June 21st, 2000


Gerbie on tour 14

Gerbie on tour (14)

This time: a tale of three islands, being Trinidad, Tobago and Isla Margarita.

On Trinidad I enjoyed the hospitality of my Dominican friend Euclides and his wife Patricia in the capital Port of Spain. This is a very nice city, with everything within walking distance; also a city where the British influence is very visible, not only through its language. The West Indies are fairly different compared to the rest of the Caribbean, and the English they speak is just one example of that. To get to know the island a bit better, I used public transport to get around the island in a day. In 12 hours it is possible to see a lot of the island, even though I had to take 3 buses, 6 minivans and a shared taxi to complete the circle.

Apart from Port of Spain you will only encounter a few small cities and a lot of villages. But together with several little rivers and creeks, nice beaches, parts of rainforest and plenty of hills, there is plenty of variation on a small surface. Very remarkable was the extended attention for the Second World War in the military museum, where a maquette showed the whole battle of Arnhem. A few Trinidadians in WW2 apparently made sure that this war has not been forgotten, though it is weird to travel so far, with Arnhem itself only a 50-minute train journey from my hometown.

Tobago is the smaller one of the two and much quieter than its big brother. Where the majority of the people live on Trinidad, the tourists tend to come to Tobago. After a night in the capital Scarborough I discovered the island on a scooter within a day. Obviously I had to get used to driving on the wrong (left) side of the road, but soon enough the roads were quiet enough that it actually didn't matter at all where one drove. Within a half-hour I found myself driving a dirt track through the hills that I couldn't trace on any map, but eventually I encountered the correct road. Tobago is full of beautiful views and every 10 minutes you drive above postcard bays, where local fishermen outnumbered the tourists easily, while taking in today's catch, crossing a beach that you sometimes see in a Bacardi or Bounty commercial.

Apart from some scenic beaches it was predominantly green, with some nice roads crossing the rainforest filled interior of the isle. Plenty of shade luckily, but not even creaming several times could stop me from ending up a day outside more red than with a nice tan. The ferry back to Trinidad can't be described as a highlight in this journey. Not only was it very busy, also not very comfortable. And after sleeping a couple of hours on the floor you get send back into the city at half past four in the morning, but then again I assume that beggars can't be choosers.

Back on Isla Margarita I was hoping to see some more over there as well obviously. Unfortunately the capital La Asuncion was a disappointment. Given the fact Margarita has a near 500-year history, there was not much to show for it. The museum I visited was by far the worst I have seen on this trip and the pictures in an exhibition on the other side of the park, were no compliment for the photography teachers of the town, as I would be ashamed showing some of them back home, and that comes from someone who uses disposable camera's or a Mexican discount camera to snap away once in a while. If it weren't for the old castle on top of the hill, where the view over the city was worth it, the visit would have been a waste of time.

Luckily there was Pampatar, an old harbour town, where one can pass some time. An old fort, some nice churches and apart from the beaches some nice old buildings, together they make a walk through town enjoyable. And obviously there is still Porlamar, where I was able to sit in a pub and watch the NBA-finals, but also managed to see the Dutch second half against Denmark, as many people told me the only worthwhile part anyway. Surrounded by several English I enjoyed seeing their country beat the Germans for the first time in 34 years, even though the football didn't do anything for the joy that afternoon.

C U all next time,