Saturday, January 8, 2011

trinidad, 2010

So it's already been a little over week since Kris and I returned from her home country Trinidad. As I look out the window right now and see the snow, as pretty as it is, it makes me wish I could have stayed a little longer on this little Caribbean Island in the West Indies. We managed to get in five days at least, and were able to throw a big birthday party for Kris (she turned 30!) during our stay, which made her year I think. 

While our surroundings are pretty nice and pleasant here at our humble Northern Virginia abode, it can't quite compare to the view from her mom's place in Trinidad. This has been my third visit to this country and I never get tired of looking at the Northern Range from her mom's porch swing. I have spent lots of time in peace and quiet on that swing.

What I love about this country is seeing (and tasting) all the locally grown and sold fruits and vegetables. Many of them you won't find here in the states, and if they were imported, they wouldn't taste the same. 

I've always been fascinated by the variety of colorful houses and buildings that pepper the Northern Range. It reminds me somewhat of my hometown Pittsburgh, PA, with its hills and houses, though far more colorful.

Kris and I took a red eye flight from NJ to Trinidad, arriving early in the morning on hardly a wink of sleep for over a day. Still, as soon as we left the airport, we had to stop for what is quite possibly my favorite Trini food, doubles. We've stopped at this particular stand before (above) and the two year gap since my last visit was well worth the wait. Since it was also Christmas day, you can see the vendors were in the spirit, sporting Santa hats. Can't wait to eat more next visit!

I love seeing the street vendors who hustle food, clothes, and in this case, red cowboy hats, when cars stop in traffic. I was tempted to buy one from this fella (above) just for the absurdity of it all. Unfortunately, it was far too hot that day to wear such a hat.

Jerk/Bar-b-que and fresh roti shops are common along the streets of Trinidad. I'm definitely a big fan of roti, and as with the doubles, wish you could find 'em around my way more. Still, I doubt they would taste as good.

I try to avoid most soda like the plague in the states - it's liquid poison as far as I'm concerned. Still, I couldn't resist sodas from Trinidad, like cream soda and ginger beer from Solo. 

The colors of the shops and houses in Trinidad are one of my favorite things about this place. They tend to make me happy just seeing them.

As a big fan of trees, I can't get enough of trees in Trinidad. The trees outside Kris' mother's place were enormous, and pretty old, from what I was told. I love the massive trunks and long, wild, winding branches which extend horizontally. 

Kris' mom is quite the cook, and I can see where my wife's skills have originated. There's nothing that makes me more happy than seeing fresh, natural, "organic" vegetables and fruits (and eating them of course). Many of the vegetables, such as the ones in the photo above, were grown in the back yards of friends and relatives, poison and pesticide free.

I certainly ate a lot while staying at Kris' mom's, as she made sure to feed us well. The food was so good, I couldn't resist, and there was plenty for us vegetarian types. I swear we both gained about ten pounds during our stay.

We visited lots of Kris' friends and family in the short amount of time we were there. As a result, I took many quick shots from the road, while Kris' mom drove us around. Some days were less sunny than others, and there were many places along the road I found intriguing.

I also kept my eyes to the ground on occasion. Even the ground can tell you something about a place, and a culture even.

Fresh fruits native to Trinidad (above), grown in the yard, gathered, and delivered to the door of Kris' mom. It's good to have friends, neighbors and relatives who can hook you up with this kind of thing.

T&T coins are some truly beautiful currency, featuring birds, fruits and sea life native to the islands. I was allowed to sort through and collect some for my uncle, who collects coins here in the states.

A punch and pastry parlor? How cool is this? I'd have loved to have stopped on in here, but this shot was taken while driving to see some of Kris' family. Check out the excellent colors and hand-painted designs on this place. I've taken a liking to Crix crackers too, which come in some real tasty flavors.

Along the highway, you'll find lots of food vendors. We ended up stopping for some roasted corn, packed in the husks and seasoned with hot spices. It made for an excellent lunch, which we ate right there in the car. 

You could still find signs and slogans having to do with Trinidad's most recent election. There's an interesting story about the crossed arms and fists which could have it's place in Trini folklore, if it weren't actually true. I won't go into it here however, since I'm not a hundred percent clear on all the details.

It's always fun seeing houses in Trinidad all decked out for Christmas. Trinidad is a very diverse little island country with many belief systems and holidays from various cultural backgrounds. One of my favorite classic Trini Christmas songs is the hilarious "Soca Santa" by Machel Montano. As soon as I saw this house, I shouted "Soca Santa". A few seconds later the song came on the radio of Kris' mother's car!

I posted a whole lot more pics from our visit last December over at Flickr, for your viewing pleasure. Kris and I were fortunate enough to score two thousand-dollar flight vouchers while at the airport in Newark, NJ, thanks to a deal from our airlines, who overbooked about twenty flights. So we stayed in NJ one extra night at a hotel (for free) and ate for free the next day until we caught our rescheduled flight to Trinidad. It worked out well, allowing us to catch up on sleep and paying for most of our next visit, which will be this summer. We plan on staying much longer next time around, hitting the beach, the rainforest, Tobago and getting more rest in. I also plan on bringing a real camera next time around as well, so hopefully I'll get some much better shots. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed these pics.