understand the intelligent rhetoric that is calypso.
3. Parang in Paramin
“They don’t have Parang in Paramin anymore, gyul. It in Country Club in Maraval.” This was the news I got after writing this piece, so I had to consider coming back to replace it.  Still Paramin is special, and it’s a cultural epicentre for our Spanish heritage, so it deserves a place on this bucket list.
‘Paraminians’ are a unique set of Trinis who speak Patois and live in an area that can only be accessed with a four-wheel drive. Rumour also has it that there’s still a week they parang in Paramin, and although it’s not the spectacle it once was… to see it, no matter how small a celebration, standing in the hills of the North East, and occasionally getting a whiff of the best seasoning in the country, is another one of those things you can’t really understand until you experience it yourself.
4. Sit in Parliament
Do you remember your primary school excursion to the Red House? The beauty of youth. Back then, we thought that therein stood the honourable leaders of the nation, who ran our country, adhering to the strict rules of the House. Now, we realise that it’s actually one of the best reality shows we can watch (ooh, and the seats are comfy too).
We all know that Parliament is where you get to see leaders of Government snooze (although I haven’t seen Aunty Kamla do that as yet), or wild out like a Rottweiler who hasn’t been fed for days. Then there are priceless moments like Colm Imbert mimicing Jack Warner’s stutter, or Dr. Amery Browne quoting Nicki Minaj’s lines for “Monster” – “Ok, first things first, I’ll eat your brains, then I’mma start rocking gold teeth and fangs, Cause that’s what a M…..F…ing monster do, Hairdresser from Milan, that’s what monster do”.
Yep. Parliament is serious business, chockfull of comedy… and rap too.
5. Experience Tobago Heritage Festival
For many Trinis, just going to Tobago will be a scratch off the bucket list (shame!), but if you’ve been there at least once, you know that Tobago is more than just beaches and beaded braids.
Started in 1987, the Tobago Heritage Festival is a ‘melting pot’ of traditions that once were part of everyday life in Tobago, and are now re-enacted as a way to preserve that history. As a visitor you will observe an ole-time Tobago wedding’, heel an’ toe, Bele, folktales, a re-enactment of the legendary Belmanna slave uprising in Roxborough, and even a beauty queen show.
6. Snorkel in Buccoo Reef (yes, we’re still in Tobago)
Since coral grows 8 millimetres per year, and our coral reef is approximately 7 square kilometres, there’s no denying that Buccoo has been around since the Amerindians walked Iere. It’s also one thing to view the coral reef through a glass-bottom boat, and another to view the array of colours on huge angelfish up close, so next time you go over to the sister isle, strap on a life-vest, put on those goggles and scope out the ecosystem of OUR coral reef, heralded as the third most beautiful in the world.
7. Dip your feet at Toco and Icacos
This could have been two items, but they feel incomplete without each other. Standing at the most north-eastern tip of Trinidad, and on its south-western peninsula guarantees that you have spanned one end of the country to the other, even if from afar. It might take you an entire day, should you try to do both in one day, yet not only will you be able to brag about having seen a great part of the country, there is also the reward of experiencing some form of lifestyle you never even knew existed.
8. Go “Down the Islands” (DDI)
“DDI” is the scene of many a lime/ cooler party by boat. Partying aside, the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) offers inexpensive tours to Gaspar Grande – where you’ll find 50-foot underground, crystal clear, emerald-tinged waters at your feet, and stalactites and stalagmites above your head. Monas is always a good start, as it’s the most inhabitable, but there’s also Chacachacare, Huevos, Gaspar Grande, Little Tobago and St. Giles Island, which you can all visit with a boat and a knowledgeable tour guide.
9. Pull ‘seine’ in Mayaro… or any fishing village
Being thigh deep in the ocean at the break of dawn, with at least a dozen men on each side of these huge nets, is not something you experience every day if you live 30 minutes from the highway. That, and cooking fresh fish right there on the shore for breakfast. So for all you ‘city slickers’, who complain that there isn’t much to do in T&T, think about an early morning lime with some fishermen.
10. Eat Cascadura/ Cascadoo
“Those who eat the cascadura will, the native legend says, wheresoever they may wander end in Trinidad their days” (Johnson and the Cascadura, Selvon, 1957). Almost everyone has heard this famous folklore, and while we don’t have any real proof of it being true, many Trinis abroad will claim to be “Trini to D Bone”, few will eat cascadura – in case their US visa is revoked, and shopping in Miami goes kaput.
However, looking at the list above, and just thinking about how sweet life can be in T&T (when a gunshot not bussin’ or a Government office irritatin’ you), the importance of this last ‘to-do’ should be obvious… and besides, why would you want to spend your last days anywhere else?
Sources:

bucketListEveryone dreams about a permanent vacation in the Caribbean… except the people who actually live here. It might be nice to go to the beach on the weekend, but most of the time, “de sun too hot” or “Trinidad too small”. 

Then you hear people say, “It doh have nuttin much to do”. Maybe that’s because you’ve hardly gone past the lighthouse. Still, I thought it’d be great to put together a bucket list of things every Trinbagonian should do. 

If we take a moment to look up towards the Northern Range, south towards the Pitch Lake, east for our Amerindian heritage or west for our Spanish side, we’ll admit that out of the 5,128 square kilometres area of our twin republic, there’s so much more we are yet to see, and learn, about our unique country. Yeah, some of you were probably expecting something like make love on de lookout (with bodyguards present?), eat a roti and wash it down with a red Solo, or crash a Carnival mas band, but I’m more on a tourism tip today. So here goes…

 

1. Attend a Hindu Wedding 

Two tassa bands, two outfit changes and three wedding gowns later, there is a new ‘beta’ and ‘beti’ in town. To sit in the crowd of an entire village, under one roof, witnessing the marriage rituals, extending congratulations, and then eating with strangers on a communal table long enough, to sit twenty, it’s one of those stories for the grandkids.
Don’t tell me you’ll never be invited to a Hindu wedding either. A friend of mine once saw an open event on Facebook for a wedding (no lie, and they were for real), so it seems as if crashing weddings just got easier. 

 

2. Dimanche Gras on Carnival Sunday 

As kids, many of us sat with our parents on Carnival Sunday to watch Channel 2’s coverage of the calypsonians singing witty, mostly controversial songs that highlighted the current state of the nation. Yes, I too remember being bored, but we sat there patiently waiting for the “King and Queen of the Bands” to take the stage. The sheer, majestic visual of the 40-foot, one-man costume was overwhelmingly beautiful through the dull pane of our coloured TV. 

Fast-forward a decade later and only adult eyes can really appreciate the craftsmanship of a King or Queen of Carnival, and only adult ears can understand the intelligent rhetoric that is calypso. 

 

3. Parang in Paramin  

“They don’t have Parang in Paramin anymore, gyul. It in Country Club in Maraval.” This was the news I got after writing this piece, so I had to consider coming back to replace it.  Still Paramin is special, and it’s a cultural epicentre for our Spanish heritage, so it deserves a place on this bucket list. 

‘Paraminians’ are a unique set of Trinis who speak Patois and live in an area that can only be accessed with a four-wheel drive. Rumour also has it that there’s still a week they parang in Paramin, and although it’s not the spectacle it once was… to see it, no matter how small a celebration, standing in the hills of the North East, and occasionally getting a whiff of the best seasoning in the country, is another one of those things you can’t really understand until you experience it yourself. 

 

4. Sit in Parliament

Do you remember your primary school excursion to the Red House? The beauty of youth. Back then, we thought that therein stood the honourable leaders of the nation, who ran our country, adhering to the strict rules of the House. Now, we realise that it’s actually one of the best reality shows we can watch (ooh, and the seats are comfy too). 

We all know that Parliament is where you get to see leaders of Government snooze (although I haven’t seen Aunty Kamla do that as yet), or wild out like a Rottweiler who hasn’t been fed for days. Then there are priceless moments like Colm Imbert mimicing Jack Warner’s stutter, or Dr. Amery Browne quoting Nicki Minaj’s lines for “Monster” – “Ok, first things first, I’ll eat your brains, then I’mma start rocking gold teeth and fangs, Cause that’s what a M…..F…ing monster do, Hairdresser from Milan, that’s what monster do”. 

Yep. Parliament is serious business, chockfull of comedy… and rap too. All ‘kix’ aside, if you really want to see how the country is run, first-hand, then you need to take in a live Parliament session, in person.

 

5. Experience Tobago Heritage Festival 

For many Trinis, just going to Tobago will be a scratch off the bucket list (shame!), but if you’ve been there at least once, you know that Tobago is more than just beaches and beaded braids.  

Started in 1987, the Tobago Heritage Festival is a ‘melting pot’ of traditions that once were part of everyday life in Tobago, and are now re-enacted as a way to preserve that history. As a visitor you will observe an ole-time Tobago wedding’, heel an’ toe, Bele, folktales, a re-enactment of the legendary Belmanna slave uprising in Roxborough, and even a beauty queen show.  

 

6. Snorkel in Buccoo Reef (yes, we’re still in Tobago)

Since coral grows 8 millimetres per year, and our coral reef is approximately 7 square kilometres, there’s no denying that Buccoo has been around since the Amerindians walked Iere. It’s also one thing to view the coral reef through a glass-bottom boat, and another to view the array of colours on huge angelfish up close, so next time you go over to the sister isle, strap on a life-vest, put on those goggles and scope out the ecosystem of OUR coral reef, heralded as the third most beautiful in the world.   

 

7. Dip your feet in the water at Toco and Icacos

This could have been two items, but they feel incomplete without each other. Standing at the most north-eastern tip of Trinidad, and on its south-western peninsula guarantees that you have spanned one end of the country to the other, even if from afar. It might take you an entire day, should you try to do both in one day, yet not only will you be able to brag about having seen a great part of the country, there is also the reward of experiencing some form of lifestyle you never even knew existed. And while you’re at it, you’d better dip your feet in the water. 

 

8. Go “Down the Islands” (DDI)

“DDI” is the scene of many a lime/ cooler party by boat. Partying aside, the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) offers inexpensive tours to Gaspar Grande – where you’ll find 50-foot underground, crystal clear, emerald-tinged waters at your feet, and stalactites and stalagmites above your head. Monas is always a good start, as it’s the most inhabitable, but there’s also Chacachacare, Huevos, Gaspar Grande, Little Tobago and St. Giles Island, which you can all visit with a boat and a knowledgeable tour guide. 

 

9. Pull ‘seine’ in Mayaro… or any fishing village  

Being thigh deep in the ocean at the break of dawn, with at least a dozen men on each side of these huge nets, is not something you experience every day if you live 30 minutes from the highway. That, and cooking fresh fish right there on the shore for breakfast. So for all you ‘city slickers’, who complain that there isn’t much to do in T&T, think about an early morning lime with some fishermen.  

 

10. Eat Cascadura/ Cascadoo

“Those who eat the cascadura will, the native legend says, wheresoever they may wander end in Trinidad their days” (Johnson and the Cascadura, Selvon, 1957). Almost everyone has heard this famous folklore, and while we don’t have any real proof of it being true, many Trinis abroad will claim to be “Trini to D Bone”, few will eat cascadura – in case their US visa is revoked, and shopping in Miami goes kaput.

However, looking at the list above, and just thinking about how sweet life can be in T&T (when a gunshot not bussin’ or a Government office irritatin’ you), the importance of this last ‘to-do’ should be obvious… and besides, why would you want to spend your last days anywhere else? 

 

Sources:

Look out for a new issue of Outlish.com every Monday.

Quilin Achat

Quilin Achat is an avid lover of reading, so it's no surprise that she runs a small, unconventional bookstore called The Fire is Lit, in San Fernando. Check out the Fire is Lit at http://facebook.com/theFireisLit.

14 Comments

  1. Christine N

    January 3, 2011 at 5:47 am

    I like this list, and really and truly it’s a compilation of things that everyone who think they are a real Trinbagonian should have done.
    For me, all that’s left is to sit in parliament (which should be LEVEL kix); I’ve done the seine in Cedros when I was a child (my family had a beach house down there) but Mayaro should be interesting (haven’t been in years) and Tobago Heritage Festival is a must (kinda ashamed that I’ve never been).

    Kudos tho…great article :)

    #Pilar

  2. Aknok

    January 3, 2011 at 10:44 am

    9/10….;D

    #pilar

  3. Cathy

    January 3, 2011 at 11:32 am

    It’s great to be reminded that there’s more than the routine things to do in T&T. Now to look into hooking up with some Mayaro fisherman…

  4. Nakita

    January 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

    T&T needs a 100 to-do Bucket list…just too many things that should be experienced. But now I’ve got a couple things to work on in 2011 😉

  5. TS

    January 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    hmmmm 5/10 so far… but I’ll NEVER eat cascadura 😛
    great article as alway Qui!!! keep it up!
    #PILAR

  6. Kalifa

    January 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I love no3 mostly because I live Paramin and love seeing the sun set and waking up to mist in the morning plus the great mix heritage of Spanish and French Cerole. I always wanted to write a list but it would be named ‘My life List’ and I’ll add Climb El Tucuche to it :)

    # PILAR

  7. FHarper

    January 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I didn’t think this is what the list would include, but have to say it’s an eye opener! 2011 I must explore we culture #GodsaTrini

    #PILAR

  8. Rashidah Vitalis

    January 5, 2011 at 4:32 am

    many things on this list that I have to do
    Ive never seen Sans Souci or Toco
    Anya Ayoung, the designer of #PILAR recently posted pics of a vacation at Sans Souci
    GORGEOUS!!!!

  9. Danni

    January 5, 2011 at 9:28 am

    One thing you should mention about touring the reefs in Trinbago…don’t touch the coral! It dies once you touch it/stand on it, and it seems not even some of the guides realize this. Case in point, I took a friend to see the Buccoo Reef and the guide picked up a piece of brain coral…*palm in face* Let’s not turn our waters into coral reef cemeteries

  10. Reesa T

    January 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I added some things on your list to my very own ‘T & T To do List’. Already got plans set in place for no.5 as soon as it comes up. Thanks for this.

    #PILAR

  11. Elizabeth Turner

    January 6, 2011 at 7:39 am

    We in Trindad and Tobago are blessed with so many cultures, races and rich natural resources,it aint funny. The effort just has to be made to discover them and make full use of its availability. So thumbs up to the Trini Bucket List: 10 To-Dos and I say lets forge together and make this list endless :) #PILAR

  12. De trini

    January 7, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Wow….I have done all 10 items……love sweet T+T

  13. Hadassah

    January 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Still have some work to do including eat Cascudura. I have to dead here lol Trini to the bone # Pilar

  14. Quilin Achat

    qachat

    January 10, 2011 at 12:03 am

    For all the great comments above. Hope this list was an eye-opener for most and definitely a ‘must-do’ in the near future. For those with an already completed completed list, or 9/10..kudos! What places/activities have you NOT done & are now on your new bucket list?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *