Back in the Empire !


Back in the Empire !
Maracas Bay, Trinidad and Tobago

Maracas Bay, Trinidad and Tobago

Jason here again The traffic from Caracas city center to the airport was unbelievable and it took 1.5hrs in a taxi compared to the usual 25 minutes. We arrived 40 minutes before the flight and were told there was not enough time for the luggage to make it through the intense security checks which are part of the Venezuelan way of life. However, there were at least 10 people sitting behind the check in desk doing nothing so I asked them if they liked doing nothing or would like to help… No response. So when we asked to see the supervisor about 10 times a not-so friendly staff member went to check if the 10 other staff should be made to work. No no no .. too much effort. We were not allowed to speak to the supervisor. It was easier not to let us on and then charge us US$60 to change the date. Another short argument in Spanish that the fee only applies to a change of mind not to a missed departure because of traffic, and 1 hour later we rescheduled for the following day. We really thought it was a waste to spend another night in Caracas, but we had no choice… and to this day we will never agree on whose fault it was that we missed the flight ! Was it the internet or me buying a last minute razor and rum at the supermarket?? So the next day we were charged a tax of US$90 to leave Venezuela …. it really felt like good riddance. We never saw another tourist around Caracas and all other travellers we have met missed out Venezuela and went straight to Colombia. Venezuela is a poor country made on oil money and the people make you feel like you are intruding on their soil but dribble at the mouth for the American dollars. They haven`t yet learnt that tourism requires the odd smile and good service for people to return. Trinidad was lovely.It was really wierd seeing English signs everywhere and hearing English, although the “pigeon English” spoken is very hard to understand. We were amazed how the language could mutate like this. But we could communicate, just, and got a taxi at 10pm on Friday night. When we were told the price was 300 “titis” caroline simply could not stifle her giggles .. sounds rude but means TT`s (Trinidad and Tobago dollars).We were surprised when locals on the plane warned us not to go to Maracas Bay because it is over 1 hour drive and it is dangerous at night. They were concerned for us. We didn`t want to waste a night in the capital Port of Spain so we went. The taxi driver agreed US$50 but then tried to talk it up to US$60. He also didn´t want to drive back to the capital alone because it was apparently dangerous and he wanted to stop to pick his son up for the ride. We refused because another person in the car doubles the risk of danger, and it´s a well known robbery tactic in South America. Then he said our valuables were apparently worth more than his life …. but we didn’t give in although he made us feel guilty! Not the most comfortable of taxi rides… It was nice to wake up in a double bed each .. yep a whole bed each… the hotel was great, right beside the beach, surrounded by tropical rainforest. Much better quality than we were used too, a shower with hot and cold water and its own “tub” so save the floor looking like a tsunami had hit, and a Balcony ! It was the cheapest hotel on the island. We were stunned .. this was the Carribean right .. and 10 times better value than anything in Venezuela !! And following our good fortune it was Trinidad Independence Day on the saturday so the beach was crowded with partying locals … a cool, laid back atmosphere though.There were Volley ball competitions between Trinidad and Tobago and ridiculously loud speakers from which the reggae and calypso music could be heard everywhere (a nice change from the repetitive South American pop music). There were coconut palms lining the beach and life guards strutting their stuff. It was the rainy season and in the afternoon the clouds came over but everybody kept on swimming, talking and playing games on the beach. It was a very chilled place. The local delicacy is “Shark and bake” …it is very nice. The bake is a ball of dough deep fried into a bread role … not very healthy but lovely beach food. The local beer also made a nice change and they were all good quality. The first night we followed the music to the street party at the other end of the beach and we were the only white faces, it was full of trendy Rastafarians. Everything vibrated anywhere near the huge speakers they had erected, and the rain didn`t effect their party. The 2nd night was Sunday night and there were frequent power cuts due to the weather so it was very romantic sitting on our balcony with candles looking over the deserted beach with no other lights or noise but the ocean. We were the only people in the hotel for 2 days. At the other end of the beach the party came to an abrupt stop… what a shame ! We had 4 days to relax and one of them we were given a free tour by the hotel manager to the local coast line. It was very raw coast line and when we stopped at a secluded beach only 4 other people were there to enjoy it.He had only planned to give us a lift to the waterfall trail, but he ended up giving us a guided walk there as he was bored at work! Thank God he did otherwise we would have been quite lost! The path basically followed the river and many part involved walking through water up to the armpits holding the cameras above our heads. The moss made it very slippery so it took some time. The water was very fresh, and quite cold which was lovely as the temperatures were still around 30 degrees. The extra friendly hotel manager then accompanied us back to his car and dropped us off at the cliff top bar for a drink and to walk the last couple of km`s. We wondered what he wanted for the free tour, South America has left us so skeptical that anything comes for free! The last day was a Tuesday and we were surprised as the color of the water was semi-transparent, slightly green but you could see your feet and the bottom. In the Weekend the water had been dark green, we realized because there were so many locals who also use it to bath and as a toilet! With the water was even nicer and the beach deserted, it was hard to leave our lovely hotel with a balcony view right across the beach and the palms trees. We went to the capital, Port of Spain for the last day as we heard it was very modern. That didn`t prove to be true, it is actually very run down and the buildings are generally all in a state of bad repair. Only a few colonial houses remain. Woodford Square is raved about and had a nice water fountain but was fairly normal compared to other plazas in other countries. We lunched at KFC which is the only surviving international chain restaurant in Trinidad and everybody`s favorite. The shops were very well stocked with all the imported labels you could imagine, so we stocked up on things we needed. We also saw a film, but to get there we had to navigate the local taxi system .. they have area taxis that only cover a couple of km`s for a fixed fee and any further you pay by the km. Quite a good system, but the taxis are not marked and they dont look or feel very safe. At this point we decided that people in Trinidad must surely be hard of hearing. The volume in the cinema nearly knocked us out of our seats and the raster taxi driver had his music booming out of about 5 distorted speakers. We had an early morning flight back to Caracas, and decided to meet my friends Marcello and Marco before they flew back to Italy the next day. We went out in Caracas to an area called Las Mercedes which was full of open front bars playing load music until 2 – 3am. Marcello had a list of dodgy gay and straight clubs from the internet but all had closed down. That is how fast things change in Venezuela. So we settled for a drink in a local bar of diet coke and Caroline and I topped it up from our secret stash of Rum so we could try to save some money backpacker style. After Los Roques and Trinidad we are offically broke and back to real backpacker travelling! Tonight we are getting the all night bus to Santa Marta, Colombia. We are so looking forward to Colom
bia from what everyone has told us. Takeaways from Trinidad – Up to 27 September 2005 there were 276 violent murders for the year (equivalent to about 11,040 for England if the population was the same) – a dangerous place ! – They drive on the left, thanks to the Empire, and they try to speak proper English – They dont like the American people or America but just like the dollar, they love the UK. – They follow an English education system and appear much better off than South American countries – They like the music even louder than the South Americans !! – The carribean prices are better value than Venezuela


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